Cars in glass cases - Revcounter 426

By: Guy Allen

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Leave preservation to the taxidermists

It’s an issue that has been buzzing round the scone for a while now and I’ve come to a decision: putting an old car on a plinth or in a glass case sucks. That’s all there is to it really. The end.

Okay, if you must know what got Muggins barrelling down this particular laneway, it’s what seems to be a recent spate of real or imagined barn finds (shed finds for us) of pristine collectible cars with zero or very few miles on board. To be fair, we all dream of this happening to us.

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You know the drill, you go to visit dear auld Aunt Agatha for the first time in years. She mentions she needs something out of the shed and, as you scramble through the cobwebs and broken tennis rackets, you trip over some giant object under a tarp. It’s an E-type in dusty but what seems complete condition. What the?

Seeking an explanation from the wrinkled relative, you discover that she won it in a raffle, drove it once, decided she didn’t like it much and wrapped it up for another day. It’s yours, if you want it.

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Now here’s the rub. Any car that’s been idle for years – in a climate-controlled glass case as surely as in Agatha’s shed – is quietly rotting away. The only question is how fast. Should you have the temerity to start it decades later, without a complete and expensive rebuild, you’ll probably blow every seal and bearing that’s within cooee. It will be a disaster.

It’s far kinder to all concerned, particularly the machine, to keep it running and take it for the occasional gallop. We all know that, don’t we? So why is it that a whole sub-strata of motoring nuts out there carefully lock away and preserve something that was always designed to be used?

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Okay, I get the whole investment argument. A Series I E-type that’s never turned a wheel is, for the moment, worth a whole lot more than the same road car with some reasonable wear and tear. That’s when it ceases to be a car and becomes an investment vehicle.


Perhaps the most bizarre recent case is that of a Canadian enthusiast (is that last word code for ‘nut’?) who entombed his relatively high-mile Honda’s DC2 Integra Type R as an investment strategy. Which just goes to show that delusion isn’t the sole preserve of politicians.

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And here’s another thing: I’ve never felt entirely comfortable walking around a lot of car museums. Why is that? It’s because they’re actually (in many, if not most, cases) giant mausoleums, where the victims might as well be stuffed and mounted. Terribly interesting, but at the same time a little depressing.

You know what? If I did somehow acquire the apocryphal zero mile E-type, no matter what the circumstances I’d have to get it running and drive it. Any other option is just a waste…


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