classic car hire business - opinions needed
I have owned TVRs for 27 years but always older ones, my current one is a 1979 3000S turbo. The earlier cars (say, pre 1992) are pretty simple to maintain, and can be kept on top of quite easily by a home mechanic. They do tend to require a lot of love and attention, but the basic stuff like the Ford V6 and Rover V8 engines are pretty unburstable. Don't listen to Jeremy Clarkson! The problems really came when the Griffith/Chimaera attracted owners who had owned BMWs, Mercs, Porsches etc. who did not expect to have to check the oil,water etc. every week, and got upset when their hand built sports car which cost less than their previous German tin box leaked in or out, or caused problems because they exited the drive for work at 4000rpm. If you treat them as a classic car (ie. a 1998 Griffith as a 1958 Healey) you should be fine. But will you customers do that? There was a recent posting on the TVRCC forum by some guy who didn't have time to drive his Tuscan Speed 6, so he lent it to a hire company. After a few months they advised him that the engine was lunched, and that it was going to cost him X. He was upset and tried to blame them, they pointed out that they hadn't driven it and they couldn't take responsibilty for their customers' driving, and most of our members said "What the hell did you expect?" I dread to think how it all ended up.
The Cerbera is a totally diferent beast. The AJP V8 was probably launched too early and the early ones did have some problems, but if warmed up properly and looked after can be fine. Most have been rebuilt by now. There are some pretty tricky electrics on them too which can cause problems. I liked James' comment about the ambulance, these cars are still very fast, sound incredible when being given some stick, and have a reputation for finding the scenery. There are reputed to be less than half the Cerberas originally built still on the road, and I read recently that some insurance companies reckon 70% of accidents involving TVRs don't feature any other vehicles!
We have a 3 year old now and I would love a Cerbera, but even if I could afford one I would just dread the potential bills if it all went pear shaped. As my dealer friend said, budget at least £2k per annum for running costs, and he advised another friend not to buy one unless she could justify running as a company car - so she kept her V8S and her husband follows with the children.
On the positive side, it is probably easier to run a 1990s/2000s TVR than it was when the factory was still going. Many of the ex dealers have transformed into independents who have found cheaper ways of doing things and other sources of parts. They also seem to take greater care, because ultimately it is their name which will hit the fan if the work isn't up to scratch. There are also quite a few of the ex-factory workers still in the old factory on Bristol Avenue doing bodywork, trim, race preparation etc. so if you find a good Indy and stick with them they will look after you.
If I wanted to hire a TVR for a weekend, I'd go for a Griffith 500.
Hope this helps,
Hi, I run Great Escape Classic Car Hire. Feel free to call or email me for a chat via the website, I'm happy to help as best I can. My advice would be to tread carefully - if you plan to set up a new stand alone classic car hire business it will take 3-4 years to work and be profitable. It is great fun but very hard work...
I run a course on setting up a classic car hire company and choice of cars is one of the modules on he course.
The Open Road
Of course a post 2002 boxster is A-ok, but y'know,... if you want to hire a modern(ish) porsche you want a 911.
Maserati 3200 would be an interesting addition.
Cobra's are a great idea, there is a hire company down here in the south of France who do really well with theirs. VW camper van? nope.. there are hundreds for hire out there already...
You mention the Tuscan Speed 6 that suffered engine damage on hire. I believe that was a car I hired out. While anyone hiring their car has to accept the risks, it would be wrong to assume the car was damaged by hirers. The vast majority of hirers take care of the cars and most hire companies care about preserving the cars they hire for owners. In the example quoted we didn't simply hold up our hands and walk away. The engine suffered cam lobe wear, which is a common Speed 6 issue. The two independent repairers we approached both stated that this was a wear and tear issue, not a driver misuse issue. We worked hard on behalf of the owner to find an inexpensive repair solution.
Thereal issue here is as you correctly state - TVRs are not Porsches and they carry huge ownership costs, such as engine rebuilds after a few thousand miles due to inherent design faults. Anyone buying a TVR or renting one out must be aware of this.
Hiring out classic cars is not inherently risky but a lack of proper management and controls can make it so. We successfully hire more owner cars than anyone else because we take our responsibilities seriously.