An owner's guide to classic car investment

5 minutes

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Stuart Masson, publisher and editor of The Car Expert, is the proud owner of Big Red – a classic 1973 Jaguar XJ6.

Here, he shares some insight into buying and owning your own classic car.

  • Although investment into a classic car is a long term prospect, there can be returns on the right cars
  • Look around and don't buy the first one you fall in love with – research into knowing exactly what you want is key
  • With reports that the economy is on an upward curve and interest rates are still low, there couldn't be a better time to get your very own classic car

The author's beloved 'Big Red'.

My own classic car

For about a year, I'd been keeping an eye on the market for a classic car. I had a few different cars in mind, and spent many months perusing classifieds sites and reading every classic car magazine I could get my hands on.

Over a six month period, a couple of the cars I'd been looking at started increasing in price, or decreasing in availability, pushing them beyond my budget. But then I found a car that ticked all my boxes and was within my reach. Now, I'm the proud owner of a 1973 Jaguar XJ6 Series 1 (named Big Red).

The Jaguar XJ6 is a superb car, but there are very few remaining that have avoided rusting away into oblivion. It's also a classic car that's significantly undervalued, which is great news for buyers. Give it a few years, and you can expect the market value of this model to rise significantly. Older Jaguars like the E-Type and Mark 2 saloon have already seen skyrocketing prices in recent years, and there's no question the XJ6 will follow in time. Fuel consumption isn't great, but it doesn't get used for daily driving.

E10 unleaded petrol is due to replace E5 as the standard petrol grade from 1 September 2021. E10 fuel is less harmful to the environment and helps reduce CO2 emissions. 
E5 petrol will still be available alongside E10, but you’ll need to check your vehicle can take the newer fuel before filling up. Used over prolonged periods, E10 can cause damage to incompatible engines in some classic cars. For more information, check the Government website and see if your vehicle can use E10 petrol.

"It gets plenty of admiring waves from other road users, and is a lovely old thing to drive.”

So, I get to have my cake and eat it too. I have a glorious old car which drives beautifully and puts a big smile on my face. Plus it will only go up in value over time, so if I ever decide to sell,  I can expect to get my money back with a healthy amount of interest.

Which classic cars are most popular today?

Not every car can be considered a classic just because it's a bit elderly. Some cars were rubbish right from the start, and have no place in the automotive hall of fame. But even some fairly prosaic vehicles have a dedicated following who seek them out and maintain them lovingly.

As a general rule, classic car buyers tend to seek out the cars they loved as children. This means that 1970s and ‘80s cars are in vogue at the moment, as kids of those decades can now afford to buy and restore them, and values on many models from this era are starting to appreciate noticeably. If your childhood dream car fits this bill, you'd better get in quick.

Why should you consider buying a classic car?

Unlike a new car, which will probably lose two-thirds of its value within its first three years, a classic car is likely to hold or gradually increase its value over time.

If you're handy with a set of spanners, much of the maintenance and repair work can be done yourself. If you're not an eager DIY mechanic, the relatively simple mechanicals mean servicing at a garage usually costs much less than on a new car. 

Classic car insurance policies can be quite cheap, as long as you are not using the car on a daily basis for commuting to work and are happy with restricted annual mileage. Road tax is free if the car is more than 40 years old, too.

And of course, classic cars have a completely different style and feel to the cookie-cutter looks of modern cars. Regardless of your own likes and dislikes, you should certainly be able to find a model to suit.

Is the time right to consider a classic car?

Over the last few years, there's been an increased level of interest from savvy savers in buying a classic car as a financial investment, rather than purely as a weekend toy. So it's possible you can have it all - enjoying the pleasure of driving a classic car while also enjoying a steady increase in its value.

Which cars should you buy now as an investment for the future?

Cars from the 1970s and 80s are becoming more popular now, so there are plenty of good opportunities there. Investing in a classic car should always be considered a long-term prospect, not a get-rich-quick scheme. 

Investment potential must go hand-in-hand with how you'll use the car. There is no point buying a classic car and not enjoying it. One of the best ways to keep your car in good order is to drive it regularly – shutting it up in a garage for several years can cause more harm than good, even if it keeps the mileage down. If you don't enjoy owning and driving it, it's not a very good use of your money.

Author bio:

Stuart Masson is the owner and editor of The Car Expert, a website providing independent and impartial advice on car buying and car finance, as well as other news and information from all around the automotive world. He is also the proud owner of Big Red.

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