Buying a classic

There comes a point, for some of us at least, where learning and looking is no longer enough.

You know the car’s history, its pedigree, specification at each marque and variant, and you’ve seen some great examples at shows, rallies and on TV. You’ve fallen so head over heels, it’s time to own one, for better or worse.

In fact, for many classic car owners, it is a marriage. It’s a big commitment to ride the rough times with the smooth, and of course, it pays to choose well in the first place. Good character, reliability, likeability, easy to spend time with them – and if it can earn its keep, so much the better! So what can you do to make sure your problems don’t begin at the altar…nator…?

In our view, buying a classic car purely as an investment is like buying a beautiful painting and keeping it in a bank vault. Cars are designed to be driven – that’s where the real pleasure lies, and they deteriorate if they stand still. Driving a classic – and keeping it in driveable condition – that’s what it’s all about.

You’ll know a fair bit about what you want before you really start looking, but it’s always worth calling on experts to help with any gaps in your knowledge so you don’t get steamrolled into buying an absolute stinker. Join an owner’s club as soon as you’re set on the car you want – don’t wait until you’ve bought one. There will most likely be several suitable cars for sale through the club, and they’ll be relatively cheap and well maintained. Owners’ club members tend to have a decent ‘code’ and look out for each other, so this is a great way to learn more about the car and maybe find a seller – plus you’ll already be part of the community when you go ahead and buy one.

It’s worth putting in the hours of research and seeking impartial expert advice. It can be frustrating, and you might set your heart on several cars that turn out not to be the dream bargain they seemed. But it’s better to suffer the headaches before you part with your money!

You’ll also – if you haven’t already – need to consider storage, insurance, the availability and expense of spares, and much more. If you’re not one yourself, do you know a specialist mechanic within 100 miles that can maintain your classic car and keep it ‘genuine’?

If you consider all these factors in advance of getting your chequebook out, you’ll have a much smoother ride as an owner. And you’ll enjoy that special day when you go to pick it up and drive it away with much less trepidation and anxiety. Best of luck, and welcome to the club!


Buying your first classic