your guide to buying a classic car
Buying a classic car can be a great investment, whether you are a petrolhead or just interested in owning a piece of driving history. There are a few things to consider before parting with your cash. Will you have the know-how to keep it in good nick, repairs and maintenance are likely to be expensive and how much is too much to spend on it?
From the ins and outs of what constitutes a classic or collectable car, to the places to look for them, there is a wealth of information to take into account before you think of buying. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the most sought after classic cars, how to find a fair deal, and the ones to choose if you are after a beautiful vehicle without spending hours on maintenance.
What age does a car become vintage?
A vintage car is classed as any vehicle made between 1919 and 1930, whereas the moniker ‘classic car’ generally applies to vehicles that are over 20 years old. Antique cars are generally over 45 years old and after 40 years are tax exempt.
Of course, this means that there are new vehicles being classified all the time, but just because it’s old it doesn’t necessarily make it valuable. In the automobile world, a true classic - one that is worth investing money into - is defined using a lot of parameters. For example, a car’s rarity, value, nostalgia value, provenance (as several may have been owned by celebrities or well-known people in the past) and general influence on motoring are all taken into account.
This, therefore, means that people’s emotional response and personal connection to a car can help solidify its place as a classic collector’s vehicle.
What are the rarest classic cars?
As mentioned, rarity is one of the key factors when it comes to valuing a classic car, both in monetary terms and the mark it has made on the automobile industry as a whole. Cars that were produced for a short period of time, or are known to have disappeared from circulation for other reasons will often be rare enough to be classed as a classic. The rarest classic cars in the world include:
- 1960s Ferrari 250 Spider - With just 55 of these cars built in the initial plan, the Ferrari 250 Spider is one of the rarest and most sought-after cars for collectors. With a 3-litre V12 engine, disc brakes and a wheelbase of 2,600mm (giving it superior handling to its competitors), it’s a car that speaks to car lovers as well as those looking for a slice of 60s chic. Most commonly seen in vibrant red, it’s a showstopper that has collectors chomping at the bit whenever one comes to auction.
- 1950s Jaguar XKSS - The road version of Jaguar’s racing car, the XKSS is extremely rare due to a fire at the manufacturing plant which destroyed 9 of the 25 cars that had been assembled. The remaining cars were sold into the US market, which means that it's even rarer to find in the UK. With a beautiful aesthetic, reminiscent of the era, and passionate owners (like Hollywood star Steve McQueen), it is a car of a bygone era that screams class and refinement.
- 1940s Aston Martin DB1 - One of the best-loved British brands, Aston Martin has given many drivers a feeling of luxury and exclusivity. The 1940s DB1 was first shown at the 1948 London Motor Show and, with a 2-litre engine and a top speed of 93mph, it was sporty without being ostentatious. With only 15 produced between 1948 and 1950, they aren’t seen much nowadays. Today, many of the remaining cars are on exhibition at various automobile museums, or cosily kept in private collections.
What is the easiest classic car to maintain?
One of the main things to consider when you buy a classic car is how much effort you want to put into it. Will it be a passion project for you to spend hours tenderly restoring it to its former glory, or do you want to purchase a mint condition classic car that can be displayed and admired in your garage? If you are looking for the latter then it needs to be reliable, easy to repair, and great fun to drive.
A true British classic is the Morris Minor, which is an old school car that brings back some serious nostalgia. Many on the market have been updated with things like upgraded gearboxes to better braking, meaning that you can enjoy the original look with modern-day handling. For something a bit sleeker, a nice and reliable classic comes in the form of the MGB. This period convertible is beautiful, and with so many models available still today, it is a great option for people looking to get into cars as an investment. Another robust option for passionate petrolheads is the Porsche 944, which has a 247bhp turbocharged derivative and a wide range of 4 cylinder engines. If you’re looking to own a practical but mighty sports car, this could be the one.
What is the cheapest classic car to buy?
Buying a cheap classic car defeats the purpose to a certain extent, as many enthusiasts expect to shell out a fair amount, depending on its rarity and influence on the market. There are some cars that will be cheaper than others - the Alfa Romeo GTV, or Audi Cabriolet for example - but if you’re looking for an investment then you will need to spend money to make money.
When you start shopping, beware if the price seems too good to be true - it often will be. You need to ask yourself why it is so cheap. Could it be that it does not have complete paperwork or a full-service history?
You might be able to get a good price at auction depending on interest from buyers on the day. Always go to a reputable dealer or auction house and don’t think a cheaper vehicle is necessarily a good one.
How do I find out how much my classic car is worth?
If you want to learn the value of your classic car, you can get a comprehensive check from mycarcheck.com. You’ll be able to get a valuation, as well as learn its history. Perhaps you’ve recently seen a car like yours online and you think you could get good money for it, or maybe you’ve seen your dream car but you need to have all the info on hand before you make a decision? With a Comprehensive check, you can receive a whole host of information about your vehicle, from its MOT status and history to its value and whether it has ever been stolen or written off.
Classic cars will normally be a good investment as there are people who live and breathe to collect them. But, you need to have your wits about you as not every old car will instantly be a classic and give you a return