Armageddon is here, folks. Whether we like it or not, the electric vehicle is coming in hot.
All you have to do is look at a few share price charts to see why vehicle manufacturers must go this route. Shareholders and regulators are demanding that they do. The Volkswagen share price jumped in response to a raft of announcements by the company about its electric future, while anyone who actively watches the markets will know that Tesla has seen its valuation rocket.
Whether those valuations are justified or not, electric vehicles are the flavour of the day and so companies will make sure that they are addressing that point.
So where does this leave us as petrolheads? EVheads doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I’ve said for a while now that the internal combustion engine (ICE) will go the way of horses. Once upon a time, everyone rode a horse to get around (or you walked). These days, horses provide the only sport that is more expensive than motor racing. Available only to the wealthiest families, horses are still around for recreational purposes.
One day, there will only be charging stations at most forecourts. The pumps will be long gone. In each town, you’ll find one or two garages that still have pumps where people gather to talk about the good ol’ days, while commenting on what will likely be the enormous cost of fuel.
However, we still have time.
ICE cars still have a place in showrooms for the next decade. Many will be hybrids, but hybrids still need petrol. Once the new car cycle is finished, those cars will be on quality used floors for a decade after that.
Although development on mainstream ICE engines is on the verge of coming to a halt, we are probably 20 years away from things getting ropey for the cars we love. We don’t need to panic. If we are really lucky, Porsche will save us all with the synthetic fuel projects they are working on.
Continued demand among enthusiasts for sporty ICE cars will also open the door for niche manufacturers. The cars will be expensive (refer to the horse analogy above). Adrenaline-junkie petrolheads will still be able to buy affordable limited run sports cars that focus on the driving experience, like those built locally by Harper Sports Cars.
If we shouldn’t be panicking, what should we be doing?
In my view, we should be asking ourselves which ICE cars have the best possible chance of retaining their value in an electric world. When petrol is expensive and parts are scarce, nobody is going to be moving heaven and earth to keep a Golf 6 GTi alive. Sorry to disappoint.
It’s not an easy question to answer. The fastest and most impressive supercars don’t necessarily make the cut. If the electronics are too complicated, nobody will know how to fix the cars. They will be banished to museums. Also, their performance will be blitzed by electric cars anyway.
I think the trick is to find the best-of-breed cars, the ones that really get under your skin and make you love them.
For example, the Honda S2000 is a terrific example of a roadster that will be sought after forever. It has one of the most iconic engines of all time, was built to celebrate a major milestone for Honda and was designed from the ground up as a roadster, rather than most convertibles which started out as tin tops. It’s not just me who thinks this way – just look at their second-hand values.
I miss my S2K every single day. If I could’ve kept it, I would’ve, but instead we brought a perfect little boy into this electrifying world. Hopefully I can teach him about carbs.
Speaking of carbs, economics will dictate that only the more valuable classics will survive long-term. Most people aren’t prepared to severely over-capitalise on a car. It happens currently because people are restoring cars for nostalgic value; cars that they grew up with.
As that generation of petrolheads fades away in decades to come, classics will only be restored when the numbers make sense. It’s likely that many will be converted to EV power, although you won’t catch me dead doing that to my Alfa Stepnose.
I chose the Stepnose because it is the most beautiful shape of the 105-series Alfas. It’s taken me years to rebuild the car but it’s borderline impossible to spend too much on one of these machines. Having already turned down strong unsolicited offers for the car, I’m comfortable that it deserves a place in any lifetime collection.
If I had the budget, which I certainly don’t, I would want to add a V8 F-type to the collection now. Without doubt the best sportscar Jaguar has built in modern times, the pre-facelift is much prettier than the new one and has been locked in as a modern classic. Although it is auto rather than manual, it’s a sporty gearbox compared to the lazy technology in the XKR.
If the idea is to ensure a collection pays homage to the sound of petrol cars, I can’t think of a better choice than an angry V8 Jaguar. They sound absolutely magnificent. The V6 F-type is generally regarded as a better car, but it doesn’t sound like a highveld thunderstorm. It may well be the more balanced machine but the use case for that benefit on public roads is limited.
Overall, my advice is to think carefully about sinking big numbers into petrol cars in the next few years. Some will hold their values, but many will be worthless in a decade from now.
Good luck to owners of those “diesel sports cars” that somehow became a thing a few years ago. I honestly believe that you won’t be able to give them away in years to come.
If you do your homework and make smart decisions, you can ICE ICE Baby for many years to come, without losing much money in the process.