What frustrates you about owning a classic? Is it the lack of time in which to enjoy it? Or perhaps it’s the fact that with little time, those infrequent chances you do get to drive it mean it’s always going to be problematic to start it? So how best to maximise your enjoyment?
Driving your car regularly is the best way to ensure reliability and maximise the fun-factor. A quick pop-out to the newsagent to get the Sunday papers will be enhanced by arriving home in your classic. Parking it outside for the remainder of the weekend allowing it to receive admiring glances is a bonus.
With Drive it Day coming up none of us want our cars to be out of service on the big day. So the best advice is to get your car from its winter lay-up, and begin some gentle use prior to booking it in for a service.
People often ask me who is best to use. And I have heard some horror tales! You could argue that you’d expect it with the ‘fast-fit’ networks, with the way the staff are paid a pittance and then incentivised using bonuses for tyre, brake and shock absorber sales. But the ownership of beautiful classic cars seems fraught with potential expenditure traps for the unwary.
There was the person who bought a ‘fully-restored’ and very pretty XK150, only for the car to fail its MoT one year later. It was driven from Cornwall to the East of England (back with the specialist who restored it) but needed more than £2000 spending to gain its pass. The car was repaired and when the owners made the trip back to collect the car, they discovered a large scratch on the top of one wing, only to be told, ‘nothing to do with us, it was the (subcontracted) MoT garage that did it.
Or what about the fully-restored Porsche 911 which had only covered 5000 miles since that resto three years previously. So why did it have an engine-rebuild last year? But chief among the wallet traps is Aston Martin. Every engine has its builders name inscribed upon it, so carefully are they assembled. So why do so many Aston engines, both DOHC 6 and V8, require detailed and costly rebuilds? In many cases they have done fewer miles and had more workshop time than the equivalent age Vauxhall Viva. Perhaps it’s the oft-observed nature of the car’s owners to want to have perfection, and their ability to pay for it, which means that some workshops feel it necessary to part owner from cash.
As one mate tells me “whenever I take the Ferrari in they always make sure I am sitting down with a scalding hot cup of coffee before they ever tell me what the bill is!”
If you don’t want to be fleeced, then you need to find that holy grail of the classic world, a car-engineer who knows his onions, then get them onside to work on yours. If you’re stuck, head down to a local classic car dealer who they sub-contract their mechanical work to. It’s often the quickest route to someone reliable.