Buy yourself a classic

The rich spend small fortunes buying the cars of their dreams, but it seems they are also now forking out huge sums for “scrap metal”, says the Daily Mail. Enthusiasts are seeking out rusting classics that have been off the road for decades, even if they are not in driving condition, and buying them up to restore them.

Such “barn finds” have been fetching “enormous prices” at auction, despite the fact that equally large sums will have to be spent on them before they are roadworthy. A 1956 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing (pictured), for example, which had been off the road for 30 years, recently fetched £1.15m.

It’s not a good idea to buy in the hope of making your fortune however, says Peter Hall in The Daily Telegraph. If you buy when they’re cheap and when price rises are expected, classic cars can prove to be an excellent investment. But it’s unwise to bank on it.

Cars are designed to move and will deteriorate rapidly if they don’t. Driving the car, and all the hard work involved in keeping it on the road, are the chief pleasures of ownership.

And it will be quite a bit of work, says Hall. Classic cars need a lot of attention – even 1960s models will need servicing every few thousand miles – and this can be costly, especially if you’ve got a V12 under the bonnet.

If you’re not already handy with a set of spanners, a basic car maintenance course will pay dividends. You’ll also need access to a garage to do your tinkering (and to keep it off the road when not in use) and deep enough pockets to pay the insurance.

Do your homework before you buy – check out classic car magazines and owners’ clubs for advice – and resist the temptation to buy the first car you see.

If the idea of all that work has put you off, you might be better served by hire firms or car clubs. The Classic Car Club (www.classiccarclub.co.uk, 020-7490 9090), for example, gives you access to a “surprising” range of “gorgeous cars”, says the FT, for a one-off joining fee (£500) and a subscription (from £2,500 for six months).

The club also offers taster day drives (from £295 per person) – “quite an experience”, says The Daily Telegraph, and “one that’ll keep you grinning like a toddler” for some time to come.

Merryn

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