The Day I Met my Hero, Stirling Moss

Today I read that Sir Stirling Moss has died at the age of 90. He was my teenage hero.

I met him at the Shannonville Race track in 1979 at a VRAC event. I had never been to one of these events before, I don’t remember if I knew he was going to be there. Suddenly he is on the field and people gathered around him to talk about cars and racing. I had a history with him because I’d grown up reading about his exploits in the newspapers, in Sheffield, Yorks. My family took two papers every week day and three on Saturday and Sunday.

He was famous because of his F1 exploits but also because he was famous for his exploits in everyday life. As I remember he couldn’t keep his driving license for very long because he was a terrible driver on the street. His sister was a famous equestrian rider/rally driver who was married to a famous Monte Carlo Rally driver, Eric Carlsson.

As we crowded around him, someone brought a picture of the cars at the Monte Carlo F1, I’m guessing, from the ‘60s. He was able to give the name and the team of every car, it was extraordinary. I asked him what had happened with his sister, Pat, he said she was as fat as ever! And that was it. As he walked away, it was amazing to see how his body functioned after that major surgery where they had stitched him back together, not one aspect of his body was in a straight line.

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

Claims People Make When Selling a Classic Car (Part 1)

I have seen it all when it comes to claims owners make on their classic car. Sometimes they are erroneous claims that could be considered honest mistakes. Other times, a more nefarious plot is underway. As a prospective buyer it really pays to do the due diligence and verify each claim a seller makes about their car. Here are some of the claims I have heard over the years… along with the reality behind each claim.

CLAIM: “The car is completely original.”

REALITY: They didn’t know it had had a colour change, electronic ignition, later wheels from the same model etc. Their father’s mechanic always changed the components to modern ones when he serviced the car. Luckily their father kept all the original components in boxes in the garage. Even the original rear axle. This made a huge difference when it came to selling it.

CLAIM: “One owner since new”

REALITY: Their father never mentioned he bought it when it was 1yr old, it had always felt like new to the kids.

CLAIM: “The mileage is original”

REALITY: Their father never mentioned the broken speedometer cable that went unfixed for a couple of years, twenty years ago.

CLAIM: “Original paint”

REALITY: Many people can’t see that their car may have more than one colour paint or don’t notice the overspray on the lock mechanisms.

CLAIM: “Never winter driven”

REALITY: Their father drove the car to work all year round for the first three years before it was stored every winter.

CLAIM: “1956 Thunderbird with only 2500 miles on it”

REALITY: The car was originally raced by a Ford dealer in Florida. It was then disassembled and put in boxes. Later it was restored to better than new, the owner at this point had the mileage set to 1956, the year he got his license. Original mileage unknown!

As you can see, there are different ways that a classic car can turn out to have a story that is quite different than what is originally reported. Take your time to find out the verifiable facts when purchasing – or hire a professional to conduct a professional pre-purchase inspection. It can save you a fortune.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

What Do You Learn From A Pre-Purchase Inspection?

When buying a classic car, either modern or old, a pre-purchase inspection is an excellent foundation for long term enjoyment. Knowing what the vehicle needs today to operate safely and enjoyably, and knowing what it is going to need in the immediate future, helps you make a decision on whether to buy the car, and also what kind of offer is realistic. A pre-purchase inspection is an excellent tool with which to negotiate the purchase.

It’s not unusual that the seller does not know the current condition of the car and what it will cost to recondition it to safe and normal operating condition. This is especially true for vehicles that are being sold by an estate where it may have been sitting for several years. When the person selling the vehicle is a spouse or an inheritor, they often have no knowledge of the true condition of the vehicle and its value. It’s a common situation where the long time owner of the vehicle often tells his spouse and family members what great condition the car is in and how valuable it is, but, in the true light of day, after they have died or become infirm, the market does not support the owner’s opinion. A pre-purchase inspection along with research of the current market will help in educating both parties to the transaction.

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

What Does “Original” Mean?

I read the latest news and a company in the U.K. (Swindon Powertrains) is going to be selling a Crate electric engine starting at the end of next year. They are going to be building an electric motor and transmission that you will be able to install in a wide range of Classic vehicles, even in a Mini. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drove away from their wedding reception in a Jaguar E-Type with an electric powertrain.

The whole originality concept is being stretched over a very wide range. Is a concours quality Jaguar E-Type with an electric powertrain original, custom, or modified? Will the selling prices for these vehicles match the original or be possibly higher? Is there going to be a special category now at concours events for electric powered Classic vehicles? If I certify that my Classic can be reverted to original by swapping out the new powertrain, is the car still original? Would you convert your Classic?

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

Why Use A Professional Automotive Trim Craftsman?

I see many restored vehicles. The ones that are done by the owner or the owner’s mechanic nearly always have poor quality trim work. The seat covers don’t fit properly, and the rebuilding of the internals is so poor as to not supply proper support.

Many owners of classic vehicles see no purpose in paying for quality workmanship when installing interior trim. This is extraordinary in that the area of the car that you see the most is where you sit.

I remember many years ago when I went to see a Corvette which the owner had paid a mechanic to restore, it had brand new seat covers installed but the internals of the seat were left with fill material as old as the car. The mechanic had been the only person to sit in the seat and the seat was only a couple of weeks old but the leather was already distorted. When I mentioned this to the mechanic, he told me that the owner of the car was fat and that it would make no difference. When I pointed this out to the owner, he was not amused.

When I was in the Rolls-Royce restoration business, I was lucky enough to have a European craftsman in trim work close to my shop. His interiors were built to last 30 years, and look good for the entire period. Fat or thin made no difference.

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

Should You Buy A Car With A Branded Ownership?

A number of people call our classic car appraisal service looking for help with an insurance dispute over the value of the vehicle that they have been offered by their insurance company. They start out by explaining how little the insurance company has offered. As I dig deeper with more questions, I discover that the vehicle they have has a rebuilt, branded ownership. In this situation, the insurance company normally reduces the average market value of the vehicle by 40%. 

This comes as a big shock because people grossly underestimate the value penalty for a branded ownership vehicle. The branded vehicle that they buy may look like new, and the salesperson may be very reassuring as to the quality of the vehicle, but of course they never mention its true value due to its branded status. It’s very common that the owner does not know who assembled the vehicle after it was written off, this can be important in assuring the integrity of the rebuild. 

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

Do you know what kind of coverage your Insurance policy offers your vehicle?

An enthusiast buys a special interest car to restore and put on the road. They pay $15,000.00 for the car and flatbed it to their mechanic.

They call their regular insurance company and obtain a policy for it, and when asked how much they paid for it, the owner says $15,000.00. The owner doesn’t think a thing about it until a total loss occurs.

They had $12,500.00 put into it before it went on the road (for a total investment of $27,500.00). Then, a total loss was caused when the car was parked in their driveway. The insurance company had put a “19 endorsement” on the policy which limits them from paying any more than the $15,000.00. Due to this limit, the car is a write-off.

The lesson in this story is that you have to read the fine print at least on the page where it lists your vehicles and their respective coverage.

A “19 endorsement” limits the amount covered, a “19A endorsement” covers an Agreed Amount for a specific period of time, usually five years.

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

Why is it prudent to check the VIN number on your “new to you” vehicle

Lots of people are buying used cars at this time of year. It’s human nature to believe that the VIN on your vehicle matches the one on the car, truck or bike.

In my business you see all the anomalies. I saw one classic Mustang that had three different VIN numbers, the owner became upset at this news especially as he bought it from his cousin. Then there was the BMW that went up in flames due to vandalism. The MTO had used the insurance policy number from BC as the VIN number, at first the insurance company denied the claim. After we found the mistake, all was back on track. Back in the early days of the custom bike craze, people would buy custom Harleys and discover that the VIN number indicated that they were not Harley-Davidson bikes. The insurance company would then deny a policy and the bike owner would only get a policy through Facility. Last year I was involved in appraising a Ferrari 308 that had only half its true VIN showing on the ownership, they had owned it for 20+ years and never noticed.

It pays to be vigilant and if you need a VIN change letter for the MTO/Service Ontario, you can call us!

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

A Joke

A young blond girl in her late teens, wanting to earn some extra money for the summer, decided to hire herself out as a “handy woman” and started canvassing a nearby well-to-do neighborhood.

She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any odd jobs for her to do.

“Well, I guess I could use somebody to paint the porch. How much will you charge me?”

Delighted, the girl quickly responded, “How about $50?”

The man agreed and told her that the paint and brushes and everything she would need were in the garage.

The man’s wife, hearing the conversation, said to her husband, “Does she realize that our porch goes ALL the way around the house?”

“That’s a bit cynical, isn’t it?” he responded.

The wife replied, “You’re right. I guess I’m starting to believe all those dumb blond jokes.”

A few hours later the blond came to the door to collect her money.

“You’re finished already??” the startled husband asked. “Yes,” the blond replied, “and I even had paint left over so I gave it two coats.”

Impressed, the man reached into his pocket for the $50 and handed it to her along with a $10 tip.

“Thank you,” the blond said, “And by the way, it’s not a Porch, it’s a Lexus.”

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.

Why Do Dogs Belonging To Rolls-Royce Owners Bite Me?

It started with a Rolls-Royce Corniche, I was demonstrating to the owner how to use lambswool over carpets and I did not notice their little terrier on the front passenger seat. Next thing I know, there’s a dog hanging off one of my fingers and me dancing around the front garden after it let go. The owner of the car and the dog said very little. The next day, he phoned me to apologize for his wife’s lack of compassion explaining that they had previously lived in Texas, and they were certain that I would immediately hire a lawyer to sue them like everybody in Dallas does.

A second Rolls-Royce dog was a rescue dog, I was getting on fine patting the animal while sitting in the living room taking a small libation when suddenly my left hand was on its way down the dog’s throat. Blood was coming from a wound on my hand, I dash to the sink to wash it, I’m telling the couple that own the dog about my experience, they tell me about the other people he has bitten with not a care in the world. Now to be fair to Rolls-Royce owners, I had a big black poodle (owned by a BMW 3.0 owner) have a go at my knee cap, my trousers saved me from damage.

My most recent experience was with a custom motorbike owner’s dog who inflicted enough damage for me to go to a walk-in clinic. That experience left me “dog shy” for a while.

 

Lipstick on a PigLIPSTICK ON A PIG
Avoiding Life’s Lemons

Lipstick on a Pig features excerpts from the vast library of Maurice Bramhall’s experiences.