Guild of Motoring Writers on a front line? A handful of founders in 1944 maybe but not many. Road tests can be written under fire from unhappy PRs, readers throw brickbats, but it’s a relatively safe business so long as you choose carefully who to drive with on press launches. Yet Mike Brewer was actually shot at doing an illuminating series on army vehicles in Afghanistan. Bouncy and enthusiastic, his publicist describes Brewer as TVs best-known car dealing expert, and now he has produced a book on buying and selling modern classic cars.
Brewer presents Discovery channel’s Wheeler Dealer series, which has been running for nine years and is shown all over the world. It illustrates what interest there is in classic cars and Brewer’s book is a useful primer. It covers buying, owning, selling, auctions and basics like giving a car a deep clean. “It never ceases to amaze me how little effort people make when it comes to tidying up their cars,” Brewer says. Quite right. I learned it long ago during a brief spell in the rough and tumble of the Glasgow motor trade. “If it’s looking a bit grimy get the engine steam cleaned, and don’t forget the painted areas like the inner wings.” Every motoring writer should have a spell selling cars. What makes people buy can be revealing, and it’s hardly ever understeer or oversteer or how many seconds it takes to 60.
Brewer’s experience in the trade was more successful than mine. See his Tales from the Trade. There is cogent advice on starter classics. He recommends Mark 1 Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva HB - plenty of variants and spares are cheap. I was less convinced about his advocacy of the Triumph Spitfire although he does recommend later ones after 1974.
Sporting classics? MGA yes, Delorean definitely not – terrible car – a dishonest pastiche. Favourite modern classics? VW Beetle – OK. Ford Capri ? Maybe. Lotus Elan? Yes. Jaguar E-type, yes certainly although not the lugubrious V12. And Morgan? OK but probably not the Plus 8, which I always thought over-powered for the frail frame. As for the Citroën DS; well to say the complicated suspension and hydraulics aren’t for the faint-hearted is an understatement. I’d go for something more bullet-proof - an MGB maybe with a Heritage bodyshell – to fend off the Taliban.
Mike Brewer’s The Wheeler Dealer Know How! £16.99 ISBN 978-1-845844-89-9 everything you need to know about buying, preparing and selling collectable cars. www.veloce.co.uk.
Top: Jaguar E-type. Ford Capri II. My sturdy MGB. Bottom - I tested military vehicles in my Gunner days. 8 (Alma) Field Battery Royal Artillery Daimler Ferret armoured car, like they used to build in what became the Jaguar factory in Browns Lane. That’s me in the turret.