Automakers are increasingly handling support for their vintage cars themselves.
As today’s enthusiasts well know, classic cars are more than a hobby—they’re a multi-billion-dollar industry. Some devotees might complain that years of a strong collector market have raised prices for many desirable marques and models, but the rise in value has also sustained more interest than ever in keeping classic cars in top nick and as original as possible. It’s fair to grumble that a top-flight Porsche 356 now costs more than many of Porsche’s brand-new, cutting-edge sports cars, but there are also fewer 356s headed to the scrapyard these days than ever before. That’s a good thing.
The boom years for the classic industry have also created new factory support and strengthened previously existing support, with many legacy automakers now taking keen interest in helping to keep the cars they built in the past on the roads of tomorrow. Herein, we take a look at some of the highest-profile factory classic programs to find out what they have to offer. No one knows how vintage cars will be used 30 years from now, but as these automakers will tell you, there’s no time like the present to enjoy them.
Aston Martin Works Heritage
Aston Martin’s Works department is located on Tickford Street in Newport Pagnell, a location you may recognize as Aston Martin’s global headquarters from the early 1960s until 2007, when the last Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S was produced there. More than 13,000 cars were built at the facility, starting with the DB2/4 MkII. Aston’s Works department uses many of the same tools it used in-period. That also means, as in the 1960s, body panels are hand-beaten from aluminum sheets, often sculpted over the original forms that were used on Astons all those years ago. At the heart of the operation is Aston’s commitment to fixed-price servicing, meaning that every job on every model—from a top-end rebuild to an entire restoration—has a set price, so there are no surprises.
What’s more, Aston Martin has been at the forefront of offering complete, turnkey continuation series cars that are track ready though not street legal. This started with the DB4 GT, a lightweight, uprated racing version of the original DB4 coupe and the first car to enter production at Newport Pagnell since 2007. The most recent of these series is a run of 25 replica James Bond-spec DB5 coupes, complete with such legendary features as a rotating license plate and original Silver Birch paintwork—just bring $3.5 million, please.
BMW Group Classic
Literally down the road from BMW Welt is BMW Group Classic’s headquarters. The location wasn’t chosen just for convenience or for its architecture; it’s also the site of BMW’s first Munich factory, where it produced cars more than 100 years ago.
Since 2016, this has been home for all things BMW Group Classic, with restoration and service facilities, along with a showroom and parts counter all on-site. This is also where heritage cars owned by BMW Group are kept, serviced, and even rebuilt when they aren’t displayed in the nearby BMW museum. Like other factory classic programs, BMW often has restored cars available for purchase.
Curious if the 1960s BMW 2002 you’re restoring is in its original specification? An official Classic technician will inspect your car for factory correctness and report the findings on a special BMW Group Classic Vehicle Certificate. Don’t live in Germany? For an extra fee, they’ll fly someone from Munich to your nearest U.S.-based BMW Certified Classic Center, a specially designated dealership trained in basic service on classic models. BMW presently does not offer factory restoration services for privately owned cars in the U.S.