Investing in a classic car is, for several, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Whether investing in a prize example of their first car 30 years on or reliving childhood holidays in an excellent exemplory case of dad’s old saloon, classic car ownership is about enjoyment and relaxation. Triumph Stag rebuild However the sheer enthusiasm with which many people enter to the purchase will often blind them to the harsh realities of owning and managing a classic car.
I have bought and sold many cars within my years running the UK’s largest classic car hire company. In the period I have learnt the hard way how to buy classic cars well. I bought my first classic car in 1993, a rare Alfa Romeo Alfasud Ti in black. It was my dream car, having cycled past the same example every single day while at school. I did so my research, buying copies of available Buyers’ Guides and I knew exactly what to consider and what to avoid. Unfortunately, what none of these guides explained was the cardinal rule – buy with your mind not your heart. I particularly wanted a black Alfasud and when I clapped eyes on the automobile this is the over-riding thought within my head. It blinded me to the reality of the car’s obvious flaws, including suspect electrics and typically Alfa-esque rust holes. Floating on a wave of dream fulfillment I convinced myself that they were idle matters and coughed up the asking price to a probably flabbergasted owner.
When you go to buy a classic car bear in mind two simple rules. Firstly, it’s not the sole exemplory case of its kind in the world. Regardless of how closely its specification matches your desires, you will have a different one out there. Secondly, picture the asking price as money in to your hand – this can help you to comprehend the worth of the purchase. Frequently cars are bought and then covered later, which provides plenty of time for circumspection! I strongly recommend that anyone investing in a classic car takes along a friend who will be relied upon to be objective – they could reign you back as soon as your enthusiasm takes ov er.
When I bought the Alfasud I managed to create it back again to a decent standard, but it cost me to complete so. That taught me another rule of car buying – objectively assess the price of repairing the automobile before you decide it. Know the marketplace value of any car you plan to buy – what is it worth in average condition and what is it worth in excellent condition? Objectively assess the worth of repairing the car’s faults by researching the price of trim, bodywork, mechanical work and so on. Do not under-estimate the price of apparently minor work – scuffs and scrapes on the paintwork may cost hundreds of pounds to put right. If a seller says something is an ‘easy fix’ you’ve to wonder why they haven’t used it themselves.
When you go to view a classic car do your research first. Check the buying guides. Visit web forums and ask questions that are not immediately answered by your research – generally forum contributors are very happy to help. Talk to the experts – marque experts who repair cars on a regular basis are often very happy to supply advice because you might develop into a customer. Talk to people who own similar cars – an excellent place to start has been classic car hire companies who run classic cars over thousands of miles every year. I often get asked by would-be owners in regards to the cars I run and I’m always very happy to supply advice predicated on living with classic cars day in and day out. Before you view the automobile ring the owner first and run through a checklist of questions – this could save you a wasted journey.
Besides the specific car itself, you can find two areas to pay particular attention to whenever you view a car. Firstly, the owner – the old adage about investing in a used car from a man such as this obviously applies. If the owner is genuine, the chances are that the automobile is too. And obviously, the reverse does work too. Secondly, have a look at the paperwork thoroughly – check that the contents back up the description of the automobile in the advertisement and from the owner. The paperwork should really be well presented rather than jumble of paperwork that is difficult to decipher – if the owner can’t be bothered to organise this detail, what else has he skimped on?
Your test will include full inspection inside and out and underneath, ideally using a ramp (local garages are often happy to arrange this – owner should manage to sort this out).
On the test drive you must start the automobile from cold – insist before arrival that owner allows you to achieve this – and you must drive at least 5-10 miles at the wheel. Check for unusual noises on start up – particularly knocking – and monitor the dials throughout the test. Check that the oil pressure and water temperature perform as expected. Check the brakes – do an emergency stop. Rev the engine through the gears and test rapid gear changing. Drive the automobile quickly around a large part to try the suspension and steering. Test all the switches, specially the heating – failed heaters could be a costly and very inconvenient expense.
if you like the automobile you’re looking at, buy yourself some thinking time. Don’t be railroaded into a quick decision by the vendor. Often the seller will genuinely have lots of interest in the automobile – if that’s the case, depending on how you are feeling you must require either overnight or at least a couple of hours to take into account it. if you are serious you can offer a small deposit as an exhibition of good faith. It is way better to reduce £100 than thousands of through a rushed decision. I would recommend viewing the automobile at least twice in daylight.