A BIT OF TIN

IS IT A CAR OR AN INVESTMENT? THAT SEEMS TO BE THE QUESTION

Guy ‘Guido’ Allen

ARE YOU SERIOUS? There are times when I look through an auction ‘cattledog’ and seriously wonder if, A. the world has gone beserk, B. we’ve been taken over by aliens.

I’m prepared to admit there may also be a touch of madeyed jealousy in all of this, but when I see multi-million dollar prices on cars the first response is what the hell…?

What’s got the thinking gear wrapped around this issue is the recent announcement that Shelby Cobra number one, aka CSX2000, is to come on the market for the first time ever. There’s no doubt this is a hugely significant car in automotive history and one of the most imitated. Even today, 54 years after CSX2000 first fired a cylinder, there’s an international trade in building replicas. I get that it’s very special.

So how much is it worth? A decent ‘real’ Cobra will fetch over a million – that’s US dollars. In fact, they cracked the seven-digit barrier a few years ago and never looked back.

Our resident Shelby tragic, Uncle Phil, estimates this car will hit US$7 million. As a Shelby Mustang owner, even he is struggling to find any sense in the number. “It’s just a bloody bit of tin holding four tyres together!” he spluttered, shaking his head, “What’s wrong with people?”

You can see his point and he’s not alone. A long-term car journo I once worked with observed about high-end new cars that he could see where the money went up to maybe a couple of hundred grand, after that they were just making it up. It was all smoke and mirrors. “You cannot tell me,” he would say, “that a million dollar car is significantly better to drive than a $200,000 car.” Maybe so.

At some point the bit of tin holding four tyres together ceases to be a machine and becomes an investment piece.

CSX2000 needs new upholstery and probably a mechanical freshen-up by now…yikes! I can hear the howls of protest already – whaddya mean a freshen-up, you blithering philistine? Don’t you know originality is everything? And that’s my point: CSX2000 has, sadly, ceased to be a car. It’s an investment vehicle, like shares or gold bars.

In fact, this syndrome has got to the point where there’s a pretty healthy industry building rich folk replicas of their own cars. That way the investment can be safely locked away while they go play with the copy.

I get the thrill of the chase and the sense of conquest when you finally get your hands on something you’ve coveted over the years. Hell, I’ve even been known to grab a glass of red and stroll out to the shed for a bit of a gloating session. But when it gets to the point where the toy is worth more than my entire suburb, you start to wonder.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I reckon there are a few of us on Unique Cars who are having just as much fun playing with our 10-grand toys. It makes you wonder who’s got the wrong end of the proverbial stick…

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