THE COST OF MODS
Generally, upgrades devalue a classic, but there can be some real benefits
‘There are those who celebrate contemporisation’
The classic car market embraces people whose tastes vary. The standard versus modified debate clearly polarises views, especially when it applies to the ‘retro’ movement, where 1960s-1980s classics are re-engined with later running gear and often re-painted in later, non-standard colours.
Such modifications might upset the old guard and at the same time might not hold their value, but the upside of encouraging younger enthusiasts into the hobby shouldn’t be under-played. Historics’ Edward Bridger- Stille acknowledges the differences in taste that can be found in the classic movement, with some finding the slightest deviation from standard automotive heresy.
‘There are purists of classic motor cars to whom any whiff of modification from the original vehicle specification is unacceptable. Conversely there are those who celebrate “contemporisation” in order to make a classic more driveable in road conditions today – such as brake and suspension upgrades,’ Bridger- Stille says. ‘Historics’ philosophy is to respect all viewpoints and reflect the breadth of the classic community. We do not shy away from offering appropriately modified classics, provided the changes are in keeping with the car, have been conducted professionally and they do not denigrate its value.’
While those who adopt a ‘Keep it standard’ line might think they hold the majority view, there’s a perhaps surprisingly strong acceptance of such cars in the market, and also an appreciation that there is another side of the argument.
‘Obviously matters of taste come into play – one man’s “retro cool ride” is another man’s “fright pig” – but at least they get a younger generation interested in the old-car hobby,’ says Brightwells’ James Dennison. ‘No doubt a fair few cars are also saved from the scrapyard by timely engine transplants and
bodywork modifications. As a general rule, modifications devalue the car in the eyes of the market. There are few that could be classed as a good investment.’
Bridger- Stille says that when it comes to competition cars, build is very much a personal matter. ‘Competition cars, especially, are individual tools and often vary wildly from one to another. My advice for those thinking of modifying is to retain the standard components if practical so the car can, if necessary, be returned to the original specification,’ he says.
Many modifications improve comfort and safety, but it’s always wise to retain the standard equipment.