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G r a s s i n G a s


I am certainly not a computer geek, so I hope that you are able to follow your way around this site. The idea is to bring topical comments up, some gossip and personal views on the sport that we all spend our lives concentrating on.

We will take the michael out of people- in the best possible taste of course.

We will comment on issues that are in need of discussion.

You can have your say on the corkboards- please put your name to it- I will delete anonymous entries. You can vote on our topical polls- if you want a poll created send me your idea.

Making Car Restorations Less of a Hassle

At the Classic Motor Show, there was pristine Mini that was registered as a 1962 model and eligible for the free car tax for which cars built before 1973 qualify and for, usually cheaper, classic car insurance.

Car Restoration Tips

The builder was honest that it was essentially a new build on a 1979 body shell. It was an excellent piece of work but raises interesting questions.

Old Car, New Body shells

It is possible to now buy newly manufactured body shells for classic cars such as the Mini, MGB, Camaro and Mustang. These are invaluable to restorers trying to keep old cars on the road – working with new metal is easier than patching a rusted 40 year old chassis.

It is inevitable that classic cars will have parts replaced; so when does a car become a replica? A forty year old car is likely to have had its powertrain and running gear replaced. At that point replacing the bodywork means that there is little left of the original car other than the chassis plate!

A Brand New Old Car

It is now possible in 2008 to build a completely new and genuine 1960’s car as all parts are available for popular classics. A complete wreck can reappear as a beautifully restored vehicle even though it has no original parts. Old engines can also be purchased at Sun’s Engines.

It is made genuine simply by transferring registration details that may only be an official piece of paper and a chassis plate from the remains of a period car.


Continuation Models

There has also been a growth in so-called continuation models where a new run of period vehicles are built but with new registrations. AC did it when they produced a batch of ten Cobras some 25 or so years after first stopping production. At least, in that case, it was the original manufacturer using genuine period parts. Volkswagen owners  can also consult VW clubs for advice on their parts and services.

Other groups have since taken a similar approach and are building, for example, new Ford GT40s, with modern updates like air-conditioning, using modern manufactured parts and continuing the chassis numbering from the original Ford production. Are these originals, continuations or very good third-party replicas?

These are not the relatively inexpensive kit car replicas that only share the shape of the original but are detailed copies of the original. Although the parts are new they are, in many cases, interchangeable with the original. Whilst they would not fool the serious collector, who would check chassis numbers and specification against original documents, the less knowledgeable could be misled. It is also difficult to assess the price until they start appearing in classic car auctions regularly.

Heritage Certificates

The problem is recognized by the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobiles) the ruling body for motoring and motor sport who will issue only one numbered certificate and sticker to each chassis number/VIN.

To qualify a vehicle must:

  • Have a continuous history since built by its named manufacturer
  • Have been first built in the relevant year
  • Have the chassis number/VIN given to it by the original manufacturer or
  • Have a history that fits with no chassis number with no doubts about its authenticity

The car must therefore have demonstrable and continuous existence as a car since originally built. As the FIA say: “... cars built up from scratch or new around a chassis plate or previously discarded components would not meet the criteria”.

The cost of preparing the necessary dossier and applying to the FIA for a certificate (fees around 1,500 euros, £1,250 or $2,000) are prohibitive for all but the most important and valuable classics.

Buyer Beware

While most builders and restorers are not setting out to deceive, there is scope for the unscrupulous to do so. The buyer must take proper care especially as quite “ordinary” classics can now attract serious prices. Just look at this caveat emptor for interested buyers of the Marietta sportscar.

Part of the secret to self-protection is a good knowledge of the marque and model .The buyer should have reference material that lists chassis numbers and design changes. The less experienced should join, and seek support, from the appropriate owners’ club who will have extensive archives and knowledge.

At the end of the day a classic vehicle, like art, is to be enjoyed and if it turns out to be a good investment then that is a bonus.

Meeting Reviews
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NEXT MEETING WESSEX 18th August - wmrc-online.co.uk