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The Case for Classic Cars by Roger Tyrell, The Classic Car Workshop

01 October 2012

A take on what makes classic car ownership special

Modern cars are very efficient but are lacking in character although two models have become big sellers through their manufacturers cashing in on the appeal of their classic ancestors of the nineteen fifties. These are the current Volkswagen ‘Beetle’ and the new Fiat 500

that clothe modern components from the Golf and Panda in a retro styled body shell.

It seems essential for TV detectives to have a classic car. Morse has his Jaguar, Bergerac a Triumph Roadster, Colombo a Peugeot 403,Magnum a Ferrari and Inspector Lynley a Bristol 409; all of them add character to the character so what is the appeal of a classic car?

The original classic cars were designed and built by numerous individual motor companies each incorporating their own sometimes quirky ideas and the cars were readily identified by the shape of their radiators and distinctive styling. Famous British makes such as Austin, Singer, Riley, Morris, Triumph, Wolseley, Sunbeam, Rover all date back to the early twentieth century but they have been swallowed up by giant international corporations and their names have disappeared. Cars of today are created for world markets, designed by computers and built by robots so perhaps nostalgia for a time when cars had more personality is part of the attraction of a classic car? There is also the social side of ownership.

'Morse has his Jaguar, Bergerac a Triumph Roadster'

A classic car can transport you back to a golden age of motoring and opens up a social calendar of events ranging from local fetes and road runs to international events, rallies and classic race meetings. Every weekend throughout the summer there will be an event within reach and many of these encourage owners to dress in period with their car. The premier example of this is the Goodwood Revival meeting in September with a similar event at Croft Circuit near Darlington over the first weekend in August. All of these events provide an opportunity to leave the stresses of the modern world behind and experience the sights and sounds of classic cars and fashion as it was in the forties, fifties and sixties.

With a stagnant property market and poor equity returns classic cars can also make financial sense from an investment point of view especially at a time when interest rates are extremely low. For many, owning a classic car can set the pulse racing in a way that a portfolio of shares cannot but buying wisely is absolutely vital; in terms of history, condition, originality and provenance buy the best you can afford.

Looking after your investment is paramount. If your share certificate gets tatty it doesn’t lose value but scratches, dents or rust on your car will detract from the value. Other than perhaps wedding hire, film and TV work there is no income from a classic car to offset the cost of maintenance and running repairs but there are specialist companies who can help with such work. This need not be expensive as compared to a modern car a classic is entirely mechanical and free from electronics making them easier to repair. Furthermore a well-maintained classic is likely to appreciate in value over the longer term so what’s stopping you?

Roger Tyrrell

Director: The Classic Car Workshop Ltd, Dalton on Tees, Darlington

The Classic Car Workshop is located near Croft Circuit and looks after Headlam Hall's E-type (photographed opposite). The E-type is available for hire during summer months as part of our two night classic car break, details of which can be found at

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