Canberra businessman John Green says motorists are the losers in the battle to upgrade the ACT road network to keep pace with an ever-increasing number of cars and trucks.
The Jerrabomberra resident, who owns and operates a mechanical workshop and used Mercedes dealership, has been commuting to his Fyshwick business for the past 23 years.
''The roads have improved but the volume of traffic keeps on getting worse,'' he said.
''As recently as five years ago I could leave here (MB Spares) at 5.30pm and drive down the Monaro Highway at 80km/h.
''Now I am down to 40 or 50km/h and that is purely as a result of the traffic volume.''
But the car enthusiast and former historic car racer says Canberra's roads are very good compared with other cities, that its drivers aren't as bad as they are often painted and that the territory is home to a strong car culture that goes well beyond the Summernats phenomenon.
''There is a surprisingly strong car culture in the ACT,'' he said.
''If you look at the number of members most (brand-related) ACT car clubs have on a per capita basis they compare favourably with much larger states.''
Mr Green said it was common for the ACT Mercedes-Benz Club to take out the attendance record when members participated in national events. ''I believe this is true of many of the other clubs as well,'' he said.
''One of the reasons could be that a lot of Canberrans live in houses with good garaging where you can keep a hobby car. We also have a lot of former public service and defence personnel with a strong mechanical bent.''
He said the quality of the roads, combined with the compactness of the city state, made it easy for people to get around to motoring events. ''If a Sydney club wants to do something it takes the members an hour to just get out of the city,'' he said. ''Here we can all link up in 20 minutes and then start our run.''
Mr Green said classic car ownership was growing in popularity and that there were good reasons for this. One was that it was a practical passion. Unlike owning a yacht, a classic car could also be used to drive down to the shops for a carton of milk. It also did not have to be expensive.
''Yes, there are cars that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars,'' he said. ''But if you go to Wheels or one of the other classic and antique car displays half of the vehicles will have a market value of less than $10,000.''
The real challenge facing classic car buffs is the erosion of the skills base within the motor trades, Mr Green says. The majority of his customers owned cars that were designed and built in the days when mechanics repaired faults rather than pull out an old part and plug a new one in, he said.
He became hooked when his father, Robert Green, bought a rare 1954 Mercedes 300b limousine in 1981. The company's first postwar prestige model, the 300s were known as the Adenauer Mercedes after Konrad Adenauer, the German chancellor of the day who refused to ride in anything else.
Just as expensive as and more sophisticated and powerful than a contemporary Rolls-Royce, the Adenauer Mercedes used by the chancellor were optioned with a Becker radio, a primitive (VHF) mobile phone and even a dictation machine.
''Sandra and I used this 300b for our wedding in 1988 and then for our daughter's school formal in 2011 where it upstaged the Hummers and the Falcon GTs,'' Mr Green said.
He said that one of the factors driving the interest in old cars was the baby boomers' quest for time machines. ''There is no question about it; a classic car is a time capsule,'' he said.
Asked what advice he would give to someone wanting to buy an older or classic car, he said ''you should research the model you were interested in and then buy the very best example you can afford. It is always cheaper to buy something in good condition than to do it up. That is a lesson everyone usually learns the hard way.''
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