Your Guide to Classic Cars

Your Guide to Classic Cars

There has never been a better time to invest in a classic car. We say invest because that is what a classic car requires. You’re not just buying something, you’re taking on a piece of history. Sure, there may well be problems with your classic, it may break down a few too many times and cost a small fortune to run but you don’t fall in love and expect all smooth sailing. A vintage motor is a labour of love. There’ll be ups and downs and bumps in the road but, when you drive off into the sunset, it’ll feel pretty good! 

Classic & Sports Finance reports that the classic car market is buoyant in the UK despite setbacks like Brexit. While for many owners a classic car is a thing of passion, it can also be considered a financial investment. Unlike most cars, a classic tends to appreciate in value over the years so if you buy the right car at the right time, it could well double or even triple in value. 

First time buyer? Keep our guide to hand as you hunt down your perfect classic …


You wouldn’t buy any car without first undertaking research, and a classic’s no different.  You’ll need to know available options, costs, styles and devaluation rates. Identify what you want a classic car for. Is it everyday use, Sunday driving, touring or exhibiting? Classic cars really cover every base, with practical sedans, sporty convertibles and camper vans all falling under the ‘classic’ umbrella. 

There are lots of great forums where you will get practical advice, but researching a classic car should extend beyond the internet. Visit classic car shows and speak to owners, some of them may even let you sit inside their pride and joy. Research practicalities of the car too and call insurance firms to see the kind of premiums you can expect to pay. Try to create a cost breakdown for running the car. This will give you a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into before purchasing. 

Budgetary demands should also form a key part of your research. Scour the classified ads and online sellers to calculate the average cost of the classic you wish to purchase. Based on this, set yourself a strict budget and no matter how tempting, do not stray. There are plenty of places to find classic cars for sale; Car and Classic is a fantastic website with lots of choice, but don’t dismiss the alternatives such as eBay and car auctions. Both can be a brilliant hunting ground for bargains. 

History and Authenticity 

Buying a classic isn’t like purchasing a brand-new car, and you’ll need to carefully check the car is what it claims to be. Scrutinise the logbook and vehicle identification number before handing any cash over. VIN and engine numbers should match the figures in the logbook. Some sellers will offer a service history, and if this is the case, make sure the service dates tally with the history of the car with MOTs marked in. 

You can check a car’s MOT history on the DVLA site. It will also provide you with mileage figures from the last test. Mileage can indicate how much the car has been used in the last few years, which suggests the level of repairs needed. 

The vehicle registration documents will contain the address where the car is kept. If the seller refuses to meet at this address it may suggest the car is stolen, but it can be equally likely that the owner stores it somewhere not mentioned on the registration documents, despite it being illegal. 

A HPI check is the final thing you need to do to guarantee authenticity. Any outstanding finance agreements will show up in this report. 

You wouldn’t buy a car from a dealership without seeing it first, and the same rules apply to classics. There are several signs of wear and tear that you should be especially wary of. On the bodywork, look for areas of rust and any poorly repaired dents. In the interior you should check the seats, seatbelts, dashboard and fastenings. This will provide a good indication of the car’s general state of repair. If you’re spending a substantial amount of money, take a mechanic with you to advise on any technical faults. 

Do not buy a classic car without first taking a test drive. Not only does a test drive indicate the current state of the engine, it will also give you a better feel for the car. Remember when buying a classic this matters more because it’s not a practical purchase to get you from A to B, it is a passionate purchase that should reflect your individual taste and style. 



After purchasing a vintage gem, you won’t be entitled to free services or MOTs. It may be expensive, but a professional service should be your first job before you even take it home. This gives you a minimum standard to improve upon. Practical jobs like brakes and steering should come first - there will be plenty of time to mend bodywork and have a respray after the car is deemed safe and roadworthy. 

If you plan on using the car, there are a few things you will need to invest in. A toolkit, trickle charger and tyre inflator are among the top priorities. These tools are the difference between breaking down on the side of and being stuck, or breaking down and making the fixes needed. 

Transferring Number Plates 

Classic cars are often long term projects, and many owners try to restore them to their glory days. If you want to make your classic appear even more authentic, then a vintage style number plate can add to the aesthetic. Plates start at just £89, and we can help you transfer it to your classic car. For further reading on this topic, see our number plates transfers page.

If you're interested in a new number plate, start your search today with Absolute Reg.