Classic car popularity is soaring in Britain, and the growing prices of some cult models offer better interest than the average savings account. This leaves inexperienced new owners open to all sorts of problems, as they realise for themselves some of the hidden pitfalls of owning an older sports car.
Replacing a boring commuter car with an evergreen classic like a Volkswagen Beetle might lower your annual motoring costs, but a seemingly cheap exotic sports car from the 60s or 70s will most likely come with a set of unique problems you hadn’t budgeted for. Here’s some common problems often encountered by the enthusiastic, but inexperienced classic car owner:
It sounds obvious, but rare and exotic machinery always comes with a higher insurance price. A 1960s mini isn’t going to come with the same insurance premium as an old Maserati, despite the latter’s seemingly bargain purchase price. You can offset a little of the cost by keeping the car garaged, and by becoming a member of a club. It’s far better to research the insurance costs before you start your car hunting adventure though.
It isn’t a matter of snobbery that a wing panel for a Ferrari costs way more than that of a Beetle. It’s simply a matter of volume. Exotic cars are produced in far few numbers, and without the demand for large manufacturing runs, parts are much more expensive. it’s not all doom and gloom though: Some quite sporty cars often borrow mechanical parts from their more mundane cousins. Look into the parts costs before you take on an exotic classic.
This is probably going to be the largest money pit you will encounter. Restoring bodywork on any classic car is expensive, and sports and exotic vehicles even more so.
You’ll almost certainly need to enlist the services of a professional body shop if you want a concours restoration. www.bodyshopsolutionsltd.com, who supply bodywork equipment to the industry, explain: “To ensure a quality finish, you’ll need to find a body specialist with the latest technology, such as infra red drying, and properly ventilated spray booths. Bodywork restoration can be a very labour intensive and costly undertaking”.
Even if your new purchase has a sound structure, the engine and other mechanicals will need careful attention if you want to keep the possibility of rebuilds to a minimum. More exotic machinery comes with a unique set of problems for mechanics: Engine bays tend to be cramped, and cylinders numerous and awkward. Repair jobs take far longer as a consequence.
Consumables and Servicing
Just like repairs and rebuilds, the annual service will be more difficult and costly with an exotic car too. In addition, a performance vehicle will almost certainly have “more” of everything: More spark plugs, more tyre width, more oil in the engine and fuel in the tank. It all adds up over the course of a year’s motoring.
Don’t Be Put off
With the list you’ve just read, it would be easy to forget about your dream of owning a classic or exotic old sports car. Whilst it’s never going to be the cheapest of hobbies, you’ll be rewarded if you take your time, do the correct research, and buy a good condition car in the first place. Happy motoring!
By Harry Price
Harry Price is a freelance writer and classic car enthusiast. When he’s not traveling for work, he is often found in the gym or on his boat.