26 Oct: New for Old

Often seen as the bad guys – simply because they currently supply the most popular means of personal transport and charge a lot for it – motor vehicle manufacturers are always looking at ways to make money and more profit, be it developing new models or new equipment. The trouble is in these fast changing times, that as soon as one set of standards are agreed all round, those in authority will come up with new ones forcing change and more expense.

20 years back, the Government started its “dash for diesel” push to convert petrol motorists to diesel motorists. Over the next 15 years the number of diesel cars on the road quadrupled. Then all of a sudden, diesel was bad news and the next big thing was electricity. Three years ago the Government of the day said it would end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. The trouble was this was done with little ‘consultation’ with the manufacturers – all in the name of cleaning up the air in towns and cities.

Since then, various agencies and regional ‘governments’ have been calling for such restrictions to be brought in sooner – 2035, 2030, who knows? It may make good headlines for the wider populace but it creates headaches for everyone else. At the present time the current nationwide infrastructure to support a wholesale switch to electricity is not yet in place, and nowhere near it despite what we are being told by those we are paying to tell us!

Manufacturers are hard pushed to keep up with changing promises made by others, so it’s no wonder the cost of electric cars are so expensive. Just think of the investment that manufacturers have to make to produce cars which are safe, reliable, cheap to run and ‘carbon neutral’ (the new mantra) to manufacture.

Of course, manufacturers are not entirely blameless either, remember ‘dieselgate’?

Anyway, in their push to find new sources of income, some present day manufacturers are looking at their ‘back catalogue’. Where once obsolescence was built-in ensuring that car users were ‘persuaded’ to buy new cars every 7 years, otherwise they would be left with a pile of rust on their driveway or a puddle of oil, now there are attempts to maintain and restore past cherished items.

Peugeot’s news about re-manufacturing parts for its 205 GTI has just been followed by a similar announcement from Mazda. The success of the Peugeot 205 Rally Challenge in the UK decimated the scrappies, or recycling centres, by those in the search for usable shells, axles, gearboxes and engines whilst the rise of classic car collectors has produced a growing demand for such parts. Peugeot has responded to that demand by offering the services of their own in-house restoration business for current owners whilst manufacturing ‘out of production’ parts for sale to existing DIY owners. And they’ve promised the 205 is merely the first to get this treatment with more parts for more cherished ‘classic’ cars to come.

Peugeot 205 GTI

Similarly, Mazda are producing parts in Japan for the Mk1 MX-5 including original hoods and interior trim as well as mechanical components and smaller bolts and washers. Just over 20,000 Mk 1s were imported into the UK originally and there are still many of them around, much revered and used by enthusiasts. Only last year I was unexpectedly swamped by a ‘Classic Tour’ of over 30 Mazda MX-5 owners in the Scottish Borders as they sped past in their bobble-hatted and toorie bunnet fashions.

Mazda MX-5 Mk1

Meanwhile British Motor Heritage continues to do their bit for British classic saloon and sports car enthusiasts eager to keep their cherished motors running and on the road.

Taking that a stage further are the manufacturers and specialised engineering companies which are re-manufacturing ‘continuation’ models and selling them off to the obscenely rich and privileged. Think Jaguar with their £1m+ D Types and E Types and Aston Martin with its ‘brand new’ DB6. Even the fabled Vanwall name is getting in on the act. The current Vanwall Group are planning to build half a dozen ‘continuation cars’ to commemorate the brand which claimed the world’s first F1 Constructors Championship Trophy way back in 1958. A snip at £1.65m – plus VAT!

Jaguar D Type

Crikey, there’s even a new company on the go re-manufacturing the Mini Moke. For those of you of a certain age, think golf buggy with a proper engine and road wheels! Admittedly they don’t expect to sell many in Britain but some folk in the Caribbean appear to be keen! And how about a brand new (from the chassis up) MGB? Authentic in every detail until you look under the bonnet – powered by electricity.

A new MOKE

Anyway, regardless of these ‘brand new clones’ surely the idea of keeping older cars going (at the expense of replacing them with something minted afresh) would appease some of the less ardent green environmilitia and keep us aulder gits smiling as we polish our treasured Minis and Mazdas, MGs and Healeys, Chevettes and Escort Mk1s and 2s, not to mention Rovers, Triumphs, Rileys, Wolseleys and other classics at weekends.

Now where did I put the phone number of that awfy nice chap from the PPI reclaim specialists?

Aston Martin DB6