COMMENT | Vintage Cars… Will it end?

I’m worried. I’m worried about the classic car market and you lot, the readers. More so the younger ones.

Being one of THEGAYUK’s motoring correspondents you’d expect me to have something new or flash or a bit of both. I don’t. The newest car in my fleet of 4 is a 1993 Fiat Tempra. A car I loved the moment I saw the advert back in 1991. The oldest I own is a 40-year-old VW camper.

In 1988 I was a spotty teenager who just happened to borrow his sister’s Just Seventeen magazine to get his feel of Marti Pellow and the rest of the Wets. In that year Fiat launched the Tipo. I liked the Tipo. It won Car of The Year 1988. THEGAYUK will be reviewing the new Tipo in the new year so I look forward to that.

Two years later Fiat launched the booted version called the Tempra and I don’t know if it was the visual of the car’s lines that struck me or Miriam Stockley’s haunting voice in the advert but l remember it stopping me dead in my tracks.

l said to my still teenage self that one-dayI would have one. The Tempra isn’t anything special or exotic. It’s a four door, five seat Italian saloon that sat below the Lancia and Alfa Romeo derivatives who had luxuries like turbos and V6’s.

The recent NEC classic car show was different this year too. There was more of a shift towards 80’s and 90’s car. The classic car market is quite resilient if you allow the odd old duffer to be slightly knocked sideways in their protests that newer cars being allowed to display actually shouldn’t be. Trouble is, 80’s and 90’s cars are rapidly disappearing from our roads.

Now here lays the problem. I am struggling to see what the young car enthusiast will aspire to in the rapid-fire world of bright and shiny things. In 2016 we all want the latest gadget, the most up to date software, shiniest shoes. This goes for everything these days. Perfectly functioning TVs are being tossed aside because the one in the shops has a curved screen and the 3-year-old unit at home doesn’t. Second place runners are not what we want. We want the best.

 

The Gay Classic Car Club is a wealthy rich place to find the exotic and the mundane. Members cars range from various Bentleys worth the same as the total sum donated to Children In Need to the modest like an Austin Montego. Now don’t get me started on Montego’s because I can get a little excited about them.

Old cars that I grew up with were simple. A key was turned, the engine turned over, fuel mixed with air in a carburettor, a spark was made and it resulted in propulsion. The cars fell to pieces due to steel reacting with air and water. You kept it going for as long as possible.

I contact manufacturers and ask for various cars to review though not one has made me think about its life as a 20-year-old classic. Due to the throwaway society we have become, I struggle to see many actually last that long. Working with cars I see a lot of people throw a car away these days. A recent 2004 VW Touran was in for diagnosis. It had a faulty NoX sensor. The part alone was £450 from VW. Along with some other bits needed for its MOT and a service, the bill rose to £700. The car was thrown away. I spent £700 on having the Tempra welded up. Thing is, there are still hundreds of Tourans out there. The number of Tempras on the road is 110. Thankfully, due to advances made in car manufacture and dismantling, many of the parts can be stripped and recycled.

So I sit here, at my desk, looking up Marti Pellow in the 80s and ponder what you and I might see at classic car shows in 20 years time. The new Mini, Beetle and 500 will probably still be in abundance but what about the ordinary humdrum car that wouldn’t raise the pulse even if its ignition system was rigged up as some kind of defibrillator and attached to your nipples? Or like my Tempra?


I’ve looked out of my window to the street below in the neighbourhood. I can’t see the Nissan Duke becoming a classic. The Focus, of which there are several, are getting close to the age of being almost semi-classic. It’s still a good car to drive and being that it sold in the zillions, there are plenty still out there. Hardly a rare sight on the road.


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There is a 2004 Mazda 6.  Twelve-years-old and full of reliability. It’s a bit grey porridge if I’m honest. It’ll never go wrong and because the Japanese don’t rust like they used to, it’ll go on forever. It just won’t be desirable to cherish. Or will it?

I’m sure there are many non-exotic cars that will make it into the echelons of the classic car underworld so in the mean time some of the GCCG members have sent me pictures of their old cars while l still struggle to think what will make it.

PHOTO CREDITS: Chris Ianford (Rover); Graeme Aiken (Rolls); Mike Howart (Cornice); Phillip Trueman (Maxi); Rob Par (Cherry); Stephen Golder (Montego) Stuart M Bird (Tempra)

 

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Motoring nurse or medical motorist? It's a difficult one. By day l nurse and by night l drive. Fingers have always been grease deep in attending the motoring of an ageing fleet. And now l write about new and old. If you have a motoring product you's like reviewed please e mail me: [email protected]

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Stuart M Bird

Motoring nurse or medical motorist? It's a difficult one. By day l nurse and by night l drive. Fingers have always been grease deep in attending the motoring of an ageing fleet. And now l write about new and old. If you have a motoring product you's like reviewed please e mail me: [email protected]