VALUE OUR CRAFTS­MEN

NZ Performance Car - - EDITORIAL - Email: mar­cus@per­for­mance­car.co.nz In­sta­gram: mar­cus_nzpc­magazine Mar­cus Gib­son

he older the New Zealand import scene gets, the more value we are see­ing given to what I’d like to call ‘sur­vivor’ cars: the ones that slipped through the cracks and avoided be­ing hacked up, caked in bog, and mod­i­fied. RX-3s for $100K are a real thing, as are $200K GT-Rs, $70K Es­corts, and so on. The prices of such clas­sics are head­ing one way only, as find­ing sur­vivors be­comes harder by the day. This forces hunters want­ing a slice of the ac­tion to con­sider restor­ing wrecks; shells once suit­able for noth­ing more than scrap heaps. These unrestored wrecks are only go­ing to con­tinue to de­te­ri­o­rate — I shud­der to think about the scale of resto jobs in an­other 10 or 20 years that will be car­ried out on the likes of what will be rust-bucket Dat­sun 1600s by then.

A lot of this work is not for the faint-hearted and re­quires some se­ri­ous skill and knowl­edge to carry out. But, at the rate we’re cur­rently go­ing, will there be any true crafts­men left who are able to bring this metal back from the dead? There has been a real de­cline in young peo­ple be­ing taken un­der the wing of grumpy old codgers and shown the ways of old, and those younger-gen­er­a­tion shop own­ers and work­ers out there with the nec­es­sary skills are sim­ply not paid what they should for the work.

It’s a funny thing about the hobby au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try, and some­thing that is a con­stant strug­gle for any­one try­ing to run a shop prof­itably. Peo­ple do not like pay­ing the true value of this type of work, yet other tradies, whether they’re builders, electricians, drain lay­ers, plumbers, and even A-to-B car ser­vice cen­tres, are paid ac­cord­ing to the time spent on the job, 99 per cent of the time with­out ques­tion. But, when it comes to some­one car­ry­ing out a paint job, some cus­tom fab­ri­ca­tion, or those darn rust re­pairs, the cus­tomer al­ways seems to have a case of the dreaded wal­let shrink­age.

This means that many shops are sim­ply not tak­ing on the big­ger resto jobs, or com­plete car builds, as any prof­its of­ten dis­ap­pear with jobs of this scale. Panel and paint shops are elect­ing to swap over to things like in­sur­ance work, and fab­ri­ca­tion ex­perts are trans­fer­ring into non-au­to­mo­tive work; it’s the brain drain that no one re­ally talks about. And it’s some­thing that will have many of us up shit creek when we want to carry out big builds in 10 or 20 years.

Will we be fac­ing a five-year wait­ing list just to get a look in, or turn­ing to a shop that’s not as trusted and get­ting bit­ten in the arse for it? My only hope is that as the price of these cars con­tin­ues to rise — along with the in­comes of those want­ing to build them — such that more and more skilled crafts­men will come back to the flock and open up their doors once more. If not, we’re fac­ing some dark times ahead, even if we’re will­ing to pay the real price.

On a side note, I re­ally wanted to touch on the re­cent fire that de­stroyed one of the South Is­land’s big­gest tun­ing shops. From the footage I have seen from in­side the shop, it looks dev­as­tat­ing to say the least, with count­less melted cars good for noth­ing more than the scrap heap. My heart goes out to any­one who lost their pride and joy in the blaze, and I only hope that they had in­sur­ance.

I can’t stress this enough — get restora­tion or race car in­sur­ance, guys. It’s cheap, and if you get the right pol­icy, you will be well cov­ered in an event like this. You never know what can hap­pen, and, just like these un­for­tu­nate folk, you could lose it all in the blink of an eye. If you don’t have your car cov­ered then you should re­ally put this mag down right now and get call­ing around. It’s a small price to pay in the scheme of what we sink into our cars.

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