Letter From The UK: Classic Car Treasure Troves

Like in many countries of the world, the British Sterling Pound currency is changing. Gone are our elegant paper bank notes, replaced now by seemingly indestructible plastic money that does not have that special “feel” only proper paper bank notes can have.

Goodbye Pound Coin

In general use, the British Pound is worth approximately $1.32. With the challenge of Brexit hanging over our heads like the sword of Damocles, by the time we become the The Lonely Man of Europe in 2019, I suspect the Pound will be worth about 25 cents, that’s if you get anyone to buy it at all. (As a writer, I take Dollars by the way if anyone’s interested. Also Roubles, Yen, multiple other currencies, and livestock in lieu).

Now, a good few years ago, the old One Pound note was replaced by a small, insignificant round coin. This was a complete “gimme” to forgers who we learn have made and circulated some 47 million of the things. Mostly, we are none the wiser when spending.

The British Royal Mint slowly cottoned on to this forgery business and as of the 15th of October, the old gold-colored £1 coin (by the time you read this) will have ceased to be legal tender. It has been replaced by a slightly thinner and lighter twelve-sided coin with a security feature that makes this dodecagonal coin much harder to forge. This means any £1 coins from your last UK trip you have been saving for your next holiday visit to the rainy shores of Britain are now worthless.

Mystery of the Missing Coins

An interesting currency statistic has been thrown up by Mr. Edmund King, President of the Automobile Association, here in Britain. It appears up to £30 million in old One Pound coins might be lost down the cracks and crevices and secret places of our cars. That’s a lot of money to lose out on.

Even as I type, UK drivers are frantically executing one last comprehensive sweep of their cars, some with actual metal detectors. Feverish hands are groping through gloveboxes, cigarette ash trays, side door pockets, and on, under, and between the seats. The more foolhardy are poking into electric seat motors (always a rich seam of lost items) in the hope of discovering some of this golden treasure – before it’s too late.

Go through the glovebox, dig around the seats, and carefully search every nook and cranny of your car. You never know what long forgotten treasures lie within.

Classic Car Treasure

There are approximately thirty million cars on the road here and it is not unreasonable to suggest there might be a £1 coin in each of them. The older the car the richer the spoils one suspects. This is why a classic or vintage car might be a real treasure trove of cash or other goodies. Consider for a moment the sort of events that take place in cars. If you know where I’m going with this and are at all squeamish then look away now.

Imagine when your Mom and Pop where courting. I know it’s a difficult image to conjure up without feeling a bit icky but bear with me. They would cruise to the drive-in for a bit of serious necking and general rummaging where loose notes and coins could be easily liberated from pockets and purses during the match.

Why, there could be whole dollars still hidden away in those beloved classic vehicles and barn finds that turn up every day and who knows what else? Old pin-ups of Cheryl Tiegs under the seat squab, ancient and outdated prophylactics bought long ago more in hope than expectation, a rusting weapon, Tiddles, your Grandma’s missing cat, a plain brown envelope containing $10,000 in used notes mysteriously marked with the cryptic message “see that Jake gets this or else” and, no doubt, many other strange and wonderful things.

Now that the word is out that the contents of Britain’s cars are worth more than the vehicles themselves, I expect our homegrown car thieves will just take the cash in future, or whatever else might be under the seat.

Geoff Maxted is a motoring writer, photographer, and author of our Letter From The UK series. Follow his work on Twitter: 

About The Author

I’m an experienced and published writer, formerly on cycling and as a general mountain biking guru (until falling off became too painful). More recently I returned to my lifelong love of cars and as a full member of the UK’s Guild of Motoring Writers I now pen reviews, news and opinions for various print and online publications. I fully road test every vehicle I review and still get a kick out of it. I’m based in the heart of leafy England.

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