What price pleasure?
As a club the MRC expects to recruit newcomers to motor racing, the club website offers some advice by quoting prices for the guidance of anyone interested in buying a car and racing with the Monoposto Club. Recently I thought that it would be worth checking to see what cars are available on the various retail sites for pre-enjoyed racing cars. Having checked the offerings on ebay (nothing of interest to Monoposto), Racecarsdirect and Fastroadandtrack, my initial conclusion was that there are remarkably few cars of interest to potential monoposto competitors, that prices vary widely, and there is little evidence of the 'credit crunch' affecting prices.
As owners of road cars, we are used to the way depreciation effects the value of our four wheeled 'investments', a shiny state of the art new car will be worth its scrap value in about 20 years time no matter how much care is lavished on it. Thanks to the recent government scrappage scheme that could be as much as two grand, if one was willing to go back to the beginning, buy new, and start the process over again.
It turns out that £2000 is the minimum price that one would expect to pay for a conventional single seater, e.g. a FF1600, because it is the threshold where a car's component parts become worth more than the whole. The Hewland gearbox and FF1600 engine are the most valuable components but other items such as the cast iron brake callipers are also valuable. So unlike the road car situation where, without the government's help, the value descends to less than £100 for what can be quite a useful vehicle, do not expect to pay much less than £2500 for any single seater that is race-worthy.
We must admit that when discussing this topic, we are dealing with 'big boys’ toys', a group of artefacts that make absolutely no sense to much of the population, just as most of the contents of Tate Modern make no sense to me. Most would regard owning a race car that is ten times more valuable than the vehicle towing it as having an inverted set of values and providing a practical example of having the 'cart before the horse', but fear not, financial logic is on the racing drivers side; the race car is not depreciating.
Last time I wrote the final phrase in the paragraph above, several Monoposto drivers were at pains to point out that far from depreciating, their cars appreciated in value. This is frequently another way of saying that they have sold a championship winning car and/or have completely rebuilt the original purchase. But the basic point remains, at the purchase prices quoted in the 'classes' section of the Website, depreciation is not a factor that needs to be included in the running costs. This means that the best car for a newcomer who wants to race, is the one most likely to run competitively, and reliably without requiring any time or money lavishing on it. And in my opinion this is most readily ensured by checking that the car has raced recently and has a good reliability record.
The club's classes section estimates that a £4,000-5,000 should buy a newcomer a sound Mono1600 or Mono1800, and £7000-£8000 a Mono2000 Classic. These prices are minimal and need to be increased if the car comes with a useful spares package. Having recently checked the sites it would appear that there is very little available at these figures on the commercial sites, and even less available that one would recommend as an attractive purchase for the newcomer. This is not what I anticipated, and I suspect that there are many cars sitting in garages, effectively for sale but unadvertised, a somewhat surprising situation when one considers the scope of the Internet. There is however a second possible reason for the lack of cars, a combination of the internet and weak pound could have lead to many cars being sold abroad.
So having dismissed the wares on the commercial sites, where should a newcomer look for a car? The 'For Sale' section of our website is as good a place to look as any and better than most. Usually the cars advertised are actively raced in our championships and the owners seem to have a far more realistic idea of their value than some. There is an additional advantage in using our ‘For Sale’ section, if you require a bespoke service, you could always contact Dermot Healy.
"Most of the contents of Tate Modern make no sense to me". This is a piece by Sam Taylor Wood.*
To avoid offence, (very) cheap racing cars are illustrated by asst ed's FVJ.
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