• Mar 09, 2013

How to look after a classic car

Some car enthusiasts keep their pride and joy close by at all times, others seek out the optimum climate and store it away. To find out how you can look after your classic car, read on

Heard the one about the Ferrari owner who keeps his car in the living room at home?

Of course you have: in 2011, Sheffield steel worker Jon Ryder was all over the papers with news of the storage space he built for his 1996-registered F355 Spider.

Despite the garage door used to access it, the room was a bona fide living area inside his house, with plastered walls, a flat-screen television, comfy sofa and a view through French windows to the garden beyond.

As you’d expect, Mr Ryder’s explanation for his approach to car storage was simple: he described the Ferrari as a “piece of Italian art” that he wanted to take “pride of place” in his house.

Not every car enthusiast feels the need to keep their motor this close at hand, mind you. When toy designer Mark Cunningham won a rally-spec 1965 Renault 4L, he took the unusual decision to store it in the balmy surroundings of southern France, even though he lives in the UK.

Mr Cunningham, who studied car design at university, won the classic Renault in a competition. He was tasked with designing a 21st-century successor to the 4, and came up with a concept so impressive that it scored him top prize.

“I have always loved the Renault 4,” he reflects, “and to own a pristine rally version is a dream come true. It’s a dream I aim to protect, so although I would love to have the car with me all the time, I have opted to let it enjoy the warm dry atmosphere of a French barn.

“The one drawback is that I only see my beloved Renault twice a year,” he admits. “In between my joyful drives, I have to be satisfied with photos, but one day I hope to store it at home. If not, I will have to move to France.”

This may sound extreme, but it’s not such an outlandish suggestion when you consider that Mr Cunningham regards the unique Renault as a piece of his legacy. “It is my intention to pass the car on to my son and daughter one day,” he says. “I want them to experience the love for this true classic.”

These sentiments pretty much sum up why genuine car enthusiasts like Mr Ryder and Mr Cunningham will go to such lengths to protect their pride and joy. For them, they are more than vehicles: they are objects of fascination and desire, whose appeal is that they can be enjoyed even when they’re not on the open road.

Four ways to say I love you

Car care that goes beyond the call of duty

1 Keep it inside
Every car is better off if stored indoors. So clear out your junk to create some garage space. And if that fails, there’s always your living room…

2 Be a fair-weather motorist
If your car is a keeper, don’t drive it when the weather’s grim. The rain could exacerbate mechanical frailties. Many classic car owners adopt the opposite of the oyster-eating rule and only drive their vehicles if there’s not an “r” in the month. That way, they avoid the grime of winter.

3 Use it or lose it
It’s tempting to keep your classic or performance car tucked up away from harm. But if you want it to stay mechanically sound, you need to take it out on the road. An underused car is often a breakdown waiting to happen.

4 Or don’t drive it. Ever
That said, if you own a genuine classic, you might consider proper dry storage. The man who kept Winston Churchill’s Series One Land Rover in a shed for 35 years certainly saw the benefit of doing so. He sold the car in 2012 for £129,000, which was more than twice its estimated value.

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