Classic cars: A buyers guide.

We love a classic car here at E&J Jarvis and know a lot of our followers do too. 

With car culture as big as ever in the UK right now there's a growing number of people looking to invest in a classic car. This might be retirees looking for a Sunday driver, young enthusiasts looking for a first project or a full blown midlife crisis. The reasons to buy a classic are endless.

Whatever reason you have for buying a classic, we want to help. 

We've put together a few things to consider when choosing your next classic car.

Classic porsche

Why are you buying?

When beginning the search for your classic car, the first question you need to ask yourself is what you're after and what you plan on doing with it.

This may seem like a simple question but it's a very important one.

Do you want a classic roadster, an awesome 80's hot hatch or something different entirely? The answer that you come up with will have a huge impact on everything from sourcing parts to servicing and storage.

As an example let's say you wanted to buy an old American car with beautiful paintwork, plenty of chrome and the same dimensions as the QE2 and you plan to take it out to a few local classic car shows.

You need to consider whether you can store it safely and if you are able to find the relevant parts come servicing time. If you find that safe storage is an issue maybe consider something smaller but just as fun.

Another consideration could be how often you intend to drive the car. If it's something that you're hoping to travel the country in and put miles on the clock, a reputation for reliability will be much more important than for a car you're hardly going to use. This might mean that going a little more modern could be a wise move to make.

Classic car 1

Old cars, old tech.

Modern cars are ever so user friendly with power steering, air conditioning and a drive that generally feels hassle free. Old cars are not. 

When you jump into an older car for the first time be prepared to put a little more effort into slow speed manouevres as without power steering the wheels will be much harder to move from a stand still. Once you do get going, the steering wheel becomes much easier to turn and some people may even prefer this style of driving.

Fuel injection is another thing to consider - All modern vehicles use electronic fuel injection which means that starting on a cold day should be just as easy as starting on a warm one.

Depending on the age of your classic it may well use carburetors which are set up manually to regulate fuel and air input into the engine. 

On a cold day, Carbs are notoriously troublesome. You're going to have to learn how to use a choke - a device that restricts air flow and forces the engine to run richer in order to start. In fuel injected cars this is all done electronically of course.

You may be more familiar with a choke if you've ever owned a motorcycle as they are fairly common even on modern machines. 


Parts availability

Ok so this is something that can be overlooked but something that should certainly be on your mind if you plan to drive the car often. When looking for a classic, it's worth baring in mind how easy parts will be to source.

Generally the more modern a car is, the easier parts are to source and by extension something that's been mass produced will always be easier to find parts for than an obscure rare vehicle with specialist parts.

Fords, Vauxhalls, Hondas or anything with high initial production numbers will be much easier to find parts for than a one off build from a small independent car company.

Some car manufacturers, like Honda, have now started reproducing parts for certain heritage vehicles which will make sourcing them a lot easier in the future.

classic car 1930s

Somewhere to store it

If you're like me then you'll always be worrying about your car - this gets even worse when you put time and effort into keeping it looking good. Small dings and dents that aren't a problem on a daily driver can become extremely irritating on your pride and joy and the open elements can quickly bring about rust problems to the more sensitive vehicles.

For this reason it is important to consider where you're going to be able to keep the car. Have you got off road parking? do you have a cover or garage? and most importantly - is it secure? 

This is especially important if you plan on only using the vehicle in the summer months or if you plan to only tax the vehicle for part of the year. Keep in mind that untaxed vehicles cannot be stored on public roads.

Ideally a locked garage with sufficient weather proofing is ideal for your classic but we know that's not possible for everyone. If you don't have a garage yourself you can always ask a good friend or make use of a vehicle storage company budget permitting. 

classic car morgan

Built not bought

Some people are after a ready prepared classic car in concourse condition, which is fantastic if that's what you're after. The other side of that is the person who buys a classic as a project. The advantage here is not only that it can save you a few pounds on your purchase but that it's also a great hobby & learning opportunity. 

So long as you know your limits and are confident in your own work, a classic project car can be one of the best ways to enjoy a classic and learn basic mechanics with many older cars not having the complicated computer systems found on newer models.

But still have a good garage.

Following on from our previous point, not everyone is a professional mechanic and sometimes we all need a little help with the more difficult jobs. For this reason it would do you some good to have a local garage that you can trust to help you out when things get difficult. That's us. Your good friends at E&J Jarvis by the way.

Common problems on classic cars are increased risks of seizing and rust related issues - having somewhere with the right tools and knowledge in how to deal with these problems can save you both time and money in the long run and allow you to get on with enjoying your classic car.

classic car bmw


When we say the word 'budget' we're not just talking about the sale price of the vehicle. Your budget should include provisions for the upkeep of the vehicle which will need to be factored into ownership.

Make sure that you have enough of a financial cushion after your purchase to pay for any repairs or problems that may arise - or if you're doing things yourself make sure that you can afford a few spare parts.

If you've got hold of something in concourse condition a good service history will need to be maintained. This extends to the cosmetics of the car which will need extra special attention, be it keeping the leather seats fresh or having the paint protected.

These steps will help the vehicle hold value for years to come.

A good strong budget will ensure that should the worst happen you're able to get back on the road as soon as possible without having to spend time saving up for repairs.


Join an owners club 

The greatest thing about the age of the internet is that knowledge and advice can be shared instantly from anywhere in the world. A good example of this is an owners club or Facebook group which is one of the most useful resources for any driver, let alone a classic car owner.

Owners clubs are a brilliant way to not only make new friends but also talk about the day to day experiences of running a classic car. If you've got something you need help with, you can be sure someone has already asked your question with knowledgeable members giving their advice and input which can save you plenty of time.


classic car peugeot 2

The boring bits.

MOT, tax and insurance can be a little different for classic cars. For example, you may get better coverage or even a better deal by taking out a classic car insurance policy rather than a mainstream policy.

Tax classes can also differ for classic cars and at the time of writing any car used for personal use registered before the 1st January 1980 can be exempt from paying tax - keep in mind you will still need to tax your vehicle even if it's free.

If your vehicle was registered more than 40 years ago and no significant changes have been made within the last 30 years then your car will qualify for an MOT exemption. As great as this sounds we would still seriously recommend having your vehicle tested yearly by a professional garage as a matter of safety, especially if you plan on travelling with other occupants in the car.


We hope this list has been helpful in your classic car journey and we are always available to assist with your new vehicle. Have fun!

Photographs by Overrun media ltd with quality reduced for web.

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