Classic car buyers' guide

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If you're thinking of buying a classic car, read our guide from our resident classic car expert to make sure you've thought of everything

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The selection process for picking the classic car you want is usually a subconscious decision made in response to memories of these vehicles, childhood desires or past experiences.

Nostalgia is a powerful force and a big business. But that said, actually buying your classic car is like going out on a first date; the dominant emotion is excitement but the logical side of you knows full well that a number of criteria needs to be met before we push for that second date, or, in this case, make an offer.

Are we going to get along? Are we compatible? Is she going to give me grief? Is this going to be a high maintenance venture?  Am I going to enjoy spending time with her? And when I want a bit of fun will she go full throttle or fail to start?

If each of these questions gets a satisfactory response then we can explore the relationship further.

Which car do I want?

holiday car

This is your first and foremost question. And, as mentioned above, this question will probably have already have been answered when you decided to enter the world of classic car ownership. But logical decisions have to play a part alongside the strong desires. So thequestion should really be ‘what do I want to do with the car?’

Dreams of romantic weekend excursions will stay just that if you buy something with suspension made from solid granite and seats of cement.  Family road trips are not possible in a two-seater and those idyllic images of roof down, wind in your hair summer drives soon fade during the 51 rain-soaked, wintery weeks of the year.

How often will I use the car?

interior

Once you have decided what the use of the car will be, you can then assess how often you’ll use it. Most classics are used occasionally and are surplus to the more modern mainstream cars in the household. If you do decide to buck this trend, then remember a few pointers:

  • Most classic car insurance policies are based around a limited amount of miles per year
  • Engines designed and built 40, 30 and even 20-years-ago are far less economical than today’s  efficient, computer-controlled offerings
  • Petrol prices are not as cheap as they were in 1964

How are my DIY skills?

As we get older, we need a little more TLC and the same can be said for cars, so another question you need to ask yourself is ‘am I nifty with the spanners or do I struggle putting two Lego bricks together?’ 

Modern cars have numerous sensors feeding the ECU information allowing for hundreds of adjustments per second, but the classic car, with its distributors, points, condensers, non-hydraulic tappets and lack of any electronic interface, will require regular adjusting and fettling to maintain optimum performance.

Think space!

classic garage

You don’t need to be Brian Cox to own a classic car, but you do need some space (sorry). A garage is preferable so you can keep the car out of the harsh elements in the winter months, and some insurers will require the car to be garaged under the same postcode so it’s worth checking your policy.

Am I going to use the car?

Another question to ask yourself is ‘is this an impulse buy or am I actually going to use the car?’ There are a number of trailer queens out there where you can eat your dinner off the underside of the car. It keeps the car in immaculate condition but it contradicts the whole purpose of a car. 

Many investors buy these cars speculatively, hoping to lock them away and only bring them back out for sale once the value has increased. But this is like buying a wonderful painting only to lock it away out of sight; the purpose of the item is not being met. Cars are meant to move and be driven, and they deteriorate badly when they are not.

Is a classic car worth the effort?

After you’ve considered all of the above, you’re probably wondering is it worth your effort to go out and enter the world of classic car ownership. We’ve already stated these cars are not as reliable or economical as modern motors and neither are they as safe and easy to drive, so, should you buy one? My answer is an unequivocal YES.

There is nothing quite like a classic car; the smells are provocative, the design and craftsmanship exquisite, the driving experience is raw and visceral, the amount of character classic cars have is something modern, soulless electronic cars can only dream about.

It’s like comparing an antique grandfather clock with a laptop; one is old and full of hundreds of intricate parts all working together for the common goal of simply telling the time, the other is electronic, super efficient and capable of many things, but when it breaks you throw it away and get another one.

The classic car community is very strong and is great fun to be a part of. And there’s one thing for sure, you won’t get admiring looks and people coming up to you in a petrol station to talk about your new Vauxhall Astra.  

The legal bit

Now we've got the needs-to-know about choosing the car out of the way, it's time to go through the all important part - insuring your new run around. Here are your essential insurance questions, answered.

What is classic car insurance?

This is a case of it does what it says on the tin - classic car insurance is tailored cover for owners of classic cars. Basically, if your car fits the criteria below then you could look to get a quote for classic car insurance. It's different to regular polices because you may be asked to supply pictures or additional information about the vehicle due to the specialist nature.

How old does a car need to be for classic car insurance?

To get Admiral Classic Car Insurance your car should be over 35-years-old and under 70-years-old. If it was made pre-1940 it would be classed as a vintage model.

Is classic car insurance cheaper for young drivers?

Some classic cars can be cheaper to insure than regular models but unfortunately it's impossible to say what, if any car, would be cheaper for a specific type or age of driver. As with any insurance policy the best thing to do would be to get an insurance quote before rushing off to buy your car.

 

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Classic Car Insurance

Cover your Classic with the experts from just £97

Protect your classic car either on a single car policy or why not add it along with the other vehicles in the household with our multi car cover and enjoy additional discounts and great individual benefits.

Between 1st March and 31st August 2016, 10% of policyholders paid less than £96.36.