If you have been staying on top of classic car trends in the world, you must have noticed a peculiar phenomenon – automakers digging in their back catalogues to reproduce old parts or whole cars from the years gone by. And this approach is not only embraced by elite marques like Ferrari or Porsche – humbler brands like Mazda and Land Rover are getting involved as well. We have actually written a piece on the latter. Why in the world do they bother with it all? Should we, classic car aficionados, even care about these developments?
Well, for one, there is some really good money for the automakers to be made when selling new old cars and their parts. A lot of classic car enthusiasts and dealers are well aware of it. The general public is too, especially after when millions of viewers watched Grand Tour’s Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond discuss how Jaguar is tapping into the booming classic car market by remaking the XKSS. The automaker is making a sweet profit while selling those cars at a million pounds apiece, while the original ones go for roughly 12 times that. But hold your skeptical horses – definitely not all automakers are embracing their older models just to ride the surging classic car prices. For instance, Mercedes-Benz Classic Center or Aston Martin Works have been around for years, way before the classic prices began skyrocketing. While Lamborghini’s Polo Storico is much younger, starting out just 3 years ago, the Italians claim they would have opened earlier, but back then, the company’s finances weren’t distributed well enough to achieve it.
Actually, some of these classic car divisions weren’t even meant to cater to the public. BMW Classic Center was originally founded to reproduce parts and restore the priceless examples in Bavarian automaker’s museum. It was only opened to mere mortals in 2010, due to fans of the brand expressing interest. Brands are keen to showcase their most spectacular models even if there is no money to be made directly – it helps with marketing. BMW of 2018 can beat their chest and prove their sporting credentials by pointing to a BMW 3.0 CSL from the 70s. Buyers, especially those of the premium brands, care deeply about the brand identity and successful older models help to reinforce it. Hence why Kia is struggling to sell their new Stinger – even with a great product and tons of marketing cash it is tough to prove they are capable of building a real sports saloon with no historical data to back it up.
Ok then, it is clear that profits and vanity can drive the automakers to suddenly care about their senior models, but it also works to benefit us all as classic car nuts. The automakers have an exclusive ability to restore the cars to a top standard. Sure, there are third party restorers that are borderline obsessive about perfection, but I would argue they cannot do as good of a job as the company that built the car in the first place. HK Engineering have spent 25 years perfecting their craft and restoring countless 300SLs, but they still lack the original blueprints and sheer amount of expertise the Mercedes-Benz have at their disposal. You can be certain that the car restored by Mercedes themselves will be more valuable. To ensure it, they will even provide you with a document of authenticity.
This undisputable proof of authenticity is something no non-OEM restorer cannot really match. Ferrari Classiche takes this certification procedure one step further, and provides a lucky (and wealthy) of all-original Maranello gem with a unique hardbound red book dedicated to his or hers car. As if that is not enough, the book is then signed by Piero Ferrari, the last living son of Enzo. This special treatment costs a pretty penny – just a plain verification can take up to 6 months and cost more than $5,700, while the restoration itself can set you back between $100,000 and $500,000. Other automakers charge similar amounts, due to high hourly costs of their top-notch experts.
As outrageous as it sounds, this factory restoration can sometimes be a very sound investment. After completing a factory refresh and attaining a certification these cars become top-tier. If we’re talking about seven figure cars like Ferrari 250 GTOs or Jaguar D-Types, even half a million spent for an OEM refresh can be money well spent.
Ok, admittedly, these perfectionist restoration programs are out of reach for the most of us. But even if you cannot afford such luxury, you can reap their benefits. The manufacturers now reproduce some parts that would be extremely hard to come by otherwise. Mercedes-Benz or Jaguar-Land Rover are especially good at this, while the likes of Lamborghini are still working on their catalogue of parts. Needless to say, these parts come at a premium, but classic car ownership was never a cheap past-time.