My ‘dream’ garage circa 2031

Well, I certainly got brains engaged and tongues flapping with my column last week about the plans by Governments around the world to actively legislate to ban the sales – and perhaps more importantly, the use of – petrol, diesel, and gas-powered cars in favour of full Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVS) in ……less than 10 years!

I certainly hope, however, that you got the message that I am deeply suspicious about any plans to use legislation to ‘force’ those of us living in democratically run countries to do something with our own money and our own freewill we flagrantly do not want to do.

Which for me is to be forced to sell any of my (let’s count them……OK right now there are only three but I’m always up for more) petrol-fuelled circa late ‘80s/early 90s cars and have to ‘buy’ some faceless BEV like a Nissan Leaf.

A ‘proper’ BEV Like a Tesla, sure, I’d look at it then. But sadly, since I’ve never been in a financial – let alone life – position to be able to seriously contemplate the economics or otherwise, of owning an expensive ‘new’ luxury car I seriously doubt I will be in what realistically speaking, are my ‘twilight’ years.

So, no thanks Jacinda, even if you are going to literally give away BEVS to our poorest and most vulnerable punters to get the level of ‘uptake’ you need to meet your obviously totally unrealistic reduction in CO2 targets from the transport sector, you won’t see me in one anytime soon.

I’ll simply get into my 1998 Toyota Camry 2.2 and drive to my nearest voting booth next election day and vote for whichever party is going to bring some common sense and realistic timelines and options into the fossil fuel-to-full-electric propulsion debate.

In the meantime, I’ve actually been thinking about my all-time list of ‘favourite’ cars…and wondering if I will ever actually own any of them.

The problem, you see, is simple. Cars are actually built to be driven, so if I was – for instance – to commit to buying, as an investment, say, a 1971.5 (split bumper) Z28 Chevrolet Camaro (like the gold Kensington Carpets one Red Dawson used to race here) I’d need some more space in the garage (for a start) not to mention a reason as well as the discipline to give it a run every week or fortnight or so.

As it turns out I’m actually no stranger to owing older, little used cars, but each time I have finally agreed to selling them (a gorgeous old Savannah Beige 1971 VW 1500 Beetle was one, a one-owner Sapphire Blue 1980 Nissan Skyline R31 another) all I have felt is relief….

In an ideal world I would have kept both, and continued to lavish the care, attention and $$$$ each one – in my humble opinion anyway – deserved.

However, without the regular use each was actually built for, both started deteriorating before my unbelieving eyes. Fact is, my eyes were arguably the only ones that noticed, but even parked up in a supposedly dry Auckland garage the city’s relentless summer humidity meant that tiny rust spots started sweating out from under the (still thick and lustrous) factory paint of the Beetle along the pressed together seams between the roof and A, B & C pillar panels.

Sure, you could argue that I am way too……paranoid is arguably too strong a word but I’m sure you get my drift…….to get back into the ‘business’ of owning cars as investments.

However, I can’t help but think that if there is a right time to buy – it is now. And one of the reasons why is our own current Labour Government’s clumsy attempts to try and look good (i.e., green) in an environmental wall-pissing-act with other deluded ruling parties like those in Germany, France, The Netherlands, and the UK.

Never mind that they have recently made a major policy blunder by attempting to meddle in the free (for-all) property market (closing a loophole which actively encouraged people to buy houses specifically to rent to others, thus limiting the potential supply of rental properties and prompting existing landlords to crank UP the cost of renting) the Government is now trying to talk up subsidising the purchase and use of BEVs to help Kiwis make the transition from their perfectly good petrol and diesel-fuelled SUVS and Utes easier to stomach.

Pahhh. If, for instance, the Government offers cash incentives to get you out of your supposedly dirty old petrol or diesel-fuelled 80s, 90s, 00s cars, SUVS, Utes, etc (and supposedly crush them so that they can’t be re-used or even re-purposed) all that that is going to do is create a market of scarcity for those cars which survive – and I’m talking here not just of exotica like BNR32 Nissan Skylines but even some of most prosaic models like Toyota Corollas and Holden Commodores – and you know what happens when supply no longer keeps up with demand don’t you.

Bingo! That’s right, the price goes up.

Please, any comments I make here are mine and mine alone and definitely do NOT constitute any sort of financial advice (that’s a disclaimer if you didn’t pick it up when you first read it!!!) but it has certainly got me thinking.

Recently, for instance, I literally banged into an acquaintance of mine, as we stood in pit lane admiring a, genuine, matching numbers etc, etc Ford Falcon GTHO recently imported from Australia (see main picture of a GTHO Phase III).

In typical MacKay mode I went into full fan boy mode, oohing over the quality of the gorgeous mid-green metallic paint finish, and ahhing over the quality of the upholstery inside… until the smile on old mate’s face gave the game away.

“It’s yours, isn’t it? I blurted out. “Yet you let ‘me’ rabbit on about ‘your’ car for at least five minutes. You should have told me……”

“I was trying to,” he chuckled, “but I couldn’t get a word in edgeways…”

Long story short ‘old mate’ is as much a car – and before that a motorcycle – tragic as I am, and, as it turned out, had been keeping an eye on what I suppose you could call the ‘investment’ end of the Aussie ‘Muscle Car’ market for some time.

While a cynic might say that a better time to get ‘into that particular market’ was when cars like his GTHO had been superseded by the XA Falcon Coupes or Holden Torana SL-R 5000s and could be owned for chump change, you would be looking at big bills to return them to the concours-like condition of my good friend’s obviously pampered low ownership/low mileage original car.

Being the all-round good bugger, he is he had no problem revealing to me what he paid for it which as far as I am concerned is his business and not that of anyone else.

What I will say is it was a figure he reckoned was more than fair and that like me he decided that – for all sorts of reasons – it is a good time to ‘get into the market.’

Chrysler E49 Charger

So much so that now he has his GTHO he is already casting around for another piece of classic Aussie Muscle to invest in – an E49 Chrysler Charger!

Now, while I don’t think that Old Mate will have to shell out as much in OZ at the moment for a nice low mileage/ownership E49 as he did for his GTHO, both cars are obviously going to appreciate in value over the next 9 to 10 years. The only questions really are how quickly and by how much?

Hell, even replicas of GTHOs are fetching big bucks these days.

Which has nothing – or at least not at the moment anyway – to do with BEVS and any moves by our Government here to forcibly wean our ‘great unwashed’ off petrol and diesel.

Imagine the scene in another 15-20 years however, when the only alternative to the officially approved BEVS we are all forced to drive is….an electric push bike.

You’d really want your own personal pick of old-skool petrol or diesel-fuelled Kiwi classic tucked away for whatever limited use the Government would allow, wouldn’t you?

1971 Chrysler Valiant Regal

As I hope I intimated in my TM column last week I think common sense will prevail. And that with some minor restrictions we will continue to be able to use and enjoy our petrol, diesel, and even LPG-fuelled ‘gas-guzzlers’ for many a year to come.

Which means that now is the perfect time to seek out an example of that car, Ute, 4×4 ‘truck’ you have craved since your formative years and buy it as an ‘investment.’

You’ll need somewhere dry to store it, and take it from someone who knows, just keeping on top of registering an older car and making sure it has a current WOF can seem like a full-time job at times…

Because – thanks in part to my ‘proper job’ – I actually get to drive most new Utes, 4WD station wagons and SUVs I can attest to just how good most of them are at keeping their occupants cocooned in an artificially safe (as houses) world….

Such is the level of virtually instantaneous electronic ‘interference’ in most modern traction control systems, however, if you like dictating what ‘you’ want your latest Toyota car or Hyundai SUV to do, well, it’s a case of ‘good luck with that,’ because I’d pretty much guarantee that in a battle of wills, the cars, SUVS, Utes etc are always going to win.

Which is one of the many reasons I’ve always actually preferred owning and driving older cars.

I’ve never actually lost money when the time has come to sell any of the older motorcycles or cars, I’ve owned either, mainly because I’ve bought at the bottom left corner of the ‘Bell Curve’ of demand and sold as near as dammit to its first peak.

Which really just leaves the question of ‘what do I want to buy and keep’ to populate my ‘dream garage’ in the year 2031.

Really sorry to disappoint any of you waiting breathlessly for a list of exotica, because my own personal list of ‘cars I’d like to own and drive (either before I die or before the petrol ‘tap’ is turned off for good) is prosaic in the extreme.

I’ve always wanted to own and regularly drive a circa 1971 Chrysler Valiant, a car I spent many a happy Sunday evening in being ferried to and from Bible Class meetings in rural Southland in my early teenage years.

Datsun 1600

Later on, when working friends started buying cars of their own, I also spent a lot of time in various Datsuns, my all-time favourite a Mustard-coloured 1600 owned by my good buddy McDonald (Don) Allan.

And seriously, that would be it. Two cars…….and just enough money ‘in the kitty’ to restore them to the same sort of museum-level authenticity and concours-style condition old mate’s GTHO Flacon arrived here in.

Ross MacKay

Ross MacKay is an award-winning journalist, author and publicist with first-hand experience of motorsport from a lifetime competing on two and four wheels. He currently combines a day job editing NZ4WD magazine with contract media work, weekend Mountain Bike missions and towing his 1989 Nissan Skyline drifter to grassroots meetings around the North Island.

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