Classic Car Insurance – A Beginners Guide For New Classic Owners

If you’ve just bought your first classic car you will need to consider not just where, but also how you are going to insure it.

As a classic car owner it matters not if you drive a perfect condition Ford Capri 3 litre from 1970, a beat up old Morris Minor from the Sixties or a sleek E-type Jaguar in British racing green, it is essential that you find the best classic car insurance cover for your cherished motor, that covers your individual risks at prices that won’t break the bank!

If you have not owned a classic car before it is important to realise that there are basic differences between what is known as a standard car insurance policy and the cover offered under one defined as classic, from a specialist car insurer.

The first thing to establish is whether your car is eligible for cover under a classic policy. One way you could do this is ask the previous owner whether it was covered under a classic car insurance policy and with which insurance company.

Different car insurance companies have different definitions of the age and type of vehicles that can be covered under this type of cover.

What might be easily covered with one provider may be excluded by another. Fortunately most online classic car cover providers provide this information on the first page of their websites, so it is fairly easy to surf around and check your eligibility with different insurance companies.

You should check that both the eligibility of the age of the car in question and also whether there are policy restrictions for your individual driving circumstances, such as your age that would prevent you from applying for cover.

The major variation between a standard policy and those offered by the classic car specialists is in the way that you use your classic vehicle, and in particular, how much you drive it. The large mainstream insurers and price comparison sites will offer cover for older cars but will charge an additional premium because of its age. They will also load the premium if replacement parts for the vehicle type are known to be expensive.

More importantly you will only be offered the current market value replacement if the car is covered under a mainstream policy and is deemed to be a write-off when you claim.

With a standard car insurance policy on a replacement like for like basis, the value of the car is often set by the market value at the time of a claim, typically taken from one of the car price magazines such as the UK’s Glasses Guide. The amount you will be probably receive for a write-off will be at the current market value of your car which is an annual depreciating amount. Inevitably, if you own a classic car and insure it under a standard policy contract, this leads to under valuation and under insurance of the true value of the car. You will also probably not be offered the salvage and a repairable classic car may often be deemed a write-off because the cost of repair is uneconomic to the Insurer.

If you purchase a specialist classic car policy you will be offered a choice of either an agreed valuation of the classic cars worth or a policy based on market value.

An agreed valuation amount is the amount that the insurance company will pay out in the event of a claim that results in a write off. This is a major benefit of insuring classics under specialist policies because it ensures that you are not just properly covered but will also receive the specialist repair services that your classic will require should you claim. It should be noted that even agreed valuation polices can change and you should ensure that the value is guaranteed for a certain period of time to avoid fluctuations in market values.

Classic Car insurance polices are therefore tailored to the needs of cars considered to be collectable and effectively the valuation is a rating factor for the condition of the car.

The other major difference between standard and classic policies is in the way that you are allowed to use your car under the terms of the agreement. Originally this type of vehicle insurance was designed for drivers who do not use their classic cars much.

All classic car policies have a limited mileage clause which only covers the vehicle for an agreed amount of miles per year. Depending upon which specialist car insurance company you use, there will be a limit to how far you can drive your classic. Some providers will only cover a couple of thousand miles per year under the policy, but many specialist providers are now offering cover up to ten thousand miles per year. These policies reflect the fact that many drivers now use modern day classic cars as their main form of transport.

As with all car insurance it is important to compare both covers and prices when shopping around. There are many specialist classic insurance providers available online today and many specialist schemes that are targeted at particular classic owners. Compare the premiums offered by these with those from the price comparison sites, but if you want to avoid disappointment if you need to make a claim, be sure to understand the difference in policy covers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

How to Buy Used Classic Cars

If you are going to buy used classic cars, the most important thing you can have at your disposal is knowledge of them. Purchasing a classic car is much different than purchasing a typical car and even for the most experienced buyers it can be a tricky feat. The last thing you want is to spend big money on a lemon. Here is a look at helpful steps that can help you find a quality classic car that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Step #1 – Decide What You Want in a Classic Automobile

First, you must decide what you want in a classic car. Do you want to buy used classic cars to enter in competitions or do you want to drive your classic car on a regular basis for pleasure? For those who plan to use the car all the time, going with a vehicle in “show condition” is not the best choice. However, if you plan to compete, then spending a bit more on a classic car in better condition will be worth your money.

Step #2 – Research the Specific Car You Want

After you know what you want in a collectible car and what you are going to use it for, start researching the specific car that you want. Different cars have specific problem areas that you have to watch out for when buying. Take time to research the exact model and year you’re looking for so you know what to look for when considering particular cars.

Step #3 – Carefully Do a Visual Inspection

Once you are looking at a specific vehicle when preparing to buy used classic cars, carefully do a visual inspection. Take a look around the vehicle looking for body damage and rust. Ensure you look under the hood as well as the hoses, belts, and fluids. Keep an eye open for any leaks.

Step #4 – Take the Car on a Test Drive

After you have done the visual inspection, take the car on a test drive. Never buy used classic cars without testing them out yourself. Have the owner start up the vehicle and look at the tailpipe. If there is black or blue smoke, there could be a problem. Drive the vehicle yourself. Take note of the power, any sway that occurs in the front, and how the car shifts. You want the car in great driving condition – otherwise, you may end up sinking a lot of money into repairs once you purchase the car.

Step #5 – Ask for Documentation and Records on the Vehicle

It’s important that you ask for documentation and records on the vehicle as well. You want to see what repairs have been done on the vehicle through the years. If the owner tries to tell you they have no records, think twice before making the purchase.

Step #6 – Have a Pre-Purchase Inspection Done By a Trusted Mechanic

Even if the car looks great to you and it runs great when you test drive it, have a pre-purchase inspection done by a trusted mechanic before you buy used classic cars. A mechanic probably has more knowledge than you do and may be able to find problems that you could have overlooked. Ensure you go with a mechanic you trust and get a full report before making an offer on the vehicle.

Step #7 – Get a Vehicle History Report

Get a vehicle history report on the classic auto, even if the mechanic says things look great. This way you can ensure the car is not stolen and you can also find out how many people have owned the car in the past. These vehicle history reports can be done on the web and are reasonably priced and well worth the money.

Step #8 – Make a Reasonable Offer

Once you are sure the car is a good investment, then you are ready to make a reasonable offer. Make an offer according to the price guide with any problems the car has in mind. Remember, this is a vehicle you don’t have to buy, and if you don’t get a fair deal, you can simply walk away from the deal.

These steps are important if you are going to buy used classic cars. Always use these steps to ensure you get a great deal, and remember that knowledge is going to be your key to success when purchasing any classic vehicle.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

What to Consider When Buying a Classic Car

Buying a classic car is, for many, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Whether buying a prize example of their first car 30 years on or reliving childhood holidays in a fine example of dad’s old saloon, classic car ownership is about enjoyment and relaxation. But the sheer enthusiasm with which many people enter into the purchase can sometimes blind them to the harsh realities of owning and running a classic car.

I have bought and sold many cars in my years running the UK’s largest classic car hire company. In that time I have learnt the hard way how to buy classic cars well. I bought my first classic car in 1993, a rare Alfa Romeo Alfasud Ti in black. It was my dream car, having cycled past an identical example every day while at school. I did my research, buying copies of all available Buyers’ Guides and I knew exactly what to look for and what to avoid. Unfortunately, what none of these guides told me was the cardinal rule – buy with your head not your heart. I particularly wanted a black Alfasud and when I clapped eyes on the car this was the over-riding thought in my head. It blinded me to the reality of the car’s obvious flaws, including suspect electrics and typically Alfa-esque rust holes. Floating on a wave of dream fulfillment I convinced myself that these were idle matters and coughed up the asking price to a probably flabbergasted owner.

When you go to buy a classic car bear in mind two simple rules. Firstly, it is not the only example of its kind in the world. Regardless of how closely its specification matches your desires, there will be another one out there. Secondly, picture the asking price as money in your hand – this will help you to appreciate the value of the purchase. Very often cars are bought and then paid for later, which gives plenty of time for circumspection! I strongly recommend that anyone buying a classic car takes along a friend who can be relied upon to be objective – they can reign you back when your enthusiasm takes ov er.

When I bought the Alfasud I managed to bring it back to a respectable standard, but it cost me to do so. That taught me another rule of car buying – objectively assess the cost of repairing the car before you buy it. Know the market value of any car you plan to buy – what is it worth in average condition and what is it worth in excellent condition? Objectively assess the value of repairing the car’s faults by researching the cost of trim, bodywork, mechanical work and so on. Do not under-estimate the cost of apparently minor work – scuffs and scrapes on the paintwork can cost hundreds of pounds to put right. If a seller says something is an ‘easy fix’ you have to wonder why they haven’t done it themselves.

When you go to view a classic car do your research first. Check the buying guides. Visit web forums and ask questions that are not immediately answered by your research – generally forum contributors are very happy to help. Talk to the experts – marque experts who repair cars on a daily basis are often very happy to offer advice because you may become a customer. Talk to people who own similar cars – a good place to start is with classic car hire companies who run classic cars over several thousand miles every year. I often get asked by would-be owners about the cars I run and I am always very happy to offer advice based on living with classic cars day in and day out. Before you view the car ring the owner first and run through a checklist of questions – this will save you a wasted journey.

Besides the actual car itself, there are two other areas to pay particular attention to when you view a car. Firstly, the owner – the old adage about buying a used car from a man like this obviously applies. If the owner is genuine, the chances are that the car is too. And of course, the reverse is true too. Secondly, have a look at the paperwork thoroughly – check that the contents back up the description of the car in the advertisement and from the owner. The paperwork should be well presented rather than a jumble of paperwork that is difficult to decipher – if the owner can’t be bothered to organise this detail, what else has he skimped on?

Your test should include full inspection inside and out and underneath, ideally using a ramp (local garages are often happy to arrange this – the seller should be able to sort this out).

On the test drive you should start the car from cold – insist before arrival that the seller allows you to do this – and you should drive at least 5-10 miles at the wheel. Check for unusual noises on start up – particularly knocking – and monitor the dials throughout the test. Check that the oil pressure and water temperature perform as expected. Check the brakes – do an emergency stop. Rev the engine through the gears and test rapid gear changing. Drive the car quickly around a corner to test the suspension and steering. Test all of the switches, particularly the heating – failed heaters can be a costly and very inconvenient expense.

if you like the car you’re looking at, buy yourself some thinking time. Don’t be railroaded into a quick decision by the vendor. Often the seller will genuinely have a lot of interest in the car – if so, depending on how you feel you should ask for either overnight or at least a few hours to think about it. if you are serious you could offer a small deposit as a demonstration of good faith. It is better to lose £100 than several thousand through a rushed decision. I would recommend viewing the car at least twice in daylight.

This is inevitably not an exhaustive assessment of what to consider when buying a classic car but if you follow these simple rules you will stand a much better chance of buying the right car for you. Buy with your head not your heart and buy with a closed wallet.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Be Cautious Where You Take Your Classic Car or Muscle Car

Classic car owners, including those with muscle cars, street rods, hot rods, antiques and vintage trucks, are facing uncertain times as car thefts are on the rise, and actions from thieves are becoming more bold and brazen.

I recently came across a story written by a man who owned a Daytona Blue 1963 Corvette Coupe with all matching numbers. The all-original classic sport car had an immaculate dark blue interior where only the carpet had ever been replaced. The 327 engine was said to produce a rhythmic loping that not only brought a smile to your face, but got you day dreaming of having this beauty parked in your own garage. Then disaster strikes and you’re snapped out of your dream and into his nightmare!

The owner of this beautiful piece of American history took his prized car to what he called a small “backwoods” show that a friend and he decided to go to in the spur of the moment. As owner Jacob Morgan, of Bakersfield, CA described, “The event was an annual but rather unofficial gathering of classic car buffs and I was thrilled to bring my car down. Unfortunately, the part of Florida that the event was being held was extremely dry due to drought. About three or four hours after arriving, a man who owned a red GTO (I could not tell you the year because frankly I did not care afterward) decided to start up his ride for the spectators. It was just one backfire but it was enough to start the dry grass ablaze–and guess where my Corvette was parked?

Nearly thirty classic cars were consumed by the blaze started by that backfiring GTO and my Corvette was one of them. Of course I had the car properly insured but they just aren’t making 1963 Corvettes any longer and the only one I could find that was similar cost $10,000 more than my policy’s payoff. I guess if there is a moral to my sad tale, it is to avoid backwoods car shows at all costs because they are unregulated, disorganized, and very dangerous to classic cars like my beloved 1963 Corvette Coupe.”

This may not be your traditional way of losing your prized classic car, muscle car, street rod, antique car, vintage truck or other collectible old vehicle, but it does drive home the point that we need to exercise care in even the most innocent surroundings like a car show! Freak accidents like Mr. Morgan experienced can and do account for many losses to enthusiasts – not just theft or vandalism.

Sadly though, theft isn’t a rare thing and the methods are becoming more bizarre. Guy Algar and I have had pieces stolen off one of our own vehicles that we were towing back to our shop while we stopped for a quick bite to eat! We’ve had a good number of hubcaps taken over the years. And, we actually had the brake lights ripped off of our car hauler while we were in a parts store one day picking up parts for a customer! We’ve had one customer tell us the story where he had taken his wife out to dinner and had carefully parked his 1969 Corvette at a local restaurant, under a big bright light, and in what appeared to be a “safe” area, only to come out 45 minutes to an hour later to find all his emblems and trim taken right off the car! Thieves have been known to take the entire car hauler (with the classic sitting on top) right off the tow vehicle’s hitch ball and transfer the hauler to their own tow vehicle when people are on the road, at a car show, or some other type of event. These are bold moves by people who do not fear the consequences.

Other thefts that have been reported around the country have included:

Dr. Phil just had his ’57 Chevy Belair convertible stolen from the Burbank repair shop he had brought it to for repairs.

A 1937 Buick, valued at over $100,000 was taken from a gated community parking garage in Fort Worth, Texas.

Tom of New Mexico reported the theft of two of his collector cars to Hemming. Tom owns about half a dozen collector cars altogether, and to store them all, he rented out a storage unit. Unfortunately, when he went to check on them recently, for the first time in about six months, he found that two were missing – a 1957 two-door Chevrolet Belair and a 1967 Mercury Cougar GT.

There was also a report of a man from Jefferson City, Missouri, who actually recovered his own stolen car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro that had been stolen 16 years before, after seeing it in a Google search!

In a Los Angeles suburb, a woman came home to a garage empty of her prized 1957 Chevy Bel-Air which had been valued at more than $150,000. The beautiful convertible had been featured in several magazines and TV shows and won dozens of awards at car shows around the country. A neighbor’s surveillance camera caught the actions of the thieves and revealed that the Bel-Air was pushed down the street by a pickup truck which had pulled into her driveway just minutes after she had left. The thieves likely loaded it onto an awaiting trailer. It’s thought that the thieves spotting the car at one of the car shows, followed it home afterwards, then waited for the opportunity to steal it.

A Seattle collector was the victim of a targeted “smash-and grab” from the warehouse where he kept his cars. The thieves apparently ransacked the building and drove off with a 396/425 four-speed 1965 Corvette Stingray; and a 20,000-mile 396/four-speed 1970 Chevelle SS.

A 1959 Chevrolet Impala was stolen during a Cruise Night. The owner got good news-bad news when the police tracked down because while they did recover the classic car, he had put in a claim for the theft with his insurance policy after the theft many months before, so the car went to the insurance company rather than being returned to him. Apparently detectives recovered the Impala from a chop shop nearly eight months after it was stolen, repainted and modified.

Hemmings News also reported of a reader whose 1970 Ford Maverick was stolen from his home in Missouri. The car was found and returned, but the investigation apparently revealed that the thief had been watching the owner for 2 years, with the intention of stealing it and using it to race with. Chilling thing to find out.

A 1979 Buick Electra 225 Limited Edition was stolen out of a grocery store parking lot in suburban Detroit with the thief escaping with an urn inside the trunk that contained the remains of the owner’s stepfather!

After saving for over 40 years, a man from Virginia bought the car of his dreams, a 1962 Dodge Lancer. Buying his dream car, he began his restoration project, which was about 60 percent complete when he relocated to Texas. Without a garage to keep it in after his move, he stored it in a 24-foot enclosed trailer along with a 1971 Dodge Colt he planned to turn into a race car, and kept the trailer parked at a storage lot. At the end of July, the trailer and everything in it disappeared.

The last story actually has a happy ending because it was recovered due to alert shop owners being suspicious of person wanting to unload a Lancer for only $1,500 including the many boxes of parts. After some research, the owner was reunited with his car. Guy and I have been approached on numerous occasions by people wanting to sell their vehicles. Some have hardship stories and the callers are willing to unload the car for a real bargain. We’ve always walked from these offers, primarily because we’re not in the business of buying and selling cars (we’re not dealers or re-sellers), but also because we’re cautious of a “too-good-to-be-true” price. One call in particular did make us very suspicious, as the woman caller insisted that the sale had to be completed by Monday (she called our shop over the weekend) and the price was extremely low for a rather rare model Mustang. Alert shop owners can be instrumental in aiding in the recovery of stolen classic cars.

But not all stories have a happy ending like this. Classic cars, muscle cars and antiques can make their way to chop shops, end up damaged and abandoned, and even being re-sold on Internet sites such as eBay and Craigslist!

Just yesterday, I reported on a 1954 Chevy Pickup truck which was stolen from a woman’s driveway in Oklahoma City. (Ironically this article was already written and scheduled for release today when the news hit. I’ve added her case because, unfortunately, it emphasizes how common thefts have become.) She wisely reached out to the Hemmings community of enthusiasts for help. Hemmings.com has a huge following, referred to as “Hemmings Nation”, and appealing for help to a community of enthusiasts like this can be instrumental in helping to give vital information to police and authorities who can help track and recover a stolen classic car. We applaud the work that Hemmings does.

And, the methods that thieves are using, as you can see, are as varied as the types of vehicles! Even seemingly innocent little car shows and gatherings are places you need to exercise a little caution and care. As I reported in a July article, carjackings involving classic cars are even becoming more commonplace.

Surprisingly, in some cases, the Internet has been helpful in aiding in the recovery of classic cars and muscle cars. There have been numerous stories, much like the Camaro owner above, and a man who found his 1949 Ford through a listing on Craigslist (the two men responsible were arrested and charged with disassembling a vehicle after the owner positively identified it as his) where owners have been able to locate their cars in Internet searches.

For those not so fortunate, insurance is the only consolation. We highly recommend classic car or “collector” car insurance. There are a number of companies that provide this specialized insurance, and it is generally well worth the cost. Classic Car News provided an article, Purchasing Classic Car Insurance, containing a list of companies along with links to contact them. I also recommend Hagerty Insurance’s publication, Deterring Collector Car Theft, which has tips on theft prevention.

In addition to the quick-strip thefts, thieves usually always alter, remove or forge VIN numbers, which make identification of the car or truck more difficult. Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) are serial numbers for vehicles that are used to differentiate similar makes and models. Much like social security numbers, every vehicle has a different VIN. VIN plates are usually located on the dashboard on newer cars, but are often found in the door jams of older models. VIN plates can be switched with another vehicle for a fast coverup.

The point here is to be aware of your surroundings, including where you park your car. Don’t take it for granted that just because you’re at an event with fellow enthusiasts that something bad can’t happen. Take preventive action by securing your old car or truck. Guy Algar suggests, “Don’t forget to take precautions even at home. You may feel safe parking your ride in ‘the safety’ of your two car garage, but remember, even if you don’t have windows where people can peer in and spot your valued car, thieves can also follow you home from work, a cruise, or even the grocery store and plan a theft after surveilling your home and learning your schedule. If you have a ride that catches people’s attention, remember that it can also catch the wrong attention!”

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off