Knowing Your Classic is Knowing Your Shop
This 1963 Maserati 3500GTi has been recently sold to a very happy client. Currently undergoing a transmission overhaul and, soon, a thorough preventative engine-out service, this fantastically original car will be turning heads and inspiring smiles as she triumphantly motors on with her new owner for many more years. Our selection of fine European sports cars are more than just beautiful, award winning mechanical expressions of art and passion… These are the finest, hand-crafted time machines from the most incredible periods in automotive history!
When it comes to cars, we all have reservations and concerns about taking them in for service or repair. Many people will even attempt to make as many repairs as they can on their own before buckling down and calling a local shop. This kind of mentality is all the more common when dealing with rare classics and collectors vehicles. We wish we could say that this is simply in the minds of the owners and just console them to put their fears to rest. But, this is a problem that has been occurring since the very first automobile repair shops opened. To cut to the chase: knowing your vehicle and your pocketbook are in good hands is to know your shop and the employees who staff it.
At Classic Investments, we have been in the business of knowing our clients for nearly 30 years. Here are a few tips we recommend to help you feel more comfortable the next time you are buying a used classic, searching for a service center or simply getting to know your preferred shop a little better.
1: Know the basics of how your vehicle works
First, let me acknowledge that most collectors have a pretty good idea of what is going on under the hood of their car. Second, we should point out that there is a huge difference between having a basic mechanical competency and being a mechanical technician. True technicians have been specially trained in minor differences between different makes and models of cars. When you own a Jaguar, you want to know that your technician knows more than how many cylinders are lurking under the hood! It takes many years of hands-on experience to become intimately familiar with the variety of vehicles that we, and many other shops, service. A technician is ALWAYS learning something new and that only adds to their value. The more you know about your car, the more you will understand when they explain what they have done and why–and information = confidence.
One of the most important factors in ensuring that your vehicle is going to be well cared for is to have a good explanation of the symptoms in mind when you call the shop, or stop in to have it evaluated. A good technician will be able to isolate a suspect component by listening attentively to your concerns. This will reduce the amount of time it will take them to track down a possible fault–and time = money.
3. Know the owner… but know your technician, too!
Very simply, the more you get to know your tech, the better they know you and your vehicle. Not only will you benefit from having an open repoire but your car will, too. This is a two-way street… Building a relationship with your tech allows you both to communicate effectively. If you give them the opportunity, a single technician will know the specifics of YOUR car much better than if you were to have multiple employees in different shops performing differing services on a regular basis. Most of the marques we specialize in were hand-built over 60 years ago, in limited numbers, and may have seen dozens of shops throughout their years. Give the technician time to get to know your car and your technician will be able to suggest preventative items that others simply won’t see coming until it is too late–and relationships = longevity.
4. Investment in a shop is investment in a car
We are all very familiar with the question: “what sort of records do you have with the car?” There are many, many reasons that people begin a collection of vintage cars. While we cater to all of them, we know particularly well that provenance is essential to the value of an automotive investment. Beyond provenance, stability and originality are key points, as well. To get the most out of your investment, you need to get the most out of the people who maintain it. If a financial investor were constantly switching brokerage firms, opening new portfolios and transferring funds on a whim, the likelihood of having a long-term, stable dividend is significantly reduced or eliminated. And, let’s face it, having a classic car as an investment isn’t just good for the bottom line… it is FUN! Keeping a numbers matching car means keeping an engine from seizing up, a gearbox from exploding and a chassis free from rust. Prevention of trouble is essential and, unlike the stock market, we KNOW what to look for in a vehicle! Your shop and its staff can offer guidance on preventative maintenance, tips on driving and storage, and ultimately keep your car from ever requiring an expensive and time-consuming restoration to boost the value. Not to mention, the preservation of original vehicles is one of the most stable market factors of all time.
Judges, prospective buyers and premier auction houses all look for defining factory characteristics. Combine this with a history of KNOWN maintenance, a credible and honest relationship with your shop, some basic knowledge and a little homework–That is an equation for success that can be reproduced time and time again!