Purchasing a classic car is, for many, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Whether investing in a prize example of the 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. Nevertheless the sheer enthusiasm with which many people enter to the purchase can occasionally blind them to the harsh realities of owning and managing a classic car.
I have bought and sold many cars in my years running the UK’s largest classic car hire company. In that time I have learnt the hard way how to buy classic cars well. Triumph Stag renovation I bought my first classic car in 1993, an unusual Alfa Romeo Alfasud Ti in black. It was my dream car, having cycled past the identical example everyday while at school. I did so my research, buying copies of all available Buyers’ Guides and I knew precisely what to consider and what things to avoid. Unfortunately, what none of those guides told me was the cardinal rule – buy with your face not your heart. I particularly wanted a dark Alfasud and when I clapped eyes on the automobile this was the over-riding thought in my head. It blinded me to the fact 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 these were idle matters and coughed up the price tag to a probably flabbergasted owner.
Once you go to buy a vintage car remember two simple rules. Firstly, it’s not the only exemplory case of its kind in the world. Regardless of how closely its specification matches your desires, there will be another one out there. Secondly, picture the price tag as money in your hand – this will allow you to to comprehend the worthiness of the purchase. Often 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 buddy who will be relied upon to be objective – they are able to reign you back as soon as your enthusiasm takes ov er.
When I bought the Alfasud I managed to bring it back to a good standard, but it cost me to complete so. That taught me another rule of car buying – objectively assess the expense of repairing the automobile before you buy it. Know industry value of any car you want to buy – what is it worth in average condition and what is it worth in excellent condition? Objectively assess the worthiness of repairing the car’s faults by researching the expense of trim, bodywork, mechanical work and so on. Don’t under-estimate the expense 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.
Once you go to view a vintage car do your research first. Check the buying guides. Visit web forums and ask questions that aren’t immediately answered by your research – generally forum contributors are happy to help. Speak to the experts – marque experts who repair cars on a regular basis in many cases are happy to offer advice because you might develop into a customer. Speak to individuals who own similar cars – an excellent place to begin is with classic car hire companies who run classic cars over thousands of miles every year. I often get asked by would-be owners concerning the cars I run and I’m always happy to offer advice predicated on coping with classic cars day in and day out. Before you view the automobile ring the master first and run by way of a checklist of questions – this could save you a wasted journey.
Besides the particular car itself, you can find two areas to cover particular attention to once you view a car. Firstly, the master – the old adage about investing in a used car from a person such as this obviously applies. If the master is genuine, the odds are that the automobile is too. And needless to say, the reverse is true too. Secondly, have a consider the paperwork thoroughly – check that the contents back up the description of the automobile in the advertisement and from the owner. The paperwork ought to be well presented rather than jumble of paperwork that is difficult to decipher – if the master can’t be bothered to organise this detail, what else has he skimped on?
Your test includes full inspection inside and out and underneath, ideally using a ramp (local garages in many cases are happy to set up this – the seller should have the ability to sort this out).
On the test drive you must start the automobile from cold – insist before arrival that the seller allows you to achieve this – and you must drive at the least 5-10 miles at the wheel. Check for unusual noises on launch – particularly knocking – and monitor the dials through the entire test. Check that the oil pressure and water temperature perform as expected. Check the brakes – do an urgent situation 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, particularly the heating – failed heaters can be a costly and very inconvenient expense.
if you want the automobile you’re looking at, buy yourself some thinking time. Don’t be railroaded into a quick decision by the vendor. Usually the seller will genuinely have a lot of curiosity about the automobile – if that’s the case, depending on what you feel you must ask for either overnight or at the least several hours to take into account it. if you are serious you can provide a small deposit as a display of good faith. It is much better to lose £100 than thousands of by way of a rushed decision. I would recommend viewing the automobile at the least twice in daylight.