We are certainly poised on the brink of an interesting year for the car hobby.
The Steering Column
Left Hand Drive
from our President
A year ago, the publicity machines were heating up with the widely trumpeted 100th anniversary of both the Ford Model T and the founding of General Motors. Lots of praise for both of them in the popular press, lots of stories about the wisdom of their early leaders. This year may mark the end of GM as we know it, and a new role for Ford in the American automotive world. General Motors was structured around the then innovative idea of providing a family of cars that provided a “step up” for loyal buyers as they moved through life and prospered. You know, get a Chevy when you graduated from college, move up to a Pontiac with the first good job, then an Olds when seniority was yours, and perhaps later a Buick or Cadillac. Worked great as long as people could move up in life and prosper; hard to do that when the economy is in free fall. Ford and Chrysler tried the same idea with Edsel and DeSoto but never really pulled it off as well as GM. Maybe that approach to the market has run its course. Interestingly enough, the actual history of the automotive industry is filled with more bankruptcies, mergers, reorganizations, and top-executive-musical-chairs than the modern computer or telecommunications or banking industries. And it all worked out. Probably will again.
On the overseas front, it seems that the strange marriage of multiple Chinese partners with an English bride may actually bring forth a fruitful union. Apparently, MG is back in the showrooms in England. Not forecasted to come to America, but who knows? Given all the bizarre twists in this tale over the last few years, we may even have a dealer next to Mack’s by the end of the year.
The financial industry debacle ricocheted onto the collector car market at full velocity in the last few months of 2008. Many of the cars that you see in collector car showrooms are financed (i.e. “floorplanned”), and many of the sales are made on credit. Sales in these dealerships have dropped tremendously. Collector car auction activity has also declined: one company recently described the 50% sell-thru level of their auction as a “triumph in today’s uncertain economy”. Yeah, right: just like saying that having only one leg blown off by an IED in Iraq is a “triumph in today’s uncertain battlefield environment”. Of particular interest will be the outcome of the Arizona auctions this month. Barrett-Jackson, et al, have set the pace in the collector car industry for many years. BJ instituted a “no reserve” policy a few years ago, to strong resistance in the industry because the seller has to accept the last bid even if it is way below his expectations. Let’s see if they can still get sellers to go along with that this year – my guess is “no”. But whether or not you participate in the speculative side of the hobby, the results of these auctions eventually trickle down to influence your insurance policy and the prices you pay for local cars.
On the domestic front, gas prices have dropped quite a bit. Last year’s high prices may have curbed some of the
enthusiasm for attending long distance MG events. This year’s NAMGBR convention in Colorado will probably be well worth attending just for the chance to see many cars from distant areas – might not happen again for a while. And don’t forget the NAMGAR, GOF and University Motors events also on the calendar. All these events will probably be well attended this year, so this may be the time to attend one. Remember: every dollar not spent on gas means another dollar available for a beer at the hospitality tent!
And on the local front, our club is poised for a successful year. We have a good crew of experienced people on hand to make positive contributions to club activities in all areas. We will be looking into financial management issues, event configuration, scheduling and more. Your input is always important so feel free to make your thoughts about club activities known to any of the officers at any time.
So we will all be watching GM, MG, BJ, BP and the like – and wishing them the best in these uncertain times. And if you have a crystal ball or other some means to predict the future of the car hobby area, please step forward and share it with the rest of us – we would all like to know what to expect next!
Safety Fast, -- Jim Evans
The officers and members of the Chicagoland MG Club extend a cordial “MG Welcome” to these new members who have joined our club in recent months. We wish each and every one of you “Safety Fast” and hope you will avail yourself to as many club activities as you can.
Arnold Komp - Joliet, IL - 1961 MGA 1600
Donald Brauch - Roselle, IL - 1968 brg Midget
John Giometti -Naperville, IL -1953 cream MGTD
Tom Holzman - Elgin, IL - 1980 white MGB
Note: To any member whose name does not appear above, your application may have missed our deadline. If you don’t see your name next month, call our Membership Chair, Victor L’Heureux at (847) 516-3592 to verify.