Would you let Hammond loose on your Porsche?
Hammond's Restoration Business - the figures.
Now I don't know if you're watching Clarkson's Farm, but I am. It has occurred to me, that Clarkson is something of a failure at farming, and that he's basically losing money hand-over-fist while proving to the world that he has no clue what he's doing. If it weren't for Caleb, Gerald, Cheerful Charlie and Little Bo Peep, I think he'd be out of business.
He isn't out of business because the revenue from the show more than makes up for his agricultural shortcomings. He's winning because he's doing what he does well - he's entertaining people with his own unique style of self-deprecating humour and satire.
So what's this got to do with Hammond?
Well he described his new show as a 'Restoration Business'. What I'm interested in is whether he's going to try and balance the books and operate it as a proper business, or subsidize a costly mistake with Amazon royalties? I'd like to think he's going to explore the real world economics of operating a car restoration business.
Okay, so how does that work?
Well, I can't say. I've never dropped a car off at a restorer and told them to make it factory fresh and send me the bill. I can guess though. Earlier this year I dropped my Porsche 911 off at Weissach UK for a major service. It needed some other things doing for MOT too.
My local Porsche specialist. Speak to Tom if you're after a service.
Now Weissach are probably not the cheapest option for this sort of work. I suspect Dodgy Dave, my local grease monkey would have forged an MOT certificate for much less, however I want to keep my 911 for a long time and I want to keep it in good order.
Weissach DO seem to be well respected as Porsche specialist, purely based on some of the machinery at their workshop.
He had some seriously nice cars in. The black 964 was particularly special. It isn't actually a Porsche, but a Paul Stevens resto mod. I'm told these are incredibly rare and expensive. The engine bay looked sweet. The grey 996 Turbo belongs to the owner Tom, as does the 964 in Prussian blue, currently being restored.
Having to spoken to Tom on several occasions, I can honestly say he REALLY knows his Porsche and he's passionate about the brand, and delivering a good service. At Weissach they really did go the extra mile. I don't think I'd entrust my Porsche to anyone else...
Not even Resto Rick?!
Well, aside from the fear of it ending up upside down in a ditch after Richard took it for a 'test drive' (We all know his reputation). I don't think I would. It sounds like Richard's service is going to be full nut and bolt restoration. I can imagine the cost of this being astronomical given the costs of some minor restoration on my 911.
Well, here's how the bill stacked up:-
Major Service including Spark Plugs - £449.99
Brake Fluid Change - £60.00
111 Point Porsche Inspection - £0.00
New Porsche N2 Rated Tyre - £288.44
Bore Score Inspection - £70.00
New Genuine inner and outer CV boots with fitting clips and Drive Shaft hub nuts - £169.18
Labour for CV boots 1.5 hours - £70.00
Timing Chain Tensioner Washers and bungs - £34.84
Labour to lock off engine and change washers - £70.00
MOT - £45
NET Total £1292.45
Yep, that's the sort of costs you could be facing with an old 911. Of course you COULD do some of these jobs yourself. It'd probably be best to do the non-service stuff before a service as people DO like a specialist or dealer stamp in the service book. The thing is though, this was basically doing urgent stuff that needed doing and stuff that was worth doing while the back of the car was in bits to do the major service.
Tom also gave me these points of feedback, to give me some forewarning of things to come:-
-Front under tray broken
-Offside front main brake pipe corroded
-Offside disc protector held on by cable tie
-Exhaust flange nuts heavily corroded, need doing
-Clips missing from rear under tray
-Exhaust sliding sleeve brackets blowing
-Rear axle bushes
-Nearside rear calliper hard line heavily corroded
-Both rear control arm bushes torn
-Advise rear discs
-Non factory spaces all 4 corners + non factory bolts
-Offside inner Wheel has play - steering knuckle
-Coolant blow off valve leaking
Yes, as you can see. Keeping an old Porsche in prime condition isn't cheap. The car also has some stone chips on the bonnet and rust on the arches, sills and panels. Enough that it's important to get it sorted before it spreads. I'm trying to book it in at a local, top notch bodywork shop. Here's his quote:-
To remove rust from o/s rear quarter panel, n/s rear quarter panel, n/s front sill and o/s front sill, sand down stone chips on bonnet. Repair o/s front bumper. Re-spray as required. Buff and polish remainder of paintwork.
Paint and re-finishing sundries £ 400.00
Labour charge £ 896.00
Sub total £ 1,296.00
V-A-T @ 20% £ 259.20
Total £ 1,555.20
THIS IS NOT A TAX INVOICE
* O/S and N/S rear wing stone chip guards if required at list price
So an old Porsche will bankrupt you?
Well, yes and no. A lot of this stuff is stuff that needs doing once, then it should be good for 10 years or 60k miles. If I'd bought a £25,000 new car, I'd have probably lost £6k to £7k on depreciation depending on what I'd bought. My first year of ownership has really hit me for about £3000+ Fuel, Tax and Insurance. The economics work, but probably only work because I don't do many miles. If you wanted to do 60 miles a day in your 15 year old 911, I think it WOULD break the bank. If you tried to do this with a car with a less stable intrinsic value, it wouldn't work. 997 Porsche 911s are stable or rising at the moment.
So where does Restoration Rick and his Merry Men come in?
Well, I would LOVE to have my Porsche 911 made 'factory fresh'. It'd be amazing to get a nut and bolt restoration with full engine rebuild and comprehensive body repair. But what would be the cost? I don't think Richard is going for a 'Pimp my Ride' vibe where they do up people's cars for free. Given that a fairly limited amount of mechanical work and body repair is costing me around £3000, how much would it cost to get Richard's XK150 restorers to do the proper full job on the car? I'm guessing, and this is only a guess, that it would be more than the car was worth. If you budget £10k for the engine rebuild and another £3k for other non-engine mechanicals, then you budget £12k to completely strip the interior and mechanicals out of the car, remove every dot of rust and completely re-spray the entire body before putting it back together...
Well you're talking £25k. Will the car be worth £50k then? No, I doubt it. I suspect its value would jump up, but not sufficiently to cover the costs of the work.
So Richard's Restoration Business is doomed?
Not necessarily. Many people don't care about the economics. They just love their car and have the money to spend, so will spend it. There might also be other cars where the restoration costs will be less than the increase in value the vehicle receives from being restored. You'd have to do some careful, in-depth research to ascertain which models would work and even then there might be a risk.
If you need your Porsche servicing and want it done by someone who really knows what they're doing. Why not give Weissach a try?
We are Independent Porsche Service specialists. We offer all aspects of repair, maintenance, upgrade and restorative works. We are situated just off Junction 18 of the M6 in Byley, Middlewich, Cheshire.
Weissach actually worked on the 996 40th Anniversary owned by the young whippersnapper from 'Seen through glass'
showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken serious
Stories and images of supercar crashes, in honour of veteran crasher Hammond