Purchasing a classic car is, for a lot of, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Whether buying a prize example of the first car 30 years on or reliving childhood holidays in a superb example of dad’s old saloon, classic car ownership is approximately enjoyment and relaxation. However the sheer enthusiasm with which lots of people enter to the purchase can sometimes blind them to the harsh realities of owning and managing a classic car.
I have bought and sold many cars in my own years running the UK’s largest classic car hire company. In that point I’ve learnt the hard way how to purchase classic cars well. I bought my first classic car in 1993, an unusual Alfa Romeo Alfasud Ti in black. It absolutely was my dream car, having cycled past the identical example each day while at school. I did my research, buying copies of available Buyers’Guides and I knew precisely what to consider and things to avoid. Unfortunately, what none of those guides said was the cardinal rule – buy with your head not your heart. I particularly wanted a black Alfasud and when I clapped eyes on the vehicle this is the over-riding thought in my own 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 we were holding idle matters and coughed up the price tag to a probably flabbergasted owner.
Whenever you go to purchase a classic car keep in mind two simple rules. Firstly, it is not the sole example of its kind in the world classic car rebuild. Regardless of how closely its specification matches your desires, you will see a different one out there. Secondly, picture the price tag as cash in your hand – this can help you to understand the worth of the purchase. Often cars are bought and then paid for later, which gives plenty of time for circumspection! I highly recommend that anyone buying a classic car takes along a friend who is able to 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 once again to a good standard, however it cost me to do so. That taught me another rule of car buying – objectively assess the price of repairing the vehicle before you buy it. Know industry value of any car you intend to purchase – what’s it worth in average condition and what’s 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. Don’t under-estimate the price of apparently minor work – scuffs and scrapes on the paintwork can cost hundreds of pounds to place right. If a seller says something is an’easy fix’you’ve to wonder why they haven’t done it themselves.
Whenever you go to view a classic 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 very happy to help. Speak to the experts – marque experts who repair cars on a daily basis are often very happy to offer advice because you could become a customer. Speak to those who own similar cars – a great place to begin is with classic car hire companies who run classic cars over several thousand miles every year. I often get asked by would-be owners about the cars I run and I am always very happy to offer advice predicated on managing classic cars day in and day out. When you view the vehicle ring the master first and run via a checklist of questions – this can save you a wasted journey.
Besides the specific car itself, there are two other areas to pay particular focus on once you view a car. Firstly, the master – the old adage about buying a used car from a man such as this obviously applies. If the master is genuine, the chances are that the vehicle is too. And obviously, the reverse is true too. Secondly, have a go through the paperwork thoroughly – check that the contents back up the description of the vehicle in the advertisement and from the owner. The paperwork must be well presented rather than jumble of paperwork that’s 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 employing a ramp (local garages are often happy to set up this – owner should manage to sort this out).
On the test drive you ought to start the vehicle from cold – insist before arrival that owner allows you to get this done – and you ought to drive at the very least 5-10 miles at the wheel. Check for unusual noises on set up – particularly knocking – and monitor the dials through the test. Check that the oil pressure and water temperature perform as expected. Check the brakes – do a crisis stop. Rev the engine through the gears and test rapid gear changing. Drive the vehicle quickly around a large part to try the suspension and steering. Test every one of the switches, particularly the heating – failed heaters can be a costly and very inconvenient expense.
if you like the vehicle you’re taking a look 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 vehicle – if that’s the case, depending on what you feel you ought to ask for either overnight or at the very least several hours to take into account it. if you are serious you can offer a small deposit as an exhibition of good faith. It is much better to get rid of £100 than several thousand via a rushed decision. I would recommend viewing the vehicle at the very least twice in daylight.
This is inevitably not an inclusive assessment of things to consider when buying a classic car but when you follow these simple rules you’ll stand a better chance of shopping for the right car for you. Buy with your head not your heart and buy with a sealed wallet.