If you’ve made 2024 the year you’ll begin collecting classic cars, this article is for you. Read on to discover what we think makes a car and some of our tips to help you start your collection!
The Art of Collecting Classic Cars:
What makes a car classic? Our humble opinion:
The answer to what makes a car a classic car will always be subjective. After all, one person’s trash is another’s treasure! According to HMRC, any car over fifteen years old is considered a classic. But I’m sure many readers will agree that the King’s tax authority isn’t best placed to make that call. After all, if you accept their definition, the abomination of metal and plastic, otherwise known as the Suzuki Aerio, would indeed be a classic!
Trends and fashions shift in unpredictable waves. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to a car’s desirability and its place in the Hall of Fame. We’ve witnessed the ugliest cars shift unexpectedly towards the limelight. Historical significance is a rare badge of honour and all too often dished out like knighthoods to the unworthy. But again, what some consider historically significant can differ significantly from other opinions. For me, it would be the Ford Model T, Morris Minor Mini, Citroen DS and the BMW 328, to name a few.
So, when picking a future classic, you’re likely gazing into a crystal ball. Our best advice for someone dipping their toes into the elusive world of collecting cars is to buy what you know and are passionate about. Finally, always remember the golden rule… Quality over quantity.
Beginning your collection:
Buying your first classic car can be daunting, but it is often the most exciting purchase. It’s important not to rush into a purchase. Finding the best car that fits your budget can be challenging, but hang in there. The right one will come along in time. It’s a bit like buying a house; you’ll know when it’s the one, and mistakes can be expensive!
Always research and understand the potential pitfalls associated with the particular cars that interest you. Speaking with a specialist technician is a great way to discover all the unseen details that lurk beneath a shiny exterior. This is an especially wise move when you will likely need a specialist to help maintain your new investment.
Many collectors begin with a classic that needs a lot of work, and while this might seem attractive initially (especially if you have budget constraints), buckle up because this is a long and often perilous journey!
Restoration can be a risky business, so finding the right team for the job is crucial. The best approach is to be guided by peer recommendations. Always view previous examples of the specialist’s work. I would also recommend a site visit to meet the team working on your project. You’ll likely be able to see some of their current work in progress, and you should get a good feel for their experience and level of craftsmanship.
The greatest challenge when it comes to restoration is the unknown. All too often, even an in-depth evaluation of the condition of a car will fail to reveal hidden nightmares lurking beneath the surface. It’s essential to manage your expectations before the project begins and allow a healthy contingency in the budget for the unforeseen.
Caring for your classic car:
Classic cars require much more TLC than most people take into consideration. One of the best things you can do for a classic is use it. However, if you buy for investment, you’ll likely want to avoid racking up the mileage, and inevitably, you’ll find less time than you think to enjoy your classic.
Professional car storage is not just for Ferrari’s 250s and DB5s; any classic likely to spend some time garaged should be stored correctly. Professional car storage offers peace of mind in knowing that your investment is safe and well cared for, as well as maintained and ready to use whenever you want to.
It’s essential to consider the following factors when deciding who to store your classic with. A controlled environment is critical. Vintage and classic cars inevitably are more susceptible to corrosion, and even organic materials, like leather, can degrade if not stored correctly. But also consider security, location and the custodians responsible for ensuring your investment is maintained to the highest possible standards. Your mate’s unused barn just won’t cut the mustard!
Finding your tribe:
One thing is sure, if you want to be part of a community, your classic car will lead the way. Variety may be the spice of life, but classic cars are the epitome of variation. There is something for everyone, from weird and wonderful modifications to nut-and-bolt historic restorations. You’ve only got to search Classic Car Club online, and you’ll be spoilt for choice; clubs dedicated to vintage pre-war cars, supercars, Classic Fords, you name it, it’s out there. There’s also a massive choice of motoring events that could fill your calendar twice over. Some of my favourite picks are Goodwood Revival, Carfest, Harewood Speed Hill Climb, and any of the fantastic Extraordinary Car Club Tours. Even if you don’t own a classic car, you’ll be welcomed with open arms wherever you are in the community.
Collecting classic cars with investment in mind:
If you’re starting your collection with investment in mind, studying the past is a good place to start. Look at previous auctions using sites such as Glenmarch and subscribe to the HAGI index. Understanding historical trends is a handy tool and can help you make an informed decision on your next investment, but being ahead of the curve will always keep you on top. ‘Easier said than done.’ I hear you say, and you’d be right. This is where we come back to our crystal ball reading ability.
A few essential factors should guide your decisions, such as production numbers, condition, whether it is original or restored, provenance, ‘historical significance,’ market trend and growing demand. One misconception is that time will increase the value of any classic car; this couldn’t be further from the truth. Quite often, we still find remarkable vehicles fall out of favour, finding themselves destined for a museum. For example, you can buy a hundred-year-old Cadillac for £30k.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on collecting classic cars and that it will inspire you to start your collection if you haven’t already. And if you need storage for your collection, please contact us HERE.