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How to Choose Classic Car Specialists

Special Agents Published: 5th Dec 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

How to Choose  Classic Car Specialists
How to Choose  Classic Car Specialists
How to Choose  Classic Car Specialists
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If you own a classic then at some point you are going to need a specialist help. The trick is finding the right one for your requirements and pockets

What is a specialist? Generally they are mechanics or garage owners who grew up with a particular make (or makes) and became known for it as the cars or brands evolved from bangers to classics. It’s a natural progression and why you see an increasing number of VW specialists around and now even independent Mazda MX-5 and Subaru Impreza emporiums; these are the new ‘MG/Triumph/ Jaguar specialists of tomorrow.

The reasons us classic car owners rely on specialists are as varied as they are obvious; they have the knowledge, the parts and the experience such oldies demand. But critically they also love what they are doing and it usually shows in the care that they carry out. Of course, it’s also a paying business but many folks are in it as much for the fun and satisfaction, too.

Many classic owners mix their DIY handiwork with specialist attention when the need arises and it’s a good policy to adopt; if you don’t know what you’re doing leave it to somebody who does. And just like a main dealer stamp aids value of the modern car, the fact that a renowned specialist has carried out work, with bills to prove, invariably adds value to a classic as well.

Finding the right specialist

We’re lucky in having a high standard of classic car workshops in this country but you still need to choose your classic care with care. These outfi ts live by their reputations and word and mouth approval is still worth more than a fancy premises or a wonder website – in our view. And we’d certainly never judge a book by its cover; we’ve been to many spit-and-sawdust specialists who turn out some of the best work in the business! The more specialist or rare your classic then so should be the expert. For example, if you own an MG T-Type it’s better to go to somebody who deals in them rather than an all encompassing MG independent, particularly for more intricate repairs where special skills may be needed.

Labour rates shouldn’t be top of your agenda, quality of repair should instead! After all a specialist is much cheaper than a main dealer. Having said that, check out if varied rates for certain jobs applies, and whether the more expensive repairs, such as an engine rebuild or restoration work, may require money upfront.

Plus bear in mind that not all independents, irrespective of size, take chip-and -pin or credit cards; good old fashioned cash or cheque may still be preferred payment.

Don’t overlook the plain high-street Fred-in-a Shed. In the main these are old-school mechanics who didn’t want to make the jump to moderns and saddle themselves with the expensive servicing equipment they require and are more at home on older pre-1990 vehicles. Fine but you may have to supply your own classic parts to help matters. Again many come highly recommended as they survive on their local reputation.

To sum up, even though many main dealers are trying their hardest to woo owners of older vehicles back to the fold – including classics – you can’t, and will never, beat an independent for that special touch. The worry is how much longer will we enjoy this luxury?

At Classic Cars For Sale, we’ve lost count of the number of specialists who ask if we know of willing workers needing employment, from qualifi ed older mechanics to budding young apprentices. It’s a stark fact that our industry is slowly petering out because specialists can’t fi nd eager spanner men with the right skills and enthusiasm. Some companies are actually under the threat of closure because the offspring of the proprietors don’t want to continue the business on…

And that’s a criminal waste in our books. Thankfully the Federation of Historic Vehicle Clubs is pushing hard to encourage young people to join our industry and help keep it alive. In fact, we personally know of one young mechanic who was laid off from a normal garage and (somewhat reluctantly-ed) joined such a local small classic outfi t. Now his time is swallowed up by fi xing lovely old cars and helping out at race meetings. Talk about falling on your feet!

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