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Old vs. New

Old vs. New Published: 17th Jul 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Old vs. New
Old vs. New
Old vs. New
Old vs. New
Old vs. New
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We look at the pros and cons of both types of classics to see what suits you best

How time flies, the Mazda MX-5 which we feature in our major buying guide this month is regarded as the ‘new’ MGB which is apt because 1980’s and 90’s cars are currently very much in vogue which means that there’s a significant shift in buying tastes on the horizon, from all age groups we might add. Like police officers, classics are getting increasingly younger…

It’s an age thing that creeps up on all of us. Most people love the cars that were around when they were young or previously owned when they were merely common second-hand buys, so it makes sense that as new and younger people become interested in classics, then the market moves on to their generation of cars which they loved and still do. This is why Ford Escorts, are now more desirable – and pricier – than some Astons and Ferraris!

Also, there’s an increasing number of ‘mature’ classic enthusiasts, who are moving up to something modern and practical, and the switch from MGB to MX-5, or MGF, is a prime example, if only as a second classic or run around. Is this something to rejoice about?

Old gold

Heritage and character are chiefly what owning any oldie is all about. Most established classics are universally loved for what they are and owners willingly accept their quirks as part of the charm and pleasure of owning a classic, because it’s so different from their modern efficient if colourless daily driver.

In general, they are usually much easier to maintain compared to modern classics, thanks to simpler mechanicals and make up, while spare parts – on popular models – can be absurdly inexpensive if you scour the autojumbles. Add low cost classic car insurance and, for an increasing number thanks to the 40-year exemption rule, free road tax, and a classic car can be a very pleasurable yet low cost hobby. QED?

However, tastes are changing in line with today’s motoring and as a result, an increasing number of classic enthusiasts want additions, such as turn-key dependability and better safety features, which is why sportsters like the MX-5 and the MGF are in the frame. What’s more, after a modern five-speed daily driver, the lack of this economical cruising gear, and general long distance comfort, can become off-putting to all but the diehards, as can heavy steering without power assistance.

These last facets are reasons why it’s now so commonplace to improve established classics with upgrades that even the staunchest enthusiast or club broadly approve of, such as better brakes, electronic ignition, five-speed transmissions, power steering and superior lighting. Properly done modifications enhance rather than detract from the car’s character – as anybody who has driven a Ford Sierrageared MGB or disc-braked Morris Minor will happily tell you.

Finally, you can’t ignore the final aspect; older classics are fast appreciating assets which, if looked after, won’t lose money. The flip side is that prices are being pushed up all the time and for many even the most prosaic classic is becoming financially way out of reach, unless they buy a project to restore from ground up.

If you like a challenge and love getting your hands dirty great – but the trend is moving towards ready-to-enjoy turn-key classics, dealers tell us.

All mod cons

Classics such as the ubiquitous MX-5, BMW Z3 and the MGF have all the benefits you want out of a modern but still hold that essential classic character plus provide performance levels that only the best sportster of yesteryear could muster.

From a practical standpoint – thanks to better build and more advanced rustproofing techniques – there’s a strong chance that, if you buy right and look after a modern, you may never have to ever restore it fully thus saving enormous time and money plus retaining the car’s vital originality. The mechanicals on most modern cars are equally bomb-proof so all you have to do is enjoy it. But there are snags to all that electronic wizardry no modern can do without!

Since the late 1970s, they have increasingly played a major role in a car’s makeup, to the point where, on today’s vehicles, it’s a dealer job to simply change the battery. And that’s the rub, because it means that there’s less scope for enthusiasts to tinker in the garage unless you’re armed with a fully-equipped workshop to read fault codes and so on.

Some specialists go further and believe that the term ‘classic’ may not apply to a modern car of the new millennium because they will never be on the road long enough to gain such status, thanks to the said electronics failing which may not be able to be fixed by the home enthusiast.

Also, thanks to the sheer complexity of such dedicated hardware, there’s less chance of straight interchange-ability with spare parts like you can, say, with a set of SU carbs, for a Midget or Spitfire.

It’s not really a major problem on 20-year-old classics, but if you go truly modern – such as a 2000-onwards car like a Honda S2000 or X350 Jaguar XJ – and intend to keep it long term, then it could become one. You could argue lithesome justification that new technology has always struck fear into the heart of home mechanics ever since the Citroën DS and the Mini came along and, so far, there’s always been a way round problems. There still may be, but ever tightening MoT tests, such as the recent May changes may also have a say in how far you can go by-passing erroneous electronics. One solution – which sounds daft but is more logical the more you look into it – is to purchase a project car simply for future spares, if you have the space that is.

On the other hand, servicing parts are easy to obtain from the High street such as GSF and Euro Car Parts. There’s a growing army of modern specialists and we’re sure others will sprout up over time just as they evolved for marques such as MGs, Jaguar, Ferraris, Rolls and Triumphs 40 years ago.

Irrespective on how you stand on modern classics, you can’t knock their great value for money. Before the majority of cars become classics, they have to suffer depreciation, which can be horrendous in some instances, and better still is the fact that most residuals have also virtually bottomed out in terms of prices so you won’t lose much money before their values start to rise. Now’s the time to strike while the iron’s hot and trawling the auctions you can pick up some fantastic bargains such as Silver Spirits, XK8s and MGFs for pennies – check out our comprehensive auctions listings this month if you don’t believe us!

True, there’s the issue of VED (road tax to you) but if you only want to use the vehicle sporadically you can simply dip in and out of it by paying by Direct Debit.

How about a marriage of convenience?

There is a compromise and this ‘six of one, half a dozen of the other’ is a wow with our younger classic fans – who, let’s face it, we need to welcome to the fold if we want to keep the flame burning once we’ve gone to the great scrap yard in the sky! It’s actually the brilliant idea of marrying modern mechanicals with a retro car.

Several specialists market ready to use hybrids, such as Lotus experts Spyder Cars, who’s been transforming Elans with Mondeo engines and Sierra running gear for years with great effect. Frontline Developments markets a myriad of fitting kits to install a K-Series MGF engine into a Midget or Morris Minor plus it also sells the Mazda-powered MGB LE 50 while modernised E-types and Mk2s have been around for many years.

For the DIY fraternity, Fords are particularly popular and many specialists market dedicated nut and bolt fitting kits to put a Mondeo’s Zetec engine in an Anglia or Escort, for example. With an uprated chassis and running gear they make terrific road burners, yet offer modern day durability and economy at the same time plus look classical. Let’s face it, most classics are uprated to some degree already.

Our view

The bottom line is, and will always be, a matter of personal taste and if you like the looks and period feel of a traditional classic to contrast with your modern daily driver you probably won’t entertain a modern because it’s a bit too samey and good for you.

Nevertheless, it has to be said that the percentage of truly original classics is diminishing as owners seek to improve their old vehicles for the better – and we’re all for that, as well. As for moderns… well just bear in mind that 45 years ago a magazine called Thoroughbred & Classic Cars was launched as a reaction to the drudgery of moderns such as Ford Escorts… What comes around goes around as they say.



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