Drive it or Store it? Torrens 405

By: Glenn Torrens

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hsv gts r hsv gts r

Glenn Torrens is torn between enjoying his classics now and preserving them for the future

The odometer on my ’89 VN Holden Calais V8 is nudging very close to 110,000km. That means it’s time for another service – fresh oil and a new filter – and that I’ve driven it more than 5000km since I bought it eight months ago.

It also means I’m slipping further and further away from the ‘one owner, low kays’ condition that compelled me to buy it.

My ’82 Mitsubishi Sigma SE – a two-owner, low-kays car – has probably a more critical string of numbers on its odometer because right now it’s at 98,500km just shy of the magic 100,000 mark.

The problem is, I love driving both – especially the Calais with its willing and surprisingly frugal injected V8 – and I’m more likely to jump into one of these cruisers for a 100km trek to a Sunday car show than my daily driver Toyota Hilux or my Mazda MX-5, which is, quite frankly, buzzy on the freeway at 110km/h.

But that increasing kilometreage (it doesn’t roll off the tongue like ‘mileage’ does it?) on two of my favourite cars has pricked me into thinking about the value of the mileage on a classic or collectable car: what is low-kay and what is not? And what effect does the odometer have on its value?

If we were talking ex-company cars, the car’s travelled distance would be a totally different ballgame: Something that has covered 10,000km in three years in the hands of a local hospital matron will be regarded and valued more highly than something that has travelled 80,000km in the same time in a fizzy-drinks sales fleet.

Apparently, there are formulas that the used car trade applies to the build-date and kays on late-model cars to determine almost the exact price that can be asked when the car is detailed and displayed under the tassled ‘Car Of The Week’ banner at Honest John’s Krazy Kars.

Recently, a 1990s HSV VS GTS-R popped-up for sale . As many Unique Cars readers know, there were only 75 (or was it 76?) of these yellow-bellow cars made and I had the pleasure of driving a couple when they were new. Of course, a few collectors jumped on these bright, brash banana-coloured cars when they were new, such as HSV nut Graeme Rutgers, the first owner of the Number One GTS-R that Unique Cars photographed and featured (with the also Number One Walkinshaw VL Commodore SS Group A) last year.

He put his GTS-R into his collection and given the fact it’s never been registered and carries Holden’s and HSV’s pre-delivery stickers on its glass, it’s now a serious collector car.

Other brand-new GTS-Rs were pressed into daily duty, like so many other HSVs… which is probably why this one I saw for sale on a Facebook page had 140,000km on the odometer. But what made the ad so remarkable was the price-tag of $100K plus!

Obviously the seller thought his car’s value was closer to that of Graeme’s (now sold) pristine, never rained on, never registered, no-number-plate-holes-in-the bumper bars, pre-delivery-stickers-on-the-windows, kept-in-a-box, 000086km example rather than a same-year, 100,000-plus km VR or VS GTS or Senator 215i with $15K on the window.

Collector money buys collectors cars and I doubt a collector would buy a 140,000km car.

What do you reckon? Should people just harden-up and drive the wheels off low-mileage cars or keep the kays down and the value high for some future owner, whom they will probably never meet?

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