Buying Your First Classic Car
Maybe it’s the car you dreamed about during your school days, maybe it’s the idea of restoring a rundown classic to its former glory, or maybe it’s just an opportunity to make a profit in the future. Whatever your reason for buying a classic car, here’s our advice on getting the best car for your budget and lifestyle.
Do your research first! It’s the only way to get the car you want at the best price. Classic car magazines, websites and forums are all good places to improve your knowledge as they will be full of people who have first hand experience of owning the car (or cars) you’re looking to buy.
What is it good for.
What will you use your classic car for? Day-to-day motoring, epic road trips and a fun drive on a summer day will all require a different age, model, and of course – budget. Here’s where joining an owners club will come in handy. You’ll be able to meet with people who have owned the car you want and will be able to give you advice on the pitfalls that may come along with it.
Inspection time – The Outside.
The usual rules apply when buying any car (including classic cars). However, we would recommend some extra steps when buying a classic car.
If you’re not confident, take an experienced classic car engineer with you, or an objective friend. If you don’t have access to either of these, talk to the local owners’ clubs who will be happy to give you their suggestions of specialists that can carry out an inspection. When it comes to classics, specialists will have more knowledge of a particular car than the AA or RAC.
An expert can tell the difference between noises, quirks and characteristics of the car, and faults to be concerned about. It can take time to get used to driving a car that’s more than 20 years old, and some things can catch you off-guard. For example, we once bought a car without wing mirrors – but didn’t discover this until the journey home.
Rust is the number one biggest problem with classic cars – without a proper inspection you may very well buy a classic car that rots away to nothing, leaving you with nothing more than an expensive restoration bill. At a minimum, you should check for rotten body panels, wheelarches, engine mounts and the floor.
Don’t be afraid to follow your gut, if you’re not sure then ask plenty of questions. A reputable seller will be happy to answer them and their answers should help to put your mind at ease (or not). Make and bring along a checklist so you don’t forget anything and take lots of photos.
Inspection time – The Inside.
A well-used upholstery is par for the course in classic cars and shouldn’t be considered deal breakers. However, your opinion on whether they need to be professionally replaced or ‘add to the charm’ of your vehicle should factor into your decision and budget. Don’t forget, it’s time consuming and costly attempting to return a car to showroom condition – so decide what you want to achieve.
When checking the paperwork – see what’s been repaired or replaced, if any history is missing and if the maintenance schedule has been followed. Receipts are the only way to prove what has been carried out and can help to identify if any big jobs have been missed or are imminent.
just round the corner.
Generally, a car needs to be 15-25 years old to be considered a classic. Insurance companies will use their own discretion as well as taking into account whether it’s used only for recreation, will be used over a restricted mileage and if it’s actually collectable.
Classic car policies are normally excellent value as most owners will look after their car and tend to be older – with more driving experience. Your cars valuation is normally agreed at the start of it’s policy but will often require detailed photos and sometimes even an independent inspection.
We wouldn’t recommend a classic car if you don’t have somewhere suitable to store it. Damp can contribute to the rust on a classic car, but it can also corrode and damage the cars electrics too. For this reason, a clean and dry garage is the best place to store your classic car. If you don’t have one yourself, it is possible to rent one from your local council or housing authority. Costs normally start from around £25 per month.
Looking after your vehicle.
To keep rust at bay keep your car dry, above freezing temperatures and out of direct sunlight.
Cleaning, waxing and polishing your car will help to keep the paintwork looking it’s best as well as getting rid of any harmful bird mess and dead bugs that attack the paint finish.
Rubber and plastic trim can be maintained by using a simple trim gel that will keep it oiled and freshly coloured.
Running the car each month and following the service schedule will stop the tyres from becoming misshapen, keep the cars parts moving and well lubricated.
Some of the best advice on buying and owning classic cars is through an owners club. Members have been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt – so you can quickly get up to speed on what to watch out for. They’ll also be a font of knowledge on fixing problems and sourcing parts or accessories. There’s a club for virtually every model of car, and a quick search on the Internet will find the one that matches your classic car.