If you are the one person in your family who is interested in owning an older or ‘classic’ car, then convincing the rest to come along for the ride can be a tough task.
Visiting a few weekend car shows is a good way of assessing the level of family interest in older car ownership. Those shiny spoke wheels and polished panels or custom paintwork and towering hi-risers can be inspirational.
Once everyone has voted for their favourite – hopefully not the most expensive or impractical one they saw – then you look at ways of acquiring something similar.
If you have never owned a classic model then try several different types, preferably with a family member along for the test-drive if possible.
The first things that younger explorers will notice is how different the basic features of older cars are from those in the car you use every day. Things like huge windows with handles not a switch, the absence of air-conditioning and how vinyl seats (or perhaps leather) get extremely hot on summer days.
You need somewhere suitable to keep an extra car. Most families already have two vehicles and neither will want to give up its garage space. Check if a neighbour might have a spot you can rent or perhaps construct a carport in front of your existing garage.
If you’re a family that likes to fish and camp, then a classic Range Rover or Landcruiser will deal far more easily with beach and bush tracks than a low-slung Fairmont station wagon. Likewise, a cute Mini Clubman that fits four in reasonable comfort becomes an overcrowded sardine can when taking a friend or nanna along for the ride.
Most recreational cars do not cover big annual distances, so fuel consumption isn’t going to be a major factor when choosing a car. You can have a nice, roomy model with a relatively big engine and only spend as much fuelling it for a month as your regular transport swallows every week.
Enthusiast Insurance knows that cars bought with the intention of being used every week sometimes don’t move for a month because the weather is too hot or other pressures on family time take priority.
Standard insurance or even cover that assumes you will do 5000 kilometres a year, may well be way too much and a waste of money. Enthusiast Insurance sets annual distance limits that start at just 1000km but should you need an increase part way through your policy term that can be arranged.
One essential feature of a family classic is seat belts. Cars sold new in Australia since 1976 have had belts supplied for every occupant (most have only a lap belt in the centre rear though) however imported models may not meet this standard.
Cars more than 60 years old may not be suited to family motoring at all. Not only do they lack belts but also need major and often expensive structural changes in order to mount them.
Some older cars also fall victim to laws which prevent newly-licensed drivers from driving vehicles that authorities consider to be too powerful. Check with licensing authorities before settling on a model that younger family members might need to drive.
Finally and most importantly, pick a car that is immediately usable. Unless you or someone you know, is experienced and adept at rebuilding old and neglected vehicles, don’t fall for the romantic and financially stressful notion of intention of ‘doing it up’.
For now, enjoy the process of getting the family excited about a ‘adopting’ an older car, then narrowing down the field, testing and evaluating and finally owning a piece of motoring history.
Just don’t forget before heading home in that new purchase to jump on-line at www.enthusiast.com.au and spend just a couple of minutes organising just the right amount of insurance cover for the life it is going to lead.