The Positives and Negatives of Buying at a Classic Car Auction

It’s an automotive enthusiast’s dream. Head to an auction that features a list of classic cars, the type that had you gazing at the poster on the wall for hours. Up for grabs is a Lamborghini Countach, perhaps a Tucker Torpedo, maybe even a classic Ford Model T.

Niggling away is a question or two. How good will the car be? Why is it being sold? Let’s have a look at some of the ups and downs of buying such a machine at an auction.

One immediate positive is that the prospective buyer MAY be the only person looking for a certain car listed. Sure, this easily can be a negative if everyone’s after a Ford Falcon GTHO with three hundred miles on the odometer but if it’s something like a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air in reasonable condition, there’s a better chance of not so many eyes being on it.

Many classic cars come with paperwork. This describes the history of the car from the day it was sold at a dealership, its service history in detail, any restoration work, and the canny owner will have had this done by specialists. As a result, the car should be in as close to showroom condition as possible and with as little to spend on top of the final purchase price.

Reputable auction houses help behind the scenes by doing their best in ensuring a seller is not selling a dud. As an accepted rule, sellers via reputable auction houses are either known to the auction company through previous transactions, have been thoroughly vetted by investigation, or are a known vehicle investor.

The classic car family is a solid and tightly knit network. One particular American gent has made a living from buying and restoring classic cars then selling them at auction. This, as a result, has had him build a great network of people to call for advice and for assistance when required. If car XYZ is missing part LMN then a phone call or email generally has someone somewhere saying “yes, I can help”. This results in being able to source a genuine part, just like Rare Spares offers as a service.

However not all diamonds are polished. Although a good auction house will inspect the cars being offered for sale, sometimes human error creeps in and a car listed as 100% genuine may have parts that were hastily cobbled together from less than reputable sources to have it ready in time for sale. Thankfully these happenings are as rare as they can be.

Cost at an auction is always the big question. Again, most reputable auction houses will be able to price the car to the market value. There will be a reserve, a minimum asking price, but sometimes that can work against buyers that feel the market is asking too much, or, conversely, can see the expected asking price soar way beyond expectations, leaving buyers frustrated with what could be seen as artificially inflating the value and therefore affecting similar vehicles negatively.

Having a good knowledge of cars and the industry certainly won’t be seen as a bad thing. Not all rare cars are desirable and not all classic cars are expensive, so being able to research, shop around for the relative sales price of a car being eyed off will assist when you’re ready to buy. That way, at an auction and knowing what you’re prepared to spend will assist especially if there’s a choice of the car you’re aiming to purchase.

Finally, an easily overlooked item: what are you, as a new buyer, going to do with the car itself? Some people are in an envious position to be able to store cars in a properly maintained environment and keep them as an investment. However if you’re looking to be a driver of the car, let’s say a Porsche 356 Speedster, what about: parts, fuel, insurance, the actual drivability of the car? Some classic car owners bring them out for car shows, perhaps a drive day at their local race track, and unfortunately too many are driven there and are trucked away with mechanical issues that weren’t obvious when bought.

To use that well worn phrase, however, “at the end of the day” it shouldn’t be forgotten that a buyer of a classic car does so because they’ll ultimately wish to be happy, proud, satisfied, with their purchase. After all, that’s what Rare Spares aims for with our range of parts for Australian classic cars. 

Let us know your thoughts on what you look for in a classic car and perhaps the good & the bad you’ve experienced at an auction.

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Group S At The 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour

The Bathurst 12 Hour as an event continues to grow in both size and stature. After moving away from a production car based race, in a contentious decision at the time, to a GT based program, the success of that decision has been validated. However, man does not live on GT alone so there were a number of support categories including the Group S cars. Under the current regulations, Group S covers a period from the 1940s through to the end of the 1970s.

Groups S itself is an umbrella that covers three sub-categories; Group Sa, Sb, and Sc. Sa is for the more elderly cars, starting from early 1941 through to the end of December 1960. It’s this category that appeals to the drivers of British cars such as the MG-A, Sunbeam Alpine, or the “Bugeye” Sprite.

Sb cars cover a slightly more compressed timeframe, being January 1961 through to December 31 1969. There’s a vast appeal here to many marques, so Corvette Stingrays, Alfa Romeo GTVs, Porsche 911s, Shelby Cobras, and more will feature.

Group Sc rounds off with an inclusion of cars from January 1970 through to December 1977 (although we’ll see cars from 1979 racing) and Porsche stars here with the ever green 911. There’s the occasional De Tomaso Pantera, Datsun 260Z, and Triumph TR6.

Naturally, being historic car racing, there’s categories within categories, with engine capacity classes being applied. Group Sa has: Saa, Sab, and Sac, covering up to 1300cc, between 1300cc and 1800cc, and over 1800cc

Sb covers a larger range. Sba and Sbb are the same as Group Sa, with Sbc ranging from 1800cc to 3000cc, whilst Sbd is from 3001cc.

Sca is slightly different, covering up to 2000cc, then Scb just 2001cc to 2600cc, then Scc 2601cc to 3500cc before finalizing with Scd from 3501cc and up.

2018 has a pretty full calendar for these venerable machines with fourteen race weekends; March 2018 has the annual Philip Island Classic whilst mid April has the inaugural Shannon’s Nationals at the new South Australia Tailem Bend circuit. There’ll be visits to Morgan Park in Queensland, Winton in northern Victoria, and December sees the final round for the year at Sydney Motorsport Park for the fabulous Tasman Revival meeting.

The Group S cars are a production based category and the cars themselves do not have to have a specific racing history, unlike the Groups A and C cars which MUST be the original racing car. The www.groupsracing.org.au website says: “Group S cars are not historic racing cars; they are historic production sports cars, modified within the limits of Group S eligibility criteria.” 

Group S ran three races at Mt Panorama during the B12 event. Race 1 was Friday February 2 and was shortened to five from the scheduled seven laps. It was a fifty five car field that featured vehicles from all three sub categories with twelve different marques and it was a fifty one car field that finished the five laps.

Ian Ross in his 1966 Shelby GT350 managed to beach his classic machine at the Chase in lap one which resulted in a safety car being called out for three laps. Of the fifty one that finished race 1, sixteen were Porsche 911 and one of those, piloted by Geoff Morgan in the Sc class, took the chequered flag. In fact, the first three cars were Scc followed by two Scd. The quickest Sa car was in the Sac category, Zack McAfee in his tidy 1956 Austin Healey.

Unfortunately for Morgan race 2 was a fizzer on the final lap as his car’s distributor failed. This handed the win to fellow 911 pilot and Morgan’s good friend, Wayne Seabrook. There was a measure of carnage at the rear of field on the first lap with Colin Goldsmith’s immaculate 1959 Austin Healy being punted by a spinning Steve Constantinidis is his 1972 Corvette.

Race three was curtailed to five laps in a time critical finish. Seabrook again took the chequered flag. Doug Barbour in his 911 finished with a flourish by spinning on the final lap and managing to still snare fourth.

A sidebar here is just how quick and nimble some of the smaller engine cars were. Race three had Damien Meyer in a 1275cc MG Midget from 1970 finish in thirteenth position, ahead of cars such as a DeTomaso Pantera with its 351 Ford engine and a 928 Porsche with a 4.5L block. That was a great follow up to his 17th in race 1

Did you catch the classic car action at the Bathurst 12 hour? What did you think? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Buyer Beware - Asbestos in Imported Classic Cars

Thinking of importing a much loved car (or motorcycle) from overseas? It might be worth taking a bit of time to weigh up the risks associated with such an investment before pulling the trigger. In 2017 Australian Border Force intercepted roughly 50 cars and motorcycles that contained traces of the potentially toxic substance, asbestos. Among those a host of classics, including a Jaguar E-Type, a Shelby GT350 Mustang, a Rolls Royce and a Bentley S3.

While the cost of importing these classic cars in the first place is hardly a cheap affair, the real costs begin to add up once asbestos has been found. In Australia, since 2003 a total ban has been placed on the toxic substance and individual importers face fines of up to $3000 per offence. Removal of the asbestos effected parts is then the sole responsibility of the individual with costs for some reportedly blowing out to north of $20,000!

The most common affected areas are brake pads, clutch linings and gaskets on specifically older makes and models of cars and motorcycles, so your new Right Hand Drive converted F150 Raptor is unlikely to face any issues. Imports are chosen at random for in depth asbestos testing, with microscopic analysis performed by an occupational hygienist.

Australian Authorities are suggesting a thorough inspection of the vehicle before it leaves its country of origin to ensure nothing makes it through to Australian shores where it is almost certain to catch the attention of customs.

So do your research on asbestos and save yourself a heap of time, effort and money before you import a classic car from overseas.

Do you have your eye on an international classic? Or do you have your own import horror story to report? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Volkswagen Beetle – The Peoples Car

The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most instantly recognisable cars in the history of automotive manufacturing, and just as interesting as the silhouette of the iconic bug is the story behind its concept. In this article we will take a quick look at the history of the Beetle and delve into its Australian connection throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

The origins of the Volkswagen Beetle date back to the early 1930’s when a Fuhrer by the name of Adolf Hitler proclaimed that the automobile, an at the time luxury afforded to only the very rich, should be available to the masses. Hitler specified that the ideal vehicle must be suitable for carrying 2 adults and 3 children at 100 km/h, while consuming no more than 7 litres of fuel every 100 km. Tasked with creating a vehicle to service the needs of the masses was tasked to Ferdinand Porsche. Porsche set about designing and building three prototypes, branded only ‘Volkswagen’ (“The Peoples Car”), the very round, bug-like appearance of the car ensured it was colloquially referred to as the Beetle.

Throughout WW2, Porsche developed a number of military spec Beetles that served as the first to leave his Wolfburg factory. With it’s now distinctive rear-mounted air cooled engine, the military spec vehicles were near on indestructible and were even designed to float for a short period of time in case of emergency!

By 1945 production was in full swing and the first customer vehicles were spreading throughout the streets of Europe. Armed with a 19kw flat four engine, the early Beetles proved a massive hit with the public and at a price of only 990 Reichsmark, which was similar to the price of a small motorcycle; the Bug was a genuine option for almost all families.

Fast forward 8 years and importation of the Beetle commenced into Australia, with assembly of the Peoples Car commencing in Melbourne by 1954. Throughout the 60’s locally manufactured parts and panels were being utilised in Melbourne built Beetles, with work being undertaken at the now HSV owned Clayton manufacturing plant. As we’ve become all too familiar with in recent times, sales of the Beetle eventually began to decline and in 1976 all Australian Volkswagen manufacturing efforts were ceased and the workshop was sold to Nissan Australia.

It wasn’t until 1998 that the first major re-design of the beetle took place and a look at the current Beetle finds a significantly different car to what was established way back in the 1930’s. The engine has been moved to the more traditional front mounted layout while power figures have increased with range topping models featuring in the area of 150kw. The unmistakable shape is still present and although not everybody’s cup of tea serves as one of very few modern cars that pay homage to their historical ancestors.

Do you own an early model Volkswagen Beetle? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about it in the comments section below.

Four Incredible Australian Barn Finds

Barn finds are the stuff of any rev-heads dreams, but for most they are just that; a dream. For some however, dreams of uncovering a timeless classic hidden away in a barn or shed have come to fruition, with many not quite understanding the goldmine they possess until the car has long outlived its ‘best-before’ date. In this week’s blog, we’ll take a quick look at four incredible barn finds that have been uncovered across Australia over the last decade.

1956 FJ Special

Found in Essendon back in 2010 this beautiful example with original paint bears a proud 43,067 miles on the odometer. A Southern Motors sold car it has it’s original leads, original owner’s manual and receipts still with the car. It was a one owner car and obviously was used very sparingly. It has some light battle scars such as some panel scrapes from a brush with a steel gate and some speckling in the paint but this all only adds to the character of this very original car. It’s current custodian purchased the car from the original owner’s son and continues to maintain it so as to keep it’s history intact.

1968 HK Monaro

The original owner of this Monaro had stored it in his shed for the first 24 years of its life, and upon purchase by its current owner it spent a further 25 odd years under wraps. For the first 49 years of this car’s life it had seen very little action, and it wasn’t until the current owner’s brother got in his ear about fixing it up to make a trip to Summernats 2016 that there was any real plans to get this car back on the road. With only a dash of oil and tank of fuel added, the Monaro fired into life and with only a couple more updates this classic Monaro was on its way to Summernats! From then on, despite its exterior appearance, the iconic Monaro has been a picture of perfect reliability, regularly hitting the road for a leisurely cruise.

1977 LX A9X Hatchback

Purchased when the collector/owner recognised the investment potential of the A9X in the mid-90’s, the Torana was then stored on blocks under his house and used very sparingly throughout the next 17 years. Back in 2011, the Flamenco Red Torana was found still dormant under the late collector’s house and listed for auction with no reserve. While it was expected the Torana would fetch in the vicinity of $80,000-$120,000, the room was shocked to see bidding rise to an astounding $149,000! With only 99,000 original kilometres, this barn find was described as being in immaculate condition, and likely to be one of the best kept, unrestored A9X’s in the country! The question is what’s she worth now?

1971 XY GTHO Phase 3

This blue oval barn find currently resides in the Gosford Classic Car Museum, it was purchased recently by the museum in the back blocks of WA. It was a one owner vehicle and all travel was notated by the owner in a log book and all receipts also kept. Sold new by Lynas Motors the local Ford dealer, it has not been driven since 1982. It is 1 of only 18 XY GTHO’s produced in the factory Nugget Gold metallic paint. It currently sports a set of Bathurst Globes on it’s feet and has not even been started yet by the museum. A guess at value would lead you to think it would push seven figures but in the current market it is very difficult to say with such a rare well documented example…

Do you have a classic car living in your shed? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know all about your classic car!