Above, from left to right: TA2073; TB0252; TC10215; TD27532; TF6029.
The short article by the editor in Issue 58 made me think about just what are the factors that influence the values of our cars.
So here are my thoughts and to avoid beginning each paragraph with “in my opinion”, or “I believe”, may I preface the entire article that way. These are just my personal theories with which I am sure readers will concur or disagree; either way I find it an interesting subject and one that is rarely explored.
As the purchase of any T-Series car is an indulgence, wanted but not needed, its value should be a function of the two free market forces of supply and demand, but with four overriding influencers which I will describe at the end.
Should be considered in three distinctly separate categories, concours, tidy and barn find. The concours car at over £30,000 represents the smallest volume of the three because whilst they do occasionally come up for sale they will often have already been purchased in a poorer condition for restoration to this standard. The owner having chosen this route will most likely keep and enjoy it.
The tidy car at £20,000-£25,000 represents the largest volume; most likely it is for sale because the owner has either stopped driving altogether or is no longer comfortable behind the wheel of a T-Type in today’s traffic. Occasionally tidy cars are quickly back on the market again, the purchase regretted when the reality of wet weather and no heater does not match the dream of blue skies and 1940s traffic volumes.
The barn find rarely is a surprise discovery, but more likely a car taken off the road by its owner many years ago because of a major issue, or it was purchased with the intention of restoration. After many years the reality of the task dawns as the enthusiasm wanes, perhaps “I will get around to it one day” extends the process until finally something triggers the sale. It is easy to think that there are no more left, yet they keep appearing and will continue to do so.
So, in conclusion the market is not supply constrained except perhaps for the concourse example.
Why do people buy old cars, particularly T Types? There are many reasons.
- To add to their collection, yes, but it must be in concours condition.
- As a simple financial investment, yes for Bentley and Aston Martin, but a T-Type is not sufficiently exotic.
- “Because I always wanted one”, which starts at that impressionable age when we were 10-15 years old, but it is not until age 55-60 that we have the time, space and money to realise that ambition, the 45-year rule. Today the values of the BMC Mini, Ford Escort and Capri continue to climb but a T-Type is now too old to benefit from being a childhood ambition.
- To be able to drive something different, as our choice of daily car becomes ever more similar and boring, it creates demand for a different experience, such as a series 1 Land Rover but it has to be reliable, troublesome is not an attribute of different.
- To make a (tax free) profit from its restoration, sadly the numbers do not add up. Spending £20,000 (ignoring your own labour) on restoring a barn find which has already cost £10,000 might realise £30,000.
- As a hobby project without regard to cost. Yes, and the Ideal customer would be a retired engineer.
So, in conclusion I can identify demand for concours and barn find, but not much for a tidy car.
Four additional factors
Which I will call Brand, film star, racing and legislation.
- Never underestimate the importance of Brand value, which is why VW purchased Bentley and likewise BMW, Mini. A strong brand supports used values, early Porsche 911 cars continue to rocket in price because 50 years later demand is strong for the latest 911 model. Similarly, Series 1 Land Rover values are positively influenced by the launch of the new Defender. For this purpose, I consider MG to be an extinct brand, like the Saab 96 and Hillman Imp, good cars but their values are well behind the equivalent Ford and Mini.
- Film star: we like to be associated with film greats, the Minis in the Italian Job, Steve McQueen’s Ford Mustang in Bullitt, 007 driving and sometimes destroying his Aston Martin, people even remember Dustin Hoffman’s Alfa Spider in the Graduate. Unfortunately, there is no similar fame for the T-Type.
- Racing: like Brand the influence of historic racing in general and the Goodwood Revival meeting in particular has had a big influence on the values of eligible cars, either for actual racing or just capturing the imagination of the spectators. Sadly, unlike the E Type Jaguar or Lotus Cortina, our T- Types are not catered for.
- Legislation: at the moment this is a positive, with zero cost Vehicle Excise Duty, no vehicle testing requirement (MOT) and permission to enter the Ultra Low Emission Zone (in London – but other provincial authorities are catching up – e.g. Bath and Bristol). However, our cars now being categorised as Vehicles of Historic Interest opens up the opportunity for environmental legislation to restrict their use in the future, which would have a negative impact.
So, a pre-1969 Mini Cooper ticks 3 boxes, strong brand, Italian Job film star and the coolest way to arrive at Goodwood to watch them race. That’s why demand is strong and prices keep increasing.
I place them as follows in order of desirability:
TB, Vintage feel and rare
TC, Vintage feel
TF1500, last of the line
TA, Vintage feel but fragile engine
I have owned my own TC for 5 years, the first 3 were spent restoring it and the last 2 driving and showing it and as I enjoy the car and have no plans to sell, its value is of course academic.
Editor’s comments: A thought provoking article from Robert Lyell, which is sure to stimulate debate.
The TD owner might well feel aggrieved at the model’s position at the foot of the list, but in reality, desirability is closely aligned to demand (or is it the other way around, says he thinking aloud?)
The TB is way out in front, not only because of its rarity, but also because of its eligibility for the Mille Miglia, which attracts well-heeled buyers from mainland Europe……further depleting the stock available for the home market.
Of course, there will always be exceptions within the models themselves. For example, a home market TF1500 will, all things being equal, be more desirable (and therefore be more in demand) than a ‘repatriated’ export TF1500. The MK II TD will have a premium over the TD.
Whatever model of T-Type you own, I’m sure you think the world of it. Please get out and about in your car (when circumstances allow) which is one way of helping to raise the ‘demand factor’.