WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

In the US, there is an army of car-hun­ters driv­ing the back roads look­ing for lost trea­sure. With the UK be­ing more compact, it is best to speak to peo­ple in your own area first, as it is sur­pris­ing how many car fans will know of some­one who has an old ve­hi­cle tucked away. But no mat­ter how many years a car has been left in an out­build­ing, there’s no guar­an­tee the owner or their fam­ily will want to part with it. Try to be sub­tle and pa­tient, and if the right deal comes to light, make your move. For the less pa­tient, keep an eye on auc­tion lists, spe­cial­ist deal­ers, among our clas­si­fied ad­verts and on the web­site (see spe­cial­ist list). A visit to the Prac­ti­cal Clas­sics Restora­tion Show at the NEC, Birm­ing­ham, 5-6 March, will prove in­spi­ra­tional.

FIRST FIND YOUR BARN

Part of the ap­peal of a barn find is that ne­glected look that some­how com­bines past glo­ries with a hint of ‘I could look re­ally beau­ti­ful again, you know’. Some col­lec­tors now pre­fer lived-life patina as op­posed to the to­tally-re­stored gloss that was the de­sir­able aim in the past. You will need am­bi­tion and the funds to see the pro­ject through as you look at a car that has ram­pant rot, miss­ing parts, pan­els you can see day­light through and ro­dent in­fes­ta­tion. Some will pre­fer a car that has poor bodywork but is in rea­son­able me­chan­i­cal or­der, while oth­ers will

IF I SAID YOU HAD A BEAU­TI­FUL BODY

go for the op­po­site com­bi­na­tion, de­pend­ing on their skill level. An­other choice is how you present your car when re­stored: rat look or concours? Both have their fol­low­ers.

It is ob­vi­ous that no car is go­ing any­where if the en­gine has seized. Some­times the pis­ton rings are just lightly rusted to the cylin­der walls and can be freed; of­ten not. If an en­gine can be turned over, en­sure all the lit­tle and large com­po­nents are present and con­nected. Check that the steer­ing wheel at least turns the front wheels and that the clutch pedal and brakes are en­gag­ing. Fill the ra­di­a­tor with wa­ter to check for leaks. Even tyres that look rea­son­able may dis­in­te­grate when moved. As well as buy­ing a new bat­tery, you may well want a new coil, spark plugs and wires – and make sure the bat­tery cables are there and us­able. Most barn finds will need tow­ing or trai­ler­ing, so be pre­pared.

PRAC­TI­CAL ME­CHAN­ICS

Prov­ing that the car is what it claims/ap­pears to be is an­other po­ten­tial headache and due dili­gence is re­quired to try to con­firm all the facts. If you’re lucky there will be a VIN plate in place to re­veal the ve­hi­cle’s true iden­tity – if so, you can con­tact the DVLA and ask them about the ve­hi­cle and its last reg­is­tered owner. A ‘for­got­ten’ car is un­likely to come com­plete with the sort of pa­per­work

A CASE OF IDEN­TITY

his­tory that we pre­fer when pur­chas­ing a clas­sic. A large el­e­ment of trust is needed when you strike a deal for an aban­doned car in the middle of a field! Of course, buy­ing from a spe­cial­ist dealer or via an auc­tion could pro­vide a smoother tran­si­tion and of­fer peace of mind.

A laid up in­sur­ance pol­icy to cover the ve­hi­cle while it is SORN is a good idea, though not com­pul­sory. This will pro­vide cover for fire and theft while the car is un­der­go­ing restora­tion, which could prove money well spent.

IN­SUR­ANCE MAT­TERS

Buy­ing your barn find is just the first step. If you spot the car of your dreams com­ing up in an auc­tion, sat­isfy your­self that the car is ca­pa­ble of be­com­ing the ve­hi­cle you want it to be, and book your bid­ding pad­dle. Stick to your up­per price limit, take into ac­count the buyer’s pre­mium, and fac­tor in the cost of trans­port­ing your barn find to its new home. Work out a re­al­is­tic bud­get for the restora­tion and be­fore you say ‘It won’t hap­pen to me’ con­sider that there are al­ways a lot of pro­ject cars up for sale where funds and pa­tience has run out. What seems like a bar­gain might not be one when you dis­cover that parts for your pro­ject are not easy to come by. If your am­bi­tions are big­ger than your wal­let, close the barn doors and walk away.

KNOW YOUR LIM­ITS

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