Saturday, October 17, 2015

Collector Cars... Collecting Miles or Dust?

As a kid growing up in the late '60s and 1970s, I never understood why some of my friend's parents, chose to cover their furniture with clear plastic. I considered it dumb and never really cared for the look or the resulting static electricity shock, after sitting on the furniture.

I can only assume that these folks were just frugal, and they sure came from a different generation. One that lived through a World War.

But furniture preservation aside, I think that many classic car owners have their own "wrap-it-in-plastic" hangup, when it comes to mileage.

Who are they saving these cars for?

I admit it; it works great for me when I am the buyer. So thank you for storing it for free and not driving your vehicle, so I will be able to enjoy it.

I am speaking tongue-in-cheek, really, as cars that sit around for long periods of time can develop a bunch of issues. Some more severe than others, but all requiring money to fix. So, buying an older vehicle that hasn't been driven in ten years, for example, may not be such a great deal or idea after all.

And God only knows what other problems cars that have been collecting dust instead of miles—for twenty, thirty, or more years—will have.

What started me thinking about this subject was a brief conversation I had a while back with the owner of a 1980s car during a show. It wasn't anything special, really, but the car was all original and looked great. At some point during our chat, the owner blurted out that he was concerned about his car's odometer rolling over 15,000 miles.

Fifteen thousand!?!, I asked incredulously, and he confirmed the statement. He then said that he would just keep it parked so it wouldn't cross the 15k mileage point. Honestly, I had one of those WTF moments, and walked away wondering what prompts someone to make a decision like that.

If someone has the money and space to store a never-driven collector car, more power to them. But just as a reminder, we're all "in transit" on this planet and, as far as I know, we cannot take stuff with us.

Having said that, I understand that some cars are looked upon as investments. I recently read that a classic Ferrari sold at auction for$38 million, for example, but that's the exception, not the rule.

Besides, cars of that caliber (read "irreplaceable"), are not always bought and sold by true car lovers. Investors belong in a different group.

Regardless of how much money someone may have, I still think it's silly to own a great car, keep it in a garage, and never drive it.

Sure, some are just plain gorgeous, and the sound of a V12 motor can be as beautiful as music. But these machines belong on the open road, not parked in some sort of shrine where the only thing they'll do is "look pretty" while developing flat spots on the tires.

The truth of the matter is, I think we're all hoarders to some degree. It doesn't matter if it's cars, shoes, tools, collectible toys, sports memorabilia, Lladro porcelain, paintings, wine, etc. We all have our own "collections" of stuff.

But when it comes to collector cars, mine will collect miles for as long as I own them. If that affects the resale value, so be it. Otherwise it's like marrying a gorgeous woman and never... well, you know.

So I'll continue to drive my cars and put miles on the odometer.

After all, that's what cars are built for, right?