In search of a “classic”
I am sure that many of you are like me and either subscribe
to, or read someone else’s (appeals to my Scottish heritage), classic car
magazines. Since I really haven’t got the money to buy anything even vaguely
described as “classic” also means that I spend much of the reading time
coloured green with envy.
However, there are exceptions, I have just read an
advertisement stating, “Two 1976 BMW 2002 models. 1 runs, 1 parts. New eng.
trans. Own a classic. 75 percent restored, both for $1000. Call 12345.” Of
course, this never to be repeated offer is in the United States of America (in
God We Trust - all others pay cash) and by the time I could get the 75 percent
restored bargains here, and paid freight and import duty, I might as well have
bought a new one with a ‘Bangle Bottom’ from my friendly BMW sales outlet.
That reminds me of a true story about a chap, in Pattaya in
Thailand, who did bring in a classic – a fully restored 1970 MGB. Beautiful
condition after a ground-up restoration. The Thai Customs looked at this
gleaming BRG jewel on the docks and levied, 300,000 baht duty. This was not
negotiable and had to be paid, or it could sit on the docks for ever. The
importing (hope to be) owner queried this. “The car is 30 years old,” said
he. “Yes. But look new,” said the smiling Customs man (Thailand is the Land
of Smiles, after all). After what he had expended to buy it in the UK and the
freight to get it out to SE Asia, he paid up, wiping tears from his eyes as he
But back to you and I, in our search for the classic car that
we deserve. I have always looked in back yards, hoping that one day I will spot
an abandoned Invicta 4 ฝ litre low chassis Black Prince, that just needs a
quick wash and polish and a full tank of gas. I also dream about having my
wicked way with any of the Charlie’s Angels female leads, which is probably
slightly more likely than finding said Invicta low chassis Black Prince, with or
without the tankful of gas. Currently the closest I have come to an Invicta is a
dilapidated Tuk-Tuk, which on the desirable ratings scale between 1-10 comes in
at a resounding 0.25. Charlie’s Angels are currently not returning my emails.
But I actually have owned some classic cars amongst the
hundred or so that have passed through my hands. Porsche 911 Targa, MG TC
(several), MG TD (a brace), MGA, MGB, Leyland Clubman 1275 GT (OK, I know that
one’s getting fairly close to ‘average’, but they are remembered with
fondness). Those will do for starters.
There is only one problem, however. When I had ownership of
these vehicles, they were not considered to be ‘classics’ – it was only
after I sold them, that they became ‘wanted’. During my tenure they were
generally thought of as “old bangers”. I could get depressed at this, but it
is not my nature. Look on the positive side, I say.
If the old MG’s and the 1973 Porsche Targa became classics,
what about the other cars that have sat in my garage and leaked oil on the
floor? Will they turn into classics by this time next year? Is now the time to
rush out and buy a green and white 1958 Fiat 1100? Or perhaps a pale blue 1953
side valve V8 Ford Customline? Or what about a slant six
VJ Valiant wagon circa
1973? However, even I doubt whether these will ever make ‘classic’
So what can I re-purchase? Perhaps the Mk VII M Jaguar is
half a chance. Or the Series I Mazda RX-7. The MX-5 Miata is too new and they
are still for sale, so that’s out. A Daihatsu Mira defies all logic. A GS 1220
Citroen ditto, and the same for its bigger brother, the CX 2200. A Toyota Crown?
No, surely. A ‘lift-back’ 1975 Toyota Celica ‘mini-Mustang’ might just
scrape in. I’ve seen a couple of notch-backs recently, so I can continue
looking. Yes, that’s my new classic car project!
In the meantime, does anyone have Drew Barrymore’s phone number?
Last week I mention-ed that wonderful film ‘Genevieve’.
It was released in 1953 and was loosely based around the London to Brighton
Commemoration run, organized by the RAC in the UK. There were two cars that were
the (automotive) stars of the film. One was a Dutch Spyker, and the other was
Genevieve, a 1904 Darracq. The film was very popular, and Genevieve became known
all over the world. However, with fame there often people who are ready to show
something seedy in your past. Genevieve was not ‘really’ a 1904 12 hp model,
but had been built from many Darracq’s and the radiator was actually from a 15
hp model. But of even more interest for the film buffs was the fact that the
producer Henry Cornelius wanted a British Lanchester in the starring role. The
question was why did he eventually use a French Darracq instead of the British
Lanchester? The answer was simply that he could not find a Lanchester owner in
the UK willing to lend his car for the film!
So to this week. The pre-war Opel Kadett resurfaced in 1947
in another country, and called the “Son of XXXXXX”. By what name was it
known as in the rest of the world?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] Good luck!
“Our” Motor Show well into planning phase
With all the publicity given to the Detroit Auto Show, we
should not forget that the Bangkok International Motor Show is recognized by the
Organization Inter-nationale desConstructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA) as being
one of the premier motor shows in the world. This is not a recognition given
lightly, and it was some years before we were accredited. But the Bangkok Show
at the end of March is fully acknowledged by OICA. Dates this year are March 24
until April 2.
As well as all the new cars, there are special events which
include a Classic Car Show, the Mustang Club (relive in your mind the car chase
from Bullitt, the 1968 movie starring Steve McQueen and his GT 390 Mustang),
Sports Car show, the VW Club, the Austin Mini show and even classic motorcycles,
As more details come to hand, I will let you know through this column.