Aug 16

How to buy a classic car on a budget

Reading Time: 3 mins

Are you interested in buying a classic car? It is a dream for many people to choose an iconic older car and either have it for everyday use, or just for occasional events and trips out. But not everyone who wants to own a classic model has a huge budget. Here we take a look at what you can do you if you want to buy a classic car and be able to afford it.


Think of it as an investment

If you are buying a classic car and you are having to stick to a tight budget, it can sometimes help to think of it as investment. Yes, you may be buying the car for the opportunity to compete in classic car rallies, or just for the sheer joy of owning a piece of automotive history – but there are actually many classic cars that continue to appreciate in value.

There are stunning cars out there such as the Porsche 924 and the Jaguar XJ-S which are currently available for cheaper than £10,000 – however, they are unlikely to stay that way for long. In fact, these cars are quickly gaining value so when you buy one you could potentially sell it in a few years’ time for significantly more. When you consider this, it makes the actual expense of the buying a classic car much less challenging.

How to buy a classic car on a budget


A more modern classic?

When people think of buying a classic car, they sometimes associate the term entirely with Ferraris or Aston Martins from the 1960s, or even racing cars from years gone by. And of course, these types of car command a real premium, that simply makes them unaffordable for those trying to stick to a budget, and it can put them off the concept of owning a classic car.

But the reality is that it’s possible to own a classic car – you just need to change your interpretation of the word ‘classic’. There are many cars that may have been released between 20 and 30 years ago, that have iconic status, and are far more affordable and easier to live with.

Look for cars that have the potential to become future classic cars and currently have a relatively respected status. Options such as the Saab 900 Turbo or the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA have iconic looks and could be worth a lot of money in years to come.


Understand the realistic costs

One of the most crucial aspects of buying a classic car is understanding the costs involved – this is especially crucial if you are working to a budget. Many people commit to buying a classic car but don’t factor the running costs, and this can make it very difficult to afford.

It is important, then, to understand exactly what you should expect to have to pay in order to keep your classic car running. Classic cars require a lot of care and attention, so you should expect to pay more for maintenance than you might be used to, if you have previously only owned relatively new cars.

Additionally, if you are buying a classic car to take part in events or time trials then it may be necessary to purchase safety equipment. For example, many classic car owners choose to have in-car fire extinguishers installed in order to minimise damage should any overheating cause a fire to break out.


Where should you buy from?

One of the key decisions you need to make about buying your classic car is where you will get it from. There are three main options:

  • Auction – car auctions often provide some more unusual and unique cars, and as you can typically bid for the cars from anywhere in the world, there is no barrier from getting the car you want (apart from budget). However, remember that with an auction you will only have limited opportunity to inspect before you buy. Also be aware that the premiums taken by the auction house mean that these cars can often be expensive.
  • Dealer – a good used car dealer can be a good choice, especially if they specialise in classic cars. They will be able to provide you with good insight into the car that you are opting for. However, of course a dealer needs to make a profit so it’s possible that you will be paying over the odds for the car.
  • Private individual – this can be the best way to get a low price on a car, as well as the chance to talk directly with a previous owner who can provide specialist insight into the car. However, buying from private individuals takes time, and it can also be easy to miss out on cars because you aren’t looking in the right place.


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