The sunny side of the clas­sic world, with the VJMC' s Steve Cooper

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - NEWS -

Have you bought a bike from a dealer-cum-clas­sic bike spe­cial­ist? Was it a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence or some­thing you’ll not be re­peat­ing any time soon? Deal­ers seem to po­larise opin­ion with many clas­sic en­thu­si­asts sim­ply be­cause they (the buy­ers) some­how be­lieve deal­ers shouldn’t be charg­ing the prices they do. And on ex­actly the same tack many dyed-in-the-wool clas­sic fans per­ceive deal­ers as the sole rea­son why clas­sic ma­chines have spi­ralled up in price. Is that the case or is there an­other side to this? Well let’s be per­fectly blunt here, deal­ers are in the game to make money. What they’re not likely to do is sell bikes at be­low the mar­ket rate, sub­sidise your im­pend­ing pur­chase or take a fi­nan­cial hit on ev­ery sale. The deal­ers sell­ing old bikes com­mer­cially have to make a liv­ing and, de­spite what some folk would have you be­lieve, it’s not all beer and skit­tles out there. Here’s one very hard and large fact: deal­ers sit on dead stock and dead money un­til a given ma­chine is sold. Un­til the bike leaves the premises and the dosh changes hands the dealer is ef­fec­tively los­ing money. Suppose a dealer buys up a small col­lec­tion of bikes, per­haps half a dozen, and pays a lit­tle be­low the mar­ket rate be­cause he’s tak­ing the lot. He only gets that money back (and any profit) once each of those ma­chines is sold. Some might fly out the door in which case happy days etc. but what about the ones that don’t sell quickly? Let’s as­sume we have a tidy and early CB500/4 in close to peak con­di­tion and our fan­tasy bike dealer wants £6000 for it de­spite only buy­ing it in at £4000. So that’s a tidy two grand profit? Well that’s a yes if the bike is sold im­me­di­ately but a firm no if the bike doesn’t shift. So knock off around 3% per year for in­fla­tion and per­haps an­other 1.5% for lost bank in­ter­est off the cost of the bike’s ini­tial pur­chase price. So that’s the thick end of 5% be­fore any­thing else hap­pens. Now fac­tor in advertising costs at near on a grand a month if the bikes are flagged up in three or four mag­a­zines. Oh and don’t for­get all those back of­fice costs such as heat­ing and light­ing along with staff wages. It’s all begin­ning to mount up sud­denly isn’t it? This is a large part of what you are pay­ing out for when you buy a bike from a dealer. Still think you’re be­ing taken for ride? Then try this one… take four grand of your own money, stuff it in a sock and leave it on your work bench for two years. Doesn’t make any sense what­so­ever does it? Yet that’s what you, me and ev­ery po­ten­tial clas­sic en­thu­si­ast is ex­pect­ing each and ev­ery dealer to do. Oh and you ex­pect a war­ranty as well? Sud­denly the maths might just be­gin to stack up!

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