Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know


Ten things that classic car enthusiasts need to know

Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know-guide

The nice thing about old cars is that there is practically no vehicle that cannot be rebuilt, no matter how dilapidated it is

Source: Getty Images

Classic cars are in like never before. Everyone wants one. In case you also want to own an old car, here are ten things you should know about the dirtiest hobby on earth.

W.he ventures into the world of classic cars should at least have heard of some things. We have put together ten of a total of 101 important, interesting or amusing facts.

1) The better car is the better buy

The classic car is by no means a hobby only for the rich, the classified ads are full of supposed bargains for a few thousand euros. But maintenance backlogs and high repair and restoration costs can quickly exceed the purchase price dramatically. There is a rule of thumb, the so-called 3-to-1 rule: if you invest three euros in the repair of your dream car, you will only get one euro back when it is sold.

If you are not particularly talented as a screwdriver, it can be economically more profitable not to buy a restoration object, but rather the more expensive but better vehicle. Unless, for you, the journey is the goal. If you are really looking forward to years of tedious restoration work after work, then treat yourself to your automotive maintenance case.

2) 30 years is not enough for an H mark

With the H license plate, vintage cars enjoy tax benefits (flat-rate 191 euros annual vehicle tax) and have free travel in the environmental zones. However, a car does not receive the special license plate unconditionally. The classic car not only has to be at least 30 years old, but also in good condition and in good condition. Rust arbors with a backlog of repairs should have no chance of official recognition as an automotive cultural asset.

How good the state of preservation is is, to a certain extent, a subjective decision of the vehicle inspection agency. Sometimes one wonders what kind of ruins are ennobled with the H mark. What is hardly known: The vehicles may correspond to the status of their first registration. A classic car from the time around 1900 may be driven without lights, indicators and brake lights – with sufficient caution and of course not after dusk.

3) There are no more barn finds

Imagine going on a hiking holiday in Italy and spending the night in a farmer’s barn. And the next morning you open your eyes and discover a dusty Fiat 500 or a Lancia Fulvia under a few bales of straw. Sounds lovely, but such stories are a thing of the past. Because the time of barn finds is over.

By now everyone has probably noticed that you can make money with old cars. The stock of automobile Sleeping Beauty in a condition worth restoring has long been grazed in this country. And if a long-forgotten classic should turn up somewhere, then it is the clever farmer himself who sells the box to the highest bidder.

4) There is no car that cannot be rebuilt

That’s the nice thing about old cars: there is practically no vehicle that cannot be rebuilt, no matter how dilapidated it is. Accordingly, the rating scale of a classic only ranges from school grades 1 (in immaculate original condition or perfectly restored) to 5 (vehicle in poor condition, not ready to drive, sometimes parts are missing).

Unlike in school, however, there is never a grade 6 for a classic car. Only a car that is not there could be rated 6. Everything that is available can be welded, completed and rebuilt. This is only economically viable if the current value of the vehicle exceeds the restoration costs. Otherwise it will be cannibalized.

5) Beware of renovations and new buildings

Do not believe what you see! A strange phenomenon has been spreading for a number of years: the number of sedans is falling for certain vehicle types and the number of roadsters and specials is increasing. The Austin Seven, for example, was built as a sedan, Chumny (tourer) and Nippy (roadster). "I want to have!" screams the hearts of classic car lovers. The only problem is: there are so few original vehicles.

Resourceful people then came up with something: "We’ll take a limousine or a Chumny and convert it." The body is torn down and rebuilt. In the overheated classic car market, replicas and conversions are the order of the day. There are supposed to be coachbuilders who turn a perfectly normal VW transporter into a Samba bus with 23 windows (market value around 100,000 euros). And good specimens can no longer be distinguished from non-specialists.

If you are unlucky, as a new owner you will not even get the vehicle registered. So make sure you take a club appraiser with you who is familiar with the specific type of vehicle to visit.

6) Patina is cool!

In the past, a car was either old and used, or it was exquisitely restored. The first was an old used car, the second a vintage car. Cars are there to be driven, not museums. And what is so bad about it when you can tell that an old car has a long life? This is how the concept of patina came up in the classic car scene.

It comes from the restoration workshops of the art museums. There the patina is counted as the original substance, and the concept of shining in a new splendor has long been abandoned. In the meantime, even at auctions, vehicles with patina paint sometimes fetch higher prices than meticulously restored top classics that lack any character. But be careful: do not allow a ruin to be sold as a patinated gem. A rust arbor remains a rust arbor.

7) Seat belts do not endanger the H mark

Originality is important to many classic car drivers, but the fun stops with safety. A number of post-war classic cars already have attachment points for seat belts. The modern three-point seat belt is a Volvo development. As early as 1961, almost 80 percent of newly registered cars in Sweden had seat belts.

The Volvo doctor from Berlin

Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know-these

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Andreas Drescher has a soft spot for old Volvos, especially the Amazon. Produced between 1956 and 1970, the mid-range car was something like the VW Beetle Sweden. Today the Amazon is comparatively cheap, and the spare parts supply is also good – a great introduction to the classic car hobby.

Source: Haiko Prengel

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The fan scene for classic Volvos is rather manageable in Germany. So people were all the more happy when they saw an old Amazon driving on the street, for example, says Andreas Drescher. “The feedback is always positive.” Probably also because the Amazon is not a prodigy car for people with a lot of money.

Source: Haiko Prengel

Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know-enthusiasts

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This blue Amazon belongs to a customer from Potsdam. The woman had once done an internship in Drescher’s workshop. Now she drives classic cars herself. The four-cylinder of the Amazon with double carburetor makes about 100 HP.

Source: Haiko Prengel

Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know-these

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The two-door Amazon from the sixties is lower at the front (of course not ex works, but afterwards). Another highlight: the folding roof that can be folded in on beautiful onesn summer days.

Source: Haiko Prengel

Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know-enthusiasts

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The owner of the “Autoklinik” in front of his latest project, a gutted Volvo P1800 from the 1960s. On behalf of a lawyer, he should have the sports coupe by the middle of the 2ndCompletely rebuild 017: “A gigantic restoration job,” says Drescher.

Source: Haiko Prengel

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Because Swedish steel can’t rust: After sandblasting, the body of the P1800 was perforated like Swiss cheese. For the left side sill, Andreas Drescher already got a spare part.

Source: Haiko Prengel

Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know-enthusiasts

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Doors, exhaust systems, even complete engines with gearboxes: Over the years, Andreas Drescher has accumulated tons of spare parts for classic Volvos. Fortunately, the Miete low for its halls. Most of the garages in Berlin cost a fortune, says Drescher.

Source: Haiko Prengel

Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know-classic

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Andreas Drescher in front of another customer vehicle. The underbody protection of this Volvo Amazon is to be renewed. That means a lot of work: First, the body of Ice-blasted at the bottom, then a new protective layer is applied to preserve the classic for the next few years.

Source: Haiko Prengel

Classic car guide: these 10 things enthusiasts need to know-these

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This Volvo 262 Bertone is an exotic one: the Italian design company turned the four-door Swedish sedan into a two-door coupe with a vinyl roof. A Six-cylinder, which was also installed in the Renault Alpine. "This car was already very expensive in the eighties," says Andreas Drescher, who now wants to rebuild the wreck for his private collection.

Source: Haiko Prengel

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But not all Volvos can be saved by Andreas Drescher, some of them are not worth rebuilding. This Volvo Amazon Kombi only serves as a spare parts dispenser.

Source: Haiko Prengel

The belts can be retrofitted, but must then also be used. This does not endanger the H mark. There are also retrofit kits for vehicles that do not have seat belts. These should be installed by a specialist. So buckle up and your family members – then everyone can enjoy the classic car hobby.

8) Real fans also drive their oldies in winter

Most classic car owners moth their sweetheart in winter. A car is not made of sugar and does not shrink in on itself with the first November rain. However, it is important to make the classic car fit for the cold season. This includes winter tires and a check of the lighting system.

In order to prevent rust, the car must also be well preserved. With a cavity seal, neuralgic areas such as sills, lower door edges or the vehicle pillars are sealed. A cavity seal is well done when wax and grease really trickle down from the sheet metal. It doesn’t look nice, but it will help against corrosion from moisture and salt for many years. Cars are there to be driven!

9) Youngtimer drivers are the real heroes

An Opel Calibra, the first Mercedes E-Class or a Honda CRX: Do you remember the cars of the 90s? Are these classics already? Or still used cars? There is no precise definition of what a classic car is.

These cars are certainly older than 15 to 20 years, but not yet 30 years. They are well preserved, often not yet restored and cost real money to maintain because they no longer meet the most modern environmental standards, but are not yet old enough to get the H mark.

One meets again and again on classic car owners who look down a little disparagingly on classic car owners. They are the real heroes of the classic car industry. You still have to organize yourself into clubs. And still ensure the supply of spare parts – for vehicles that nobody knows whether they will ever be worth anything.

10) Treat auto graveyards with respect

Even the life of a car comes to an end at some point. Whether in Sweden, France or America: There are forgotten junkyards all over the world. The vast majority of vehicles in these car cemeteries can no longer even be cannibalized because they are so weathered and rotten. Here a stately tree trunk has bored its way through the bonnet, there wild moss grows on the leather interior.

A scene of its own has formed around these scrapyards, mostly photographers. They publish their work on the half-sunk, overgrown wrecks on the Internet. Should you ever come across such a junkyard, enjoy the atmosphere. Let the morbid beauties rest and do not reveal the location to anyone.

The author Thomas E. Dohna has compiled these ten and many other facts about classic cars in his book "101 things a classic car enthusiast needs to know." The book was published by Geramond-Verlag and costs 14.99 euros.

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