Opinion: Why interesting cars could face an early demise


Apologies if I’m behind the curve here, but I’ve only just stumbled over Porsche’s amazing ‘Originale’ classic parts catalogues. Components for old Porsches presented in a super-stylish magazine.

Some of the components are given the glossy magazine treatment, such as the newly commissioned rear light cluster for short-wheelbase 911 models. You can even buy all six Originale brochures as a boxed set from Porsche Classic dealers for £65, such is their bookshelf appeal.

Clearly, this is good business for Porsche, as there can’t be a tired air-cooled 911 left that’s not worth restoring. And the more smart old 911s that appear on the roads and on endless Instagram accounts, the better it is for Porsche’s brand value.

But there are plenty of worthy and collectable cars around that aren’t Porsches. Not exotic, but fine pieces of industrial design in themselves. Often much cherished. And it’s these cars that are getting increasingly difficult to keep on the road.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to help out the owner of an Audi 100 Avant V6. They’ve had it since new, buying it from Scotts of Sloane Square in Chelsea back in 1993. The body is immaculate, the V6 engine extremely smooth. (It even lacks airbags. It’s one of the last Audi models equipped with Procon Ten. Google it…)

There were two problems. Firstly, the headlights had all the power of flickering candles and the car lived in the deep countryside. Secondly, the owner’s husband, used to parking sensors in his own car, had shattered the inner tailgate light cluster when reversing. A likely MOT failure.

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The headlights were easy. The reflectors were perfect and the lens made of good old glass. So £58 spent on a set of Phillips Racing Vision bulbs and night became day. Replacing the rear light cluster was much harder. The 100 Avant is a 28-year-old car and, back then, premium cars sold in much smaller numbers than they do today.

I threw the search open to Twitter and was assured that the 80 Avant inner cluster was the same unit, but I didn’t want to waste time and money guessing.

After much digging, I managed to find the correct right-hand cluster on Italian eBay. It had come off a 100 2.5 TDI (a radical car in its day, perhaps the first really premium diesel engine) and was looking a little sun-blasted. But £52 delivered to the UK was a bargain. Especially as it seemed to be the only example available in Europe.

So this lovely old 100 will live on for a while yet. But it will most likely be sent to the wrecker’s yard eventually, perhaps for want of a replacement ECU.

I also fear for younger cars as car makers merge and the pressure to stop producing every single part for decade-old models becomes ever greater.

Stellantis has 14 brands under its control and responsibility for all the cars previously sold by those brands. You can imagine the sheer scale of handling a parts back catalogue like that.

Indeed, when I needed a new right-hand exhaust mount for my Insignia 2.0 Turbo, the garage was told only the left-hand mount was available. So they bodged it and made it work. A modest car, certainly, but it’s fast, low mileage, affordable and in A1 shape. All good reasons to keep it on the road.

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