If you want to take a look into the future, cast you mind back to the afternoon of Sunday 26th of March 1989. Sounds a bit weird doesn't it but for those of you watching the F1 coverage from Rio that afternoon you would have seen our Nige win his first ever race for Ferrari in a newly designed car straight out of the box. The car in question that carried him to victory was the John Barnard designed Ferrari 640 and included a revolutionary seven speed semi automatic gearbox. Whilst it was a fantastic result for "Il Leone", it had no effect whatsoever on the rest of the Championship as the car went on to prove incredibly unreliable. Out of the16 races that season, Nige broke down on 7 occasions and most of the time it was down to that pesky, fancy gearbox. Can you imagine the moaning that filled the Ferrari motor home!
The semi-automatic gearbox however went on to have the last laugh. It was quickly adopted as the way to go by all F1 teams and following a period of extensive development, became totally reliable. Now, cast you mind forward 25 or so years and you will find that every leading purveyor of elite sports cars has discarded the tried and tested manual gearbox in favour of a semi-automatic flappy paddle version. Even the famed Porsche GT3 RS does not have a manual box any more. They have gone the same way as vinyl records. Hard to come by and strictly the preserve of a select group of enthusiasts and manufacturers. The success of the recently launched Porsche 911 R and the full order books for manual optioned BMW M2's shows there is still a demand, but compared to the mainstream, it is small.
The same parallel can be drawn with F1 Kers systems and the tusami of electricly powered cars that are rapidly filling our roads. The only difference is the pace of adoption. Kers first appeared in F1 in 2009 and just 7 years later, the Toyota Prius is the favourite steed of many an uBer driver across the globe and the likes of BMW are frantically building their future around their newly launched iBrand. Surely it won't be long before every mainstream car has some kind of electric propulsion. Nor do I think this is a bad thing. The only electrically powered car I have ever driven is a BMW i8 and I was astonished how good it was. The refinement was exceptional and it is a truly great modern GT. I have no doubt that the next version will be even better.
Unconsciously, we are probably standing on the verge of the most radical change we have ever seen in motoring history. The rapid development of autonomous cars and the on-going rumours and murmurings about Apple's foray into car manufacturing only go to show times are a changing. How long will it be before a teenager stares in bewilderment and scratches their head at the sight of someone actually driving a car themselves? Or, the ridiculous sight of a person pouring highly flammable liquid into a tank and then effectively setting fire to it to get the car moving? If I was Rudolph and his mates, I would be a bit worried as they must be on borrowed time as Santa ponders the switch to electric power.
To my mind this all points to exciting times for our customers and ourselves. Most new inventions tend to make the previous best of breed loved, collected and valuable at some point. The only variable is the amount of time it takes for people to realise. I think we are already seeing this happen before our very eyes. The rise in value and the amount of enquiries we see every week for 1980's and 1990's modern classics is incredible. This era of car represents the pinnacle of analogue driving pleasure and reliability. Whether it be a BMW E30 or the avalanche of enquiries I have received about Golf R32's in the last few weeks, it does not really matter. The key is to choose the best you can afford and get specialist help before you commit. We are always happy to help so just pick up the phone or drop us an e-mail if you want some unbiased help.
So watch out Rudolph. Maybe you're not even safe.