Hexagon Classics: PH Meets

The Hexagon Classics showroom in Finchley is unlike any other. It's more like an art installation that also features automobiles than a place where the nitty gritty of car buying actually takes place. Making it a more welcoming place is a conscious decision, with plans for a coffee/wine bar, a restaurant and so on also planned. You may not be in the position to spend £250K on a Porsche - not many people are, in truth - but you can still appreciate a £250K Porsche; that's the point of Hexagon's beautifully organised premises.

Which is all well and good, but far less interesting than talking about the cars that are actually housed there. Hence having Paul Michaels with us, owner of Hexagon for more than 50 years and a font of knowledge on the classic market. He once ran a Hexagon F1 team, serviced Rod Stewart's Miura and drove Ferrari Daytonas when they were new before establishing Hexagon Classics in 2013 - Paul has a few interesting stories to tell, put it that way.

Prior to 2013 he was solely a BMW dealer, as good a place to start the discussion as any. Put simply he feels that the manufacturer has lost its way, that naming the M3 Coupe an M4 was a daft decision and that the management is "run by accountants." Apparently BMW 'geniuses' once had to talk with prospective customers before a salesman, which was when he decided to get out.

Paul talks about 'proper BMWs' the same way he does 'proper Porsches' (which we're coming to, don't worry). They're motorsport inspired, two-door if possible and with a naturally aspirated engine. Hence he sees a lot of potential in the V8 M3s, particularly Competition Pack cars. There's no let up in early M3 and M5 values either, unsurprisingly, but he does describe M Coupe values as "mad." Apparently up to £70,000 nowadays, which Paul believes will have a knock-on effect for Z4s. Why? "Proper car, proper engine... distinctive."

There's a section of the Hexagon showroom that features nine classic Ferraris, so quite a lot of time was spent there. The newest is an F355 F1, for sale at £90K. As far as the manual versus automatic debate goes, Paul says their will "always" be a premium for manual cars because they're part of the "privilege" of driving an old car. Speaking of which, he sees three-pedal 575s only going one way because of their low production numbers; although you may have missed the boat on those...

Perhaps the most interesting part of our Ferrari chat is where Paul sees the current cars going. Put simply he's concerned about their complexity and the difficulty that could present when parts go wrong. At the moment they have a 575 in that needs a new oil pipe to sort a leak; however Ferrari doesn't make the part anymore, so they've had to spend weeks fabricating an entirely new one. For 15 year-old car. Obviously the hope is that more complex Ferraris are sturdier Ferraris, too.

There aren't really any Ferrari bargains left now, though there are a few cars that Paul perceives as undervalued. Naturally he points to a couple of cars in the showroom, but it's interesting to discuss how subjective matters can hinder a car's appeal and used value. A Ferrari 250 PF Coupe uses running gear related to a GTO, but only one of them is £20m. Same with a 365 GTC/4; Daytona based, but a bit dumpier and therefore half the value. As for actually using classic Ferraris, Paul believes it's around a 70:30 split in favour of those who drive them against those taking a view on them. But then without the 30 per cent the 70 would be unlikely to use their cars as much; "they're helping each other", as Paul puts it.

Don't worry, 911s haven't been forgotten. Again, Paul talks of "proper Porsches" and the ones that aren't, most specifically the ones designed under VW guidance. Hence the plethora of Gen 2 997s at Hexagon, because it's the last of the proper Porsches for Paul. The engine issues of the Gen 1 car were resolved, the maturity of the 991 hadn't yet arrived and it looked like an old 911 - the perfect mix. Interestingly too the manual cars typically carry a c. 15 per cent premium over the PDK, just six years after it went off sale. That's what being just seven per cent of the production run will do.

He sees nothing changing as far as air-cooled and Motorsport cars are concerned; the cars still valuable as a traditional/scary/exciting drive. But if you can get a good Gen 2 997 - Paul actually uses a 997.II Turbo S regularly - then it looks a solid bet. Like this one, perhaps...

To the British stuff, finally, where unpredictability is more apparent than most. A Series 1 E-Type has been stuck in the showroom for 18 months, where a Roadster that arrived at the same time went within four weeks. A V8 Zagato Roadster - one of less than 50 coach-built cars, remember - doesn't command anything like the same price of similar Aston specials. But if you're looking for the British cars that will be in demand going forward, Paul speaks highly of McLaren. He believes they're managing the brand well, that parts will continue to be provided and that all motorsport endeavours - successful or otherwise - remain worthwhile. Heard it here first...

And no discussion with Paul Michaels would be complete without Lotus; as man who knew Colin Chapman, who sold the cars back in the 60s and 70s and who has already met with Geely execs, he has plenty to say. He reckons Lotus "don't have an option" with the forthcoming SUV, that it must be built to support the sports cars. As for those models, he sees a desperate need for diversification, citing a customer who bought an Exige Roadster but couldn't fit in with the roof on. Lotus need to make exciting sports cars, but they also need to be accessible, amenable and comfortable for all customers. Paul's idea for a new Lotus is to evoke the original Elite with a two-seat, front-engined sports car, retaining the Lotus dynamic genius but introducing more space and usability as well.

It's a fascinating place, Hexagon Classics, run by a very interesting bloke. Sure, there aren't cheap cars there for sale; however when you see the level of care that's put into the prep and presentation, the values are a little more understandable. More than that it's not some super exclusive dealership reserved for multi millionaires, as evidence by the father and son who arrive while we're there. It's worth a visit, not least for the warm welcome and an opportunity to look at some staggering cars - even if you couldn't afford so much as a DB4 dust cap. But hands off the 993 Cup; if Saturday evening goes to plan it'll be mine soon...









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Comments (24) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Andrewph75 22 Dec 2017

    On the list to visit then, nice review. In my teens my dad regularly took me into London to visit a few classic dealers - straight 8 on goldhawk road, a big place near Kings Cross I can’t remember name of but clearly long gone. All were very welcoming and let me sit in the cars, still remember the control weights on a Countach 25 years on. Great to hear enthusiasts without the necessary funds still welcome.

  • suffolk009 22 Dec 2017

    On Lotus, he's spot on for the SUV and improved access.

    I don't see his point on the Elite though. How would that be different to the way everybody talks about them doing an updated Elan? And Mazda already have that covered.

    One thing I'm sure of is that the new Lotus range will all be Volvo powered and they'll all have Turbos.

  • givablondabone 22 Dec 2017

    Andrewph75 said:
    Great to hear enthusiasts without the necessary funds still welcome.

    Nice to know these places are about still.

  • Coops90 22 Dec 2017

    Went here a few years ago when that had that sub 5k miles E46 M3.

    Some serious metal, went a bit bananas over a purple 964 3.8RS.

  • Coops90 22 Dec 2017

    Andrewph75 said:
    Great to hear enthusiasts without the necessary funds still welcome.
    Very true. When I visited as a 'yooth' in a modest E91 330, they couldn't have been more welcoming to 3 young lads coming for a look around.

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