When I was growing up, the ‘Max Power’ scene was just starting to die out. When I came to buy my first car (a 1989 BMW E30 318is) there was an abundance of modified cars for sale, largely Corsas, Saxos and Fiestas, at an incredibly cheap price. And for good reason. Supply and demand is always at work and no self-respecting person wants a 15 year old Vauxhall Corsa with a wideboy bodykit and an exhaust you can put your head in, except that is for the person who is selling it. They had spent thousands customising that vehicle to perfection, for them. But taste is very individual.
At this year’s Geneva motor show I noticed that ‘bespoke’ seemed to be a bit of a buzz word. The usual candidates, such as Rolls Royce and Bentley, proudly showcased the extensive range of components that could be made to your exact specification. But there were also the likes of Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren who also gave their craftsmen a mention.
Perhaps for a very good reason. It is not uncommon for a Rolls Royce to leave the showroom at triple the base price, not unlike fitting a £1k stereo and subwoofer system to your £500 Saxo… Customisation is big business. At the show, Rolls Royce launched what they called ‘The Gallery’, a bespoke piece of art work that is integrated into the dashboard. It is expected some customers will double the cost of the car on this alone.
But what happens in a few years’ time when it’s time to place an order for the new Phantom? With supply and demand at work again, there probably isn’t a huge market for a Phantom painted in the previous owner’s family crest colours, a purple velvet roof and a mural of their mother in ‘The Gallery’. It may have been perfect to them but it’s a required taste for others. So they have spent a fortune customising a car but end up selling it for a fraction of the cost. Sound familiar?
Perhaps this resale issue is an opportunity for the vehicle manufacturers. They sell a bespoke £1.5m car to a customer and in a few years’ time they buy it back off the customer for a fraction of the price, whilst also selling them a new £1.5m bespoke car. They then take the old car, convert it back to ‘standard’, recycle/re-use/sell what has been taken off and re-sell the old car approved used… probably with a few choice optional extras thrown in for the new owner.