Purchasing a classic car is, for many, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Whether buying a prize example of the first car 30 years on or reliving childhood holidays in an excellent exemplory instance of dad’s old saloon, classic car ownership is about enjoyment and relaxation. However the sheer enthusiasm with which lots of people enter in to the purchase can occasionally blind them to the harsh realities of owning and running a classic car.
I have purchased and sold many cars in my years running the UK’s largest classic car hire company. In that time I’ve learnt the hard way how to get classic cars well. 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 each day while at school. I did my research, buying copies of all available Buyers’ Guides and I knew exactly what to find and what things to avoid. Unfortunately, what none of those guides said 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 is the over-riding thought in my head. It blinded me to the reality 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 asking price to a probably flabbergasted owner.
Once you go to get a classic car bear in mind two simple rules. Firstly, it is not the only real exemplory instance of its kind in the world. Triumph Stag Regardless how closely its specification matches your desires, there will be a different one out there. Secondly, picture the asking price as money in to your hand – this will allow you to to understand the worthiness of the purchase. Frequently cars are bought and then covered later, gives sufficient time for circumspection! I strongly recommend that anyone buying a classic car takes along a buddy who can be relied upon to be objective – they can reign you back whenever your enthusiasm takes ov er.
When I bought the Alfasud I managed to bring it back again to a decent standard, however it cost me to complete so. That taught me another rule of car buying – objectively assess the cost of repairing the automobile before you buy it. Know the market value of any car you plan to get – what’s it worth in average condition and what’s it worth in excellent condition? Objectively assess the worthiness of repairing the car’s faults by researching the cost of trim, bodywork, mechanical work and so on. Do not under-estimate the cost of apparently minor work – scuffs and scrapes on the paintwork could cost countless 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 see a classic car do your research first. Check the buying guides. Visit web forums and ask questions that are not immediately answered by your research – generally forum contributors are happy to help. Talk to the experts – marque experts who repair cars on a daily basis tend to be happy to provide advice because you may turn into a customer. Talk to people who own similar cars – a great place to begin is by using classic car hire companies who run classic cars over thousands of miles every year. I often get asked by would-be owners in regards to the cars I run and I’m always happy to provide advice predicated on living with classic cars day in and day out. When you view the automobile ring the dog owner first and run by way of a checklist of questions – this can save you a wasted journey.
Besides the particular car itself, there are two areas to cover particular attention to whenever you view a car. Firstly, the dog owner – the old adage about buying a used car from a person like this obviously applies. If the dog owner is genuine, the chances are that the automobile is too. And of course, the reverse holds true too. Secondly, have a go through 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 a jumble of paperwork that’s difficult to decipher – if the dog owner can’t be bothered to organise this detail, what else has he skimped on?
Your test will include full inspection inside and out and underneath, ideally utilizing a ramp (local garages tend to be happy to prepare this – the seller should have the ability to sort this out).
On the test drive you ought to start the automobile from cold – insist before arrival that the seller allows you to do this – and you ought to drive at least 5-10 miles at the wheel. Check for unusual noises on launch – particularly knocking – and monitor the dials throughout the 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 check the suspension and steering. Test every one of the switches, specially the heating – failed heaters could 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 right into a quick decision by the vendor. The seller will genuinely have plenty of interest in the automobile – in that case, depending on how you’re feeling you ought to look for either overnight or at least a couple of hours to consider it. if you are serious you might provide a small deposit as an exhibition of good faith. It is much better to lose £100 than thousands of by way of a rushed decision. I’d recommend viewing the automobile at least twice in daylight.