Start Your Engines – A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Classic Cars

Are you interested in turning your passion for cars into an investment opportunity? Here, the experts from My Motor World share some advice on crafting the perfect classic car collection, from choosing your first cars to finding the right storage.

It’s easy to see why many of us have a fascination with classic cars. Not only are they things of beauty, but antique varieties are also important pieces of motoring history. If you’re looking to take your interest and passion for these vehicles to the next level, starting a classic car collection could be the perfect pastime for you. As well as being a way to celebrate your love of antique motors, a classic car collection can even prove to be an investment for some collectors.

If you’re looking to build a collection for investment, or even if you’re just doing it for fun, it’s important to do plenty of research before you get started. It’s also worth noting that cars they can be particularly high-maintenance investments, and of course any form of investment is a risk, so it’s best to only build an investment collection if you’re truly passionate about owning the vehicles and able to finance the interest.

If you’re looking for some more advice and information before starting your collection, begin by reading this guide to classic car collecting.

Choosing Your Theme

When it comes to starting a collection of cars, you may be tempted to simply buy the vehicles you are the most interested in. But if you’re looking to create an investment opportunity, or you plan on displaying your collection at events, buying cars based on a coherent theme will likely be the best option for you.

Even if you choose a relatively niche theme, a small but co-ordinated collection can be both more valuable and more interesting than an array of classic cars without any connection to each other. It will also make the collection easier to sell on in the future, if you choose to do so.

2004 Porsche Carrera GT, refinished by Porsche Classic Partner, Porsche North Houston, to ‘Speedster Blue’, unique to the 356 ‘Pre-A’ Speedster, from Broad Arrow Auctions, estimate: $1,500,000 – $1,800,000

The good news is that there are a variety of different themes to base your collection on, so you shouldn’t be short of ideas. If you’re looking for some inspiration, below are just a few of the theme ideas you could choose:

• The manufacturer
• The model
• The period it was manufactured
• The country of origin
• The body style

When you’ve found your focus and you’re ready to start shopping, it’s important to know the best places to look. There are a few different buying options to choose from, each with a number of advantages and disadvantages:

• Auctions: This is a great place to get a good deal, but they can be daunting for newbies. It is best to attend a few auctions to observe how they work before taking the plunge, and when you do buy don’t forget to take auction fees into account.
• Private sellers: It can be easier to haggle and get a better deal from a private seller, but you won’t get a warranty or any of the protections you would if you purchased the vehicle from a dealership.
• Dealerships: This is a safe option as you can cover the car with a warranty period, but it can also be the priciest option.
• Buying online: It’s becoming easier to buy classic cars online, through both private sellers and dealerships. This can be a great way to explore a wider variety of cars and can make it easier to find the perfect fit for your collection, but you may prefer the security of seeing a car in person before making your purchase, and bear in mind the costs of delivery if you buy from abroad.

MG MGA 1622 MK II, €55,000, from


Just like with buying any other car, you should make sure to find out more about the vehicle you’re interested in before buying. Check the service history (this will be provided to you buy the seller) and the MOT history (you can check this online). It’s also a good idea to ask the seller if there is anything else worth mentioning about the car, such as recurring issues or small defects which haven’t been mentioned in any of the paperwork. You may also want to ask why they are selling. For example, if it is due to the cost of maintaining the car, you might prefer to find an alternative which isn’t so high maintenance. If you are new to classic car investing or you simply want some guidance, it may be worth getting the help of an expert throughout the buying process.

Storing Your Collection

Choosing the right storage solution is essential when it comes to keeping your investment secure. As well as keeping it safe from theft and damage, classic cars must be protected from the elements as much as they can, as they are often less weather-proof than newer models. Unless you’re planning on owning a particularly small collection, the chances are that you won’t have space to keep the vehicles on your own property. But fortunately, there are a number of storage facilities across the country for classic cars.

When looking for the right facility for your collection, the most important factor to consider is the safety of the vehicle. Check out how secure the facility seems — plenty of CCTV cameras and 24/7 surveillance is a good sign. A climate-controlled storage solution is also ideal to prevent temperature extremes damaging the car. And don’t forget to have your car insured while it is in storage — you may be able to get a good deal from the storage company.

1936 Austin Chalfont, Estimate: £10,000 – £18,000, from Hansons

Your classic car collection can only work as an investment if the vehicles are well cared for. And due to their age, maintaining classic cars can take a lot of time, money, and effort. Many collection owners prefer a hands-off approach. If this is the case for you and you have it in your budget, you can simply hire someone to regularly service the collection for you. As well as freeing up plenty of your time, this gives you assurance that your investment is in the hands of a professional. When getting your car serviced, it is a good idea to opt for a company that specialises in classic cars to ensure your vehicle gets the most thorough checking.

Hands On

If you would prefer to have a more hands-on approach to maintaining your collection, you may still want some helpwhen it comes to the more technical aspects and heavy work like replacing engines. This allows you to get more involved with smaller jobs like changing oil and checking the tires, while still being able to rely on the expert advice of others for the major maintenance tasks.

Starting a classic car collection is a great hobby for motor enthusiasts and can become a fantastic investment opportunity with plenty of research and care. Use the tips above to get started on your collection. And for more investment advice and inspiration, make sure to check out Arts & Collections‘ other articles.

See also: Rolls-Royce Black Badge Wraith Black Arrow is the Last V12 Coupe

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