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50 Classic Cost-Cutters

50 Classic Cost-Cutters Published: 18th Oct 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

50 Classic Cost-Cutters
50 Classic Cost-Cutters
50 Classic Cost-Cutters
50 Classic Cost-Cutters
50 Classic Cost-Cutters
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Classic Motoring advises on how you can save money while still enjoying your classic motoring to the full

General running


1. Appreciate depreciation

Don’t imagine that running a modern is cheaper than a classic. True, fuel economy is better but one of the most significant ownership costs is depreciation, yet this fact is often overlooked (or ignored) when calculating overall costs. By contrast, with most classics depreciation is zero, and in the majority of cases they appreciate in value.


2. Fuel for thought

Petrol prices vary dramatically and considerable savings can be made by shopping around. A difference of a couple of pence per litre may not sound much, but the effect on a tankful with a ‘juicy’ classic will be worth having in your pocket.


3. Heads you win

If your classic has an engine which relied on ‘leaded’ fuel it pays to have your cylinder head modified to run on unleaded petrol, especially if you have the work carried out in conjunction with a planned decoke. The initial outlay, typically costing £150 to £200 for a four pot unit, will be recouped as it wards off any potential harm to the head due to valve seat recession.


4. Lighten up when you tool up!

By all means carry some tools and spares in the car, but don’t overdo it and lug non essential things which takes their toll in terms of fuel economy, performance and not to mention excessive wear on the rear chassis suspension and tyres.


5. Rack and ruin

Roof racks can be handy if you take your classic on long holiday trips, but even an empty rack is bad news in aerodynamic terms (typically sapping two or three miles per gallon, compared with running the car sans the rack) plus it adds wind noise and upsets stability. So remove the horrid contraption until it’s really needed.


6. Air con conditions

Air conditioning is wonderful (especially this summer), but it can rob you of 2-3mpg. So only use it when needed. On the other hand, always run it once a fortnight so the workings don’t seize up.


7. Always tyred out?

Under-infl ated tyres result in unnecessarily high fuel consumption, in addition to a high rate of tyre wear. Over-inflation is equally unwise too. Regularly check/re-adjust pressures (to cater for high speed running or full loads) to save fuel and avoid premature replacements. Also, incorrect wheel alignment wastes fuel, hinders handling and rapidly wears that pricey rubberware (see feature in this issue).


8. A free drive

Under current legislation, buying and running a classic built before 1st January 1978 entitles you to free road tax. Every year. Same goes for MoT tests but we feel this safety check is all worth the expense!


9. Take cover

It can be prohibitively expensive to insure a classic – especially a highpowered machine – for ‘everyday’ use through traditional type policies. However, there are a range of options when it comes to insuring your classic. Do it right and a lightly driven golden oldie can cost virtually pennies to insure, especially if you have a policy that covers more than one vehicle at the same time (see our special insurance feature next month).


10. Club together

Many local and regional car clubs arrange cut-price deals for their members with garages offering favourable MoT test facilities; such arrangements are usually advertised within club magazines. Classic friendly garages are also best for repairs.


11. Love a lock up

Renting a garage? The cost can be considerable (if you can find a vacant one) but still worth it. It’s worth considering buying a lock-up however; the initial outlay may seem frightening, but the potential for saving money in the long run is considerable plus adds to value of your property.


12. Clean air act

Garages become worryingly damp during a British winter, and resultant condensation can take its toll of the car’s bodywork, and encourage the growth of mould on the interior. The use of a dehumidifier (or, if you can afford it, one of the all-enveloping plastic ‘cocoons’) to keep moisture at bay is well worth the outlay and initial costs will be clawed back as your car will last longer and stave off repairs.


13. Heading for port?

Even if you can’t afford a full blown garage, a car port can be an effective and much cheaper alternative, plus it will allow a constant flow of air around the vehicle, plus provide a decent, if cold shelter to work, under.


14. In the club

Belonging to a club or clubs specialising in your vehicle usually brings benefits in terms of special rate insurance and breakdown cover deals. The savings are usually greater than the annual subscriptions asked. (See also ‘Obtaining Spares’ section).


Your classic


15. Use it or lose it!

Cars were built to be driven, and while some prefer to lay up their classics for long periods (typically through the winter), brakes, clutch components and even the engine tend to seize when idle for lengthy periods. Taking it for a run will do your pride and joy a world of good, compared to sitting, unused in a condensationladen garage – and you too we wager.


16. Body beautiful

Frequently inspect the paintwork and underbody for evidence of ‘stone chip’ and other minor damage. Rectify any such imperfections as soon as they appear, before rust gets a chance to take a grip and so save on costly repairs at the same time.


17. Cut out the salt

If possible, avoid venturing out when the roads are gritted/‘salted’ this winter as the nasty stuff gets thrown up around the underbody, and collects in all available, inaccessible corners. It will then come back to haunt you as the structure quietly rusts away so frequently hose or pressure-wash the wheel arches and underbody.


18. Talking rot

Anti-rust products can be a life-saver for any classic. Typically the job may take a dirty day or so, and cost perhaps £50-£100; yet it’s time and money well spent, as it will reduce or eliminate the need for expensive repairs at a later date.


19. A stitch in time

Just because you only use your classic(s) irregularly you should still treat it to a service once a year because early attention to unearthed repairs nips any major problems and expense in the bud.


20. Lube lore

Carry out oil and filter changes twice as often as recommended as it can help to extend the engine’s life by a country mile. The additional cost of quality oil and filters is negligible when compared with the price of a rebuild (to say nothing of the time and hassle factors which also come into play!). Ditto transmission fluids and filters.


21. Use good quality stuff

Quality lubricants are a cheap insurance in the long run. Although it costs more short term, the extra outlay more than compensates for the extra protection provided, and the resultant longer component life.


22. Cool for classics

A poorly kept cooling system results in overheating and severe engine damage. Using anti-freeze mixture all year round isn’t a waste at all as it provides extra cooling agents plus reduces potentially costly internal corrosion; especially if you can use distilled/de-ionised water (rather than tap stuff) in the system from a water butt – good for washing the car too!


23. Go waterless

We’re a big fan of this; a coolant which isn’t aqua so it can’t boil, such as Evans Waterless Coolant. It costs around £100 to fill and forget but prevents nasty boil overs.


24. Cool to be hot

An engine-driven fan, of the type fitted to most traditional classics is mostly useless. Installing an electrically operated fan means that the engine will warm up more quickly to its operating temperature and thus save fuel, prolong engine life, cut general noise at high speed and improve pep.


25. Do it yourself?

Compared with the majority of modern vehicles, the bulk of classics are essentially simpler in design, and fairly easy to look after at home. The fact that you don’t have to pay someone to carry out a lot of the work which you can do yourself will save a great deal and usually be fun, too. However, you need to know and accept your own personal limitations and skills but even so you can still also save a lot of money by doing what you can when you can!


26. Built to last?

Modern cars, much like present-day domestic appliances, tend to have a relatively short design life and soon rendered uneconomically viable to fix. By contrast, most classics which have already seen several decades of use can be normally rejuvenated for relatively little outlay several times over so long as body and chassis rust isn’t becoming an expensive issue.


27. Car sharing

Here’s a thought that’s worth pursuing… If you’ve always hankered after a classic of your own but just can’t afford it, why not share a car with a like-minded enthusiast or friend? It provides all the fun but could halve the costs. Try not to fight over it though…


28. Hire and reward?

These days, nice old classics are much in demand for weddings, video production, also film, television work and so on. The fees paid for the use of your car can be considerable, and help to reduce the overall cost of keeping and running the vehicle. However, you need to advise your insurer to be sure that it is covered for such work plus how the vehicle is going to be used.

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