We all have our idea of the ultimate car, one that would be a dream to own! If you have the funds, the knowledge and the passion then purchasing a ‘classic’ car can be a sound investment, but not one that is without its potential pitfalls.
Whether you’re considering taking on a labour of love and restoring a classic model or you’re looking to add a pristine, pre-modern vehicle to your collection; what are the pros and cons of investing in a classic car?
If you’re a classic car lover, then you already know a lot of the pros that are associated with them. From their style and character to the more interactive driving experience and the skill and finesse that it can take to control these vehicles, there is a lot to enjoy that you simply can’t get from modern cars.
1. Character, style and experience
Classic cars that were built before (or during) the 1970s were not produced en masse like the commuter vehicles that we know today. They were created with style and flair in mind, unlike their modern, regulation-governed counterparts.
There was an attention to detail in the manufacturing of many classics that made them instantly recognisable from one another, like the elegance of a Jaguar XJ6 compared to the bold design of the Maserati Bora. These days, cars are much more homogenised, with each manufacturer offering their own take on a standardised model.
The driving experience of a classic car is also vastly different to that of a modern one. Some may even argue that learning to drive a vintage vehicle makes you a better driver. Without contemporary technology (such as ABS braking or power-steering) the driver must be more active in their control of the vehicle. There is more skill and experience required to be behind the wheel of a classic car (particularly with a sports model), which is all part of the fun.
2. Straight forward
There are a few benefits to owning a classic car that are a little less obvious. Whilst the modern equivalent of classic muscle cars are more powerful and speedy, by definition they are also more complex.
With the introduction of complicated assist-systems, comes more complicated trouble shooting. The perk of working on a classic model is that it’s renovation and maintenance is going to be more straightforward compared to a modern model. Think turning wrenches, not parsing “trouble codes.”
In theory, working on a classic model should also be cheaper than a contemporary vehicle as there are fewer, less complex components; however, scarcity of parts is always something to bear in mind.
3. Financial Benefits
If you can get your hands on a true piece of automotive history, then there is the potential to reap the financial rewards. Vintage motors tend to depreciate in value a lot less than their present-day equivalents thanks to their desirability and collector status. Choose your classic wisely and there’s a strong chance that you will at least get back what you initially invested, if not more. The DeLorean DMC-12 has seen a resurgence of its classic-status; its value rose by 32.1% during the Summer of 2015 followed by a further 8.3% increase during the following December.
Another financial perk of owning a time-honoured classic is that, in the UK, you don’t have to pay vehicle tax if your car is classed as a ‘historic vehicle’ – one that was made prior to 1st January 1977 (1978 as of 1st April 2018). Any savings that are made from not having to pay tax can be diverted into maintaining your vintage investment!
When it comes to insuring your classic car, these days there is much more choice with classic car insurance policies. Providers are aware of how a classic car, and indeed its owner, differ from the everyday motorist and have created specialist policies accordingly.
Sadly, there are some downsides to classic car ownership. If nothing else, there is most likely going to be a hefty initial investment to purchase the vehicle, as well as ongoing running, maintenance and storage costs. Therefore, it’s wise to weigh up all the pros and cons before investing in a vintage vehicle and making a financial commitment.
1. Maintenance and storage
Once you’ve invested in a classic car, it’s not something you can leave on your driveway or even in the dingy corner of your garage. Older cars tend to be made up of more steel, and more steel means more rust. To keep your motor in pristine condition you may have to consider renting a space to keep it in – it may need heating or a form of climate control, which are all costly endeavours.
Another consideration is that with age and classic status also comes the likelihood of wear and tear and the need for regular maintenance. Whilst some might enjoy the maintenance-intensive aspect of time-honoured vehicles, it might be an inconvenience for others, particularly if you’re not motor-savvy enough to do the tinkering yourself. Sourcing parts for rare models and finding a garage to carry out the work can also be costly and time consuming.
2. Not an everyday vehicle
Perhaps the biggest thorn in a classic car owners side is that, after all that hard work, love and toil, you can’t just take your vintage motor out for a spin whenever you fancy. Alongside keeping it tucked away safely in the right storage conditions, weather and road conditions also need to be taken into consideration too. Take your car out on a frosty, winter’s day and you risk destroying your premium paintwork with the salt from the road; take it out during a wet, dreary day and there’s the potential of a rust problem.
3. Environmental impact
Although classic motors are an important part of our heritage, with some even having historical value, their combustion engines are as antiquated as their lack of safety features – not great if you’re an environmentally conscious car-owner.
There is the theory that the production of new (even eco) cars has a far larger carbon footprint than that of a car already in existence, particularly if you factor in the low annual mileage that a classic car will typically have. However, there are more pollutants in exhaust fumes than just C02, so it’s something to bear in mind prior to purchasing.
Investing in a classic car can be rewarding in so many ways. However, rarely is it a get-rich-quick scenario; you have to be committed with both time and money. Hopefully the enjoyment you receive from owning a vintage motor will be as rich as the potential profit you make if you do decide to cash in your investment.