‘OUR BAD NEWS IS YOUR GOOD NEWS’. From our man in South Africa Aubrey Malden.
Let’s not dwell on the past year, I think we have had enough of that. Let’s see
what does the future holds for you in the wider World?
Well here, in South Africa there’s a bit of a rush going on, in more ways than
one, and it will, I believe, go on certainly for this year, 2023.
You will know that over 100 years ago there was a rush by prospectors to get
their hands on the gold hidden away in the hills and reefs of South Africa.
Now the prospects look good for a different type of gold. Classic cars. Many of
them mint. Many hidden away. And they are, more than ever before, coming
out of the woodwork.
What makes the pickings so good?
FRESH FROM COLLECTORS AND CAN CLUBS
When you live here as I have done, since 1998 ( and previously in 1982-87)
the reasons are obvious. And numerous.
First of all, the actual number of vehicles here may not be as high as other
countries but the penetration and ownerships are relatively easy to trace. My
classic and veteran car club for example has a membership of around 300
and between us we own around 800 cars. From classic Bentley’s, to Aston’s,
Ford Model A’s and Mustangs, Alfa Spiders, Jaguar Mk11’s, De Soto
Coupe’s, MG B’s and A’s, Chevy Phaeton’s, and Merc’s of various shapes
Then there are the private collections. Up to 300 cars in some collections.
GO, STAY, OR RUN AWAY?
Dial into this, the aging ownership of those that own the cars. Many owners
are in the 60’s, many in their 70’s and more in their 80’s. As they move
upwards the ownership becomes onerous. Worse, those that may inherit the
cars, can’t. Or won’t.
Firstly because they are, more and more making plans to leave the country. In
2021 about a million reasonably high net worth individuals ( many in our Club)
left for the UK ( around 250,00 of the million) Australia and New Zealand.
Some took one or two cars; others bit the bullet, kissed their loves goodbye,
shed a tear, crossed their fingers, and put their cars on auction, or on the
Last year there was a continuous dribble, but now the watershed gates have
opened. The drive to leave, or pull up the drawbridge and stay has been
increasingly pushed by the continuing severe and an unabated economic
pressure. Everyday is another reason to sell. In short there’s a near
economic, and to some degree, social and commercial collapse looming over
us. Poor economic growth, lack of jobs for those that want to stay, but finally
the last straw the young and qualified have to leave due to the highly
restrictive employment laws. Then there are concerns about safety and
security, rhetoric about land redistribution, and the embarrassingly bad failing
of infrastructure. Which was, once, mind-boggling good.
WHATT’S UP 446%?
Now there’s the lack of maintenance by utility providers. Our woeful and now
limp-legged electricity supplier ( Eskom, known by some as Eskum ) has
under-delivered a shriveling amount of power, getting worse every day,
despite government promises of getting to grips with the problem (we have, at
the moment up to 9.5 hours a day without electricity). Their ever tightening
tourniquet tariffs have increased by 446% since 2007 and are planned to go
up again this year and, again the next by another shocking 32%. This is to try
and make-up the shortfall, shore-up and rebuild what should have been taken
care of years ago, starting in 1999. But ongoing corruption at the highest, and
lowest level, makes sure the increases of clattering coins in the coffers never
reach the planned infrastructure, the money is trousered long before.
Now the consumer is not only having to put up with no electricity they are
having to pay horrendously more, for much less of it, when they can get it,
that is. The same with water. Many burst pipes, flooded roads, and
sometimes, no water for days, all paid for ( ha ha) by increased prices as the
water coffers are filled and emptied into outstretched cadre hands.
CAN WE AFFORD THE JOURNEY?
The very “drivers” of our cars, the supply of petrol and diesel, have also taken
similar money out of our pockets and wallets.
The sad and sobering reality is that the price of 93 Unleaded petrol in
Johannesburg has risen by a whopping 91.8% in the most recent years, 60%
in the past five years, and 41% in the last two.
30% of this fat figure goes as Fuel Tax to the government coffers (via sticky
fingers) and the Road Accident Fund. Yet our roads have an increasing
number of seriously damaging deep potholes which no Ford Model A likes, or
indeed any other car, modern or classic, can deal with, without first rattling
your teeth and then slamming your buttocks and back into your seat, and
simultaneously wreaking your suspension, ripping your tyres to shreds, and
denting your rims, or splitting them.
And the Road Accident Fund (that is supposed to pay for road accident victim
support) is, allegedly, bankrupt.
Sasol, the national supplier and maker of 28% of all our fuel is regarded as a
world technology leader in the production of coal-to-liquids (CTL), Sasol
operates the world’s only commercial scale synthetic plant at Secunda, and
produces 150 000 barrels of fuel per day. Yet our pump prices make no
allowance for the local production costs!
So, our bad news, which is, I believe pushing people to leave in 2023, or to
sell their cars in order to stay and pay to help with their horrendous cost of
living increases is your good news.
Yes, we have seen an increasing number of cars leave our roads, empty our
garages and warehouses for new homes abroad. And with a weakened
currency (our Rand, now around 20 to the Pound Sterling, and about 10 years
ago worth 11.0 to the Pound Sterling) overseas buyers can pick up a bargain.
Witness the Aston Martin DB6 Mk 2 Vantage went for a shade over £200k to
WITNESS THE GOOD PRICES!
Other cars, all right hand drive, have made their new journey’s end to
Australia, New Zealand, and surprising to me, India, and some of the other 70
right-hooking countries around the world. Dubai, and the ‘States are some of
the other popular destinations.
Looking through the pages and talking to the owners of the many good
dealers we have here this is what I spotted recently:-
A low-mileage MGB GT in very good condition going for around £4,000.00. A
totally rebuilt and matching numbers MGA 1958 drop-head, with wires,
£18,000.00 and there’s a cute totally restored 1952 MG TD going for a song,
At the other end of the power spectrum is a 1987 Tubo R Bentley, in Metallic
Green with 166,000kms on the clock going for £20,000.00, which I saw
alongside the diminutive Alfa Spider, again completely restored going for a
sweet £34,000.00, and having spent its life here in SA it was devoid of that
terrible European affliction, tin worm-the dreaded rust!
There are many rust free VW’s for sale, Beetles, GTI’s and the one I picked
up was the rare split-window Westphalia Camper Van which had a bigger
1600cc engine fitted rather than the one it was born with, the 1200cc and is
now for sale at £33,000.00. I’m not an expert on these, so not to sure about
the price, but she looks and drives like a beauty.
Talking of ‘poke’ a 1970 BMW 2.8 CS was asking for a new owner at, perhaps
a little more than I would expect here, £25,000.00 and a rare Kubel Wagen,
born in 1970 was listed at £23,000.00.
These are just some of the vehicles that may wet your whistles, hunt around
amongst the good dealers sites here and the half dozen auctions we have
and you can find some delightful cars. Well looked after (a lot of owners are
engineers) with good and very interesting histories. I picked-up a numbers
matching 356B Porsche Cabriolet, one of the few to be imported and
assembled by Linsey Motors, the only dealer in the world, being licensed by
Porsche Germany to do so. Another I found, a 356B Coupe, was bought last
year and is now, I understand, on its way to Australia via a dealer in the UK.
2023 has some nasty hills we have to climb here, but you SVA overseas
buyers will, I think, be in the pound seats for the year. Good luck and happy
SVA Says: As always my thanks to Aubrey for his insights into our shared passion for the metal in South Africa. www.specialistvehicleassociates.com