Just received the latest e-newsletter from Charles Runyan of The Roadster Factory. In it there is an interesting bit about the value of classic British cars and the effect that the parts used in repairing and restoring them can have on those values. Of course Runyan has a vested interest in this because of his business, but I really do agree with him.
With the value of all British cars rising, I believe that enthusiasts should buy parts based on quality rather than on low price. In fact, a letter was received from British Motor Heritage this week deploring the practice of selling Heritage products at discounted prices. John Yea, Director of BMH, believes that this lowers the value of the cars over time, and this writer agrees. There is a trend in the U.S. to sell lower-quality parts at lower and lower prices, but I do not subscribe to this trend. I truly believe in quality parts, and with the price of labor and our personal time being what it is today, I want my repairs to last as long as possible. I have never wanted The Roadster Factory to be known as the Cheap Parts Supplier; instead I want to be known for the Best Parts, although I also offer price savings whenever I can.
If we use parts that are cheaper but also of lesser quality, we will lower the value of our cars in the long run. This will happen due not only to the direct impact of how the parts may or may not perform, but also because of the reputations the cars will get because of those parts.
Lets face it, many people make unkind and unfounded jokes about the reliability of British cars. “Joseph Lucas – Prince of Darkness” “Motoring Garbage” “British cars don’t leak oil, they mark their territory.” Now what will happen if the cars are repaired with parts of dubious quality that then fail and give problems to future owners? Or increase the sightings of MGs, Triumphs and Jaguars by the side of the road? Those failures, brought on by owner behavior and not car quality, will reflect badly on the cars and negatively impact perception and therefor resale values in the future.
When I was younger, wow, much younger, I had a sticker on the back of my MGBGT that stated “all parts falling of this car are of the finest British manufacture.” It was funny back then, and still is in a way. But I would never have that sticker now, and you will not find it in our JustBritish shop. Why? Because although it is amusing to the insiders, to the outsiders it reinforces a stereotype. A stereotype of unreliability, poor build quality, and lack of value. None of which are true in the broad sense. It is no use denying that the British car industry went through some dark times and produced some poor products during those times. But the industry as a whole as a heritage of well over 100 years. The real problem period was ten years or less. Most other problems, at least the way I see it, are usually brought own by careless owners, mechanics with lack of expertise, or the use of cheap, inferior, or incorrect parts.
Being the owner of multiple British cars I am very sensitive to the cost of my parts and repairs. That being said there is an old adage about the quality of ones work that says, “if you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you find time to do it over?” I believe the same thing goes for the parts we put on our cars. If you can’t afford to put a reliable part on your car the first time, how will you afford to replace it a second time? Or third? Or pay for the tow truck? Or, in the long run, take a hit on the over all resale value of your car?