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Can you recommend some of your readers watch the programme "Classic Car Restoration"?

I have no wish to be rude to your readers, but the chap from Bristol, who paid £22,000 for an unfinished Beetle restoration wants his brains testing. It makes you wonder how he got in charge of £22,000 in the first place. Maybe he should have contacted Bernie Fineman and his Canadian partner that appear in the Channel 5 programme ‘Classic Car Restoration’, on Mondays at 8pm.

Mr Fineman, it appears can buy rusting wrecks and restore them for a song. To date, Fineman and his partner have restored a Porsche 911, an E-Type Jaguar coupe, an MGB, and a Ford Mustang. All these were complete basket cases. Yet Bernie manages to buy the cars and double his money on his investment, using the finest craftsmen in the land and pays them peanuts. He also restores the cars in a month or less. He then gets an expert in classic cars to give him a written valuation. In the end, viewers can win these cars in a competition. All have been restored for absurdly cheap prices. All the craftsman used in the programme are quite superb, he has a sprayer, and panel beater that do a sublime job, the guy leads in dents, and takes the car’s body back to bare metal, then applies four coats of primer, the final result would have you swooning. He claims to have paid about £2000, for such a masterpiece of a job. If a member of the public wanted such a paint job it would cost about £8000.

The same goes for the car upholsterer. This guy refurbishes a ruined car interior for about £1500. The mechanics and guys that cut out rusted body sections and structural chassis parts are fabulous. Please watch this programme. You will not believe how cheap it is in Bernie Fineman’s world to restore a classic car, which of course is a nonsense.

Asked on 15 December 2012 by LD, Surrey.

Answered by Honest John
It's like those home restoration shows starring Nick Noaks when they get a crew in and work day and night to fix up a house that someone has botched. They give a rate for the job. But the true rate would be many times as much. So don't believe everything you watch on television. I had a restorer get very irate about my response to this particular email. He has clients who spend five times the value of a car on its restoration.

Sometimes, ground-up restorations involve a tax break. A guy has a company. He buys a classic car in need of restorations. The company pays the restoration costs out of a supplier account and they are not necessarily attached to the car. If the car is bought reasonably well it can then be re-sold at a profit financed out of tax savings, and serious classic cars have gone the way of fine art. Rumours are put out about a certain Ferrari of which only 20 were ever built being purchased for £8 million. That puts up the perceived value of all classic Ferraris of a certain type. Investors then buy at auctions and real prices are paid. Then another rare Ferrari is supposedly sold for £12 million. Real auction prices go up again.

There's a lot of money to be made by hyping the market in this way, the same as with any investment. But no one will ever make money spending £20,000+ renovating an ordinary 1303 Beetle of which millions were built and which is common as muck.
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