With the sagacity of old age, 1 regretfully turn my back on the Vintage scene. The scene has changed. The sharp claws of commercialism have ousted the days of carefree enthusiasm which began during the nineteen thirties when old sports cars were comparatively cheap and thus enabled the impecunious to participate in the Sport. The situation now is ridiculous. Vintageism is now big business aimed at the exhibitionists who are apparently prepared to pay through the nose for what was once regarded as rubbish, and the price for rubbish is being kept artificially high by so-called Motor Car Antique Dealers who are now extending their activities to the junk of the immediate post World War II era. The result is that owners of nondescript old family barouches of no particular merit believe themselves to be possessors a Crocks of Gold.
“Replica” is a dirty word that should never be breathed in the presence of the “Cult”. On the other hand “Restoration” is perfectly acceptable. What is not clear, however, is just how much “restoration” is permissible before an antique becomes non-original. If there is a yardstick, then it is a closely guarded secret. Not so long ago, somebody wrote an article eulogising on his “restored” racing car. The engineless chassis had been obtained from abroad “in deplorable condition, and with many parts missing”. The car was handed over to an expert who made many new components to the original patterns— obviously using modern materials. An engine was then discovered. Needless to say this was from another vehicle altogether. A “replica” body was made and upholstered “to the original pattern, gleaned from photographs” and the eulogy ended by telling the reader that the car was now in pristine, original condition. One can assume that this is the treatment meted out to most of the exhibits that people gawk at with reverence at museums. It is certainly true ol many of the exotic cars offered for sale by dealers. These have never been discovered reposing forgotten in vicarage outhouses, barns or hedgerows. They have been made up from heterogeneous parts, probably mostly new, and have then been fitted with brand-new coachwork, specifically to sell at fantastic and outrageous prices.
In conclusion, it is perhaps too late for sanity to return, and for prices to become a great deal more realistic, but we can perhaps call a halt to a situation which, in a few years rime, will mean that owners of early “Minis” will be avariciously hoarding them under the impression that they are “Collector’s Pieces”.
Chertsey BRIAN CARSON
[Our correspondent contributed to Motor Sport’s “Cars I Have Owned” series in 1961, having owned many interesting vehicles, including a D’Yrsan 3-wheeler..—Ed.]