I’ve been thinking some more about my idea to ‘lay down’ a car and preserve it as a factory-fresh example so I can enjoy it in as-new condition a decade down the line.
Of course, simply not using a car is one of the worst things you can do to it. Leaving it in a garage is terrible for the mechanical components over time. Brake and clutch hydraulics will stick and seize, electrical items will fail, windows stick in their runners and – if left for long enough – the fuel will turn gloopy and gum up the fuel lines and injection systems.
Preserving the car requires a careful regime of care and attention. It needs to be used regularly, sparingly and correctly – and stored in a ‘Carcoon’ to prevent moisture build-up.
In short, that means a well-ventilated, secure garage with a powerpoint. Then there’s the need to extract the car every month to give it a systematic work-out – a drive over 30-50 miles of dry roads to get everything flowing, and to ensure the engine gets hot enough to evaporate moisture that initially builds up inside it.
The brakes also need exercise, with several hard, high-speed stops to clear the crud off the discs and prevent them warping. And the act of doing all this will work the suspension, the steering, and all the other moving parts. Tyres need to be rotated to avoid flat-spots, too. It’s like taking your investment to the gym.
All these mile-accumulation trips are going to add up. Do this every month for 10 years and you’re looking at 4800 miles, a magnitude more than the occasional “120 miles from new!” oddballs that crop up. But your car will be as fit, if not fitter than the day it was made.
None of this is going to be cheap, especially as you are still going to be paying a fair amount of servicing costs. Engine oil will still need to be changed once a year, despite the miniscule mileage, and other service items like brake fluid and the timing belt should still be swapped on their recommended time intervals. From its third birthday the car will need an MOT, too – another potentially pricey annual appointment.
Finally there’s the thorny issue of depreciation. Pick wisely and it’s possible you’ll be able to create a unique ‘time capsule’ car that will match or even exceed its original value – I don’t suppose you’d have too much bother getting over £20,000 for a ‘brand new’ Focus RS, for example.
But the sad fact is that many cars will continue to shed value, regardless of how few digits get wound onto the odometer. It would be a brave, foolhardy thing to do – but I bet I’m not the only person who’s considered doing it.