Practical Classics (UK)
Matt Tomkins asks ‘does paperwork really matter?’
‘Do you need to know who fitted binned parts?'
It struck me recently the number of times buying advice, including our own, recommends ensuring a classic has a heap of paperwork alongside it before purchase. But what does that really mean? Indeed, binders full of invoices for engine work is no guarantee that more won’t be required in the future – or even that those bills aren’t all trying to solve a still-unresolved problem.
Personally, I’ve never been one for keeping a record of my classics’ service history. I did set out to buck that trend with my Austin Seven project, but when I added the whole lot up in an Excel spreadsheet it very nearly induced cardiac arrest. So, I stopped. Maybe I don’t value paperwork because the sorts of cars I buy I know are going to be projects, or that I actually quite enjoy the process of bringing a classic mechanically up to scratch. We all know that a classic can have had a brandnew braking system installed that becomes seized and ineffectual after 12 months of inactivity in damp storage, so when viewing a car I’d rather carefully assess the body for structural rot, listen to the engine and feel for clonks, rattles and uneven braking than pore over folders of receipts to learn when a particular component was last changed.
I’m no investor, nor marketplace guru, but it strikes me that the value of paperwork sits more in resale value than any real tangible benefit to a classic’s new owner, but consider this: do you really need to know what brake pads were fitted, by whom, and how much that cost in 1984, when those parts were removed and binned many decades ago?