It’s an area we are so often asked about at Car-Link of Bournemouth here in Dorset, covering both preparation and care of those treasured used prestige and classic cars. Here are some thoughts and tips.
For starters, we do agree with US chat show host and classic car aficionado, Jay Leno, when he said that: “For me, owning cars without driving them, just isn’t fun”. If you are not running it regularly, we’d recommend that you do start it up once every couple of weeks. Then, allow it to reach normal temperature. Taking it for a run, even for just a few miles, does help to prevent common faults such as brakes and clutches sticking or hydraulic failure. Another expert once put it succinctly: “If you don’t use it, you'll lose it”.
If you are storing your classic car for periods of time, perhaps using it only during better weather, then make sure the location is as damp free as possible. A dehumidifier can be a sensible idea, as can a specialist, controlled cocoon-style cover, as chrome and other metal work corrodes and tarnishes in damp conditions. During storage, disconnect your battery, or invest in a trickle charger to prevent it from going flat. Leave the handbrake off as cables can seize up and then refuse to release (of course, it does still need to be safely parked).
Remember what a classic car isn’t – and that’s modern. While areas such as regularly checking and topping up brake and clutch fluids, plus both oil and water, can often be neglected between services on modern vehicles, classic cars deserve constant attention.
Do use a specialist dealer, with classic car expertise, to both check and service at least annually. Even if your car is MOT exempt, key areas such as brakes, tyres and steering should still be carefully assessed.
Finally, a key don’t. If you want your classic car to hold its value then do not “pimp your ride”. If you do have to use modern parts in upgrades of key areas such as brakes or steering, ignition or suspension, retain the original parts. Then any subsequent buyer has the option to revert to these. We almost weep on those occasions where someone brings in a classic car to sell, and they have inadvertently seriously damaged its value by such actions as installing a new sound system, extra lighting, or even resprayed it in a completely new, non-manufacturer's colour!