Calum Brown: Don't Do What I Did - Audi 90

Calum revisits his time with an Audi 90. In one way, he regrets everything. In another, he still regrets everything. 

Words: Calum Brown
Photos: Richard Gunn


The Audi 90 I ended up with acted like a grumpy teenager. It hated the world and everything in it. No matter the weather, situation or location my Audi 90 refused to do anything I asked of it. Run on all five cylinders? Start on the fourth prolonged turn of the key? Won’t. 

What originally began as a cold start issue exploded into an epic saga of engine investigation – following wires from bumper to bumper in the process, with a few eyebrow raising attributes discovered along the way, such as the white household kitchen switch connected to a mystery set of wires behind the handbrake. I still don't know what they were for... 

Although the engine was far from perfect even after extensive work, when it decided to offer forward motionthe driving experience was far from exhilarating. Powering along the main road and I could feel myself drifting off to la-la land, as the weird combinations of various blues in the cabin swirled together to represent a  dentist's sickly, dated waiting room.

I found myself questioning why I hadn't scrapped it on a daily basis, eventually nestling it away with a friend who would occasionally start the engine up on my behalf.  I would occasionally appear to remove it form his sight for a week or two, use it as daily transport and then drop it off again once it had pillaged my soul of all excitement. 

However, there came a time where I ended up in a spirited jostle against a mate on twisting b-roads, and throwing the Audi into the bends resulted in a stark revelation. Taking a corner on a crest of revs found the whole car came alive. Gripping the wheel and churning it around left me with that fresh Ronin feeling, except that De Niro and Reno had an Audi S8 at their disposal and remain rather more attractive than a Scotsman in a basic 2.3-litre Audi 90E.

As much as the trim colours were never to my taste, I can't deny that the interior was comfortable –  meaning that passengers remained relaxed as the body snaked around, claiming a roundabout in the name of Audis' everywhere.

Then there was the exhaust note, which crafted the same lulling tone a pilot uses to sooth passengers of a Boeing 747 upon kickdown. The boot was quite large too, which proved useful when CCW's features editor took another pot shot at my Austin Allegro, as he ended up eating his badly chosen words upon the boot lid coming down - after being forced to try the luggage space on for size. He eventually apologised and regained his freedom.

In essence, the Audi’s future was always uncertain. I had no space or time for it in my life, but unlike the gruff Saab 9000 I also used as a daily hack, which corners like a demented shopping trolley, the Audi had a twinkle in its eye I simply couldn't ignore. I tolerated it's bad behaviour - the brakes going on strike, the engine overheating, the outside trim falling off - but eventually enough was enough. 

Piloting my Audi 90 was akin to driving John Major. Sluggish, grey and living in the shadow of the previous tyrants before it. I really wanted to like it, but finding affection for its boring, dull, thirsty, cantankerous relic-like behaviour ended up sounding the death knell.

Mine had changed hands more frequently than a five-pound note, and although the model retains its fans, it looks like I’ve lived with the only Audi 90 left that just wanted to keel over and die. And unlike John Major, it didn’t get better with a curry. 

As much as I grew to relish the looks, I didn’t particularly enjoy the engine’s addiction to coolant, oil or my skinned knuckles. Neither did I find the radiator system’s inability to function in heavy traffic a delight. 

However, the biggest problem – by a country mile – was starting the damned thing. Due to a sensor issue it would take everything I could offer to crank the engine into life, flattening the battery in the process. 

Originally intended to alleviate my older, more decrepit classics from everyday abuse, the Audi spent most of its time sat on the street – with the Allegro taking on commuting duties. Which in reality meant I ended up taking the bus. 

With space tight and my spare time non-existent, the 90 was advertised for sale and – much to my surprise – it sold within a few days to Andy Jackson, an Audi enthusiast.

Usually when I sell a car on, I get pangs of instant regret as the deal is confirmed. Yet, with the Audi I never suffered the tug on the heartstrings. Sadly, I felt indifferent – a bit like when an annoying aunt finally stops chomping cake and lumbers out of the front door.

At least, that was until I actually started to reflect on the retro-tastic chunk of German engineering – and I had plenty of time to do so, because I’d agreed to deliver my outgoing Audi to its new owner. 

It wasn’t until the mechanisms coughed into life for our final jaunt together that I started to appreciate what the car was about. I could acknowledge that the cabin was comfortable, but it wasn’t until I hunkered down into the driver’s seat that I could fully register just quite how supple the support was.

The handling, as I have said before, was direct and exciting. The engine hum mixed with that exhaust note left any pop chart ‘song’ substandard by comparison. In fact, for the first time, I was really relishing the driving experience - as I knew this was the last time I would ever see it again. I even found myself scrutinising the dashboard components in a wave of 1990s nostalgia.

By the time I arrived in Bishop’s Stortford, there was an urge to turn back for home and cherish it forever. My grouchy attitude towards the Audi 90 had masked its many merits. I had been  in custody of a brilliant vehicle and never even realised. I sat behind the wheel before turning the engine off and found emotions for the Audi - something that never happened before. I was suddenly ridden with sorrow at seeing it off with someone else. 

After my mistake of parting with my Audi 90, I can easily recommend that you keep hold of one should you be lucky enough to hold ownership.

I wish its new guardian the very best of sporting luck. Just treat it with respect, unlike I did. 

Fuzz Townshend: Think like a 21-year-old!

As I’m beginning to knock on a bit, I sometimes find it helpful to step back in time and take a look at the old me, the 21-year-old currently still happy and healthy inside my head but, in reality back in 1985, casually dismissing almost everything dating from after 1969 as banger material.


Here in 2016, I’m pretty much of the same opinion, cue controversy, but once behind the steering wheel of a modern classic, let’s say anything dating from 1990 to 2000, I can feel the joy. In my fleet there are two such vehicles. My Land Rover Disco’ Series I and my Jag’ XKR. If I 1985-ise this pair, I’m driving a 1962, Series II 88in Land Rover and a 1968 2+2 Jaguar E-type, both of which are perfectly acceptable. My Austin Seven becomes a 1903 Wolseley, with a replica body, which is also eminently acceptable. 

So, excuses for modernity made, what have I been up to recently in the old crocs? Well, let’s start with the A7. For too long, this little car has sat unfinished in various locations about the UK.

I’ll admit that I didn’t really have a direction for the project. Period replicas are compelling, but my Seven has a rudimentary and rather charmless square  cut bathtub body. However, its chassis features flattened springs and in order to allow the combination to be driven, I secured the radiator using thick steel strips bolted from the body to its shell.

Thus, suddenly, a diminutive rat-rod has taken shape. It is pure Austin Seven and it certainly isn’t quick even by post-1950 standards, but, boy, it really is a whole heap of fun.

Little more than a bit of tin on wheels, with an engine of dubious health, a slightly porous final drive housing and an unpredictable gearbox, it is a delight to drive, having been tested on the dirt track between our place and the neighbours’ houses.

Once again I’m reminded that I’m getting old because I can safely saythat knocking about in this little brute is as much fun as one can have fully clothed.

All that remains practically is to properly fit the Autosparks loom and source some headlights and a mounting bar, followed by a hopeful club-supported representation to the DVLA, registration, insurance, third party inspection and then some more fun.

The Disco’ is a car for which I have plenty of respect. My 200Tdi example has been with me for three years now and has achieved 50,000 miles in service, on trips all over the UK and to mainland Europe too.

It’s not exactly a sparkling machine performancewise, but I would trust it to get me anywhere in an emergency. Currently I’m fitting a few replacement brake pipes for perhaps its last MoT test in my ownership although, as I’m so fond of the old machine and because it’s had a new nearside front wing to replace one damaged in the brief Shropshire freeze, I might permit it a stay of execution. 


While the Disco’ may lack pace, the Jaguar XKR places dollops of full-fat whipped cream power through its custard auto’ gearbox to provide a thoroughly entertaining and capable long-distance cruiser, but its lumbering weight is made manifest by its relatively short-lived suspension joints and bushes which I’m currently replacing piecemeal.

In fact, while in the process of removing the offside lower suspension ball joint, a couple of workmates and me received the shock of our lives. Using gentle oxy-acetylene heat to assist removal of the joint in-situ, there was suddenly an extremely loud bang and the three people involved immediately turned toward the gas bottles, fearing some sort of blow-back. In the air was an acrid burnt smell that was unpleasant on the throat.

The bottles were immediately turned off, but nothing appeared to be amiss until, looking back at the balljoint, we realised that the heat had expanded the remaining grease to the point where the forces were great enough to fire the ball-pin out like a bullet. It was rather lucky that none of us had our feet in the direct line of fire, as the pin made quite an impression in the concrete below.

Nearly 40 years since I was first put to work as a numberplate maker and welding fire watch as a 12-year-old during school holidays at my cousin, John Wardrop’s, Regent Motors garage in Linlithgow, West Lothian, I’m still learning that cars can be temperamental things.



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Being a member of a classic car club is not only advantageous for your sanity and wallet, but it also holds further benefits. CCFS explain why.

The view most people take over classic car clubs is one of sheer undying monotony. Bearded ale-enthusiasts who preach about originality, gearbox ratios and the colour beige; simultaneously casting a conceited slur in the direction of a fellow member’s pride and joy. However, while this may describe a select few clubs out in the ever-expanding classic car world, the majority of these organisations are politics free, laid back and oozing with a family friendly atmosphere. 

Being social creatures, finding a group of like-minded enthusiasts not only provides a welcoming environment in which to discuss all things car, but can also offer discounts at certain parts suppliers with advice and assistance offered in droves - from individuals who have a particular hankering for the same car as you. 

Looking for motives to join your local classic car club? Here we have our top reasons, not that you really need any to join in the first place… 

You Don’t Need a Car to Join

While this isn’t strictly true for some of the more hoity-toity car clubs, 99% will welcome anyone in with open arms - even if they don’t personally own that particular vehicle.  Clubs such as the Land Rover Series One Owners Club are keen to support and encourage anyone with a love of the original Landy, but do warn that it won’t be long until the urge to own a piece of Land Rover Genesis is an itch in dire need of scratching. On the bright side, the club can locate you a Series I in whichever condition you wish - usually cost effective if a member is selling one…

Classic Car Clubs Make You More Sociable

Alongside the ideal that, if owning an MGB and joining the MG Owners Club, you’ll find yourself within a crowd who share your fascination with Abingdon’s finest, the opportunities to take your cherished classic out for the day will brim your calendar with banter-filled, tarmac-chewing days out. From a simple meet at the pub for a pint to tackling a track day set-up purely for your club, you’ll have newfound companions over to help out with that leaky coolant pipe that’s been driving you berserk for the past two weeks. You may even find love - although that could be another MGB...

Discounts Galore!

With the collective buying power of a small country, members are able to negotiate a wide range of discounts from parts suppliers and even some big-name insurance companies.  Being an active member of a car club shows dedication and love for your vehicle, helping the insurance company to relax slightly in the knowledge that you aren’t hell bent on taking every junction in a side-ways manner or leaving a £10k classic on the street for all to nick. 

There is usually an annual fee to pay, but it makes for a wise investment when running your beloved classic becomes cheaper.

Help Is Always At Hand.

We all know how it goes. You’ve got what you think is an easy job to do yet you end up making everything worse, nothing fits where it did, the house is on fire and you’ve inadvertently caused the end of the world. Don’t despair, however, as there will always be someone to ask for help within a classic car club. 

From forums thronged with information to someone being on call when you eventually break down in tears trying to get that wheel hub back in place, your new classic car club offers round-the-clock godsends with expertise and experience on tap.  The best part? Unlike the over-worked AA man turning up merely to inform you that your classic is truly beyond redemption, you’ll have someone so keen to help that despite mechanical failure, your enthusiasm won’t be dampened. 

An Added Incentive And Expanded Knowledge.

Join a club and you’ll not only learn a shedload of extra information and trivia, but the compulsion to look after your own vehicle will become an unblemished craving - improving your skills and understanding. The reward is delicious, too - with sharpened enthusiasts gazing over your classic car and appreciating all the work you’ve undertaken to keep it going, unlike your partner who understands and cares very little and is purely annoyed that the gearbox keeps ending up in the bath. 

So, what are you waiting for? Club life is just around the corner, and won’t send you off to the ale festival with Beardy McBeardface to discuss Austin Montegos and their impartial ability to use the same suspension struts as an Egyptian Lada’s ball joint mountings.  

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As Mercedes continues to build its reputation, owning a modern one is becoming an ever more popular aspiration, one that’s influencing the appeal of the classic models so we thought it was time to feature the best ones to buy now before prices move too far. The latest issue of Classic Cars magazine puts the six best models to buy in a big 15-page test, with smart choices from the W123 280 CE to the W111 280 SE Coupé. 

Inevitably the best value can be found in those models just dipping their toes in the classic car world, like the R129 generation SL. A 500SL like the one that we brought along to the test could be bought for anywhere between £5000 and £23,000, depending on how brave you’re feeling, but even playing safe and investing in the best still looks cheap for this 322bhp techno wonder – complete with pop-up roll bar – that will surge to 60mph in 6.3sec and not let up until it hits the 155mph limiter.

Buying advice and market analysis is part of 16 pages of buying information in every issue of Classic Cars magazine, including Quentin Willson’s Smart Buys, Russ Smith’s Market Watch, in-depth buying guides and Ads on Test.


For more details of the latest issue, visit

To see the digital edition for Android devices click here

To see the digital edition on iPad or iPhone click here


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Numbers of surviving Ford Granada Mark 3s are thinner than Donald Trumps hairline. Seen by many as worthless, cheap scrap - they are anything but. Here’s an example that you can save for less than any MGB - and it’ll be a darn sight more reliable, too…


Although the Ford Sierra was proving to be a problem child on the sales front, Ford pressed forward with parallel styling for its aerodynamic third incarnation of the popular Granada. By this point, it appeared aesthetically far-removed from Jack Regan’s cult motor featured in The Sweeney, but it still lived on as the policeman’s friend and offered executive luxury on a budget. 

n the continent the Granada Mark 3 received an all-new name - the Scorpio. Ford sensibly kept the Granada name for the British market, refusing to alienate their deep-rooted buyers.  Drivers in the UK didn’t get the Scorpio name until the child-scaring frog-faced monster of 1994 arrived oh-so briefly on the market. 

In terms of pushing things forward, the Mark 3 Granada’s main claim to fame - besides being blown up in James Marsh’s 2012 drama Shadow Dancer - remains that it was the first European car to offer ABS across the range as standard. However, this is a tad dull - so let’s look at what we all love - power. 

Early four-pot 2.0-litre engines may have been lethargic to a degree that left Garfield the cat looking sporty, but with the arrival of the later twin-cams normality was restored. Then the daddy arrived - the V6. Followed by the steroid-packed Cosworth, which has rapidly become a cult classic.

The rest of the range - including the saloon and the estate - haven’t yet found their place, but we can assure you they will, and sooner than you think. So - before prices climb like all classic Fords before it - how about grabbing this one currently for sale on CCFS?

As it’s a Ford, it remains relatively easy to fix and mechanical parts are widely available. Then there are the various clubs that will welcome you with open arms and provide all the support and knowledge you could want.  And the price for this slice of retro goodness? Less than £3k. 

This may sound like a huge chunk of cash for a Ford yet to find its position in the classic car world, but this particular Granada Mark 3 has an ace up its sleeve - it’s in mint condition. 

Having covered only 18,000 miles and offered with a full MoT - alongside all original documents, a full service history and an interior that appears factory fresh - this Ford Granada Mark 3 for sale provides the perfect blend of contemporary usability and 1980s classic car virtuousness. You know you want it. We certainly do. 

Grab a look on CCFS.  


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It’s common to find that the Freelander 1’s reputation for reliability takes a bashing in car circles, however we reckon it’s a serious Modern Classic in the making, and is already laughing at the original sceptics.

Land Rover's 'baby' vehicle has an impressive following, and classic status is well on its way.

Land Rover's 'baby' vehicle has an impressive following, and classic status is well on its way.

It’s a testament to the humble Freelander 1 that such a vast number have survived so much harsh usage and still remained intact – but it makes finding a good one tricky. The petrol engines are a no-no purely for your sanity’s sake and the diesels are often abused to within an inch of their life. Prices start from as little as £800 with excellent examples selling for nearly £6k. 

And what do you get for this amount of money? Well, besides on-road mannerisms kicking it with cars twice as expensive when new, off-road performance is sublime. It can keep up with the big boys and yet only costs a quarter of the price, often shaming much more cosseted American and Japanese rivals when it boils down to battles in the mud. 

Yet, the compromises allowed by Land Rover to make the Freelander more car and less Land Rover-like led to a noticeable lack of ground clearance and the exclusion of a low range gear box, resulting in many Land Rover aficionados shunning the little Freelander  - but don’t let these little foibles deflate you. The Freelander is the only soft roader to survive the Camel Trophy and G4 Challenge alongside the rigorous testing grounds in America. In the snow, nothing in its class comes anywhere close and wading depth is impressive for a 4x4 of this size. Not to mention that it was the first Land Rover vehicle to be fitted with the now commonplace Hill Decent Control (HDC).

No off-roader had managed to mix driver comforts with serious off-road performance at such a knock-down price before, but this sadly led to poor maintenance from garages and owners alike. Drivers flogged the living hell out them on long motorway sprints and then battered the handling around tight country roads, before the next owners took the vehicle rock crawling or traversing mud baths. No car can survive this for long before things start to wear away, yet very owners few paid the cost for full repair. Despite its almost car like driving quality, the Freelander was still a 4x4 and required the relevant care - sadly very few received the attention required, most run on a shoestring budget against the handbook upon entering the second-hand market. 

However, find a good one and not only will the majority of the Land Rover brotherhood accept you, but you’ll have a Modern Classic to enjoy. The evidence for this prediction? All other Land Rovers have rapidly entered the classics status chamber and the Freelander conducts a huge following, with owners of all ages indulging themselves in the baby Land Rover - now starting a preservation process to keep early examples as original as possible.

Like any Land Rover, fan clubs for the Freelander exist all over the world, not to mention all over social media, with parts and advice easy and cheap to find. Freelanders aren’t too difficult to work on either, with voluminous numbers of enthusiasts stripping, modifying, racing and rebuilding theirs, with prices for decent specimens escalating as time kills off the poorer examples currently clinging to life.

The Freelander is quickly becoming a future classic; it’s filled with character, and even though it has its issues, you’ll grow so attached that you will find it impossible not to fall for it’s charm and practicality. Not many cars can provide you with a brotherhood, but the Freelander is one of the rare ones that does – Freelander owners have a kindred spirit, which is almost as valuable as the car itself.


Using your classic to earn a few extra pennies can have implications for your insurance.

The good news is that many brokers allow a small amount of paid work as part of a typical policy, though you need to be clear about where the limits lie.

Wedding bells

Most classic car owners will be asked to involve their car in a wedding at some point. If you’re doing it as a favour to a friend or family member, that’s fine – its included in the ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ category of use.

The crucial phrase is ‘For hire or reward.’ In other words, if you get paid for it, you need to tell your insurers. But don’t assume it will cost you extra.

‘You can extend your policy to cover you for a small number of paid weddings every year,’ says Andy Fairchild of Footman James.

‘We offer free cover for ten paid weddings a year, but even paying a small fee to extend the cover is usually worthwhile. You’ll need to notify the insurer in advance of each wedding to make certain that cover is in place.’

For those whose hobby is turning into a fully-fledged business, there are separate wedding hire business policies.

On film, on screen or a night on the town?

Insurers find it very difficult to cover TV and film shoots.

‘It’s usually impossible to predict the exact circumstances, or what you’ll be required to do with your classic,’ says Andy Fairchild. ‘Therefore we can’t often cover it. Neither do we cover still photography, for example for fashion shoots – there are too many unknown factors.’

Ask the producer or the agency that books you to show evidence of their own insurance before agreeing to any filming work with the car, as it’s the only way you’re likely to be covered.

‘School proms are normally excluded too,’ says Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director of Heritage Classic Car Insurance. ‘That extends to other paid hire work like birthday outings or any other special occasions.’

This isn’t insurers being awkward, it’s due to the law: with the exception of wedding and funeral use, cars and drivers must both be specially licensed by local authorities for paid carriage of passengers.

Any other business? Beware of using your classic for occasional work trips. It might seem insignificant, but it needs specific cover if it falls outside the definition of Social, Domestic and Pleasure. Mark Wilkinson has an example:

‘A teacher may need to go to another school for a meeting, which would need class one business use. We can normally cover this for a small additional premium.’

There’s better news for occasional autojumblers. If you use your classic to transport goods to a show to sell them, it only counts as business use if this trade is your main occupation. For casual participants, it’s sensibly regarded as falling under the heading of ‘pleasure.’


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As of this year, every 1975 classic will be eligible for tax-exempt status. Here’s our pick of the ones to keep you smiling without breaking the bank


The year that brought you screaming Bay City Rollers fans, Monty Python and The Holy Grail and the original Europe referendum also gave Britain something else – thousands of great cars that now qualify for the Government’s tax-exemption scheme.

As of this Friday, 1 April, all cars of this era will be eligible for recognition as Historic Vehicles, meaning that you can go from paying as much as £230 a year to nothing at all virtually overnight. 

It’s a hugely important step for 1975 cars. Not only does it give them semi-official recognition as card-carrying classics – meaning they’ll be able to venture into London’s proposed Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) where a lot of others can’t, for instance – but the diminished running costs will also make them hot property with buyers.

So we’ve given each of our classic experts a mission to pick out the best 1975 cars you can buy and explain why they make such fantastic classic prospects today. What they’ve come back with includes everything from family favourites to V12-engined grand tourers, so whatever your budget there’s a newly tax-exempt car for you.

We’ve also got the lowdown on how to make sure you don’t miss out, and what to do if you reckon even younger vehicles should be given the same benefits. Whether you’re looking for a 1975 car or already have one in the garage, now’s the time to get out and enjoy them.


Jensen GT

Most Jensen-Healey owners have been celebrating free road tax for a few years; now it’s time for their non-Healey GT mates to join the party. 

It was in 1975 that Jensen cashed in on the GTE glory of fellow specialist manufacturer Reliant by developing a sporting estate. The GT used the convertible Jensen-Healey platform but added a fixed roof, hatchback, 2+2 seating and luxury wood-and-leather-insert cabin. Unfortunately, it also lost the Healey part of its name, as Donald and the company had parted company.

That’s a shame, because the GT is actually quite entertaining. The teething troubles that blighted the al-fresco cars had largely been sorted out by the time the GT came to market, so they were more reliable, less prone to rust and definitely more cossetting and practical. The cabin is a little claustrophobic, the rear seating is useless and the styling is a bit gawky, but these are distinctive-looking machines with a big ‘what on earth is it?’ factor. 

The 2.0-litre Lotus 16-valve engine gives sparkling performance, the solid roof improves handling and rigidity, and the five-speed Getrag gearbox provides relaxed high-speed cruising. 

Fascinating and now tax-free fun! 


Toyota Crown

There really is only one choice for the canny buyer looking for a well-equipped, well-built and competitively priced 1975 saloon: a Toyota Crown. Boasting a specification level that far outstripped what you’d find in a Jaguar XJ6 3.4 or a Mercedes-Benz 280SE, it meant long journeys would always be a delight, especially because it was much better to drive than punters gave it credit for when new. Stick the lever in ‘D’, turn up the radio and waft down the motorway, enjoying the light power steering and boss tunes blasting from the standard-fit radio.

Today, you could still be doing just that. While a combination of corrosion and cheese-paring ownership ran many of these lovely, loyal saloons into the ground, they’re still a usable and practical head-turner if looked after properly. They’re as relaxing to drive as ever, and they’ll get a bit of a move on too thanks to that beautifully built inline six. The handling’s not bad either.

And who can deny those looks? They might not be to everyone’s taste (though that actually helps the cause rather than fights against it), but they’re distinctive and endow the Crown with a likeable, brassy personality – rather like a cheerful 1970s barmaid who overdid it with the lipstick, mascara and hairspray. But there’s nothing wrong with that.


Austin-Morris 18-22 Series

Surely there was only one right and proper choice for a 1975 family saloon buyer – head to a BL dealer to get well and truly ‘wedged’.

The new model attracted positive press reviews and boasted innovative engineering and futuristic styling that was like nothing else on the road. Originally known as the BL 18-22 series, with Austin, Morris and – oh glory! – Wolseley versions, all were replaced within six months by the Princess.

Four-cylinder variants started out with the BMC B-series engine, but those blessed with the silky smooth 2227cc straight-six were the ones everyone wanted. Driving one is a joy even today – it’s beautifully flexible and makes an extraordinary, almost primeval sound. The Hydragas suspension provides a good compromise between handling and ride, the power-assisted steering is communicative and the brakes are excellent. 

Cruise on the motorway and you’ll be the envy of everyone with a modicum of taste as you bear down on them in your oasis of 1970s safety cage-clad luxury.


MGB (Rubber bumper)

All but the earliest rubber bumper (actually, I think you’ll find they’re plastic) Bs have been denied Historic Vehicle status until now, which is one of the reasons why they’re still such good value. 

Leave all your prejudices about that smattering of polyurethane plastered across its snout and rear, and focus on what you can get for less than £5000. It may not be as pretty as the chrome-nosed original, but it’s still one of the best-proportioned traditional sports cars you can get for not a lot of cash.

It tackles B-roads with considerable aplomb, despite its clumsily-raised suspension, and the combination of the muscular twin-carb engine and overdrive in third and fourth makes it a hugely effective motorway cruiser.

Then there’s the the peace of mind that’s part and parcel of all MGs from this era come, thanks to the wealth of club support, specialists and off-the-shelf parts. It’s a pity Top Trumps cards don’t have an ‘ease of ownership’ category, because the MGB would be the outright winner. 

The MGB has always been a stalwart of the classic car movement, but now really is the time for the traditionally unloved and all too often dismissed rubber-fronted models to shine.


Volkswagen Polo Mki

Driving around in an early Polo L is a real pleasure. The interior may be basic, but there is more room than you might imagine and you can soon get comfortable – although back seat passengers might not agree. The L is better appointed than the basic model, but its spec is still hardly overwhelming
– front seat headrests anyone?

The 40bhp 895cc engine makes the Polo feel quite nippy around town and a top speed of more than 80mph means that keeping up with modern traffic is no problem. The four-speed manual gearbox is sharp, the brakes – discs at the front, drums at the rear – decidedly less so, but ride quality is acceptable.

For me the Polo is at its best in pure MkI form – its Bertone styling means it’s still a great looking small hatchback. Tracking one down might take a while. When you do, expect to pay between £300 and £3000+, depending on condition. You’re unlikely to find a roadworthy MkI at a bargain price; I found a 1979 example with 48,000 miles on the clock advertised online for just under £7000.


Vauxhall Cavalier MkI

I make no apologies for once again showcasing the Vauxhall Cavalier MkI in one of CCW’s flagship features. I could give you all manner of excuses about it being the car that roundly trounces the Morris Marina dynamically, and that it’s better on the motorway than the Ford Cortina MkIV, its principal rival. But the truth is that it’s the accepted opinion of CCW that the Vauxhall Cavalier MkI is the greatest family saloon of the 1970s because it was my first car and it reminds me of my best years’ driving.

Of course, I’m being silly. But there’s a serious reason for plumping for the trusty old Cav. Along with the Chevette (see page 29), this car did much to restore buyers’ faith in Vauxhall in the UK. After years of producing underperforming cars with a ridiculous propensity to rust, these crisply-engineered, German-designed (and Luton-redesigned) saloons were just what motorists wanted, and sales success assuredly followed. 

With good reason. These days, those qualities still shine through. They’re good fun to drive, with excellent handling and devilishly handsome styling. 


Ford Escort MkII

There was a time in the late 1990s when no self-respecting student would be seen driving anything other than an Escort MkII. They were just about everywhere, cheap as chips, and no matter whether you went for the 1.1-litre Popular or an RS2000, great to drive. My mates all had one and now I wish I did.

Back in 1975, they were the must-have saloons for all hard-working drivers, adored for their low running costs, sharp styling and slick-shifting gearboxes. And it’s a combination of all of these qualities that make the Escort MkII the cream of the 1975 crop today.

OK, so the low-compression poverty-spec models could take miserable performance to new lows. Given a light sprinkling of rain, most journeys could be made more entertaining with injudicious use of the wheel and the throttle at inappropriate speeds in bends. Such good fun.

Today, the MkII is ensconced as a gilt-edged classic car. They’re hot property, too, with values of the best sporting versions challenging the Lamborghini Miura. I jest, of course, but my dream RS2000 looks set to remain just that.


Lancia Montecarlo

The Lancia Montecarlo – or Fiat X1/20, had history progressed a little differently – puts the rest of the cars here in the shade. Calum’s Jaguar XJ-S? Too thirsty. Richy’s Toyota? Jukebox on wheels. Keith’s Vauxhall Cavalier MkI? Oh, please! On the other hand, this gorgeous two-seater will turn heads everywhere thanks to its supercar styling. Only you will know that it cost less to buy than James’ Escort MkII.

But it’s more than a pretty face and pert rear. There’s strength in depth here, with sweet, uncorrupted steering and a revvy twin-cam engine that’s guaranteed to entertain. Handling is tidy, too, and can be exciting when you’re pushing it – especially in the wet.

Ah, yes. It’s not perfect. The driving position isn’t great if you’re lanky, and there’s not enough headroom. But all those scare stories about skittish handling and the dodgy stopping power of early cars really don’t matter anymore. Anyway, how many of you will be pushing this car to its limits on the way to your favourite Italian car show? Exactly. 

Take in the glorious profile as you stare at your reflection in shop windows and enjoy.


Jaguar XJ-S

Taking control of Jaguar’s E-type successor is more of an art form than a driving experience. With that never-ending bonnet stretching towards the horizon and a sense of relaxed pace unlike any Jaguar before or since, the XJ-S is the ultimate definition of a Grand Tourer. Just blipping the throttle on the silky smooth V12 sets the blood pumping.

Put your foot down and the three-speed automatic gearbox channels all 285bhp from the 5.3-litre engine in a manner so refined that your passenger won’t spill a drop of their cocktail. Any good XJ-S ticks all of the boxes – ride comfort is sublime, handling is effortless and the air of serenity within the cabin is utterly addictive.

In today’s world, the XJ-S looks better than ever before, with those controversial buttresses and lozenge-shaped headlights finally coming of age. Talk among disappointed adrenaline-seekers of a cramped and thirsty relic from British Leyland’s reign of build-quality terror is to miss the point entirely. 

The XJ-S is succulent in all the right places. It bewitches with its beauty, roars with that glorious engine and it keeps modern whippersnappers at bay with a stance that leaves lesser cars diving for the hedgerow. Buying one now secures you a prime slice of British beef – a serving of affordable Jaguar heritage before prices escalate out of reach.


Vauxhall Chevette

I could have bought one of these in 1975, but failed to do so, because at £1650 it was roughly what I was being paid annually. However, I am now curiously drawn to the Chevette, having been given a lift in one recently by a farming neighbour.

 What impressed me most about this particular Vauxhall best-seller was that it had weathered 41 years in the perpetually damp Fens and was still going strong. The driver’s interior door-pull was made from baling twine, the car lurched left under braking (drums front and rear) and there was an awful smell coming from the hatchback area, but I was assured that this wedge-nosed Opel/Vauxhall hybrid had a fresh MoT and had required little professional mechanical intervention over the years. 

Its little four-pot sounded OK – from what I could tell over the improvised exhaust repair – and the rest wasn’t all that rattly. I can see myself in one of these, but my neighbour has turned down several sensible offers. Every farmer has his price, though, especially given the unstable sugar beet market. 


How to check if your car is tax-exempt

The rolling tax exemption covers cars made in any given calendar year, but the actual date when they become exempt is 1 April. So if you’ve got a 1975 car sitting in the garage, chances are you’ll have been paying tax for the past three months.

The main thing to remember is that the switch to Historic Vehicle status isn’t automatic. You need to take a copy of your V5c registration document, a valid MoT certificate and a tax disc application form to a post office that deals with car tax enquiries.

 A good tip is to make sure you keep photocopies of all your correspondence with the DVLA. We’ve heard plenty of tales of forms, documentation and letters getting lost in the post.

The DVLA should issue you with a new V5c registration form that reclassifies your car as ‘Historic’ and it should be the same story with any subsequent V11 road tax reminders you receive. If either refer to it as ‘Private Light Goods’ or ‘PLG’ then get straight back onto the DVLA, because that means it’s still liable for tax. Once the classification has changed, the agency should refund any tax left over, but check it carefully and get in touch with it if you think something’s wrong.

Don’t forget that while Historic car tax costs nothing, the fines for not taxing your classic at least once a year – or putting it on a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) – most definitely do not. You’ll still get reminders by post or email. The DVLA admits that there’s a little leeway if your car was registered at the beginning of a given year; if the registration date is between 1 and 7 January there is an assumption that it was manufactured the year before, but it’s well worth finding out whether it qualifies, as it could save you a year’s road tax.


Campaigners: ‘It should be 25 years’

At the last count, more than 18,500 of you had signed an online petition calling for Historic Vehicle tax exemption to be applied to classics when they hit the age of 25 rather than the current 40. That’s the system used when the tax break was originally introduced by the Conservative Government in 1994. 

The rolling aspect was dropped by New Labour in 1998, then reintroduced in 2014, but on a 40-year basis rather than 25, and critics say that’s penalising younger classics.

A petition to change the rules, created by Mercedes-Benz R107 SL owner Logan Walker, is available to sign online until 24 July. It has to attract more than 100,000 signatures before it can prompt a Parliamentary debate. ‘Having to pay tax on a car can be the difference between an enthusiast deciding whether or not they can afford to save it,’ says Logan. ‘You only have to look at the number of Mondeo MkIs left to see what happens when bread-and-butter cars aren’t preserved.’

Data released by the DVLA shows that cars eligible for the Historic Vehicle tax break have been saved in far greater numbers than their younger counterparts. While there are around 14,000 classics made in 1972 still on our roads, the figure drops to just 4000 for 1974 cars. 

In its response, the Government says it is aware of the economic significance of the Historic Vehicle movement, which supports around 28,000 jobs in this country. 

‘The Government is working to deliver a long-term economic plan to repair the public finances and will continue to take the difficult decisions to achieve this goal,’ a Treasury spokesperson says. ‘Therefore, the Government currently has no plans to re-introduce a rolling 25-year exemption for this category of vehicle.’


You may have worked on your classic car for many hours to restore it to its former glory or perhaps you’ve finally had the opportunity to buy the car you’ve always dreamed of and now it sits in your garage waiting for you to drive it.

All you can think of is the pleasure you’re going to get when you finally sit behind the steering wheel and take your classic car out for a spin. But unfortunately you’ll also got to be aware of the pain you might suffer if your car is taken from you and theft of classic cars in the UK is unfortunately increasing in frequency.

Classic cars are in huge demand overseas as the value of vintage vehicles goes up so criminal gangs are ready and willing to grab your car and ship it off to a market abroad. At the same time as vehicle theft overall has fallen to its lowest level in almost 50 years there has been an increase in thefts of classic cars.

So what can be done to safeguard your classic car? We talked to the vehicle tracking experts, CanTrack  to understand how asset trackers can keep a vintage vehicle out of the hands of criminals.


Classic Cars are Vulnerable

Classic cars are of course more vulnerable to organised thieves as they lack the sophisticated security features included in newer models; they don’t have up to date security features or software while their physical security is easily overridden by the tools of thieves. But if you use an effective asset tracking device, you can foil car theft. An asset tracker can keep broadcasting the location of your classic car wherever it’s taken and make sure that it’s returned to you undamaged as quickly as possible.

There are two main options when it comes to asset tracking devices; GPS and non-GPS. Let’s look at the two choices in more detail.


GPS Tracking for Classic Cars

Most new cars are now equipped with GPS trackers of some description and some are advertised as security devices. But that’s misleading. GPS vehicle trackers are ideal for tracking the performance of a vehicle. A GPS tracker is perfect for recording mileage or providing directions to a customer’s location but it simply won’t protect your classic car.


GPS vehicle trackers depend on communicating with satellites in the sky above the car. Take that sight away and a GPS tracker is effectively blind. And criminals are now well versed in using jamming tools to stop the GPS tracker talking to the satellite. Or put a classic car in a shipping container or a refrigerated truck and the metal muffles the signal completely. These type of asset trackers also require power from your engine so have to be attached to your car battery. This makes them very easy to find and disable as well as being a drain on your engine power while you’re not using it. GPS trackers may also require using the electrics of the car for installation and potentially damaging the inside of the classic car that you’ve lovingly restored. That’s not exactly ideal for the classic car owner.


Combine GSM and RF for the Classic Car Tracking Solution

If you have a classic car, you’ve spent not just a lot of time but a lot of money on it so why would you stint in its protection? You should go for the best asset tracker on the market but what are the qualities you should look out for?

An effective classic car tracking device should use a combination of GSM and RF technologies to ensure that no matter what jamming technology car thieves use, your tracker will continue to provide accurate location details.

The vehicle tracker that you want should run on a long-lasting rechargeable battery, be easy to install and small enough to hide anywhere in your car. That means there is minimal disruption to all the work that you’ve put into your classic car and the device will be much harder for criminals to find in your vehicle.

You also want a tough working device that will continue to work even in difficult conditions and has tracking software that will alert you if your classic car moves from where it’s supposed to be without your permission. And if you can, find an asset tracking service that provides a human dimension to vehicle theft protection. Try a car tracker that comes with a team of investigators that can work for you and work with the police to ensure the quick return of your classic car if it’s stolen.


To Know More about Protecting your Classic Car, Keep CanTrack in Mind

For the latest information on asset trackers for classic cars, check out CanTrack leads the UK as a tracking solutions provider with over 10 years of experience and constant innovation to protect their clients’ assets.


1 Make the most of what you’ve got

To sell your car and achieve the highest possible price, you have to make it as attractive as possible to potential buyers. That means giving it a really good going-over – wash it, polish it and valet it (or pay someone else to do it for you). If possible, attend to all those jobs you were ‘going to get round to one day’, like replacing worn or tatty bits of trim, touching-up stone chips and oiling creaky hinges. The fewer niggles you leave for a buyer to pick up on, the less excuses you give them for haggling down the price.


2 Get your paperwork prepared

There’s no point offering your car for sale if you can’t find the registration document, MoT certificate or other relevant documentation. Buyers will expect to be able to check these when they view the car and won’t look kindly on you if you spend hours rummaging through your belongings muttering: ‘I could have sworn I put them here…’. Make sure these documents are all gathered together and ready for any possible viewings, before you advertise the car: registration document, MoT certificate and as many receipts and service records relevant to the car as you can muster.


3 Get your price right

Naturally, you want the highest possible price you can get for the car you’re selling, so don’t undersell it, but don’t be greedy – a grossly overpriced car will put buyers off. Do some research – look at the prices of other examples of the same car being offered for sale. Compare prices on and also Classic Cars magazine or Classic Car Weekly’s auction pages – they’re a barometer of what cars are fetching at auction, with expert analysis of up or down trends for certain models. The market moves according to fashion and supply, so you may be lucky enough to ask more than you paid for the car. The golden rule is: you can go down, but you can’t go up. So if you’re not bothered about a quick sale, start off with an asking price that’s slightly stronger than the current going rate – you might get lucky and you can always drop the price later if the car doesn’t sell straight away.


4 Take time to compose your advertisement

The wording of your advert is crucial to your chances of selling your car. There are obvious inclusions, such as the make, model, year, asking price and contact information, but also try to focus on your car’s particular strengths and unique selling points. Avoid clichés such as ‘first to see will buy’ or ‘mint condition’ that tend to be favoured by the less savoury of car sellers.


5 The right place and time to sell

You want to sell your car in a marketplace that offers exposure to as many buyers of the right kind as possible, so is a natural choice! Our sister publications Practical Classics, Classic Cars and Classic Car Weekly offer the same service in the world of print-based media. As regards choosing the right time, late spring and early summer are generally the best times of year to sell, when the post-Christmas doldrums are over and buyers are looking for a nice classic to tool around in during the more clement months – this especially applies to convertibles.


6 Dealing with prospective buyers

Be polite but don’t give away any details that could reveal yours or the car’s location until you are convinced you are dealing with a bona fide buyer. You’re allowed to ask questions, too, so enquire as to why the person is interested in this particular car, whether they have driven one before, etc. If the buyer’s story doesn’t ring true, don’t invite them for a viewing. Beware of conmen, scammers and thieves and don’t let anyone have a test drive if they cannot prove they are insured to drive your car.


7 Payment

Only accept a form of payment that you are familiar with. If a buyer offers you a banker’s draft and you’ve never actually seen one, insist on taking it to your bank for verification that it’s the real thing. Digital transfers by electronic banking have become more common now – if the seller offers to pay by this method, ensure that you are familiar with the confirmation necessary before allowing a buyer to take the vehicle away. Try to be firm but fair in your negotiations with prospective buyers and you have more chance of concluding a transaction that you’ll be happy with.


Place a FREE advert to sell your classic car today


Top tips on cleaning your classic...

1 Hose it down

Don’t go steaming straight in there with the shampoo, Mister Keen to Clean – apply the initial cleansing with a hosepipe to wash away all those gritty bits of grime that can scratch your car’s paint if you go in prematurely with a sponge and foamy stuff. Make sure you flush out all the car’s drainage channels on the roof and around the bonnet, where leaves and other debris can gather and eventually cause rot if left to fester. Other crud-attracting areas, especially wheelarches, should be given a thorough hosing – pressure washers aren’t usually necessary unless you’re cleaning a muddy 4x4; they can be too brutal, blasting off delicate paint and chromework if you’re not careful.


2 De-grime the wheels

Wheels are real filth-attractors and prone to getting caked in brake dust. Best to give them a once-over now, so all that grime gets washed away before you start getting down to properly cleaning the rest of the car. Regular old detergent or car shampoo and plenty of elbow grease will do the trick, although there are plenty of specialised wheel cleaners on the market that make the job a lot easier.


3 Time to get foamy

Now’s the time to get your bucket of warm water with added detergent/car shampoo and sponge down all the bodywork and brightwork. Clean one panel at a time, be methodical so you don’t leave yourself open to any ‘Missed a bit!’ jibes, and for best effect go with the lines of the car rather than doing it in a lot of swirly patterns. Use a toothbrush/detailing brush for any hard-to-get-into panel gaps. Then wash it all off again with clean, cold water using a hose or bucket.


4 Shimmy with the chamois

Dry off the excess water using a chamois leather. Once again, go with the lines of the car. Rinse the chamois out in a bucket of clean, cold water and wring it out regularly, changing the water if it gets too clouded with dirt. It’s worth spending a bit of extra time on this stage, to avoid streaking and to make sure there are no residual drops of H20 lurking beneath bits of trim that will cause streaks when you initiate the final polishing stage.


5 Bring on the shine

Best to prime yourself with a cup of tea and a few chocolate biscuits before embarking on this stage, because this is where you’ll be working up a sweat if you’re doing a proper job. Whatever you do, don’t over-apply your chosen polish/wax or it will take you a month of Sundays to polish it all off again – and you’ll probably do your shoulder/arm/back a mischief in the process. Use the product sparingly – you can always add more later if it doesn’t have the desired effect. Use soft, lint-free cloths to apply and polish off, once again following the lines of the car using a smooth, flowing motion.


6 Make the trim tip-top

Any chrome and/or plastic trim will now be begging to get the same treatment as the paintwork, so don’t leave it waiting any longer. Using the appropriate cleaning product, give it all the attention it deserves. Now you’ll feel like standing back and giving yourself a soupçon of well-deserved, non-triumphalist self-congratulation. But hang on, Mister, not just yet – one more thing to do…


7 When I’m cleaning windows

No good polishing your car to a high shine but leaving the windows so dirty you can’t see other motorists’ admiring glances! Take your pick – common-or-garden water with added lemon juice to cut through the grime or dedicated window cleaning liquid, either will do the job. Just make sure you do inside as well as outside – it’s surprising how greasy and grubby the inside of car windows can get.


8 Enjoy the fruits of your labours

OK, now’s the time to put your hands on your hips, puff your chest out and apply those admiring glances to your own handiwork. And maybe go out for a spin, so everyone else can feast their eyes on your car at its very best.   


Trade safely - avoid known scams

Here at we strive to deliver the best service to our customers. It is nonetheless a sad fact of life that scams and fraud are a common occurrence these days. Scams rely on victims being duped into giving away their money and maybe their personal details. The best way to avoid getting scammed therefore is to recognise and report it in the first place. To that end, below are the best practice tips to avoid getting scammed:

  • Don't give out your personal details or bank account details over email. Be wary of emails asking you to confirm or supply website login or credit card details.
  • Find out as much as you can about the product and ideally inspect it in person
  • Always try to confirm the identity of a seller. Scammers will typically hide behind generic email accounts and conduct 'negotiations' anonymously via email. They will often use an answer phone message or text message to get an enquirers email account and then continue 'discussions' via email, so always try to establish telephone contact with the seller first and confirm their identity.
  • Be wary of items advertised at unusually low prices. If an offer seems too good to be true, it often is. A common scam involves potential buyers being sent an email containing detailed information on a vehicle supposedly located abroad. Once contact is established, the scammer pressures the buyer into making a smaller payment to view the vehicle.
  • Do not put any monies into foreign bank accounts. Another common scam involves bogus overseas sellers contacting you directly or pretending to be from a reputable organisation.
  • Hoax, counterfeit, bogus and stolen items can occasionally slip through and appear to be real listings. It is important to read the advertisement description carefully and ask questions. It is common for fraudsters to ask for contact via another email address and then ask for payment for goods by non-traceable means. If a seller does not offer a warranty or receipt, find out why.

 Trade safely - recommended payment methods

Some payment options offer more protection than others, so be sure to select a payment method that you're comfortable with. Walk away from the deal if you're not happy with the payment arrangement.

Good payment options include:

  • Pay on pick-up - good for higher value goods and for local buying. You'll be able inspect the goods to ensure they are as advertised.
  • Cash - used for thousands of years and still going strong. We suggest you get a receipt.
  • Cheque - recommended if agreeable to the seller. You give or send the seller a personal or bank cheque to pay for the item. Most banks will allow you to cancel a cheque before it is cashed if a problem arises.
  • Internet bank payment - deposit the payment directly into the seller's bank account through internet banking. You've got the seller's bank account number, which is of course traceable. Do not put any monies into foreign bank accounts.
  • Credit card - you can benefit from your credit card's protection clauses. However, we suggest you find out the detail of the protection from your credit card issuer before you commit.

Only deal with sellers that you consider trustworthy.

Only buy something if you're confident it's genuine and ideally only after you've seen it in person.

Never part with any money - even a small deposit - until you feel the previous two points have been met.

More comprehensive advice is available at the Citizen's Advice Bureau: here


Depending on your viewpoint, the MoT test is either a welcome yearly check of your car’s roadworthiness and street-legality or an annual pain and a drain on your finances. Lucky owners of cars manufactured before 1960 don’t have to endure the 12-monthly checkover – their cars are exempt from compulsory MoT testing, although some in the former camp continue to take their car for the annual inspection for their own peace of mind.

This is an overview of the MoT test as it applies to classic cars, including the important exemptions. At the bottom of this guide we’ve included links to websites that will give you more specific information about all elements of the test.

General points to bear in mind are that you can get an MoT up to a month (minus a day) before your current MoT runs out, and still keep the same renewal date. You can only legally drive your vehicle on the road if the MoT has run out only if you are driving it to or from somewhere to be repaired, or to a pre-arranged MoT test. The maximum charge for an MoT, stipulated by law, is £54.85, although many testing stations charge less.

The best long-term plan of action is to find an MoT tester you can trust who is happy to discuss the requirements of the test and explain any failure points he discovers – and stick with him. In this way, the tester will get to know you and the car, and you’ll be better informed about your car’s state of health. If the tester spots something that isn’t currently bad enough for an MoT failure, he may put an ‘advise’ on the MoT readout to make you aware of the fault and the fact it should be addressed before the next MoT test. 


Seat belts

Most pre-1965 cars are not required by law to have seatbelts, but for most post-’65 cars and all older cars that have had seatbelts retro-fitted, the belts must be in good condition with no frays, correctly functioning buckles and solid corrosion-free mounting points. If they are fitted with a retraction mechanism, it must work properly. Since 1965, when cars were first required to have seatbelt mounting-points fitted by law, various other regulations have come in concerning the amount of belts fitted and their type. The seats themselves must also be firmly secured. If you’re unsure of the situation for your car, either ask your MoT tester when you book the test or go to the relevant website at the bottom of this guide.



The emissions test for classics is much more tolerant than for modern cars. Basically, if there’s no visible smoke on tickover (with the choke off) and the exhaust doesn’t kick out excessive carbon monoxide, you should be OK. And if you your car is smoking out the MoT testing garage, it’s time to take remedial action anyway. Exhausts and manifolds should be hole- and leak-free.



All structural areas of the car must be in sound condition, and any mounting points for suspension, steering or seat belts must be solid for 30cm around that area. Bear in mind that the tester will be poking around under the car with a big screwdriver to look for rust holes. Classic failure areas are sills, subframes, floorpans, inner wings, bulkheads and A/B-pillars. Cars with separate chassis should have the body properly attached to the chassis. In addition, there shouldn’t be any sharp or jagged edges on the bodywork that could cause serious damage to a pedestrian in a crash.



Foot and handbrakes need to work properly with no pulling to either side and no binding. There should be no leaks in the brake lines, master cylinder or slave cylinders. All brake components should be securely fitted.



Should work as intended, with no excessive play at the steering wheel or at the road wheels. Generally speaking, steering boxes are allowed a little more play at the steering wheel than steering racks – and some boxes can be adjusted. Power steering systems must be leak-free. All elements of the steering system should be fastened to the car securely. The tester will go through the whole steering system, including all the joints, looking for any slack that will induce a fail. Excessive play in any of the wheel bearings will also cause the car to fail its test.  



The ‘bounce test’ is a good way to see if your suspension is working properly. Bounce each corner of the car in turn; if the body carries on bouncing, the shock absorbers/dampers are worn and will cause an MoT fail – there should be no leaks and no play in suspension linkages.


Wheels and tyres

Wheels should be in good condition with no serious cracks or corrosion; tyres should have at least the minimum legal depth of tread – 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre.


Instruments and lights

Headlights must work correctly, with the correct aim on full and dip beam. Rear lights, indicators, brake lights, hazard flashers and numberplate lights must all be working correctly, as should any visual or aural readouts on the dashboard. Windscreen wipers should work correctly with no splits in the blades and windscreen washers should work and be correctly aimed.



Any cracks in the windscreen in the driver’s field of vision will cause a fail, as will a non-functioning horn. The bonnet catch and and that on the bootlid or hatch should open and lock. All doors must work from both inside and out. The registration plate must be appropriate for the year of the vehicle – only cars registered before 1973 can use the old black and white plates. The VIN/chassis plate must be fitted, easily read and tie-in with your previous MoT (usually a computerised check these days). The speedometer must work.


Good luck!


Pretty-much every small-ad for a classic seems to reference its 'cheap tax' or 'tax-free status', but sometimes it's not as clear-cut as it seems. With new rules stipulating that tax cannot be transferred with the car, it's a good time to remind yourself of how much you'll be expected to pay when you buy your next classic, given that you'll have to sort out the tax when you pick up the car regardless of when the last owner taxed it.

In every case it's possible to pay either a one-off annual lump sum, two payments every six months, or a monthly direct-debit. The tax you're eligible for varies depending on when your car was built, and its engine characteristics. Let's break these down by date:


40-year rolling exemption (currently pre- 1 January 1975)

If your car is over 40 years old, then it's tax-exempt. You'll still need to fill in the tax form on the website, but you won't have to pay anything.


Engine size-based taxation (currently 1975-28 February 2001)

For cars built between the 40-year exemption cutoff and March 1 2001 – up to but not including Y-prefix registrations – tax rates are calculated based on displacement. There are only two bands – below and above 1549cc – and these rates are currently £145 per year for the small-engined cars, £230 for larger ones. 


First wave of CO2 emission-based taxation (1 March 2001-23 March 2006)

The tax structure was switched to an emissions-based system in 2001 with 11 separate bands, and revised in 2006. Although it sounds initially as though it has the implication to add hundreds of pounds to the annual running costs of 'dirtier' old performance cars, it's worth pointing out that the highest 2001-6 band – K – for cars emitting in excess of 201kg of Co2 per kilometre, is currently £280 per year. This is just £50 higher than the top rate for the largest of 1975-2001 engines. In reality, given that manufacturers did their best to avoid lumbering their customers with excessive levels of taxation, most motorists ended up paying less under the new regime. Any car emitting less than 150g/km – the vast majority including several high-performance cars – incurs a lower tax bill than an old sub-1549cc engine.


Second wave of CO2 emission-based taxation (23 March 2006-date)

In 2006, following an EU directive encouraging cleaner engines, two additional tax bands were added for the most heavily-polluting vehicles, with rates at almost double those of Band K. Cars generating between 226 and 255g/km are now eligible for £480 tax per year, and anything in excess of 255 incurs an eye-watering annual £495 bill. 

Although many of the cars affected are rare supercars, where high running costs are expected and strong residual values effectively restrict ownership to the well-heeled anyway; it's worth pointing out that these tax rates have the potential to severely hamper the appeal of a whole generation of second-hand luxury cars and even some more affordable performance cars. Big V8 Jaguars, Mercedes, BMWs, Range Rovers and the like will all be eligible for the near-£500 annual charges, as will other, cheaper cars that derive their performance via sheer cubic inches, such as grey–import American muscle cars and Japanese beasts like the Nissan 370Z.

However, it is worth pointing out that the turbocharger - and its development in motor sport – is proving to be the saviour of the high–performance engine. By extracting more torque from smaller engines without increasing emissions, the addition of turbochargers and a trend for downsizing means that some of the world's fastest supercars are as 'clean' as the smallest superminis. As more manufacturers go down the forced-induction route, the more of us will avoid big-engined mega-tax. However, unfortunately some future classics will always fall foul of Bands L and M in a manner that may harm their value and usability as fun cars.


SORN and Direct Debit – the saviour of thirsty classics?

If you're taking a car off the road for a period of time, be it for restoration or to protect it over winter, you can get a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN), which will ensure it won't incur a tax bill while it's not being used. Go to or your local post office and fill in a V890 form, which will register the vehicle as not currently in use. By keeping the car on a SORN, then setting up your road tax on a monthly direct-debit basis when it is being used, you can minimise your tax bill and effectively pay as you drive.


1 Listen to your heart, engage your brain, then check your bank balance
For most people, deciding to buy a classic car is an emotionally-driven decision. Maybe you want a model that your dad used to own, one you owned years ago and remember fondly or it could be one you always yearned for but never had the opportunity to buy. Whatever the motivation, the first step is to identify the exact model you want – and that means putting pure desire to one side and getting all sensible and grown-up about it. For instance, you may lust after a ’70s Jaguar XJS V12 – but ask yourself: ‘do I really need a 5.3-litre engine with mpg figures in the teens and considerable maintenance costs?’ If the answer is: ‘yes – and I can afford it,’ that’s fantastic. Go ahead and find one. If not, maybe the 3.6-litre straight-six engine option will make more sense. 

2 Do your detective work
Look through buyers’ guides in our sister publications Practical Classics, Classic Cars and Classic Car Weekly to research the upsides and downsides of the model you’re interested in. Maybe even contact the owners’ club – they’re often keen to bring new members into the fold and are a mine of information on things like spares availability and prices. This will either convince you that you’ve made the right decision or bring about a re-think. Whatever the outcome, you should now be able to pinpoint the car that’s best for you, so make a wish list for your target car, including specifications such as: colour, engine, transmission, body shape and interior trim.   

3 What can you afford?
This is the really big question. Put your Mr Sensible head on. Think about all the stuff above – and, above all, remember you’ve got to keep the thing running once you’ve bought it. Once you’ve done that, the preparation’s over – you’ve sorted the car you want and how much you’re prepared to pay for it.

4 Where to look of course! But wherever you look, you’ll be faced with the choice of buying from a dealer (more expensive but generally safer and with more legal comeback if things go awry) or a private seller (generally cheaper but can be more of a gamble). Dealers also offer the prospect of looking at several cars in one location, although beware: there’s a chance you may be bewitched by a car that isn’t on your wish list – these whirlwind romances can end in an acrimonious divorce! When buying privately, you really need to know your onions, or take someone who knows theirs, along to any viewings. 

5 Crafty calling
The golden rule when phoning about a car is to find out as much info as you possibly can. This way you’ll avoid a lot of wasted time on cronks that make your heart sink as soon as you look at them. If the seller is evasive or disinterested, cut your call short. Enthusiastic owners keen to discuss the car and its history are what you want. To weed out driveway dealers masquerading as private sellers, use this classic ruse: when the seller answers the phone, ask about ’the car for sale’; if he says ‘which car?’ he’s probably dealing on the sly – one to avoid.

6 The nitty gritty 
The aforesaid buyers’ guides (see tip 2) will forearm you with the areas of your target car that need careful inspection. Corrosion is the enemy of most classics, so be prepared toget grubby under the car with a torch and screwdriver to prod for rust holes – or prepare to pay someone else to do it. If a car for sale ticks all your boxes but you don’t feel competent enough to carry out a thorough inspection, it’s worth paying an expert to have a proper look at it. The golden rules are: never inspect a car in the dark or when it’s raining – many an imperfection can be hidden in these conditions.

7 Making an offer
Be polite when discussing a car and its value with its owner – but don’t be afraid to put in a low offer. You never know your luck. Summarise any faults you’ve discovered on the car and use them as leverage to get the best possible price. Haggling can be fun, but going too far can put some people’s backs up. Gauge the situation and make an offer accordingly. Try to contain your enthusiasm – the buyer will take this as a sign you’re willing to pay all the money. Just try not to get carried away; stay within your budget and you’ve got every chance of becoming a deliriously happy classic car owner.      


Go to auctions and see what happens before becoming a player. If unfamiliar with the world’s second oldest commercial activity, the best advice has to be - familiarise yourself with the auction process, not just on the internet, but by attending some sales ‘live’ first, and certainly do so before attempting to bid and buy a car with a lot number on it. Details of forthcoming auctions can be found here and in weekly issues of our sister newspaper, Classic Car Weekly.

To filter out tyre kickers and to provide plenty of room without crowding for the genuinely interested to view, you will need to purchase a catalogue, which admits two to viewing and sale days and can cost from £5 for a simple print-off job, can typically be £20 or so, up £60 or more for a hardback collector item, which may also include admission for two to the main event at which the auction is a supporting cart.

Researching which car could be for you will be time well spent. Do your home work on the computer and in the mags first to establish precisely which make and model or type of car you think you might quite like to own before competing for one at auction. What exactly does ownership involve, and is there a club or a register to help owners? Find out, if you can, what can go wrong and what to look out for. Are there specialists who can fix or revive one and what’s the parts availability like? And what are the current retail prices in private owner classifieds and traders display ads?

Reserve or No Reserve. Cars entered for auction are usually, though not always protected by reserves, the minimum amount that would be acceptable to the vendor. The auctioneer will orchestrate the bidding any way he can and it is he (rarely ‘she’in the old car bear pit) who determines and announces the increments he goes up in, and he who accepts or refuses any alternative offers from the floorup to that reserve figure. At this crucial point in the game, he will either bring down the gavel and sell the car on the block for that figure - the buyer paying this amount plus whatever rate of buyer’s premium the auction firm charges for cars (from 5-21% in Europe), and the VAT on same (20-25%) - or he will declare that the lot is now "on sale" and will hope to encourage further bidding before hammering it away. Still the exception rather than the rule at most auctions held in the UK is the ‘No Reserve’ lot, which is auctioned entirely without any reserve at all and is therefore "on sale" from the first to the last and highest bid.

Auctioneers’ Guide Prices. ‘Guide Prices’ are just that, the auctioneers’ pre-sale estimate band ranging from the likely minimum bid required to buy a car to a possible maximum that it might make. The lower estimate is usually, though not in every case, a guide to the likely reserve. It is the level of interest and strength of bidding on sale day that will always determines the final price paid for a car at auction, of course.   ID and bank details you will need to provide before you can bid. When you finally go to an auction, fully prepared to buy a car you have spotted coming up on-line or in a catalogue, you will certainly need to take along some acceptable form of ID, a photo-driving licence and/or a passport and utility bill, to comply with money laundering regulations and to satisfy the bidder registration requirements. Before travelling to the sale, check with the auctioneers as to what you will need to do in advance to satisfy them, that firstly you have access to sufficient funds to pay for a car. Ye olde wads of notes are rarely acceptable anymore and a combination of Money Laundering regs, plus new house rules, now limits the size of cash payments that are acceptable. And secondly, you need to find in advance which items of ID documentation you should take with you. Once you are ‘on the system’, and only then, will you be issued with a bidding number on a paddle or card enabling you to bid either in the saleroom or remotely. Similar checks will be necessary before those who wish to participate on-line can do so.

Check the real estate before buying. You must inspect and thoroughly examine the car in your sights, preferably during the viewing day, when you and/or an accompanying expert or motor engineer, if you don’t have the knowledge, are likely to have better access to opening up all the panels and be able to crawl around underneath. What is it really like beneath the gloss and the underseal? Is there any evidence of any maintenance carried out on a regular basis?

Only at purpose-built facilities can classics be seen being driven across the block. For thanks to wonderful Elf and Safety, being able to start cars and run up their engines and check gear engagement has become impractical if not impossible at most sale venues with public access. It is usually these Nanny Regulations that have thwarted US-style drive-through sales from catching on and exhaust gassing the addicted. Potential buyers are particularly dependent therefore both on the diligence, accuracy and honesty of the catalogue description of cars that, in most cases and particularly at minor houses, may not have been seen in the metal by auction staff, but only in an email, before the goods turn up at auctions and are ‘sold as seen’.

Paperwork tells the story of a car.  Remember to check out the all important and often revealing paperwork at the documents desk, and give all the numbers on the car a physical check and make sure they correspond with the ones on the registration document and Heritage certificate.  Any old service books, MOTs, tax discs and receipts will so often indicate not just what’s been done to the car and when and at what mileage, but reveal what hasn’t.

Watch and learn from what happens with preceding lots. Although there may be bids already recorded on the auctioneer’s book, and other bidders may be competing for lots by telephone or, increasingly on-line, try to choose a spot where you can see who else may be bidding against you in the room. Don’t imagine that a discreet nod or a wink, as in the movies, is going to work from several rows back in a dimly lit tent. If you want to bid, make it obvious, so that the auctioneer knows you are in the frame.

As the bids increase, how much will you have to pay? I would suggest you work out in advance how much a series of theoretical bids/hammer prices - in both likely to be large increments to start with and then smaller increments approaching the lower estimate figure - are actually going to cost you in terms of the add-ons of buyer’s premium, which will depend on which house it is and how much they charge, as well as the VAT levied by HMG. With your handy list pre-prepared, you will then be able to better gauge how much you can afford to go to.   If you are successful - and you win the car - you will have to do four things. Pay for your purchase. Go to the cashier desk, check out your sale invoice and tell them how and when you will be paying it. Insure the car. Because on the fall of the hammer, you technically own the car and are therefore responsible for insuring it, you should immediately do so by contacting one of the specialist classic car brokers (sometimes a broker approved by the auction house will have a fixing insurance cover desk at the sale), preferably warning them before the sale that you may be buying a car. As with so many transactions in our fast-track world, you can also buy cover over your mobile. Whatever you do, though, take no risks and leave no gaps in your cover. Take it away. Advise the auctioneers when and how you intend to pick up your purchase. Transporting a motor vehicle (the true mechanical condition of which is unknown) has to be so much wiser than jumping in and attempting to drive it home until you have really checked the systems through in the workshop. Going public. And finally, work out how you’re going to break the news of your success when you get home. Good luck with that.

For lest you forget, as you browse through potential candidates for a place in the garage, sooner or later, you are supposed to put your hand up and buy something!       


Tempted by favourable exchange rates into importing a classic car, but don't know where to start? Let us show you the ropes...

The age of the internet has brought massive benefits to classic car enthusiasts, whether they’re ordering replacement parts, researching their favourite models or simply joining in on a conversation with other fanatics of the same marque. Crucially, though, it has opened up it has opened up another fascinating door, allowing us to see cars for sale all over the world. And there can’t be many of us who haven’t followed this up with thought of actually bring one back to the UK.

These days it’s a simple process to go online and start perusing classic cars for sale just about anywhere; and when that happens, it’s not long before our thoughts turn to the prospect of buying a car overseas and importing it to the UK.

Finding your car

So where are the overseas bargains – and what’s available if you fancy the challenge? The answer is potentially this: everywhere and everything.

The process of browsing online for suitable classic cars in your country of choice is relatively straightforward, and time spent doing this will give you an idea of what you can get for your money.

Buying in the EU

As for the actual process of importing an older car from a country that’s part of the EU, this is often straightforward – as is registering it in your name for use in the UK. The theory is that you bring the car to Britain from any EU country, MoT it over here (via its chassis/Vin number, assuming it’s a 1960-on car which requires an MoT) and then apply to the DVLA for a V5C document in your name.

This registration process involves completing a form V55/5 (downloadable from the internet via and paying a £55 first registration fee, as well as the cost of Vehicle Excise Duty. Your new V5C will then arrive via the DVLA a few weeks later.

You’ll obviously need to ensure that your imported car comes with the official paperwork from the country you’re buying it in, as this will need presenting to the DVLA to prove its make, model, age and spec. And when it comes to the first MoT test, you’ll need to ensure your car is UK-compliant, particularly when it comes to areas like front and rear lighting.

Another thing to bear in mind is that it’s technically illegal for a permanent UK citizen to use their vehicle in this country while it’s still registered overseas. This is something the police are cracking down on, as reported earlier this year. Similarly, if you’re going to drive the car from its previous address in Europe all the way to a UK port, you’ll be legally required to have insurance that covers you for the journey.

The good news for would-be importers, of course, is that the EU has more member states than ever these days – including recent additions like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania and Malta. Don’t assume, however, that former Communist Bloc countries are still overrun with bargain-priced classics waiting to be snapped up by British enthusiasts. For example, supplies in the Czech Republic aren’t what they were, thanks to a hefty Ecological Tax on older vehicles there now. As an alternative it’s often worth checking online for cars that have already made it over here form countries like Poland, driven over by people migrating to Britain.     

From outside the European Union

Inevitably, the process of bringing a car over from any country outside the European Union can be rather complicated.

For starters, you need to decide whether you’re going for container shipment or the ‘roll-on, roll-off’ (RORO) process. The latter is unsuitable for any vehicle needing work, however, as the car obviously needs to be in a drivable condition. On the other hand, container shipping is generally more expensive – with some quotes coming in at three or four times the £1000-£1500 you might get away with via RORO for a car based in the US.

Doing everything from the UK means finding a company in the country the car’s based in that you can trust to arrange the process, and making sure they get your newly acquired classic to the docks on the due date. Or you can entrust the whole procedure to a British specialist with representatives in your country of choice (the easiest option by far), but obviously more expensive.

Cost-wise, you also need to factor in the taxes that are due once your classic car arrives in the UK from outside the EU. Duty is rated at 10% (on the price of the car and the shipping costs combined), with 20% VAT then payable on that total figure (including the car’s purchase price and all of the transport and insurance expenses). Exceptions to this are cars that are more than 30 years of age and are in original condition, with no substantial changes to their chassis, engine, transmission, steering, brakes and so on; once a Binding Tariff Information (BTI) certificate has been issued by Customs to confirm such facts, these cars should attract no duty and only 5% VAT on the total cost of purchasing and importing your car.


10 point importing checklist

1.    Choosing your car

Be sure of what you want, and how much you’re prepared to pay. If it’s a specific car you want, make sure you research everything.

2.    Make friends

There’s nothing better when buying than being armed with all the facts. If you’re unable to see the car you’re looking at first hand, find someone on the ground – a specialist or someone in a club – who can do it for you.

3.    Be sure of your costs

It’s all well and good finding the classic of your dreams for a bargain price, but be sure that the cost of shipping doesn’t make the whole operation uneconomical.

4.    Know how you’re getting it home

If you’re buying in Europe, consider driving it home to keep down costs – but make sure you’re insured and it’s legal!

5.    Shipping it home?

If you’re buying from further afield, make sure that you’re familiar with the port it’s sailing from – and if it’s coming from the USA, carefully consider if you’re shipping from the Eastern or Western seaboard, and how close it is to where the car is.

6.    Getting it to the docks

So, you’ve decided where it’s sailing to the UK from – check that the seller will deliver it to the port. And, if not, please make sure that you factor in additional transportation costs.

7.    Taxes paid?

When your new pride and joy arrives in the UK, remember that if it’s from the outside the EU, you’ll need to pay import duty, and VAT on top of that.

8.    Insurance

Make sure that you’re covered before, during and after your arrival in the UK.

9.    Making it legal

Before you can get your car registered, you’ll need to get it MoT’d. This is a standard test for EU cars.

10.  Registration

Once tested, make sure that you fill in your forms, and arrange registration with the DVLA at the earliest opportunity.


All of the world's Ferrari 250 GTOs and Cobra Daytonas may be accounted for, but there are plenty of other classic cars left to be discovered. Don't let anyone tell you there's nothing left out there. We've heard enough reliable and tantalising tales to know that not to be true. Here are our top ten tips on how to unearth hidden treasures:

1. Look out for open garage doors - especially at weekends and on summer evenings when householders are more likely to be outside doing DIY or gardening. You'd be amazed at some of the things you can spot. Just last month during an after-dinner dog walk Russ Smith from our sister newspaper Classic Car Weekly chanced upon a Lotus Elan +2 less than 400 yards from his house. Apparently it's been there for years, but sadly it isn't for sale. At the moment.

2. Both local papers and the internet are good sources of information for when on-site house clearance sales are being held. Look especially for anything involving farms or larger rural properties, and the word 'deceased'. You won't be making the discovery of anything that might be lurking in barns or garages, but may put yourself at the head of the car enthusiast pack and be the first to know the value of what you find there.

3. Let your classic do the talking. You already know what a conversation starter it is, so use that when you head out searching. Stop in prominent places where people will be, like outside village shops, or during lunchtimes or evenings outside our dwindling supply of rural pubs. And when you do get people talking, drop into the conversation that you are interested in finding other old cars.

4. At risk of sounding obvious, look for clues. Older cars, either sat gathering dust or even still in use, outside a given property is often indicative of further machinery parked indoors, especially where farm buildings are involved. Even incongruous collectibles like an old phone box or rusty petrol pump can point to there being more to be found in those barns than tractor attachments and bags of feed.

5. You can do a fair bit of groundwork from the comfort of your home (or, ahem, office) computer before setting off on your vintage tin hunt. Zoom in on those remote, farmy areas using Google Earth or The resolution isn't great, but if you see a row or random collection of vehicles where you don't expect one, that has to be a spot that's worthy of further investigation.

6. While you're at the screen, monitor online auctions, classified ad sites and forums. Anything classic with an apparently low asking price and 'for spares or restoration' is worth following up. And always watch forr the magic 'bereavement' word. Even if that particular car doesn't turn out to be of great interest, it may be just one of a collection of cars, and the seller may also be tapped into other old cars in their area - never pass up a chance to gather information. People like to talk.

7. Take a look behind long-established general garages and vehicle repair workshops, more so if you know or have heard them to be classic friendly. Interesting cars are often retained in lieu of non-payment for repair work and then left to just rot. Often with the best of intentions. Garage owners are also well-known for putting stuff away for themselves as a planned retirement project or to fill quiet moments that never materialise. A DB5 project recently came to market after just such a garage owner died. Where possible find out who owns the land - never trespass on private property.

8. Take your classic to some of those displays that are held as part of larger events like country shows, fetes and so on, and stay with it in an easy-to-chat position. you shouldhave a fairly non-specialist audience, and for every 50-or-so 'I had one of those' type comments, there may just be an 'I/my dad/uncle/brother-in-law/neighbour has one like that mouldering away that I've/they've never got round to.' Russ has bagged a whole car that way.

9. At the risk of sounding a bit devious and cynical is something that really requires ownership of a decent SLR camera. You may find people talk more openly if you pose as a photographer wanting to take photos of cars in barns and happy to reveal their secret locations (like you would anyway!). No harm, then, in leaving a card on your way out and saying 'Thanks, and if you ever do decide to sell...'

10. This may sound a bit old-school, but remember the kind of people you are trying to encounter may be just that. Place a 'wanted' ad in specialist rural interest and/or local press for old vehicles or parts thereof. It only takes one hit...


Dos and Don’ts

DO gain permission from the owner before you venture on their land

DO be prepared to get dirty and meet all kinds of wildlife

DO take a friend, for various safety-related reasons

DO remember to take secateurs for undergrowth and a stick for cobwebs etc

DO be realistic about finds – it that car really worth saving or will a photo do?


DON’T trespass, however tempting that barn just a few yards away looks

DON’T take photos on private land without the owner’s permission

DON’T mislead the owner about your intentions or the car’s value

DON’T interfere with probate – you could get into a lot of trouble

DON’T expect to find exotics, it’s rare. Be happy with A30s and Minors!



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The more people who see that you car is for sale, the greater the chance you'll have a bidding war on your hands. Upload your advert to Classic Cars For Sale and put it into our sister newspaper Classic Car Weekly, both are FREE for private sellers to advertise. Do be aware that, if selling on an online auction site, such bidders might not always be genuine, or in a fit state to make over-generous bids.

Well-constructed advertisement prose will help sell your car, whereas poor spelling and scant descriptions can turn potential buyers away. The suggestion is that if the vendor is inarticulate, the standard of care the vehicle has received may be questionable.

There's nothing more embarrassing than having to explain away unexpected non-starting, whether it is due to a discharged battery, stale petrol, electrical problems or just about any other reason. Such a failure could at best lose you money, or at worst, send the buyer packing.

A dingy, ill-lit garage can be a real turn-off. Try to show the car at its absolute best in a clean and dry environment. Granted, a spot of rain can help to hide blemishes on dull paintwork, but it can make potential buyers think twice when it comes to making a real offer.

...for a couple of reasons. The first is that it gives the buyer extra confidence that the sale is genuine. Even if the car is kept elsewhere, where possible ensure that the sale at least commences at the kept address. Also, there may be sales legislation complexities if the car is advertised for sale on work premises.

One person's perfection can be another's average condition. If you can't praise those rose-tinted specs from your face, ask a knowledgeable pal for an honest critique of the cart being sold. If it's a non-runner, then say so and if the paintwork is blistering, mention it in the description.

Use the car so that it gets seen. It's surprising just how much interest can be generated by a classic car in a supermarket car park and if it has for sale notices prominently displayed in the windows, it's like a mobile billboard all the way there and back.

If the car is looking its absolute best, then selling it will be easier. For years the author Barbara Cartland always seemed to be filmed in the softest focus. You need to emulate this glamour on your driveway. Consider a professional-grade valeting.

If you've made sure that the car is up to scratch in all aspects then there should be no reason why you shouldn't be happy to take it out for a decent test drive. However, as a private seller, be wary of allowing prospective buyers to drive the car themselves and never allow them to do so alone.

The more detailed and honest an advertisement is, the better the prospective buying public will trust the seller. Buyers like history files and restoration pictures. If there are any with the car, even if you haven't undertaken the work yourself, have the service and repair history ready for viewing.


There's nothing better than already having someone lined up to buy a car from you before you've made the purchase. You may not have much of a chance to enjoy the car if you're moving it on swiftly, but you'll be on the next rung of the classic car ladder. Do beware of income tax implications, though.

The likes of a Standard 8 may be cheap to purchase, but there may not be much profit to be had by the time it comes to selling. At this end of the market, you really need to rely on skills, time and facilities to make a profit.

Buying a classic car at auction is actually an exhilarating way to make a purchase. It can also lead you to unexpected bargains. But do remember that what you think it is a bargain may not necessarily be so in reality. Keep your own limitations in mind and know your cars.

If you're really keen to get a bargain, pick a locality and ask around. People in a local shop or a pub may well have heard that someone has an old car they might like to sell. Milk deliverers and postmen are also useful sources of unmissable local information.

It has long been acknowledged that the USA is a useful source of rust-free Brit tin. California is not the only place where dreams are made. In Australia there are many hidden gems lying idle in barns and garages and the Aussie domestic market for such delights is limited.

It might be a bot more work, but if you're importing a car, why not make it two? Then one can be sold to help recover transport costs. If you have a whole container, fill it with parts as well by finding a reliable person to strip another couple of cars for export.

If you see a car that fits your bill while out and about, don't be afraid to leave contact details. You may just find that the vehicle is available and at a decent price, thus dodging a bidding war, but don't be too intrusive. This method may take time to reap rewards.

Work outside the limitations of your own taste. Only liking Rootes Group products may well give you expert knowedge of the marque encompassed, but the usual Jaguars and Triumphs will always sell more easily and often at greater prices.

Try searching online auction and sales sites using misspellings and typos. There may not be many folks looking for a 'Tiumph' (32 items noted), a 'Damler' (five items listed) or an 'Autin' (12 items listed). It may seem a tad unfair, but as the old saying goes, that's life.

There is of course your weekly classic newspaper Classic Car Weekly and this website Classic Cars For Saleas great sources of tempting tin. But also look on type-specific forums and clus websites, as they often feature a For Sale section.