Cliff Chambers

CALL IT A FAKE, a copy, a knock-off or tribute. Whichever term you apply there seems always to be something derogatory being said about a car that resembles something it isn’t. Why is that?

In the dim past when the knowledge-base wasn’t at every sceptic’s fingertips, ‘rebirthing’ or even claiming to have ‘discovered’ a famous car was all too common. Today if you claim to have found and restored a long-lost GT-HO Falcon, the punters are going to take a lot of convincing.

Owning a ‘tribute’ will save you money that’s true. But how will your investment fare over an extended period when compared with the genuine article?

Unless a car is scratch built like a Shelby Cobra, Ford GT40 or other glass-bodied exotic, it will require a ‘donor’ body shell. That may come from a quite nondescript version of the same car, such as the Falcon 500 used some years back by our giveaway team to create a very plausible Falcon GT-HO Phase III. However, quasi-GTs can also take as their base vehicle a genuine V8-engined Fairmont sedan or hardtop which, if left in original form, will be worth more than the replica it has become.

American performance cars are even more likely to be ‘cloned’ than Aussie ones. If you are buying offshore take extreme care unless the car has been acknowledged as a ‘tribute’. Verification processes can be complex and costly, but not always accurate.

Ford buyers can purchase a Marti Report which details the vehicle’s specification when new, allowing a buyer to determine which components have been added or removed.

The Shelby American World Register provides a source of verification which is accessible to all of its members.

How much to pay for a ‘tribute’ depends on a range of factors. How rare is the vehicle being replicated and what are its prospects for appreciation?

Was the ‘donor’ car intrinsically valuable and how good a job was done by the person who undertook the ‘cloning’? If you can’t drive into a car show without people sniggering behind their hands you’ve got a problem.

Tributes aren’t all expensive and can provide plentiful fun for minimal money. If you don’t have $100,000 for a ‘Walkinshaw’ and that VL Berlina with the body-kit and nearly-there paint is going to fool onlookers but not experts, then where’s the harm?