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Choosing the right Classic

Choosing the right Classic Published: 23rd Mar 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Choosing the right Classic
Choosing the right Classic
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Before you decide on what classic to make better than brand new, speak to the relevant owners’ clubs for advice and tips. Visit as many shows as practicable and talk to owners who have been there, done that and bought the T shirt. They may even know of cars that suit your needs and pocket. In general terms, it’s best, and perhaps cheaper, to buy a vehicle with a sound body but worn mechanical parts than the other way round because this is where the money will be mostly spent.

Treat buying a classic just like purchasing any second-hand car; do the basic checks. Are documents such as the V5 registration document included? If not, you are going to have to sort out legal ownership with the DVLA and that’s a hassle you don’t need. A good compromise is to consider a part restoration where a project has stalled for a variety of reasons, not least life getting in the way. Often as not, a lot of time and money has been spent already and you can snap up a real bargain.

  • Light restorations generally implies that not a lot more than a bit of TLC is needed. Nothing too bad or costly, it can even be used and enjoyed while a restoration is taking place.
  • While many enthusiasts have successfully carried out a ‘running restoration’ it’s often far easier to lay the car up and get stuck in. A half-hearted job is going to be a waste of time and money in the long run.
  • Involved means just that. Adverts saying “would suit enthusiast” is the classic car equivalent to housing jargon and you shouldn’t underestimate what needs to be done, even if it’s still a legal runner.
  • A basket case is a wreck – full stop! Deciding what level of restoration to tackle largely depends on how much time, energy and money you can devote to it. Don’t set unreasonable targets that won’t be met and, most importantly, never ever lose sight of the fact that this is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby, intended to ease the tension of modern life, not create more…
  • It’s simple, the more exotic the car, then the dearer and more difficult it will prove to restore at home, which is why cars like Morris Minors and MGs are ideal for embarking on your first restoration project because they are of relatively simple makeup and parts are easy and affordable to obtain.
  • Is this a solo task or are some friends chipping in? It’s extremely hard to totally renovate a classic singlehandedly, no matter how skilled or dedicated you are. So swallow that pride ask for both professional and layman help when and where needed.
  • Finally, don’t procrastinate. While you should never rush the job and make it an act of duty, it’s a fact that if you haven’t made decent headway with the project within the first three months, then it’s odds on that you’ll never see it through to the end…



Think it through first and sleep on the idea. Have you the time, skills and space to complete the job and is it a solo effort?


Don’t think that you’ll instantly save money by doing it all yourself. If cost is paramount, think about a good value, partly-restored project instead


Do your sums carefully and work out how much that project will cost to restore – then double them and you’re probably half right!


Are you a half decent mechanic or willing to learn? Consider enrolling at night school to develop skills that will help the restoration no end


Not only will that prove a welcome break, but it’s an ideal place to chat to fellow owners over any problems you have – and they’ll be plenty. And take pictures both of your project and finished cars to compare. This will provide encouragement as well as useful references along the way


Don’t buy a basket case of a classic in loads of boxes without the proper paperwork. Is there a V5 registration document let alone a complete car in amongst the bits and bobs? And check with the DVLA that the vendor is legally entitled to sell the car if its history is suspect. Classics are now being stolen – and broken to order you know…


For your first restoration it’s best to choose a classic that’s relatively simple and cost-effective to restore so you gain confidence. Rare models will be a pain to source parts for and you may end up disillusioned with the hobby


Yes, we know it’s a classic but at the end of the day it’s just an old cat, so don’t rush and buy the first you see. Unless it’s a real rarity, there are usually plenty on sale so treat it as just another vehicle that you are buying – well, try anyway!


Don’t be in such a rush to get it back on the road. With your car in bits, there’s no better time to overhaul and refurbish parts than now and it will save you a lot of time and money later on


If you are becoming overwhelmed by the job, walk away for a week or two and do something different – yes even the garden if need be! Above all else enjoy it. Sure, there will be dark days but if you are getting fed up with the whole thing then there’s not much point in doing it, is there?

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