You don`t have to be having a midlife crisis to spend some cash on a classic car. Whether you`re looking for something a bit more unusual for the school run, or just a fun car to take out for a spin at the weekend, then a classic car could be the answer. For a start, it`s different from all of the other modern vehicles on the road, and certainly ideal for making an impression. If it`s an idea which appeals, then there are some very important differences between buying this sort of car and a modern vehicle.
Is it an investment?
Everyone knows that buying a new car is one of the worst decisions, financially speaking. As soon as you drive it off the forecourt It loses a large percentage of its value, and over the first year of ownership, loses even more. Conversely, you might find that classic cars actually gain value over the time you own them.
That`s because they don`t depreciate in the same way as modern vehicles and their rarity just adds to the value. You`ll have to protect your asset though by looking after it, taking care to not let its condition deteriorate in any way. Some of the oldest and most valuable cars aren`t actually bought to be driven, just to sit in a garage and gain value. If you`re thinking about buying as an investment, you should really get specialist advice.
Definition of a Classic
There`s a lot of debate about the difference between a car which is just old, and a classic. Some dealers set the limit at 20 years, especially in the United States. HMRC have a different definition, and set the limit at 15 years for tax purposes, and the AA say any car over 25 years old is a classic. There`s no real definition of the term, so be wary when you see “classic cars” advertised; you should be very clear about what you are actually buying.
Tax and MOT
One thing which is clear is the rules about older cars when it comes to tax and MOT. If you know the registration number of the older car you are thinking about buying, log into the government website or a 3rd party website such as checkmot.com and enter the number into the web page.
The results page will display basic information about the car, as well as results from MOT tests since 2005. If your car is more than 40 years old, and hasn`t been substantially changed in the past 30 years, you won`t need a MOT test. The same goes for car tax; cars first registered more the 40 years ago are exempt.
When you log into the website, this should be clearly stated. If you get an annual reminder about road tax, it`s just a case of logging back in, confirming that you still own the vehicle, and apply for another year of tax. Remember that governments can and do often tweak the car tax laws. Just because one type of car is exempt now, it might not always be.
Although there is no legal requirement to have a MOT test on an older car, many owners still choose to put their car through the annual test. This is because there is a legal requirement that all vehicles, of whatever age should be roadworthy. The simplest and most effective way of making sure your car is up to scratch is to pay for a MOT test.
Parts and Servicing
One of the main challenges in owning a classic car is finding the right parts should it need a repair. This is where doing your homework and speaking to other enthusiasts can really help. Depending on the repair you need, you may be able to source a modern part designed for another make or model which will fit.
Alternatively, you will have to use your expert network to point you in the direction of salvage yards or enthusiasts who can sell the part you need. These are often more expensive than contemporary parts. Use the internet to build up a network of trusted websites and suppliers who stock the types of parts you`re looking for.
The same concept applies when it comes to servicing your car. Rather than going to the nearest chain garage, it`s usually best to seek out an independent mechanic who has experience in the type of car you own. Again, owners` forums and clubs are great sources of information about garages which do a good job on your particular vehicle.
Lots of classic car owners prefer to do the servicing and basic maintenance themselves, and as older engines are simpler than modern motors, this can be a good option. A very old vehicle is unlikely to have its value affected by DIY servicing in the same way as a modern car. Know your limits though. If you`re having difficultly sourcing someone to do some more complex work on your car it can be tempting to
Classic Car Insurance
Although you won`t have to bother about MOT and car tax, you will still have to insure your car if you are planning to use it on the public roads. You`re going to need to take a different approach to get the best deal on classic car insurance. Large price comparison sites aren`t set up for dealing with unusual vehicles, so it`s usually best to go to a specialist broker.
If your car is particularly valuable then think about how you`re going to store it. Keeping it in a locked garage is going to reduce your premium when compared with just parking it on the street. On the other hand, classic cars generally drive far fewer miles than the standard family car.
If you`re only using the car on high days and holidays, the reduced mileage might cancel out the extra premiums for its value. Make sure you, or your broker, are working to get the best possible quote for your needs.