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Money for nothing and your kicks for free ?

Posted 11 November, 04:25 AM by Toby Ross

I have never owned a classic car with the idea in my head that I will make a profit when I sell it. Sometimes I have made a profit, and sometimes I have sold it for about what I paid. About half and half. And sometimes I have made a loss. Not because I sold the car for less than I paid, but because I am not mechanically minded and the upkeep has cost money, or the change of colour or upholstery has cost money, or I spent too much on a restoration.

But I must say that the money I lost on occasion was well spent. I am of an opinion that pleasure, unless you are 18 years old, costs money. You go to a restaurant and invite a friend. You leave 200 bucks on the table. Take your wife away for a nice weekend to a Spa Hotel and you’ll probably spend ten times that. Take a girlfriend away for a dirty weekend, and if you’re wealthy it may cost you millions.

Maybe your wife will argue when you want to buy a car that she can have a work of art on the wall. How much will it cost to insure every year? Perhaps you can have a copy made and keep the original in a safe. Or maybe she will say that you can buy a house in the boondocks that you can go and get bored in for two weeks a year. But please don’t ask about the upkeep costs.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. If you want to visit Paris, Rome, New York, or cruise down the Nile, you most definitely should. If you want to invite your family for Christmas to the Caribbean, please do so.

If you want to make a fortune from owning a classic car for a year, think again. Those days are over. Dreaming about finding that Figoni in a barn for a quarter of what it’s worth? Forget it. Internet has taken care of that. Everyone knows what his car is worth. And anyway, there aren’t very many left to find.

Dreaming about enjoying a car? Well yes, that is still possible. You can restore it, change its color, re-do the interior, make it run better, take it to shows, do road events, drive it to the restaurant on Sunday, or in fact any day that you please. Every single minute that you spend with it will bring you pleasure. How many of us have not sat down in front of a car of an evening with a packet of cigarettes and/or a bottle of something and just spent hours living a dream?

Don’t you love chatting to other enthusiasts during a Concours d’Elegance? What about hustling through the mountains and then comparing the experience with fellow participants over dinner on a road event? What about the adrenaline rush at Laguna Seca?

I have recently been conversing to a group of enthusiasts. They love traction engines. Both full size and working models. Despite some surprising values, these guys just don’t care how much their toys are worth. They don’t care how much a restoration costs. They just care about how much they enjoy themselves.

So, old car enthusiasts, please stop asking me if you will make a profit in a couple of years. You might. You might not. But remember, most of us are not eighteen years old, so usually we have to pay for our pleasure. Don’t be embarrassed.


ross classic deco