Rob’s news highlights for April

Posted on May 7th, 2013 by Rob Marshall

JaguarSeveral interesting news stories managed to escape the Spam Filter on the Chez Marshall computer last month, kicking off with the Classic and Sports Car Magazine item that reported thieves are targeting easy-to-steal classic cars. Many older cars are worth more in parts and, thus, restoration projects are viewed as especially vulnerable. According to the article, Minis, Ford Escorts and Volkswagen Campervans are being targeted specifically.

Older car-orientated publications have also unearthed changes in the Historic Vehicle taxation class, buried within March’s budget. All cars, manufactured before 1st January 1974, will be entitled to a zero-fee tax disc from April next year, as opposed to the fixed pre-1973 deadline that was imposed by Gordon Brown in his first ever budget. If your car was registered in early 1974, it may have been manufactured in the previous year and so it is worth doing some research. If you own an old British car, the build records of many models are held by the Heritage Motor Centre, which issues certificates that can be used to prove to the DVLA that your are entitled to change your car’s taxation class to the nil-fee ‘Historic’ band.

With more than a nod to one of the most iconic classic cars of all time, the new Jaguar F-type, which was launched last month with great fanfare from the motoring press, has left me feeling a little cold. Despite a compact form being clad in an aluminium body, its bulk exceeds one-and-a-half tonnes and a manual transmission is unavailable, as yet, for either the 3.0-litre V6, or the 5.0-litre V8 engine options. Beauty may also be in the eye of the beholder but I had expected something more elegant and, perhaps, something less anodyne in outline. Countering Jaguar’s sometime value-for-money stance, F-type prices start at £58,520 and rise to £79,885, before the consideration of the options list. Still, I suspect that its target market, consisting predominantly of well-heeled Chinese, Indians and Russians, will love it.

Back to earth and more than a million motorists are driving accident-damaged vehicles, because they cannot (or are unwilling to) afford the repair costs. Apart from squeezed household budgets, rising motoring costs have been blamed, with the ETA reporting that motorists are paying £1,000 a second in fuel duty. According to Accident Exchange’s CEO, “The double-whammy impact of losing no claims discounts and paying increased excesses on insurance claims has seen the number of private settlements, between fault and non-fault drivers, rise. The innocent party is choosing to pocket the money, rather than seeking to repair, what they see, as cosmetic damage.” Furthermore,  a modern car is designed to crumple and cosmetic damage might be hiding more serious structural problems, which can not only affect steering, suspension and braking functions but might also affect the ability of the car’s safety features to work properly in a subsequent impact.

Therefore, we should be unsurprised to discover that the used car market is struggling to unearth good condition cars, under four years-old. British Car Auctions’ (BCA) UK Operations Director stated that, although average used car values are at near record levels, trade buyers at auction are still reluctant to buy vehicles that require cosmetic work, before they can be sold on a forecourt. Auction prices for cars in good order are reported to be exceeding their price guide values, currently.

Writing in the trade-only car valuation guide, the Chief Car Editor of Glass’s Guide reported that the protracted cold snap in March and early April has delayed retail demand for convertibles. Instead, the typical demand for 4×4 vehicles, over the winter period, has extended. Interestingly, the manufacturing side of the new car scene has gone into SUV ‘overdrive’, with heaps of new 4×4-type models set to debut over coming months. Yet, the outlook is that good quality used cars will still be hard to find and, when unearthed, they will command strong money.