Buying a classic car is not something to do on a whim. Yes, a classic car can be a great investment, with average prices rocketing 330% in the last ten years. But it pays to do your research first so you can spot a corker from a bottomless money pit. To help, we’ve put together this guide to buying a classic car. From which models to look out for to sourcing classic car insurance, here are nine things you need to know.
1) The make and model classic car you go for needs serious consideration
There can be many different reasons to buy a classic car. Maybe it’s because it’s a car you had on a poster in your room aged 12 and always dreamed of owning. Perhaps it’s purely as an investment. Or maybe it’s a combination of both.
Do it now: things to think about when you buy a classic car
- Classic Italian sports cars are always going to be popular, but you can enjoy the thrill of classic car ownership with much more modest marques too.
- Remember, rarity or special editions will bump up prices. For example, a limited edition, turbo-charged Ferrari will always be prized by classic car collectors and command a higher price.
- Soft-tops may be fun in the sun but can be less desirable than coupes.
- Check the mileage – low mileage is always desirable and will push up the price.
- If a car has only had one or two registered owners, this can also rev-up its desirability.
2) Don’t forget the potential of ‘future classics’ for fun and financial reward
If you use HMRC’s definition of what is a ‘classic car’ you’ll be looking at vehicles aged over 40 years. But don’t let that limit you. There are lots of ‘future classics’ out there ready to be snapped up. These are cars that are highly desired by collectors for a wide range of reasons, such as the role they have played in automotive history.
Do it now: our top 3 future classic cars to consider
- Porsche 911 993 (1994-1998). The last of the hand-built, air-cooled 911s, this was the car that nearly bankrupt the German marque.
- Peugeot 205 Lacoste. Prices for a good condition 205 GTi have already raced skywards (a low-mileage one-owner example fetched £43,000 at auction) But the limited edition Lacoste, could be a happy alternative if you like the iconic 1980s styling but you’re not bothered about the speed.
- Audi TT. The original TT is already heralded as a design classic. And reliable German engineering makes it even more appealing.
3) Try and chat to other owners to get some insider knowledge
Once you’ve whittled down the make and model of classic car you want to purchase, it’s time to get talking. Classic car owners usually are passionate about their vehicles. And they’re normally more than happy to chat about their cars too. Use this to your advantage to glean as much information as you can about your chosen vehicle.
Do it now: how to get in touch with other owners
- Owners can be a goldmine of information about things like common faults to look out for, the best places for spare parts, etc.
- Search online for owners’ forums where you can put your questions forward.
- Join an owners club.
- Go to a vintage or classic car show. Here’s a handy list of upcoming events from Classic and Sportscar Magazine.
4) Discover the best places to buy a classic car for a great value deal
Now you are sure you know what car you want, you need to discover the best place to buy it. You have a selection of options:
- A specialist classic car garage. The benefit of buying your car from a specialist is the knowledge (and passion!) they will have for your future vehicle. They will know what they’re doing and often have specialist mechanics that have worked on the cars before sale.
- You can also find cars for sale from:
- Owners’ clubs.
- Classic car shows.
- Car buying sites such as Autotrader. You might be able to find a bargain when you purchase direct, but be cautious. Like everything, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
5) Tips to discover the actual condition of a classic car before you buy
You’ve found a vehicle you want to buy. Now, the hardest part. Don’t leap straight into handing over the cash. Remember head over heart here. Take the time to properly inspect the vehicle, or pay a trusted mechanic to do this for you.
Do it now: tick off this list of things to check before you buy your classic car
- Have any warning lights come on the dashboard (if the vehicle has lights!)?
- Go out for a drive. What is the running temperature? Is it in the correct range?
- Do the gears change smoothly?
- Do all the lights work?
- Is there more than one set of keys? Do they all work?
- Do the wipers work?
- When you brake, does the car pull to one side?
- Check the bodywork for poorly done repairs/resprays
- When you look under the bonnet is there any sign of damage on the inside of the bodywork that could indicate an accident?
- If you’re buying a convertible, is the hood intact? Are there signs of splitting or holes?
6) Is the car what it says it is?
It’s still not time to sign on the dotted line. Since 1981, every car has had a standardised VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Older cars may also have a VIN, although it may look different from modern ones.
Do it now: get searching for the VIN
If the car you want to buy has a VIN, check the VIN on the vehicle matches the one on the documents.
7) Check the maintenance records for peace of mind
A ring binder filled with neatly organised receipts brings a feeling of joy to every classic car buyer. Look for a classic car that comes with plenty of paperwork to show it has been cared for properly.
Do it now: ask to see the paperwork
Most car owners who take care of their vehicles will keep receipts and pass them on. If you are looking at a very old vintage vehicle, the service history may be patchy. But, if the car you are interested in comes with a minimal record, it may be time to step away.
8) Can you really afford the car?
Before taking the plunge, stop and ask yourself if you can afford to buy a classic car. Remember, it is not just the purchase price you need to consider, but ongoing maintenance too.
Do it now: run a few calculations
- Keeping a classic running can be costly unless you’re a qualified mechanic or you are confident carrying out the work yourself.
- Is it easy to buy spare parts? Are they expensive?
- Also, where will you keep it? Do you have a garage or will you need to buy or rent one? Factor this price into your calculations.
9) Understand why taking out specialist classic car insurance is vital to protect your investment
Once you’ve bought your classic car, you need to give as much thought and car to your classic car insurance. If you don’t, you could find yourself seriously out of pocket. The easiest way to get the best classic car insurance at the best price is to speak to an independent insurance broker that really understands classic cars, like Park Insurance.
Do it now: find the best classic car insurance
Ask your broker the following questions to make sure you get the cover you need:
- Does the policy offer an agreed value? This is important if you don’t want to quibble over the value of your classic car if you need to make a claim.
- Are you insured if you attend an event, such as a classic car show?
- If you plan to take your classic car on the track, is it covered?
- Arguably one of the most critical areas of insurance for classic cars is breakdown cover. Is this included?
- Call Park Insurance on 0117 955 6835 or get a quote.
Ready to hit the road?
Buying a classic car is the perfect way to indulge your passion for motoring. With our guide, you can help to avoid some of the common pitfalls and make your purchase as stress-free as possible. And then you’ll be ready to hit the road in vintage style.