Charlie’s Charming Cars

Watt a way to have fun!

American comedian, Mitch Hedberg, once said:  “I know a lot about cars, man. I can look at any car’s headlights and tell you exactly which way it’s coming.”

We may well chuckle at his humour, comforting ourselves in the thought that at least our knowledge of cars extends beyond that.  However, when it comes to collecting and restoring classic motor vehicles, there is a whole new world to discover.  Chartered client, Charlie Watt, having recently retired, has found a new love … in the form of a 1969 Mustang: Fastback Mach 1 Cobra, and a 1960 Chevrolet Corvette – both true classics.

Muscling in on motor magic

“I have always liked powerful V8s,” says Charlie.  “Now I have the time to get involved in collecting and restoring.”  According to Charlie, collecting vintage vehicles – or ‘muscle cars’ as they are known in the USA – has become big business worldwide.  “It is a huge industry,” says Charlie, “with any spare part needed to restore any vehicle readily available from the
original manufacturer.”

The fun lies in the sourcing, buying and working on these vehicles.  Good quality collectables are scarce, since loving owners are reluctant to part with their prized cars.  An additional challenge is the cost of the vehicles, which has escalated with the rand being weak.  The basic price of a 1960 Corvette was $3,875 in the USA. Currently, you can buy the same car in the USA for between $60,000 and $100,000.

“These special cars come onto the market sporadically,” Charlie comments.  “I had been searching for the very rare Corvette for over a year, when I found one online and wasted no time in flying to Cape Town to purchase it.  The Mustang I bought from a friend in Johannesburg who had owned it for over 30 years, who needed to make space for his newest purchase.”

The real deal

The issue of space is what places a constraint on Charlie’s continuing to acquire additional collector’s pieces: each car means another garage! Besides that, Charlie is well occupied with restoring the Mustang.  “The challenge is to keep the car as authentic as possible, as close to the original look, but to make technical improvements that make the driving experience more enjoyable, like power steering; braking and engine performance have improved dramatically in
the past few decades.”

The value of these cars lies in their originality – each car has its own VIN number, or “ID”. This can verify year and place of manufacture, engine size, colour, and so on. This is available on-line. So, Charlie’s advice to the aspirant collector is to be discerning.  “Do research into the pedigree of the car.”  Also be aware of the costs of restoration – spare parts have to be imported from the USA.”

Collector community

Many enthusiasts are willing to give advice to the novice collector, Charlie reassures us. In addition, there are various clubs to which you can belong, and events that you can attend that make the collecting a social occasion, as you mix with people who have the same passion.  The Mustang Club, for example, celebrated its 50th Anniversary in March this year, by hosting a display of over 60 magnificent classic cars at Melrose Arch.  Rallies and meetings are held throughout the year by these clubs.

“I mostly use my cars over the weekends, where we enjoy an outing to a breakfast or lunch,” says Charlie.

From the look of the cars, it is easy to see how collecting and restoring them can become a passion!

Let us know if you are a collector of exceptional items.  We would love to share it with our other clients.

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