Enhancing your car with collectibles

July 16th, 2019

How many times have you walked around a display of older cars and been stunned by one that is groaning beneath an array of genuine accessories or surrounded by period memorabilia?

When older model vehicles were new, ‘extras’ as they were known were relatively expensive and most buyers skipped straight past that page on the order form. Fancy paying $3000 extra for a sound system in your new car? Well that in ‘old money’ terms is what was being charged for a car radio back in the 1950s; around 10 percent on top of the car’s on-road price.

As cars have become more valuable and accessories more common in the market we are seeing more restored vehicles with scarce items fitted. They can be big-ticket additions such as leather seat trim where vinyl was the norm, wire or alloy wheels replacing standard steel rims or a modern stereo cleverly concealed in the glovebox or behind a correct-looking faceplate.

Finding scarce period-correct accessories, especially for Australian cars where very few may have been produced, has become an art form. Swap meets are a good place to start your search because even if you don’t immediately find a hoard of treasures, people you meet will know others who may be able to steer you towards someone who can help.

Being a member of a car club can help too. They tend to be the first point of contact when items relevant to a vehicle brand are unearthed after perhaps decades in storage.

Accessories can add significantly to a vehicle’s market appeal and value as well, so your Insurer needs to be advised of any significant additions to your vehicle. Don’t waste a phone call if you’ve just paid $20 for an authentic plastic weather-shield but the several hundred dollars spent having the original valve radio restored or thousands paid to buy and re-chrome a set of genuine pre-WW2 wire wheels need to be noted. Just call 10 10 44 and an Enthusiast consultant can assist.

For quotes if you’re getting another vehicle any time of the day or night, even on weekends, just click www.enthusiast.com.au and you’re on your way.

Once you have loaded your vehicle with pretty much every accessory offered at the time it was built, memorabilia might spark your interest. Memorabilia can’t generally be added to a motor insurance policy and what is it anyway?

Memorabilia, according to the Cynics’ Dictionary, is stuff given to you by family members who cannot think of anything else to get for Christmas or birthdays and which you will never use or look at again.

Let’s start with general-interest car books which get read once or not at all then find their way into dark corners of the bookshelf or anonymous storage boxes. One day via a garage sale or charity shop they will hopefully find an appreciative owner.

More viable in terms of being displayed at automotive events are die-cast or plastic models, brochures and specialist publications such as the workshop manual or parts lists.

Other owners will add pieces of motoring-related memorabilia such as a picnic set, surfboards, travel rugs, maybe a portable record player or in-car kettle.

These items will sometimes be sold with a car (especially if it’s a deceased estate and the family have no idea what the ‘bits and pieces’ are worth) but usually as separate items.

If you go to look at a vehicle that’s for sale and there are spare parts, documents and maybe models sitting on shelves, ask if any are included with the vehicle. Picking up some manuals and a brochure as part of the deal or hoovering up a lovely collection for less than commercial cost isn’t a bad reward for just asking.

High-value scale models include those produced on behalf of car manufacturers to mark the release of a new model. These were normally produced for US manufacturers (although BMW and some Japanese brands have recently commissioned promo models) and prices on the collector market for 1950s and ‘60s items can exceed US$1000.

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