Fine craftsmanship, rarely seen and utterly beautiful - it's not difficult to see the appeal in classic cars. But in a belt-tightening climate, are they really worth spending your hard-earned cash on? As it turns out, a love of vintage motors could actually give you a good return. Just recently, a 1955 Jaguar D-Type sold for a whopping £2.2 million - an amount that saw its value more than double in just two years.

Expert opinion

"Lots of people like new cars," says Tim Schofield, motoring expert at auctioneers and valuers, Bonham's. "But as soon as you drive these out of the showroom, they depreciate like a stone. "You won't get that with an older car because it's been through the market fluctuations already. Certain vehicles have had a huge jump in value in the last three years. Some have trebled." If money's no object then classics worth their weight in gold include the Aston Martin DB5 (James Bond's drive during the Sean Connery era), the Ferrari Dino and the Lamborghini Miura. But there are cheaper options, too.

Definition of a Classic Car

In the UK, a car that's more than 15 years old, with a value in excess of £15,000, is classed as a ‘classic'. And for that price, if you shop around, you can be the proud owner of an Aston Martin V8 or a Ferrari 308 GTB - something that's certainly worth considering a car loan for! Old cars can be an enthusiast's pride and joy, but be wary of vehicles ‘born' before the 1950s. Even if it's worth a lot of money and is in perfect condition, it may not be the most reliable way to get from one end of the country to the other, so make sure you get some breakdown cover.

A good old buy

A classic car is never going to be a guaranteed investment, of course. Its ultimate value will depend on good luck and judgement, as well as being in the right place at the right time. It will also continue to cost you in petrol, regular servicing and car insurance. The good news, however, is that a true vintage will be exempt from road tax, and classic car insurance is relatively inexpensive. Classic car sales can be found privately, through a dealer, or buying and selling through an auction house. "At Bonham's we can offer you advice on what kind of investment is likely to prosper in the future," says Tim. "Colour scheme, particular features including sunroofs and soft tops, and the car's overall condition, all have a significant bearing on value. "Generally speaking, if a car caused a sensation when it was first launched and it sold well when it was new, then it's always going to be collectible in years to come," he adds. If you decide a classic investment is for you, it's worth researching online and flicking through specialist car magazines such as Octane, too. You could also get in touch with classic car clubs or pop along to historic races or the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Top Tips

Classic car expert Edward Bridger-Stille, from Coys of Kensington, reveals the tricks of the trade when it comes to buying vintage… "Spend as much as you can," says Edward. "It's far better to buy a car that's already been restored than do the work yourself, as restoration is very expensive. "Ask a specialist to inspect your chosen car and provide you with a full report before you buy. This will put you in a good position to budget any work that needs doing into your offer."