Auto classiche: Are they really worth the effort?…Online warranty savings passed on to customers…Special Offer on the King of Cool’s two-wheel ‘dollies’…International Standards Organisation tackles loud traffic noise…

“A classic car is a joy for ever”!…Well, yes, without doubt, it’s a thing of beauty…But a joy forever? I suppose that depends on how addicted you become. And, boy, can classic cars be addictive, the description of which is a brain disorder characterised by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. Right on! Once you get really hooked, you’ll never comfortably drive your smart new Toyota again. Your weekends will be tied up in restoring cars, or talking about doing it. You’ll end up meeting older people who’ll tell about the days when your classic was the latest model.

You’ll experience the thrill of finally getting your wreck running, and the suffering of a rainy-day breakdown. You’ll curse your classic and the way it drains your resources, but you’ll still love it like a child, probably not really noticing that your wife has left home taking your real child with her….

So what are classic cars and who owns them? “A classic is a car with fins or curves, made before 1970”. Maybe. In fact, it’s anything that you consider to be ‘classic’ ranging from an old Ford, Holden, Morris Minor or Jag, through to a 2010 Ferrari California worth about $150,000. The exact definition varies around the world, but a common theme is of an older car with enough historical interest to be collectable and worth preserving, or restoring, rather than scrapping. And what sort of person owns such a thing? Just about anybody, from a struggling young man, or woman, desperately trying to restore that Morris Minor on the smell of an oil rag, to the dude who paid out $US38m for a 1962 Ferrari GTO Berlinetta.

Some people drive living classics, that is, classics that are used on a daily basis whilst others prefer to keep their vehicles in concours condition. There are arguments for both sides. Concours cars tend to be beautiful corpses, while living classics often look a bit shabby, because they get a little bashed around from daily use. So, if you’re still interested in getting you’re hands on a ‘classic’ here’s a few tips, or hurdles, you need to consider:

  • Your dad was right. There’s no way that a classic will be as reliable as a new car, though if they are properly restored, they can sometimes come quite close;
  • When you drive many classics you sacrifice creature comforts. Few ’50s cars, for example, can offer the sort of driving most modern car owners take for granted;
  • First-time restorers almost always underestimate the resources needed to do the job. The most basic restoration will cost at least $10,000 with no upward limit. It will also take a minimum of around 500 hours work and often up to 5000 hours. And, you’ll need stable storage and workshop space that is at least twice the size of the vehicle you’re working on.
  • You never get your money back on a restoration. If you spend $20,000 on a car, expect to get less than $10,000 back when you sell it. There are exceptions to this rule, but not many. Hot-rodders tend to be the worst losers returning about one quarter of the spend;
  • Classics tend to lose less value than newer cars, unless they’re expensive models bought during good times as an ‘investment’. The one area where you can feel smug about a classic is that unlike modern vehicles, the value of most classics remain stable and in some cases slowly increases. But only a dunderhead, or a ‘professional’ collector, expects to really profit from the deal. And, if you drive a living classic, then it’s continual ongoing repairers plus a repaint every few years;
  • Unless you really know what you’re doing, be very, very, cautious about buying high-risk classics. Many cars such as racing Holdens and Valiants reflect a unique part of our motoring history and are a very popular choice among collectors and, unfortunately, young hoods with a bad attitude and a good crowbar. These cars are usually easy to steal and even if these charming young lads don’t write it off just for fun, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see the vehicle again. So if you really want a beautiful old Holden or Ford, the very first thing is to fit an elaborate security system.
So is it all worth the effort? Again, it depends who you talk to. Owning a classic is certainly fun and a large part of this is about the aesthetics of owning a cute/cool/beautiful car, and there’s nothing wrong with that! The car is likely to appreciate and if you do your research and make a wise purchase, you’ll have a good chance of selling at a profit.

If you like working on cars, this is a way to become intimately acquainted with how it all works. Compared to a modern-day power unit, the engine in most everyday-drivable-classics is pretty basic, and with enough space to work around the vehicle and access to YouTube it means you can fix it yourselves and are not rely on a mechanic. And in this day and age, there’s the wonderful self-satisfaction of ‘doing something for the world’ in that you’re reusing on a grand scale.



There is a perception among consumers that warranties for second hand cars are not worth the money and that providers avoid paying claims at all cost. But this need not necessarily be the case, according to Michael Tombs, of RedBook Warranty, a company said to be disrupting the extended warranty market by providing consumers with a hassle-free and cost effective product.

“As an online business, Redbook Warranty saves money on sales consultants and passes the saving onto customers. Seventy-one percent of all polices sold have been purchased by people with a vehicle that is between three-five years old, which implies that people are buying the extended warranty to remain covered once their current manufacturer’s warranty expires,” he told ausauto.

Replacing the auto transmission on a Toyota Landcruiser Prado can costs around $12,000, whilst replacing the engine on a Ford Falcon will set the owner back over $9,000. A recent survey involving 3000 Australian car owners revealed that 58% of respondents had experienced the cost of unexpected car repairs. So it’s perhaps understandable that RedBook Warranty’s most popular policy is the Comprehensive Extended Manufacturer Warranty that provides similar coverage to an OEM warranty and more than half the policies purchased have been for a three-year period.

According Michael, it was a puzzle to his company, best know for its publication of used car valuations, as to why so few Australian car owners take out a warranty beyond what is offered by the manufacturer. “There just didn’t appear to be an easy-to-use product on the market so we developed RedBook Warranty that we believe is a transparent, cost-effective and easy to understand product.”

The online platform allows the owner of a vehicle that is under 10 years old and has covered less than 200,000kms, to easily view packages, source quotes, research and then purchase a suitable product. The warranty can be customised across a basic, standard or comprehensive platform.  “The main concern of most customers is that other warranty providers force them to use a ‘preferred repairer’. Under a RedBook Warranty they can get their vehicle repaired and serviced at their favourite local establishment, be it a larger dealership or a small workshop,” said Michael. (CLICK HERE for more info.)

Special Offer on the King of Cool’s two-wheel ‘dollies’

James Dean died before he had a chance to build up an impressive collection of motorcycles. Marlon Brando put in quite an effort, George Clooney sometimes takes his Harley for a burn around Lake Como, but when it comes to matching two-wheeled icons with a two-legged icon, Steve McQueen stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Thirty-years after his death he continues to appear in advertising and pop culture, and his fan base spans from car lovers to racing enthusiasts to motorcycle obsessives. In his movies, McQueen’s character always had an envy-inducing motorcycle or car, but in his personal life, motorcycles were always his first true love. So for all you nutters, that are into this sort of thing, here’s some really great news! The US magazine Motorcycle Classic has produced McQueen’s Motorcycles that focuses exclusively on the bikes that the King of Cool raced and collected.

From the first Harley McQueen bought when he was an acting student in New York to the Triumph “desert sleds” and Huskys he desert raced all over California, Mexico, and Nevada, McQueen was never without a stable of two wheelers. His need for speed propelled him from Hollywood into a number of top off-road motorcycle races, including the Baja 1000, Mint 400, Elsinore Grand Prix, and even as a member of the 1964 ISDT team in Europe.

Determined to be ahead of the pack, McQueen maintained his body like it was a machine itself. He trained vigorously, weight lifting, running, and studying martial arts. Later in his life, as he backed away from Hollywood, his interests turned to antique bikes and he accumulated an extensive collection, including Harley-Davidson, Indian, Triumph, Brough Superior, Cyclone, BSA, and Ace motorcycles.

Today, Steve still has the Midas touch; anything that was in the man’s possession is a hot commodity. His classic motorcycles sell for top dollar at auctions, always at a multiple of what the same bike is worth without the Steve McQueen pedigree.
McQueen’s Motorcycles reveals these highly sought-after machines in gorgeous photography and full historical context. So get clicking and secure yourself an outstanding publication about an outstanding man and his machines.



A petrolhead and slumming it around Bologna on a wet Saturday afternoon wondering where to go? (As if)…Then how about a visit to a fantastic new museum just inaugurated by Lamborghi’s chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali in honour of Ayrton Senna? Every racecar ever driven by the Brazilian champion is on display, from his debut outing to his tragic accident, including the white MP4/8, identical to the one tested at Estoril, along with its engine. The exhibition is open daily from 12 April to 9 October, including Sundays, from 9.30am to 7pm, and runs alongside the Lamborghini Museum’s permanent collection. More info @

Staying with museums, the highly anticipated exhibition of the popular Australian television series, Bush Mechanics, has opened at the National Motor Museum in the Adelaide Hills township of Birdwood. The exhibition honours the spirit of Bush Mechanics by taking the same a light-hearted approach as that of the series made by Aboriginal media company PAW Media and director David Batty just over 15 years ago.

There’s a couple of vehicles from the program on display and some highly-engaging mechanical interactives cobbled together by artisan tinkerer and author of Blokes and Sheds, Mark Thomson that challenge visitors to match their skill against those faced by the Bush Mechanics during their epic journeys in remote Australia.

There’s a free education program for student groups up until 6 July when the exhibition will tour to Yuendumu, Tennant Creek, Darwin and Alice Springs before returning to Adelaide for the Tarnanthi Festival. During October there’s a three month seasons at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and the Melbourne Museum in Victoria. “Bookings from other museums across Australia and possibly overseas are anticipated and welcome,” said museum director, Paul Rees.

More info @



International Standards Organisation tackles loud traffic noise

Anyone living near a busy road will agree that traffic noise is a serious nuisance. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) traffic-related noise pollution accounts for over one million healthy years of life lost annually to ill health, disability, or early death in the western countries. But this problem is not limited to Europe as it affects any country with traffic areas and high vehicle usage.

One of the biggest contributors to this issue is the sound created when a tyre touches the pavement. The worst type of tyre/road interaction occurs at speeds of, or above, 50km/h. For light vehicles, it starts at speeds as slow as 30km/h whilst, for the otherwise quiet electric vehicles, it happens at every speed range. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has issued legal limits to control tyre noise and these are in place in most industrialised countries.

Road surfaces, however, are also an important variable, influencing traffic noise as much as tyres and vehicles. A few countries have started to modify road surfaces in areas vulnerable to high noise, but there is still a long way to go. Negotiations are currently underway to legally limit how much noise a road surface should generate, a move that is also backed by vehicle and tyre manufacturers.

But in order to put these requirements into practice, International Standards need to uniformly and reliably measure and monitor the influence of road surfaces on traffic noise. ISO published a first standard in 1997, but advances in technology and changing needs have led to the development of a new methodology that is much more practical and easier to use, especially for long stretches of road.

Recent research has shown that temperature also influences noise emission as much as tyres and road surface, which has led to European Commission requiring member states to regularly report traffic noise emission along major roads and if excessive, to develop abatement programmes.



What’s this lot got to be so happy about? Well, how about winning the Hino Regional Dealer of the Year award for the third time in four years? Sounds good enough to us. Congratulations Newcastle Hino. Melbourne’s Prestige Hino got the nod on behalf of metropolitan dealers. Other results included: (Customer Satisfaction Award): CMI Hino Adelaide, Vanderfield Hino Toowoomba, Barry Maney Hino; (Sales Excellence): Prestige Hino, Adtrans Hino, CMI Hino Melbourne, Illawarra Hino, Hino Geelong, Jacob Hino; (Parts Excellence): Sci-Fleet Hino Brisbane, CMI Hino Adelaide, Prestige Hino, Newcastle Hino, Jacob Hino; (Service Excellence): Sci-Fleet Hino Brisbane, Adtrans Hino, CMI Hino Adelaide, Jacob Hino, Coffs Harbour Hino, Newcastle Hino.

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