The 2019 Insurance Classic Motor Show : What makes a classic car valuable? The 2019 Insurance Classic Motor Show : What makes a classic car valuable?
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What makes a classic car valuable?

Porsche 911 parked side on, on a sunny day

Nothing conjures up an image of laidback luxury quite like a classic car. But if you’re considering buying a Bentley or purchasing a Porsche, it’s important that you don’t just leap into the driving seat without checking a few things first.

To make sure you’re buying a valuable vintage automobile and not a rusty old heap, read on. Otherwise, your purchase may not be the ‘Triumph’ you’d hoped for.

What is a classic car?

For us, defining a classic car is the million dollar question as it is almost impossible to define a ‘classic.’  It’s as much about the way a vehicle is treasured and loved as it about the age of the vehicle itself. 

Whilst HMRC may define a car as a classic for BIK purposes when it reaches 15 years old, in practice, many younger cars (MGTF, MX5 etc) can be insured as a classic car if they are used in the true classic sense.

Another good indication of whether or not a vehicle warrants ‘classic’ status is if it has increased, rather than decreased, in value since reaching its lowest value.

Good examples would be older Golfs and Ford Fiesta, which have appreciated – as opposed to depreciated – significantly in recent years.

This means that your old motor may very well qualify for classic car insurance, especially if your mileage is low. With access to some of the UK’s most competitive classic and vintage car schemes, Lancaster Insurance can help to arrange cover for your beloved vehicle, for a price that’s right.

Now, let’s take a look at other factors that can determine the value of a classic car.

Manufacturer and model

What’s in a name? Quite a lot as it happens, especially when it comes to classic cars.

The manufacturer is the number one factor in deciding the value of a classic car. And the more prestigious, the better. Bentley. Jaguar. Rolls Royce. Ferrari. They’re all by-words for engineering expertise, luxury and style.

But while there’s no such thing as a ‘rubbish’ Rolls Royce, not all models are created equal.

First constructed in 1925, the Phantom is the King of the Rolls, and arguably of all British classic cars.

If you’ve got one of them tucked away in your garage or barn – or a Jaguar E-Type, a Porsche 911 or an Aston Martin DB5 – you’d be wise to get yourself classic car insurance.  After all, they could be worth an eye-wateringly high sum.

1963 JAGUAR E-TYPE 3.8 Coupe Series 1

Rarity and authenticity

So what is it about one beautifully made miracle of engineering that puts it streets ahead of another?

Take a look at an Aston Martin DB5. You can’t find one to look at? That’s because scarcely a thousand of these were ever produced. Their rarity has sent their value sky-high: the latest Octane Classic Car Price Guide values the DB5 at £750,000 in excellent condition or £1.7 for the DB5 convertible, with just 123 ever produced.

Of course, at that kind of a price, you’ll need to be sure you’re getting the real deal. Make sure you know the full history of the car you’re considering, and that it has the documentation to match.

Style, character and ‘wow’ factor

Not only is the Aston Martin DB5 a rare gem, it also has a certain cachet from its association with James Bond films.

Obviously, style and character are subjective. Far more humble models have also achieved classic status, often through their distinctive looks or cultural associations.

Mini Coopers were heralded as the quintessential British car thanks to their starring role in the 1969 film The Italian Job. Volkswagen Beetles are loved for their quirky looks, and association with 1960’s hippies – and who could forget Herbie the Love Bug?

Original features are also highly prized. Check the interiors: original seats, carpets, pedal rubbers, door handles and so on all add value to your classic car. If it needs repainting, get it done professionally and in the original colour, otherwise you could risk damaging the resale value.

Close up of a silver Aston Martin DB5

Condition and mileage

When you buy an everyday run-around or a family estate car, you expect to pay more for a vehicle in good condition and with low mileage.

Of course, luxury models were built to last and many are still going strong decades after production. But somewhat disappointingly, perhaps, classic cars are subject to the same laws of physics as their distant cousins. Wear and tear or heavy usage detracts from their value.

So when buying a vintage car, you’ll need to take a good look at the body and under the bonnet for signs of deterioration, just like you would any other vehicle.

Check out the mileage, too: if it’s high, the price should be lower. But you may find it is not as great a consideration as for an everyday car: people aren’t generally buying these vehicles to drive them very far anyway, and they will almost certainly be second or third cars.

Classic car insurance is also not designed with high mileage in mind. If you’re intending to do a lot of driving, then classic cars may not be right for you. Most people own them as second vehicles, driving them only on occasion, and if the weather is fine.

Do classic cars increase in value?

It’s well known that new cars depreciate the moment you drive them off the forecourt. In fact, the price can drop by a hefty 20-30% just as soon as you take possession of it, and a further five per cent or so every subsequent year.

However, once they hit classic car status, that situation is turned on its head. So long as they are kept in decent condition, their value goes on rising steadily. If you know what you are looking for, certain models can be considered very good investments indeed.

Classic car insurance

Lancaster Insurance is the classic car insurance broker of choice for owners of 88,000 vehicles (as from May 2019). Over 40% of all MGBs and over 30% of all Land Rover 88s and MG Midgets have their insurance arranged by Lancaster. Insurance premiums start at just £70.48 for private cars.

Like you, Lancaster is passionate about classic vehicles. Drawing on the recommendations from our panel of specialist underwriters, we will search for the best cover for your cherished antique car.  

So you can enjoy your Porsche, Rolls or even Fiesta safe in the knowledge that it’s got insurance worthy of its name. 



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