Top Gear Philippines

Aside from cars, I have a thing for watches--specifically, those classic wristwatches being reissued by various watchmakers. I have two such timepieces: the Heuer Carrera from the '60s and the Oris Chronoris from the '70s. Both are motoring-inspired watches, and both are modern iterations of previous products.

The Carrera was given to me by The-One-That-Got-Away almost 10 years ago. It's the basic version of the Carrera line, so it's not a chronograph. The Carrera line was apparently the brainchild of Jack Heuer and was released in 1963, long before Heuer was acquired by Techniques d’Avant Garde in 1985 (hence the prefix 'TAG' in the present brand name). The Chronoris, meanwhile, is a model first introduced by Oris in 1970. This one I bought with my own money more than four years ago.

Let me reiterate that both my Carrera and Chronoris are not refurbished or reconditioned watches. I got them brand-new. They're called "reissues," or old product models remade and given modern touches by their manufacturers many years or decades after their original release. The nice thing about having these is that they automatically have character straight out of the box, not to mention that not many people have them. My Carrera even boasts a 'Heuer' logo (no 'TAG'). It's always a great conversation piece--especially if you happen to sit beside a cool chick on the plane.

Another nice thing about reissues is that they're equipped with several improvements. My Chronoris, for instance, now has an additional minute counter, a tachymeter scale, and a locking system for the big crown. These are stuff not present on the original 1970 version. And so the immediate upside is that you have a classic-looking watch but with updated features and mechanicals. Best of both worlds, if you ask me.

The footwear industry does this all the time, too. You have classic Stan Smiths and Chuck Taylors and Air Jordans and Top-Siders offering you a chance to reminisce and go back to your salad days. So, now I'm thinking: Why can't the car industry come up with its own reissues? Surely, there are many iconic cars from the past that will still sell today even among young car buyers. I, for one, would be very interested in a Volkswagen Beetle or a Toyota Starlet.

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I'm not talking here of model revivals, like what Volkswagen did with the New Beetle or Chevrolet with the current Camaro. I want a classic car that has the exact exterior body and the same cabin, with only the engine, the transmission, the drivetrain, the underpinnings and the electronics getting the modern treatment. I think we'd all love to drive really old-looking cars with fuel-injected engines, fully automatic air-conditioning, iPod connectivity and antilock brakes. Imagine that: Classic cars minus the mechanical gremlins!

Of course, I understand that this is easier said than done. The chief concern here would be the cost of reproducing these classics. Then again, how difficult can it really be? Technically speaking, all they really need to remake are the body shell, the wheels, and the dashboard (including the steering wheel). The engine and all the other mechanical components can be mined from existing production cars.

Sure, a reissued car won't come as cheap as a regular current-model unit. There will always be a significant premium that customers have to pay. But I think there's a solid market for it. Why do you think car restoration is a thriving business these days? If I had the money, I'd rather buy a brand-new reissue than purchase a dilapidated car and spend the rest of my life hunting for parts. Believe me, there will be many takers for a reissued Ford Escort, Isuzu Gemini, Mitsubishi Celeste, Toyota Cressida, Opel Manta, and Volkswagen Brasilia, among others.

We all can dream, right? If we can buy and wear iconic watches, I can't see why we can't do the same and hit Memory Lane with classic cars.

Vernon B. Sarne
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Opel Manta classic cars Ford Escort Isuzu Gemini Mitsubishi Celeste Toyota Starlet Volkswagen Beetle
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