Tips And Advice

What to look for when buying your first classic car

For many of us, owning a classic car is a dream come true. There’s just something about the look, feel and roar of a vintage engine that ignites something deep in the senses. In this article, we’re going to look at the benefits of owning a classic car, what to look for in a vintage auto and how best to protect your investment.


What makes a car a classic?

Deciphering when a car is a classic depends on different criteria for different purposes. According to information from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs and to qualify for classic car insurance, a car needs to be over 15 years old to be considered a ‘historic vehicle’, or modern classic.

However, don’t get too excited about that 2005-reg Corsa sitting on your drive just yet: vehicles need to also be worth £15,000 or more to achieve “classic” status. This somewhat narrows the field down – think more along the lines of an old-school Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar or Rolls Royce.

For classic car tax exemption, though, the vehicle should be over 40 years old, amongst other criteria.

Classic cars are supposed to be status symbols, and there’s more to them than age – although the criteria are open to debate. Some think that a traditional black and silver registration plate is a signifier of a classic, whereas others think it’s all about the era and provenance of the manufacturer.


Why buy a classic car?

Classic cars represent an era. They are reminders of a time and place in history, and the nostalgia factor is reason enough for some to want to purchase a vintage motor – after all, what could be cooler than purchasing the model you used to dream about owning as a child?

The law of entropy dictates that over time, classic cars become damaged, fall into disrepair and become scrapped or used for parts. This ultimately means the number of classic models on the market reduces, and as the years go by these vintage vehicles appreciate in value – it’s a basic tenet of supply-and-demand. Classic cars can, therefore, be considered a shrewd investment.

In addition to being valuable assets, classic cars are great talking points. When you own a classic car, you’ll attract the attention of like-minded people. You’ll meet interesting car enthusiasts at classic car meets, and you’ll also look super cool cruising down the road in a rare and venerable vehicle: after all, the classics never go out of style.

What to look for when buying your first classic car

Comprehensive paperwork

When purchasing any vehicle, it’s important for the seller to be able to produce a logbook (known as a V5C), MOT certificate and full-service history if possible. If the historic vehicle was registered over 40 years ago and no substantial changes have been made, the car may not need an MOT certificate. However, any classic vehicle of any age must still be roadworthy.

The age of the car also dictates whether or not a classic car owner will pay for road tax. Whether or not you have to pay for road tax, bear in mind that a classic car must be taxed at all times. So you must remember to tax a car if and when you buy it, classic or not.

Paperwork is particularly important when purchasing a classic car, as age dictates that a vintage auto is likely to have had a richer history than something that’s only been on the road for a few months. Knowing how well a classic vehicle has been looked after will give you an indication of its condition and roadworthiness.


A trustworthy classics dealer

If you’re-purchasing a vehicle from a dedicated dealer of classic cars, you should do a little online research before committing to anything. Check out online reviews and testimonials, and perhaps join local classic car groups on social media to gauge the opinion of your fellow petrolheads.

There are lots of places to pick up classic cars – such as auctions or private sellers – but if you find a trusted dealer, you’ll be able to buy with confidence. If you’re buying a car of a certain vintage (such as a pre-WW2 Rolls Royce) you’ll want assurance that it’s in good enough condition and a reputable dealer should be willing to allow you to test-drive a classic prior to purchasing.


Availability of parts

If you’re buying a classic car as a fixer-upper, you’ll want to make sure you can source parts for it prior to starting your renovation project. Access to readily available, reasonably priced parts should influence your purchasing decision – otherwise, you could end up spending every single weekend traipsing around breaker’s yards for things like lightbulb covers (disclaimer: if this is your thing, go for it!).


Protecting your classic car

Classic cars generally don’t come with the security features modern vehicles are equipped with nowadays. Immobilisers and other anti-theft devices simply hadn’t been invented when many of the classics were entering production. This means you’ll have to take other measures to protect your investment.

Thatcham-approved vehicle trackers are recommended by Compare the Market as one of the best ways to safeguard your historic vehicle against theft. In addition to classic car security, vehicle trackers can also reduce your car insurance premium!

In the case of exceptionally rare and expensive vehicles, insurers will often make it compulsory to have a Thatcham category S5 or S7 vehicle tracker fitted. 


Tracker is the only manufacturer and supplier of vehicle trackers in the UK with unique VHF tracking technology, superior to all GPS trackers on the market. With VHF technology, your vehicle can be found whilst in a container or underground - two likely storage locations for thieves. 

Tracker also has a unique relationship with the UK Police Force and have recovery units fitted in over 2000 police cars and 20 police helicopters. This enables the police to react faster to your vehicle theft, with quicker recovery times and a higher chance of getting your beloved vehicle back before any harm comes to it.


To find out which vehicle tracking system would be best for you and your classic car, browse Tracker's vehicle recovery devices today.

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