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Manufacturer heritage services: supporting classic car ownership

By raccars Published

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Classic car owners have always benefited from the support of enthusiastic owners' clubs, but more recently manufacturers have been promoting their heritage services.

Classic car restoration and ownership used to be a rewarding but challenging hobby, one that cost a lot of time, money and involved a great deal of frustration chasing around the country pursuing elusive parts. The internet has changed all that, making parts and services far more readily available. In addition, manufacturers are coming to appreciate the value that heritage products add to their brand image.

This can be seen not only in the increasing popularity of classic car ownership but also in the soaring value of vintage vehicles. They have gone from marriage-endangering white elephant to sensible financial investment - in some cases at least. No longer do old Jaguars, Porsches, Aston Martins or Ferraris sit languishing in tumble-down garages or barns, they are being rediscovered and returned to former glory.

The process is becoming far easier and more achievable with the co-operation of their manufacturers. In fact, not only are original parts being made available, but in order to promote their historic value, manufacturers are now offering a number of heritage services. These include full restorations, in many cases in the same factory in which the car was originally built some 40 or 40 years ago.

Which manufacturers offer classic car services?

Aston Martin

Aston Martin was one of the first names to appreciate the cultural and commercial value of keeping its heritage alive. Its Newport Pagnell Works Service centre has been breathing life back to historic models for decades. There you can access anything from a conversion of the manual gearbox of a ten year old Vanquish to living out your James Bond dreams with a concourse condition 1960s DB5.

You can bring a broken down old Aston barn find for a manufacturer restoration or buy the parts and do the work yourself. Works, as it is known, stocks over 50,000 separate parts covering all models released by the brand from the 1959 DB4 onwards. Aston Martin has admitted that it made a conscious decision to update its business model to reflect the importance of heritage services to its brand image.

JLR

About 18 months ago, Jaguar decided to follow a similar path with the formation of its Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) heritage division.

The new division's first project was a series of six hand crafted 'Lightweight E-Type' racers, a complement to 12 original models from 1963, worth about £1 million each. The project shows how committed Jaguar is to satisfying the huge appetite among car fans for heritage products. The firm is now manufacturing precision components for its old cars, including new bonnets for old E-Types, plus a full restoration service.

Jaguar's corporate stablemate Land Rover has also begun to re-manufacture original parts for out of production models, helping the value of early models to shoot up as restoration becomes a more viable prospect.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz too has long been undertaking this sort of work from two Classic Centres in Germany and the USA. Along with a huge stock of parts, the firm will manufacture hard to obtain parts upon request.

Porsche

Porsche has developed a Porsche Classic division to maintain the authenticity of its heritage products, dealing with all models which have been out of production for at least ten years by offering components and restoration services. Some 70 per cent of all Porsches ever made are still on the road, supported by the Porsche Classic service with more than 52,000 parts available, many still made by the original manufacturer.

Ferrari and McLaren

Ferrari joins the ranks of venerable marques offering heritage services from its Maranello headquarters, likewise McLaren from Woking.

Neither Bentley nor Rolls-Royce have yet inaugurated any kind of heritage service but commercial pressure may oblige them to follow suit, with discerning consumers appreciating the authentication services which only the original manufacturer can assure.

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