Firstly if the do or don't question is whether to get into owning å classic car or not there is no don't, just do, or as Yoda didn't put it:
“Try not, do, or do not, there is no try”
He should have said of course:
"Do, there is no do not"
But then I don't have Yoda down as a classic car man, not least because of his size issues, and that is where we'll start in this guide to the Do's and Don'ts of classic car buying.
We've already established that getting into classic car ownership is something any half interested car person should grab with both hands if the opportunity or desire arises but whilst the overall direction is right, the actual destination needs to be even better to make it a long term relationship rather than a short term fling full of regrets and remorse.
That's the analogies over for now so what is the most common mistake we see from would be classic owners?
Well, put simply it's never a mistake to buy a classic but it is a big mistake buying the wrong car.
Forget the idea of investment potential, most classic owners and by those we mean classic owner drivers buy their chosen car based on nostalgia, emotion and boy or girlhood dreams.
It's always mildly offensive to use the term mid life crisis for somebody who has worked hard to get themselves into a position to indulge their money into something they either once had or once and forever wished they had, as a result it's completely understandable that come a certain time in life that classic ownership becomes a realistic proposition. No crisis there but buying the car of your dreams on cloudy memories can induce one.
Of course we also know that classic ownership is not age prejudiced, there is a huge boom in new drivers, 20s and 30 year olds buying into the scene as they kick back against the more mundane fare on offer from contemporary manufacturers with a more individual choice of transport. But in truth those young enough to not have a great deal of experience of cars and therefore not to have a benchmark tend to settle into classics of all shapes and sizes very quickly, they can take the rough ride, the uncompromising noise and the gnat's cough of a heater because they've just graduated to that from their Punto, Corsa or Ka.
But for those who are buying their boy or girlhood dream and who maybe have got used to a more comfortable, modern, easy access way of transport since those halcyon days it can be a huge culture shock jumping back in time to another era.
Indeed the 30 years plus that may have passed rapidly in humans terms have positively screamed by in the automotive world.
The car won't be as comfortable as you remembered, the ride won't be as forgiving as you thought, the handling won't be as incisive as you reminisced, the wipers won't be worth the name, and the heater, well the heater might as well not be there, and as for air conditioning, well at least the radio might pick up long wave.
All of these things add to the joy of ownership but only if you're prepared for it, go into the classic experience expecting the joys and none of the time bound compromises and you will be disappointed. So always, always drive the car or cars you dream of before taking the plunge, we all know we need do so to establish the individual car's health but more importantly in the first instance is to establish whether it's characteristics suit your lifestyle and can realistically be enjoyed without causing hernias or temporary blindness.
So when buying a classic always match the car to your circumstances and always drive one before you even get down to thinking about which particular seller you are going to buy from. Even a poorly maintained car will tell you all you need to know about accessibility, practicality and so on of the model so make sure that is covered off so that when you find the perfect, mint example, the reality of ownership doesn't disappoint. And don't be afraid to think practically too as after all this car will be used, it may seem to take some of the passion away from the purchase but a little bit of logic goes a long way to making classic car ownership a regret free way to spend your hard earned.
There are no bad classic cars but there can be bad classic car to lifestyle fits. So embrace the need to match passion with realism and immerse yourself, you might find the perfect classic you never knew you loved.