Talk to a car dealer with half a brain and a nice line in sales patter for long enough and he'll tell you a car "is an extension of your personality". Sounds like bollocks but the sentiment makes sense. We all know that the next big purchase after a house is a jam jar so it's a serious commitment. As such it needs to say something about you.
Motoring marketing is all about image. Not the same image but image nevertheless. Safe and sound is an image, the same way cool and smooth is an image. Not having an image is even an image.
Having worked with a bunch of car brands (as an Ad man) I've experienced, first hand, their thoughts and shared their vision. Sometimes it's inspiring. Other times it's difficult to keep a straight face. Often you wonder what planet they're on.
In my experience genuinely "cool" people don't drive a shiny new MINI or Fiat 500. Or a BMW convertible or a Jaguar XKR. They drive an old Volvo or Mercedes estate. Or some thing dirty and different, with personality.
After all who wants to look like everyone else?
I guess this is one of the reasons the Classic Car market is going Radio Rental. Business has never been so brisk. 18 months ago, when the interest rates crashed to sod all and there was no point keeping money in a bank (which might go bust itself) the smart money moved to automotive investment. For a fraction of the price of a new Ford Mondeo you can find yourself sitting in a Mercedes 300SL (like one Richard Gere drives in American Gigolo) or a very classy Bentley T2 or a super stylish Jaguar XJS.
Given that so many people spend so much time at work (and don't use their cars for much of the week) it makes little difference that a weekend indulgence might do 15mpg instead of 40mpg. Across a year it might add up to a just a few hundred quid more, so who gives a Monkey's? Insurance is cheap and running costs shouldn't crucify you if you're careful.
DJ Chris Evans reputedly spent over £20M on one of the Ferraris in his collection...and he's got several garages full of them, most resprayed arctic white and retrimmed in baby blue leather. Nice.
What if you fancy making a statement that screams so much more than simply "Look at me" but you haven't got the mega-bucks to back up the claim?
There is an answer.
Some classic cars that have soared in value so much their cost has entered the realm of surrealism. Jamiroquai's Jay Kay might think little of dropping half a bar on a Gullwing Mercedes or 60s Bentley Continental convertible but even his indulgence is put to shame by the likes of Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, who reputedly spent over £20M on one of the Ferraris in his collection...and he's got several garages full of them, most resprayed arctic white and retrimmed in baby blue leather. Nice.
£20M for a car sounds crazy but it might not be. It could be a shrewd buy. Analyse classic car prices and you'll spot trends. What's in an and out of fashion. It has a lot to do with the age of people with money to burn (or invest). If a minted 50-year-old Investment Banker or Captain of Industry fancies a flutter, odds are he's going to remember what excited him as a kid. Maybe this is why so many supercars from the 60s and 70s are so sought after.
Back to reality and the man on the street.
If you are intent on making a big impression and don't have the millions it'll take, cheat. You won't be hurting anyone but you will be laughing to yourself. And having furious fun. Here's what you do. You find a classic car that you love, adore and lust after but can't afford. Then you find an exact recreation of that same car. We've all seem the Porsche 550 Spyder James Dean died in. An original will be way out of reach, even if you can find one, but a replica will cost between £12K and £20K depending on specification. It's the same shape and a similar driving sensation to the real thing. Similarly a replica of the iconic Porsche 356 Speedster is a jaw-dropping piece of pure excitement.
Find yourself a Hawk AC Ace and you'll be saving yourself well over £200K and fooling everyone. Their attention to detail is hugely deceptive. They look just like an original and drive very much like the real thing too.
In 1953 Duncan Hamilton averaged over 100mph for 24 hours in a C Type Jaguar to set a new world record. This is an absolutely amazing car with no roof and tiny aero-screens. Only a few C Types were built and only a handful of those constructed have survived. As a result, today a genuine C Type will fetch around £2M at auction. Buy a Proteus recreation and it's most likely you'll have everyone fooled as it's pretty much identical to an original. A second hand GRP Proteus C Type is hand built and will cost you around £40K.
Admittedly not loose change, but worth every penny when you get behind the wheel, put your goggles on and slam your foot on the floor. The beautiful burble of the exhaust. The blast of wind in your face. The sharp kick in your back.
The most quintessential British Sports car must be an AC Ace. Discreet. Subtle. Oozing with style and panache these magical machines are currently achieving around £250K if you can find one! Find yourself a Hawk AC Ace and you'll be saving yourself well over £200K and fooling everyone. Their attention to detail is hugely deceptive. They look just like an original and drive very much like the real thing too.
Over the past 20 years Frant based Hawk have built themselves an international reputation as the best in the business when it comes to AC replicas. Their AC Ace, 289 Cobra and 427 Cobra reproductions are the bees. Founder Gerry Hawkridge is acknowledged as a global guru. So much so that when you visit the collection of outbuildings loosed described as his "factory" there'll probably be a genuine Cobra being worked on. This is where authenticity meets anorak.
Gerry's cars are exactly the same as the cars built 50 years ago. A genuine 427 will set you back the best part of £1M. Gerry's Hawk Cobra 427 will cost anything from £50K to £100K depending on the specification and engine set up. These monsters are so pumped up they look like Al Capone with a facelift. Low, fat, bulbous and achingly beautiful. Menacing and oh so macho.
A real Daytona convertible will be well over £500K yet there's (near) rivet perfect replicas out there for less than £50K. It'll look like it's off the set of Miami Vice. In fact the Daytona they used in Miami Vice was a fake. They look that convincing.
Hawk's 289 Cobra is a little less flashy and a lot more understated than a 427. Identical to an original that you'll find (if you look hard enough) for around £350K this beauty will set you back around around £50K.
Talking of flashy...
Ferrari's drop dead Daytona from the early 70s is a joy to behold.
Sleek and sexy like only a Ferrari can be. A real Daytona convertible will be well over £500K yet there's (near) rivet perfect replicas out there for less than £50K. It'll look like it's off the set of Miami Vice. In fact the Daytona they used in Miami Vice was a fake. They look that convincing.
One of my favourite fakes is Teal's hand made, aluminium version of the Type 35 Bugatti from the 1920s. For many this epitomises what a vintage Racing car should look like. Around a hundred of these were made by car mad maniacs at home in their garages. All hand crafted. A real Type 35 is well over £2M. A Teal Type 35 will cost around £40K. Google them. Compare the two. Try and tell the difference.
So there's your answer.
Create a big splash. Make a loud noise. Look very, very rich. Have bundles of fun. Fake it. Cheat.
Consider it an extension of your personality.
Check our these websites if you're tempted...
"Gentleman" classic car dealer Simon Percival is selling a gorgeous Hawk Cobra 289,a stunning Hawk AC Ace and a lovely Teal Type 35,all at sensible money.
Proteus Cars for C Type Jaguar
Chesil for Porsche Speedster
Hawk Cars for AC Cobra 289,Cobra 427 and Ace
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