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Home  /  August 2022  /  Comment

Risking what’s left of my reputation, today I’m calling peak used-car prices.

Of course, there’ll be no sudden collapse of the greatest bull market in pre-owned vehicles of all time, just a gentle slide into normalcy. How bull?

Well dealers have even been nice to old customers while they try to pry their cars out of car ports, garages and on-street parking, back onto balloon-festooned, floppy-inflatable-personed lots. Some pundits say old car prices are up 150 per cent.

There’s no doubt the lack of new cars has pumped demand for barely old ones. Given some dealers are adding $10k or more onto new prices, paying a near-new price for a three-year old piece of metal makes sense.

But bull markets don’t last forever. We all know the shortage of European metal has semiconductor and other supply chain issues to blame. And it’s been bad. How bad? In June, Euro metal makers registered the fewest new vehicles in the EU for nearly 30 years, since 1996. Overall new cars on the continent were down 15 per cent, with BMW down 18 per cent. VW was particularly hard hit, slumping 24 per cent. In case you are a soap dodger and feel smug, UK sales were down in VW territory, while they dropped 84 per cent in Putinville.

But here’s the thing 20 readers, one friend and eldest son sucking up to be in the will (and don’t think we’re not looking forward to seeing you all at the Leyburn Sprints today and tomorrow … it was 2 degrees this morning, so don’t turn up early) the supply chain and semiconductor issue is getting better but the economy over there is in the toilet, so Euro people are not buying cars.

Naturally those cunning Germans, French, Italians and others are, for the first time since everything went to poo (you know Covid, China blues, Ruski invasions, energy prices exploding skyward) sending product (cars) to some Aussie showrooms in the colonies. While this spells good news for you, it’s really bad news for car salespeople and the punters who hold auto-dealer shares. Why? Because prices of new and used cars will drop and those dealers holding lots of very expensive pre-owned stock on the forecourt will be having deep and meaningless talks to their banks. On the classic car front we’ve seen quite a few serious cars not meeting reserve and prices of semi-serious cars soften.

Talking of bull and soap operas, let me bring you up to date as we come to episode 16 of the current series of ‘‘The Young, the Not So Young Anymore and The Restless to Move to Another Team and Make More Money’’. In this episode Damon Hill is joined by Natalie Pinkham and Tom Clarkson, as the gang reveal which big names from Formula 1’s past and present they would invite to their dream dinner party; Damon also reveals the proper way to pronounce Silverstone; Toto Wolff reckons that his wife Susie, a former Williams development driver, had the ability to race in F1, but the British outfit “never dared” give her a race seat; Lewis Hamilton says: “I’m not the same man I was before my trip to Africa … all the beauty, love, and peacefulness I experienced has me feeling fully transformed … I connected with my roots and Mercedes part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to buy Manchester United, a soap dodger soccer team, also in the sights of electric car and moon rocket entrepreneur Elon Musk, 51, originally of Pretoria, late of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and now of Boca Chica, Texas. Many observers believe, Mr Musk, like Sir Lewis Hamilton, is also rooted.

1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS courtesy of Sotheby’s.

1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS courtesy of Sotheby’s.

However, Sir Lewis has told the US fan mag, Vanity Fair, that T-junctions, zebra crossings and traffic jams stress him out and that he feels anxious on his trips to Melbourne because of his long-time phobia of spiders. What a sport!

And in local news, the newly formed Tarmac Rally Competitors Association of Australia has lodged its submission to the Motorsport Australia Targa Review Panel. The Motorsport Australia Board appointed the Targa Review Panel following the death of a competitor during the recent Targa Tasmania this year and three deaths the previous year. There have been six fatalities in Targa’s 30-year history. The TRCAA submission recommends changes around the conduct of tarmac rally events, the cars and the drivers. At the moment, rallying on roads (v dirt or gravel) is effectively stopped pending the Motorsport Australia review. TRCAA rightly say that the primary safety devices in a rally car are the driver and co-driver. “We believe that well trained experience drivers and co-drivers minimise the risks associated with tarmac rallies and would set the tone for a culture of safety and enjoyment of the sport as a priority.” (Disclosure: I am on the TRCAA committee.)

Next week we’ll look at VCAT’s decision that Mitsubishi Australia and a dealership owned by them engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in respect of misleading advertised fuel consumption figures for a Triton SUV. Both Mitsubishi and the dealer appealed to the Victorian Court of Appeal but it was dismissed last week. We’ll also look at why you should think about not buying Mitsubishi dealers’ extended warranties based on reader Jon Bolitho’s experience. Also, reader David’s crook deal on car insurance from AAMI.

Back on the Monterey Peninsula, Car Week is underway with Bonhams expecting $11m for a 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Competition. As the blurb says: ‘‘Boasting impressive competition history as an official team car of the legendary racer and sailor, Briggs Cunningham, and having been piloted by champion drivers Augie Pabst and Walt Hansgen, this important and highly original E-Type Lightweight is among the most important examples of the rare competition model. It has been fastidiously maintained to highlight its 1963 Le Mans appearance.’’ I dream about it.

Finally, one of the world’s most beautiful cars, the 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Coupe by Figoni et Falaschi. Yours for $14m from RM Sothebys.

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