YOU CAN CALL me a dickhead if you want – I would! – but six years ago, I sold my 1971 HQ Holden Premier.
Optioned with a 253-cube V8 and auto, air, power steer, buckets and cloth, I bought it as a slightly tatty time-warp car in NSW’s rural Wagga 20 years ago.
A year or two after I bought it, I gave it a cosmetic restoration: fresh paint in the original Windorah Beige (although I messed up and used two-pack paint rather than the era-correct acrylic) new door rubbers and carpet.
It needed little else as the mighty Red 253-cube motor was fine – nothing more than a puff of blue smoke when starting cold – and the Trimatic shifted nicely.
I received what I thought was decent money when I sold it… but that was just before prices for time-warp Aussie cars started to get serious. If I owned my Premier now, it’d probably be a $25k car, nearly three-times what I sold it for.
So why did I sell it? In short, I couldn’t justify the expense of registering it each year. At that time, I had my first Karmann Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet and, every nice sunny Sunday, I’d be out driving the Cabrio with the roof down, rather than cruising the Premier with the air-con on. In my last three years of ownership of my Prem, I think I drove it about 500km and paid more than three grand in registration and insurance! A serious drain.
Sure, I’m a firm believer in ‘you wanna play, you gotta pay’ but the historic registration scheme in NSW changes that. As many car nuts know, this scheme – similar to the one introduced in Victoria a few years ago – allows classic car enthusiasts to drive a classic car anywhere for 60 days per year for less than $100.
It’s incredibly popular.
Some 17,000 cars joined the scheme in its first year. That’s a lot of ‘new’ classic cars!
It’s given new life to the scene in several ways. Cars that were at risk of being chucked away – for instance, ordinary old Commodores, Falcons, Bluebirds and Sigmas – are being polished up and cruised on historic plates. As daily drivers, it didn’t make financial sense for some people to spend $1000 per year on full rego keeping a $1500 car on the road when for a couple of grand more (and the same rego costs) you could be in a safer, faster and more comfortable 8-12 year old Falcon or Commodore.
Many of these ordinaryspec cars were treated with disdain by the muscle-car wankers; turn up at a club meet with a GL rather than a ESP or an L rather than an SS and chances are, you weren’t made welcome in the oftensnobby club scene. So with no club runs to attend, and no opportunity for general use, at a certain age these ordinary cars became a big steaming waste of money and space.
The scheme has also led to a whole new crowd of car enthusiasts joining the classic car lifestyle. In the past, you needed to be quite dedicated to own a car that could only be driven for official car club runs. Now, with unrestricted use, you can drive your kids to school or go shopping in a cool classic car. More and more families are getting into it. A classic car needn’t be a selfish ‘daddy’s special car’ anymore!
Okay, so I sold my lovely HQ too soon to take advantage of the scheme, but that hasn’t stopped me playing catch-up since. In the 18 months since the scheme was introduced in NSW, I’ve bought three more classic Aussie cars.
Many of you know about my disgracefully beige Sigma, there’s a Commodore wagon and a Volvo, too. I wouldn’t have done that – no waaaayyy! – if I’d had to spend three grand a year on registration.
I’m not the only one.
Recently, at the Shannons Sydney Classic, I met a couple of blokes who said their mates are now trying to out-do each other by turning up at Cars & Coffee mornings with their latest shed finds. They’re not buying Brockmobiles or ESP.
They’re buying previouslyignored time-warp cars they’ve bought for peanuts during the week. Laugh if you like, but it’s clean, honest, simple fun and it’s keeping more old cars alive for longer.
I reckon this is the best thing to ever happen to the Aussie classic car scene and i t can’t come quick enough for our mates in Qld, SA and WA.
What do you reckon?