What to look for when buying a classic car

Be it a Classic Austin, Classic Ford, Classic Lotus, Classic Mini, lets face it, it is a classic for a reason! It is invariably going to be over 20 years old and as such, will most probably not be in the best condition. So, what do you look for when buying classic cars?

1. Classic Cars Documentation

Classic cars or old cars may have had quite a history to them. It is not just the official documentation you need to look out for although this is the most important classic car documentation you need. If the car was let's say in a film as the classic mini was in the Italian Job then there is a good chance that you may just want to buy it for the fact that it was one of the classic cars in the film but what proof do you have? Ask for any proof that the car was once in a film or owned by a famous person.

2. Classic Car Storage

Where is the car kept? If it is in classic cars storage then it will most probably be in a better condition than if it is kept on someones drive along with half a dozen other rust buckets.

3. Classic Cars For Sale

How long has the classic car been advertised for sale? Has it had any interest? (remember, you may not get the truth to these questions) Search it on the Internet, look in Classic cars auction sites, search for some classified classic car ads sites or any site that lists cars for sale. UK Classic Cars.com is but one site that lists many classic cars for sale. Why are they selling the car, does it come with any spare parts.

4. Classic Cars Rust

Assess the immediate visual impact of the classic car. If you can see signs of rust or damage then there is a good chance that there will be much more hidden rust or unrepaired hidden damage.

5. Inside the Classic Car

Check inside the car, not just the cockpit but the boot (trunk for our American friends), over the wheel arches is a good place for rust, lift the carpet, the boot floor and the spare wheel compartment are also good places to find potential problems. It is a classic car, it will have rust somewhere!

6. Under the Bonnet

Suspension mountings, inner wings, engine mountings, bulkhead, all places that rust and wear and tear can set in causing you hundreds if not thousands of pounds (dollars) in repair bills.

7. The classic car engine

Just how original is it? A Classic Car Engine that was manufactured  in China three months ago is not really a classic car engine now is it? Does it start from cold (feel the engine, was it started before you got there)? Is there any knocking? Does the engine have any excessive shake (potential engine mounting problems)? Knocking. Well, it could be for a number of reasons, light tapping on the top of the engine could be a worn camshaft or a small end on its way out. Knocking from underneath could be a big end bearing breathing its last. An expensive repair. A rumbling noise could be a main crank shaft bearing on its way out, yet another expensive repair.

8. Classic Car Exhausts

Check the exhaust smoke. Is it blue? Is it black? If you see blue smoke on startup that quickly clears it could mean the classic car valves are tired and leaking oil into the combustion chambers. If the smoke does not clear that could indicate a very tired classic car engine, something that wil have to be added to the budget, not only for investigation but for the repairs. Black smoke, probably just an over rich mixture but could just as easily be a worn carbuettor, more costs.

9. Classic Car Fluids

Check the various hydrolic fluids and water levels. Look for any stains around the compartment and on the engine. Does the radiator smell of anti-freeze? Is there any oil lying around? Not a good sign. Keep the engine running for a while, some problems wont show up until the engine is warm. Clouds of steam on startup could indicate a blown head gasket or even a cracked cylinder head.

10. If the car is driveable, take it for a spin

How does it "feel" on the road, does it "pull" to the right or left? Is the clutch "spongey" or firm? Does braking throw the car into oncoming traffic? (eek!) Wiggle the steering wheel,any clunks? When you accelorate does the car lurch in any particular direction? And Finally. Once you have weighed up all the options, just remember, do you actually have enough garage space to put all the Classic car parts, Classic car body pannels, Classic car chassis and of course, your tools?