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CLASSIC CAR owners are a breed apart who feel passionate about their vehicles, as these two examples demonstrate. Bernado Hartogs is an avid classic car collector who regularly participates in rallies throughout Europe. He currently owns a Ferrari Dino 216 GT/111, a 1956 Mercedes Gullwing and a 1957 Mercedes Roadster. “They are beautiful pieces of engineering and timeless designs”, he tells me when I quiz him on the subject of classic cars. “Modern cars are devoid of any personality. Sure, the new Ferrari is technically brilliant but it just doesn’t have a soul or a heart, and being Brazilian, I want a car that will talk to me”. David Graham (pictured) has owned his 1969 Triumph Herald convertible for the past nine years. He actually becomes dewy- eyed when he speaks about it. “When I was growing up our neighbour owned a red Herald convertible with black vinyl seats. I used to dream that one day I too would have one. Then, just by chance I saw one advertised. It had two previous owners and had just 20,500 miles on the clock. Every MOT certificate, tax disc and service docket had been meticulously filed, so much so, that I still have a receipt for its very first tank of petrol. I only use it on fine Sunday afternoons, but it is totally original – it’s still wearing the same set of white-wall tyres it left the factory with.”

Lord March’s stately Sussex home by celebrity drivers and Formula One racers. Closer to home, and the Channel Islands both have their own owners club. The Guernsey Classic Vehicle Club and the Jersey Classic Vehicle Club each host numerous rallies throughout the year, giving the general public a chance to get up close and personal with cars they may have only read about or seen in magazines.

Take a spin Owning classic cars, as you will have gathered, is not just the preserve of the financially well heeled or the petrolhead celebrity – Chris Evans, the Radio 2 presenter, famously paid £12 million for his Ferrari 250GT, and Nick Mason, the Pink Floyd drummer, is another fastidious collector whose stable of cars is reported to be worth close to £20 million. The market is open to everyone depending on what you are looking for. Searching the internet I found a 1960 Morris Minor for sale at

just £1,600 and when I widened my price criteria to £3,000-£4,000 the likes of a 1964 Daimler V8 250 fell in, as did a 1971 Fiat 500L and a 1957 Ford Popular. Stretch the budget even further and it’s possible to buy something a little more exotic like a Jaguar XJS or Porsche 944. British convertibles – the Triumphs, Jags and MGs

There are no real hard and fast rules for a car to become a classic: they can achieve this status for many reasons

50 April/May 2011

– which were the prime candidates for the first-time classic car enthusiast are now much sought after by overseas buyers and the price for a good example of a TR6 hovers around the £10,000 mark. The good news is that buying a classic today has become a

much more businesslike process, and prices are clinically analysed in a way that we are more used to seeing with currencies and stocks (mercifully, the rollercoaster classic car market of the Eighties and Nineties, which saw spectacular gains and even bigger losses when it finally came crashing down, is now long forgotten). In 2008, two former bankers set up Historical Automobile Group International (HAGI) with a sole aim of providing a rigorous independent index of classic car prices. The HAGI index for 2010 shows an increase of seven per cent on a basket taken of all classic cars, and the increase in the HAGI Ferrari index for the same period was more than nine per cent. So, if all this chat has got you thumbing through the small

ads of Classic Car magazine, hold your horses as there are some golden rules you should know. First, decide on the car you want, and then buy the best example of it you can afford. Part restoration jobs are cheaper in the first instance but should be left to those with more than a modicum of mechanical know- how. Second, make sure you are buying what you think you are buying. If you think forgery is restricted to fine art and designer clothes, note that even though only 33 Ferrari 250 TRs were built, there are 46 hotly disputed examples in circulation today. And thirdly, if you’re not entirely happy with what you’re about to buy, put the chequebook back in your pocket and walk away. n

DANNY COBBS is a freelance motoring journalist

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