RE: Hexagon Classics: PH Meets

RE: Hexagon Classics: PH Meets

Friday 22nd December 2017

Hexagon Classics: PH Meets

The classics to buy and the classics to sell, plus what Geely should do about Lotus, with Hexagon's Paul Michaels



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...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Andrewph75

Original Poster:

17 posts

82 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
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

3,772 posts

96 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
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

2,507 posts

86 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Andrewph75 said:
Great to hear enthusiasts without the necessary funds still welcome.
+1

Nice to know these places are about still.

Coops90

13 posts

124 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
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

13 posts

124 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
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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sparta6

757 posts

31 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Their Classic Porsche section is a veritable sweet shop lick
decision, decisions...

https://hexagonclassics.com/modern-classics/porsch...

2 GKC

407 posts

36 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Some their v there abuse here. It simply won't do Pistonheads.

Hexagon carry some beautiful stock but they charge like a wounded rhino.

thegreenhell

4,119 posts

150 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Do they still have a warehouse full of BMW Z8s, in their attempt to control the market for them?

PGNSagaris

1,884 posts

97 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
I live a few minutes walk away. Amazing selection of cars and a very welcoming bunch of people.

They will definitely get my business one day...hopefully in a 308/328 flavour Ferrari

MDMA .

3,997 posts

32 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
" so they've had to spend weeks fabricating an entirely new one "

From unobtainium i presume? It's an oil pipe. Decent machine shop could make one in a day.

V8 FOU

2,503 posts

78 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
MDMA . said:
" so they've had to spend weeks fabricating an entirely new one "

From unobtainium i presume? It's an oil pipe. Decent machine shop could make one in a day.
Quite.
It only took me a day to make 1 of 2 driveshafts for my Lotus Europa. More PH BS or at best, journalistic license....

sng45

482 posts

107 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Andrewph75 said:
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.
I think the "big place near Kings Cross" you're referring to may have been "Autodrome" ??? - when I was younger travelling down from Yorkshire on the train to London to see friends ( who lived in Shepherds Bush near "Straight Eight") , the first place I'd head to was Autodrome, dreaming of a time when I could afford to buy a car from them. Unfortunately that day arrived some years later and I bought a 1984 Alfa Spider from them, they agreed to fix the exhaust before I collected it as I was heading straight to Europe for a three month driving tour with my girlfriend. I arrived to collect it, they hadn't carried out any of the repairs they'd promised to do so I spent three months driving round Europe with a blowing exhaust as I couldn't afford to get it fixed !
I remember going to have a look there on another trip to London and seeing the guy who ran it ( I seem to recall Thomas Hardiment ??) having a massive argument with a customer who'd come to collect his Ferrari 355 ( which was two months old) they had stored for him as they'd parked in with the gearbox at the back wedged onto some sort of kerb, so the car was being supported on the gearbox. Very entertaining to watch an argument that almost turned into a full on fist fight ! Funny what you remember years later !

rare6499

189 posts

70 months

Saturday 23rd December 2017
quotequote all
Looks like they have some exceptionally nice stock.

Can’t believe Ferrari can’t support a 15 year old part, especially with all the noise they make about Classiche.

Iceicebsby1980

56 posts

29 months

Saturday 23rd December 2017
quotequote all
Had a look on there website 30k for a 08 m3 saloon with 24k miles. Bargain prob 10-15k over book price. They were never that special I owned for two years.

scs1

145 posts

114 months

Saturday 23rd December 2017
quotequote all
Chopped my Mk2 Mini Cooper for an almost new Mk3 Cooper S in 1971 at Hexagon.
Showroom price was £1080. Wish I still had it now!.

Cheib

14,734 posts

106 months

Saturday 23rd December 2017
quotequote all
Used to live near to Hexagon and bought several new BMW's off them from the mid 90's up until 2010. I met Paul Michael's a couple of times and clearly knew his onions but also incredibly enthusiastic it...even when his main business was the BMW dealer there was always "something interesting" interesting in the showroom.....he must have owned that Kremer Leyton House 962 for a long time now.

I was told that the Hexagon BMW second hand car business was the most successful/profitable in the U.K. and. I can well believe it. They'd buy the best examples of M Cars etc and put a steep price on it but they'd always get the money....might have taken nine months but they knew they'd get it. As they were privately owned they didn't have the typical three month holding period of a franchise dealer...so they knew what their edge was.

Also very clever with cars like the Z8 which IIRC were less than £50k when they started buying them...I think they'd have up to 8 or 9 at a time when no other BMW dealers would stock them. So yes they pushed the price almost single handedly to £100k plus but they did it buy dominating the market.

Glad to see they like the 997.2 as the owner of a manual 997.2 GTS! I noticed when they started buying them 18 months ago or so ago...they've sold a lot since and I think a few PH members have done business with them on "both sides" of that market.

cgauk

74 posts

59 months

Monday 25th December 2017
quotequote all
I must have caught them on an off day with my only Hexagon experience. TL;DR - went to buy a car, condition and mileage not as described. Effort to get deposit returned as they wanted to do a deal. Complained afterward - didn't care. Have steered clear since. But - that was 10 years ago so maybe an individual experience rather than the norm.

Edited by cgauk on Monday 25th December 02:10

stevesingo

3,190 posts

153 months

Monday 25th December 2017
quotequote all
Hexagon has made a self licking lollipop of the market.

1, Buy good examples of a specific model, let's say E46 CSL when they were £25k.

2, Advertise one for £40k bigging up the "investment" potential.

3, Take interest from parties.

4, Take £30-35k for said example

5, Place SOLD (Maybe with the £40k price next to it) against the online advert.

6, Put the next example on for £50k.

7 Rinse and repeat until the market for that model is so overinflated, that no-one who wants a car to use can buy on the open market.

8, Move on to the next car with "investment potential".

Iceicebsby1980

56 posts

29 months

Tuesday 26th December 2017
quotequote all
stevesingo said:
Hexagon has made a self licking lollipop of the market.

1, Buy good examples of a specific model, let's say E46 CSL when they were £25k.

2, Advertise one for £40k bigging up the "investment" potential.

3, Take interest from parties.

4, Take £30-35k for said example

5, Place SOLD (Maybe with the £40k price next to it) against the online advert.

6, Put the next example on for £50k.

7 Rinse and repeat until the market for that model is so overinflated, that no-one who wants a car to use can buy on the open market.

8, Move on to the next car with "investment potential".
I agree with the above . I've seen quite a few traders jumping on the band wagon recently. Seen a Astra gte up for 30k . Golf tdi anniversary for 20k and a restored Renault 5 gt turbo for 30k . There 5k cars in my mind don't know if nostalgia is playing a part in prices but you would have to be stupid to buy them at that money. The market seems to be getting to the point . Where the normal man with a modest job is getting priced out . I've seen it on the forums were a car comes up for sale and people start telling the seller it's under priced . Only for the said car to sit there for months and not sell .

Julian Thompson

327 posts

169 months

Tuesday 26th December 2017
quotequote all
The above could be true. But my take on it is different.

I believe that the high prices are justifiable for beautiful cars. The problem is that once someone sees an XYZ up for sale for a big price he or she immediately thinks “ooo I’ve got one of those - it’s obviously worth the same” - so many of these cars are rubbish and NOT collectors examples but that doesn’t stop the clueless owner sticking it up at a crazy price. That then causes the seller of the beautiful car to either sell theirs or put the price up further. This moves the market and when new examples come on that are beautiful they automatically price higher than the dross.

The big difficulty is that so many of these cars fell into the cheapo car category a few years ago and thus true fantastic examples are rare gems. The rest are polished turds. Additionally the man in the street a) doesn’t know how incredibly expensive it is to return a car to previous high quality throughout and b) thinks that he can buy one of these lovely cars, use it all the time driving it through the salt and just washing it once a week and that it will maintain the same quality as when he bought it. THIS is where people will come unstuck - it won’t be a market collapse as such - it’ll be a collapse for the crap or the stuff that was great that’s not so great any more. You can’t drink investment wine and expect the empty bottle to be worth the same!

I have to commend Hexagon though. I’ve never bought a car from them (I came close twice with phone discussions) but I found their description of condition and approach to be impeccable. I’ve also got to say that when I phoned back to tell them I had chosen elsewhere the response was warm and friendly (and not the typical “that’s a rubbish spec you should have bought ours” lark) I’m certain I’ll eventually buy something from them.

Edited by Julian Thompson on Tuesday 26th December 09:48