Tuesday 22 January 2019

I'm stuck in a motoring time warp and I love it!

If you're tempted by a 30-year-old beauty, here are the all-important questions you need to ask yourself, says classic car fan John CraddenClassic cars cost, and the moment you neglect them is when you start paying

My family, friends and neighbours say I am stuck in a motoring time-warp. It's probably true. For seven years, I owned a small, two-door BMW saloon from 1974. Before that, I owned a 1972 version.

But a fast-growing young family meant I needed something bigger and more practical, so I recently upgraded to a newer car, a four-door BMW five series -- from 1980.

In case you haven't spotted the pattern, the cars I buy tend to be 30 years old or more -- the age cars need to be before they are classified for motor tax purposes as 'vintage/veteran' or as a classic.

The classic car bug bit me many years ago and when you become passionate about something, you develop strong opinions.

In fact, if you make the mistake of telling me that you are thinking of buying a classic car, I will take you into the nearest dark corner, shine a bright light in your face and ask you the following questions:

Why do you want a classic car?

Seriously, why? They have bags more style and character? More fun to drive? Yes, those reasons are acceptable, but what's that last one? They are cheap to run?

I was like you once, many years ago. I also fooled myself into believing it made financial sense.

After all, I didn't need a car for my daily commute.

But what I didn't anticipate was becoming so bitten by the bug that I would be happy to lavish large sums of money on their upkeep and spend many hours with my feet sticking out from underneath them.

Classic cars cost, and the moment you neglect them is when you start paying. Yes, yes, classics can hold -- even appreciate -- in value, but not if you run it into the ground or, worse, let it rust in peace.

What's your budget?

The sky is the limit here. A 1963 Ferrari GTO recently sold in the UK for €25m.

According to Dermot Flynn, who runs a twice-yearly classic car sale and show event in Swords, Co Dublin, the average budget for a classic right now is between €5,000 and €6,000.

"For this type of money you will do really well and land yourself a really good MG, any Ford that you can think of, a Daimler or a Mercedes."

If you want to keep your costs down, buy the best example of your preferred model that you can afford.

And don't even think about a restoration project.

How often will you use it?

If you plan on using it for your everyday commute, some words of caution from Thomas Heavey, editor of popular vintage motoring magazine Irish Vintage Scene: "While some people successfully manage this, I think it will affect the longevity of the life of the car."

Use it sparingly and you'll still like it in years to come.

Do you have the number of a sympathetic mechanic?

"It's not so hard to find someone who will service a classic car," says Jon Millar, who runs Classic Car Workshop, a Co Clare-based car restoration business.

"It is, however, hard to find someone who can carry out quality restoration work on classic cars as these skills are dying out." Which leads me to my next question.

Are you a member of a club?

There are hundreds of clubs, with mines of information and contacts for mechanics and restorers.

After all, their members have nearly all experienced the pain at seeing lost, naive people like you who end up paying huge money for what turns out be over-polished rubbish and then lose the will to live when faced with the costs of putting them right.

You can also chat to us at the many shows and events coming up over the summer. I am now looking forward to Classic Car and Motorcycle Live at the Mondello racing circuit on June 17 and the popular Terenure show on July 8.

Hope to see you there.

Irish Independent

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