Ten things you need to know before buying a classic car

Buying a classic car is seen as a way of combining the thrill of the open road with owning a classic that’s a potential asset – but you have to know what you’re buying! Expert Matthew Parkin from the car specialists Brightwells reveals 10 things you should know before you buy.

A Triumph TR4A IRS

1 – Is it what it says it is? Check chassis numbers on the vehicle against the paperwork. Then look online or with the relevant club to confirm that the year/model/chassis numbers all tie-up. There are plenty of fakes about.

2 – Where it has come from? The paperwork will tell you who the previous owner was, and if there is lots of paperwork, its more detailed ownership and maintenance history will let you know what sort of owners they have been.

3 – How original is the vehicle? Many cars have been modified or bodged over the years and some parts are hard to find. Modified vehicles are almost always worth less than a factory-original in the long run.

4 – Condition is obviously vital. Pick a car that has been regularly used and exercised. Just because it’s low mileage, doesn’t mean it is any good – cars like regular exercise. Restorations vary too, so look carefully at the car – including the quality and neatness of the work i.e. tidy wiring under the bonnet the gaps around the panels.

Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda Manual
A Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda Manual

5 – Is it the right model? Always buy the most desirable car in the range if you can, the rest will always play second-fiddle. From an investment point of view, this is usually more important than condition.

6 – Are there specialists who can look after your pride and joy? Old cars go wrong, although if thoughtfully handled are capable of being very reliable indeed – whatever their age.

7 – Work out what you want to do with it. Some cars allow entry into a huge number of events and social activities, others don’t which is usually reflected in their values. Sometimes even the year of manufacture is critical.

8 – Are you buying to use or to try and make money? If the latter, beware – just because its old and a ‘classic’ does not
mean it will go up in value. Old cars cost a fortune to keep in good condition, especially if you can’t do the work yourself. Different cars fall in and out of fashion – best buy something you really like.

Jaguar E-Type S1 4.2 Coupe
A Jaguar E-Type S1 4.2 Coupe

9 – Is the seller reputable? Check online to see what others are saying about them – there is plenty of information out there if you look. Only buy from someone you trust.

10 – It is always, always, always best to spend more than you can afford – after all it’s only money! This way, you end up with the car you want, in good usable order so it can be enjoyed straight away – it will cost less in the long term. It is also likely to be the more desirable model in the range and will remain so, helping to maintain its resale value and
deliver maximum pleasure over the period of ownership – which is really what it is all about.

Brightwells next car auction is the Leominster Classic and Vintage Sale on March 8th. 

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