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Home  /  October 2017  /  Reviews

Look, I know you think that buying a car for $4 million five years ago and selling it for $20m this year is not a bad trade. As Sports Car says, “0-60 in 3.2 seconds, $US3m to $US16m in five years”. But while two frenzied bidders with very, very deep pockets battled each other to see who could pay the most for the 1995 McLaren F1 coupe at The Quail Lodge Auction (I took the two-bedroom Fairway Villa at $1000 a night), last week in Melbourne Mossgreen sold a 1969 Mini Cooper S for $91,650, or about $20,000 over reserve and about $88,000 above its new price.

This was an exceptional example with under 70,000km on the clock, all original numbers, complete history and paperwork but it does show genuine Mini Cooper prices still have a way to run. Genuine is a huge issue. There are probably 200 times more Mini Coopers for sale in Australia than were ever manufactured.

As the Mossgreen Mini showed, scarcity is important. In fact, it’s even more important now in a more discerning market. Two major cars, the 1955 Jaguar D-Type (expected to fetch $8m) and the 1934 MG Q Type ($450,000) were passed in.

My view is we are seeing a rebalancing of the market but the British-based Historic Auto Group see it differently. Its research shows that over 10 years, collectable cars have generated a return of 404 per cent, compared with wine at 256 per cent. How good is that? Now you can justify spending money on your two favourite occupations as a serious investment.

Rare and not so rare British classics are doing well with the top two at Monterey, a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 roadster taking out top honours at $28m, the McLaren in second and a 1963 lightweight E-Type coming in fifth at $10m.

Next weekend’s Pickles auction of over 60 cars from Tony Denney’s Gosford Classic Car Museum will be a real test. World cars for sale include a 1966 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage which should bring around $450,000, a 2004 Porsche Carrera GT ($800,000), lots of Fezzers, Mazzers, Lambos, Rollers, Porkers, Jags and some red-hot local favourites like Falcon HOs.

Talking of buying cars, can I suggest if you are buying a new car at any price point and you don’t know much about the process get me to email or telex you the 2017 model, free, drive-away-no-more-to-pay Weekend Australian guide to buying a new car.

Reader Jack from Queensland decided to buy a new car. He fell in love with the Audi S3 (starting price of $65,000). Despite being a follower of this column Jack is a smart guy and did his sums. He worked out the finance Audi was offering him was 16 per cent (and how good would the trailing commissions be on that). Jack says on every step of the sale process, they tried to screw him and what should have been a pleasurable experience was quite soured. Anyway, he paid the deposit and was told the car would be ready in a week.

So, during the week Jack had time to think. He decided to pay cash and more importantly read the fine print. Friends, you won’t be surprised to hear that the warranty started in March 2017. Jack believed he was buying a car with new-car warranty. But no. Had he not read the fine print he would have been six months short on warranty and you’d have to question whether the car was really a new or demo vehicle. The car would have been worth a lot less with what is almost a used-car warranty.

Jack called the dealer. Naturally everyone in the dealership ducked for cover. Eventually they changed the warranty but insisted the car must go to them for anything in the last six months of the warranty period. Lucky ACCC boss, Rocket Rod Sims, the motorists’ friend, is investigating the retail car industry. For those of you following Mazdagate, the mystery loss of power in the company’s CX-5 models, I spoke to Rod’s untouchables team this week and they are on the job.

In better news for Audi, consumer reports have ranked the 2017 Audi Q7 luxury mid-sized SUV of the year.

Bringing you up to date on the latest racing news: while the US Grand Prix is on this weekend and the Warburton-less Supercars are racing on the Gold Coast there is only one event to get pumped about. Yes, readers, it’s only eight sleeps to the absolute highlight of the global motorsport calendar and we are racing there on your behalf. Here at the back of the business section, carefully hidden under John “Colombo” Durie’s insights into what passes for commerce in this country, is your reader-centric, service-focused, pimp your ride Weekend Australian Racing Team, or WART.

We will all be at Wakefield Park except for our new mystery shopper Evelyn who is still smarting from Tesla’s criticism of their technology. Man up, Evelyn. Drink a glass of cement and get down to the track next weekend.

Anyway, motoring editor Phil King, one of our bosses under the matrix reporting lines here at The Australian, will be joined in our mighty brown-snake-free, $250, BMW 3 Series from Dean How’s Peninsula BM, by the world’s greatest BMW technician, Michael McMichael (who drank the wine that was meant to last all weekend on the first night) and BMW motorsports superstar and brown-cardigan-wearing accountant Steve Champion. More on our team and lack of prospects next week.

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