Are Replica/Tribute Cars Good Value?

By: Guy Allen, Cliff Chambers

Presented by

Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III

Tribute cars find auction traction - prices rise as real car values skyrocket


Replica/Tribute cars at auction

Recent auction results prove that tribute Aussie muscle cars are finding an audience, now that prices for the real thing are hitting stratospheric levels.

Two recent sales via Lloyds in Queensland are telling: A 1970 Ford Falcon GT replica went for a very solid $65,000, while a 1979 Holden Commodore Brock replica scored a top bid of $29,000. See the full Lloyds classic car auction results

Both were well-presented cars, with a lot of detail put into the packaging. The real thing in both cases can be around double those prices, which suddenly makes a well-done tribute look like good value. After all, if it drives and looks much the same it can represent a big saving.

It does leave the question of whether building a tribute from scratch makes financial sense. That’s a question that can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, but you’d have to say numbers like the ones we’ve seen recently suggest it can be.

We asked our own car valuation expert Cliff Chambers for his thoughts, and here’s what he had to say…

Holden -vk -commodore -group -a -ss

Is it cool to own a replica/tribute car?

Call it a fake, a copy, a knock-off or tribute. Whichever term you apply there seems always to be something derogatory being said about a car that resembles something it isn’t. Why is that?

In the dim past when the knowledge-base wasn’t at every sceptic’s fingertips, ‘rebirthing’ or even claiming to have ‘discovered’ a famous car was all too common. Today if you claim to have found and restored a long-lost GT-HO Falcon, the punters are going to take a lot of convincing.

Owning a ‘tribute’ will save you money that’s true. But how will your investment fare over an extended period when compared with the genuine article?

Unless a car is scratch built like a Shelby Cobra, Ford GT40 or other glass-bodied exotic, it will require a ‘donor’ body shell. That may come from a quite nondescript version of the same car, such as the Falcon 500 used some years back by our giveaway team to create a very plausible Falcon GT-HO Phase III. However, quasi-GTs can also take as their base vehicle a genuine V8-engined Fairmont sedan or hardtop which, if left in original form, will be worth more than the replica it has become.

| Market review: Cobra and GT40 replicas 1996-2008

American performance cars are even more likely to be ‘cloned’ than Aussie ones. If you are buying offshore take extreme care unless the car has been acknowledged as a ‘tribute’. Verification processes can be complex and costly, but not always accurate.

Ford buyers can purchase a Marti Report which details the vehicle’s specification when new, allowing a buyer to determine which components have been added or removed. The Shelby American World Register provides a source of verification which is accessible to all of its members.

How much to pay for a ‘tribute’ depends on a range of factors. How rare is the vehicle being replicated and what are its prospects for appreciation? Was the ‘donor’ car intrinsically valuable and how good a job was done by the person who undertook the ‘cloning’? If you can’t drive into a car show without people sniggering behind their hands you’ve got a problem.

Tributes aren’t all expensive and can provide plentiful fun for minimal money. If you don’t have $100,000 for a ‘Walkinshaw’ and that VL Berlina with the body-kit and nearly-there paint is going to fool onlookers but not experts, then where’s the harm?

Cliff Chambers


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