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The pros and cons of classic car ownership

Things to consider before buying a classic car

By on 17 Apr 2024

As modern vehicles have become more sophisticated, and jam packed with technology the demand for classic cars by enthusiasts and connoisseurs of machines with more of a mechanical nature has increased.

The classic car industry is more buoyant than ever with many new entrants looking to enter into the world of classic car ownership. However, even classic cars remain a significant investment and commitment and it is important to take a holistic view of the concept and consider the following pros and cons before hitting the buy button.

Classic cars allow you to meet your heroes

Buying and driving a classic car or motorcycle is a great way to meet your heroes and get behind the wheel of a vehicle that you were not able to own when it was new. This might have been due to affordability at the time, a different lifestyle that required a more practical vehicle or parking constraints. Classic cars are a great way to revisit automotive icons of the past as your own situation changes, such as once the kids have left the house.

Classic cars can be a good investment

Brand new cars depreciate as soon as you drive them off the showroom floor and will continue to do so for the first few years of their life. But there comes a point where vehicles start appreciating in the value. This is not true for all models, but it is certainly the case for collectible or sought after classics. If you are looking to make a profit, the trick is to buy these vehicles as they start appreciating. Once the appreciation has commenced, they will continue to do so on a yearly basis, which makes the purchase and sale of classic cars a safe bet for the most part because if you buy a good example that is mechanically sound, you will almost always be able to make your money back, or more.

Classic cars are a great way to meet new people

Classic vehicles attract enthusiasts from all walks of life and there is a club or WhatsApp group for every marque or model. Classic cars are a great way to meet like-minded enthusiasts and make new friends through discussions around events or the best way to keep your classic in tip top shape. Outside of these circles, classic cars are a great conversation starter and pulling up outside your local coffee spot in a desirable classic is sure to turn heads and attract fellow patrons for a chinwag.

Classic cars are kinder to the environment

A big part of a cars impact on the environment occurs during its production, and that damage is offset over its lifespan. By driving classic car you are utilising the product of those manufacturing emissions for a longer period of time, mitigating those effects even further.

Originality wins

A car is only original once and its level of originality as well as the documentation of servicing and repairs will have a big influence on its value. This is why the term matching numbers celebrates vehicles that are still fitted with their original engine and gearbox as they left the factory. When shopping for a classic car to use or as an investment it is a good idea to look for a vehicle that is as original as possible or restored to an original condition with no irreversible modifications.

Classic cars require more regular maintenance

While there are many advantages to owning a classic car, there are some things that budding classic car enthusiasts should keep in mind. As cars get older components wear out due to use or as materials degrade over time. This means that classic cars will require more maintenance, more regularly than a new car and keeping the car in a good roadworthy condition is vital to preserving its value.
If you are not able to do some of this maintenance yourself, you should first investigate if there are specialists in your area who will be able to assist you and at what cost. Dedicated workshops can be used for major repairs but relying on these workshops for regular repairs can make the classic car ownership experience less rewarding. If you don't know your way around basic tools or are not willing to learn the basics of home vehicle maintenance, owning a classic car might not be for you.

Spare parts can be hard to find

As cars get older some spare parts do become hard to find as they will no longer be available from the local auto parts store and will require a bit of hunting around. The internet and global shopping have made things easier, but it can sometimes take a bit of time to source the part you need, especially down here in South Africa.

Not all old cars are classic cars

It is important to remember that not all old cars are considered classic cars and won’t attract the same appreciation in terms of value. Out and out classic cars are normally models that were produced in limited numbers when they were new such as Porsches, Bugattis and Ferraris. The classic car definition also includes derivatives of model ranges such as special edition models or sporty models. A good example is GTI versions of the VW Golf or M models of BMWs model range, the Mini Cooper S as well as vehicles that were built for motorsport homologation purposes in limited numbers.

Classic cars are not ideal for daily use in a modern world

Classic cars also feature none of the safety features and creature comforts of modern-day cars and therefore using a classic car as a daily driver should only be done after careful consideration. Small capacity classic cars are also not renowned for their speed and this speed differentiation compared to modern vehicles can result in dangerous situations. However, using a classic car occasionally or over weekends can be very rewarding and great fun.

Credit: Reuben van Niekerk

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