Events, Affordable Buys and Comeback Cars

With the British and European weather remaining foul in February, many car guys headed for the 3rd annual indoor International Historic Motorsport Show. Octane contributor Sir Stirling Moss was at the Octane stand signing autographs and enjoying meeting many of his enthusiastic readers. This is a relatively new show and is very enjoyable because it is down to earth and hands on. If you race or rally an historic car, the chances are you will meet a specialist here who can help improve your performance and most certainly will come away with some great mechanical components.

In April, Techno Classica Essen in Germany is the main event. This is the biggest indoor classic car show in the world filling over 17 vast halls. The standard of presentation is excellent, and the large German manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Audi really make an effort to wow the audience. Hundreds of classic cars were for sale and all fully priced. Christopher Renwick from RM Auctions was there and noted, “Prices are very high, but the market is hot at the moment. Dealers are asking the maximum and they are getting it.”

Ain’t that the truth! As you have witnessed in America , prices for cars across the board are on the up, especially American muscle cars of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. This is encouraging, as it indicates that the next generation of car guys are keen to preserve and enjoy automobiles of their youth.

For years in Britain and Europe , classic cars of the 1970s were regarded with disdain. But now that the era of platform heels and flared trousers is back with a vengeance, in an ironic sort of way, Ford Capris, BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobiles and Ferrari Daytonas are in style and in demand. This is naturally helped by race organisers opening up classes for cars built after 1965. At the Le Mans Classic, the races for ‘70s cars are extremely popular.

In general, the market for very good, totally restored cars here is strong. Collectors and enthusiasts realise that it is better to pay top money for a beautiful example rather than buying a so-so car that will cost a fortune to restore. We live in a world of instant gratification, cheap money and little time – perfect ingredients for the sellers of pristine machines.

Octane’s American columnist Dave Kinney has noted that in the States, prices of “ordinary” classics are strengthening all the time. The days of cheap TR3s, early Porsche 911s and Alfa Giuliettas are over – and a good thing too. These are all great little cars, and it is time they became worth something so people take care of them and ensure their preservation for the future.

Fun, Affordable Classics to Buy Now

MGB: Simple fun as standard and a veritable army of specialist can make then go quickly.

Porsche 912: Make sure the expensive-to-rebuild engine is in good shape and you will out-handle tail-happy early 911s.

E-type Jaguar Series II: Well sorted, keep cool and women don’t notice the federal lights!

Alfa Giulia Berlina: Great handling with room for two friends in the back and trunk space for luggage for a long road trip.

Robert Coucher

Octane magazine

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