New Zealand Classic Car - - CONTENTS -

Re­cently, I spoke about how the num­ber of mem­bers join­ing clubs nowa­days roughly equals the num­ber of mem­bers leav­ing, es­pe­cially with clubs rep­re­sent­ing vin­tage-type ve­hi­cles.

De­cline is un­avoid­able in such clubs, due to the av­er­age age of mem­bers; in­su­lar vi­sion; lack of strate­gic man­age­ment; in some cases, un­de­sir­able mem­bers with large egos in po­si­tions of author­ity who are un­able to re­lin­quish con­trol; and, to a large ex­tent, that ter­ri­ble ‘clique dis­ease’ that plagues all clubs. Sooner or later, most clubs will need to re­visit their con­sti­tu­tion, as nec­es­sary, to se­cure their fu­ture — to at­tract new pro­gres­sive blood of any age and sex. Be­cause it is new blood that will be the life­line of any club’s fu­ture, and which will en­sure the fu­ture of our au­to­mo­tive her­itage in this coun­try.

Like many of you, I have a gen­uine in­ter­est in clas­sic and vin­tage ve­hi­cles and do not wish to see our beau­ti­ful cars sys­tem­at­i­cally de­te­ri­o­rate — or head over­seas — sim­ply be­cause clubs lack the man­age­ment skills, or the en­ergy or the dis­ci­pline, to hand over con­trol from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other.

Good man­age­ment

The fact is that his­toric ve­hi­cles and clas­sic cars can do much for our coun­try’s econ­omy. Clubs need to be led by peo­ple who are not a hin­drance to them. I re­peat: lack of en­ergy, pride, fear of the un­known, peo­ple want­ing to stay in con­trol for­ever — where it con­cerns his­toric ve­hi­cles and clas­sic cars, we need vi­sion, dis­ci­pline, and good man­age­ment skills.

We want a fu­ture for our cars in this coun­try, and we past, present, and fu­ture clas­sic car en­thu­si­asts have the power to make things hap­pen, to make this hobby of ours a won­der­ful ad­ven­ture. To achieve this, we need to dream big. Un­for­tu­nately, most clubs lack vi­sion. In fact, it would be best for our au­to­mo­tive her­itage if some clubs be­came part of a more pro­gres­sive body with a proper set of rules and strat­egy.

What we need is one solid new move­ment, which can bring the past and the present to­gether to build the fu­ture un­der one roof with poli­cies that work for all. Many cars leave our shores to­day be­cause past and up­com­ing gen­er­a­tions have not been in­volved by their peers, and, as a re­sult, they are nowa­days not in­ter­ested in car­ry­ing for­ward the legacy of their fore­fa­thers. This move­ment must work to in­ter­est off­spring in and in­tro­duce them to the world of clas­sic and vin­tage mo­tor­ing, ir­re­spec­tive of era, and get them to ex­pe­ri­ence the magic of en­joy­ing cars of days gone by.

It must es­tab­lish and in­tro­duce more lo­cal themed events, and work with lo­cal coun­cils and or­ga­ni­za­tions in ev­ery re­gion to cre­ate world-class events like the Napier

Art Deco Fes­ti­val. Ev­ery re­gion would be­come bet­ter known for its her­itage, and would get to show­case its pro­duce, busi­nesses, and ser­vices. With these events, ev­ery re­gion would be in­vest­ing in its own, be­cause ev­ery event would be pro­moted na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

I re­sent it when peo­ple say to me that it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to sell vin­tage cars nowa­days, be­cause new gen­er­a­tions are not in­ter­ested in these older ve­hi­cles, and, as a re­sult, cur­rent own­ers have no one to pass them on to. Un­for­tu­nately, there is an un­der­ly­ing truth in this. Clubs need guide­lines. They need gov­er­nance by a higher author­ity. They all need to fit within an over­all strat­egy/struc­ture. This new move­ment must cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that per­mits clubs to op­er­ate within it. To achieve this, it must do away with what’s ob­so­lete and raise aware­ness that things must change to cre­ate a fun­da­men­tally new and su­pe­rior value to our au­to­mo­tive her­itage, so that our her­itage can have a fu­ture in this coun­try.

Au­to­mo­tive her­itage

The idea of mate’s rates, of cars be­ing of­fered to club mem­bers first at re­duced prices, will be­come ob­so­lete. The idea of one mem­ber wait­ing for an­other to pass on so that a car may be snatched from some­one’s widow for the price of a beer — this men­tal­ity is un­pro­fes­sional, un­eth­i­cal, cheeky, and in­ap­pro­pri­ate. It is unac­cept­able, and should have no place in this new move­ment, be­cause such prac­tice only serves to ruin the value and cred­i­bil­ity of our au­to­mo­tive her­itage. In­stead, this new move­ment should di­rect its ef­forts to es­tab­lish the cor­rect in­cen­tive schemes — that is, to pass our her­itage on sus­tain­ably to fu­ture guardians, in our coun­try, at mar­ket prices.

This move­ment must serve as a bridge be­tween one gen­er­a­tion and an­other, and serve as a guar­an­tor, so that our her­itage re­mains pro­tected in this coun­try. It must recre­ate this in­dus­try by re­gen­er­at­ing it, by cre­at­ing a mar­ket that turns our vin­tage cars into in­vest­ments — just like art, fine wine, and di­a­monds. Ad­di­tion­ally, it should also fight for restora­tion costs to be­come sub­si­dized by gov­ern­ment, and should in­sist our in­dus­try be­come rec­og­nized as a sub­ject in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. It must pro­tect its her­itage first. The mar­ket­ing strat­egy will con­sider that ve­hi­cles are only the byprod­uct, be­cause few prod­ucts and ser­vices ex­ist in a vacuum, and in most cases, other prod­ucts and ser­vices af­fect value.

This is how we can raise the value of our her­itage, how we can at­tract the right mem­bers to this move­ment — by cre­at­ing some­thing that ev­ery­one yearns to be part of. This new move­ment must work with lo­cal gov­ern­ment to en­sure that importing her­itage to our coun­try is fa­cil­i­tated, and ex­port­ing her­itage out of our coun­try is pe­nal­ized or taxed. This move­ment must work to make New Zealand the clas­sic and vin­tage car cap­i­tal of the world. It must bring in­ter­na­tional runs and events to our shores aplenty. New Zealand will be­come the envy of many, and all this will boost our econ­omy.

Un­less this hap­pens, the prob­lems we face to­day will re­main, and, as a re­sult, we will con­tinue los­ing our cars to over­seas buy­ers. We will con­tinue los­ing an in­dus­try that can be saved by sim­ply turn­ing it into a fun, trendy in­vest­ment scheme, a scheme avail­able for any­one who wants to be part of it.

It would, of course, be nice to see such a move­ment grow within an ex­ist­ing body, but, as things stand, an ex­ist­ing struc­ture is not re­quired for such move­ment to es­tab­lish it­self, be­cause any­thing ex­ist­ing only serves as a mo­ti­va­tor for this new move­ment to flour­ish.

Un­til next time, safe driv­ing!

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