Collecting oldtimers is an art that combines a passion for historic motoring, knowledge of the world of four wheels, and a commitment to the care and preservation of unique and rare vehicles. But where do you get started? Here is a complete guide to begin your personal adventure!
1. Know your passion
What models excite you the most? What features do you look for in a vintage vehicle? Be specific and focus on what your personal preferences are. But some advice, we feel, we can give you:
If you are new to the world of oldtimers, you may want to start with some of the classics that have made automotive history, such as the Porsche 356, Mercedes-Benz 190SL, Jaguar E-Type, the Ferrari 250 California or Dino 246 GTS, and the legendary Lancia Aurelia, recognized as some of the most beautiful and iconic ever created.
But if you are looking for something truly unique and out of the ordinary, you may want to consider buying a Delahaye 135, a Bugatti Type 57 or an Alfa Romeo 8C. These cars are considered true works of art on wheels and are highly sought after among savvy collectors.
Also, do not forget that you do not need to spend a fortune to start collecting oldtimers. There are many affordable and reliable historic cars, such as the Volkswagen Beetle, Mini Cooper or Austin-Healey Sprite and Alfa Romeo Giulietta or Alfa Romeo Spider, commonly known as the "Duetto".
In short, there is a perfect car for every type of enthusiast and every budget. Be curious, explore and find what's right for you.
2. Learn as much as possible and buy from reliable sources
The next step requires commitment: it’s time to learn as much as you can about this world. Read books, articles, and watch documentaries to learn about the history and characteristics of the models that interest you. Also, join enthusiast clubs and forums to exchange information and experiences. Not least, it is essential to know the market value of historic vehicles: this will enable you to make wise and informed purchases, and to avoid scams and wrong purchases. There are many online sources, such as specialized portals, and manuals that can help you evaluate prices.
Once you are ready to make your purchase, it is important to buy from reliable sources such as classic car dealers, historic vehicle auctions, or individuals who have experience in the oldtimer market. This way, you will be sure to take home an authentic vehicle in good condition.
3. Maintain and restore
Speaking of good condition, once you have found your oldtimer of the heart, it is important to do everything possible to keep it from losing its original luster. This means, for example, storing the vehicle in a dry place protected from direct sunlight and performing regular maintenance to preserve its value: lubricating moving parts, changing the oil and replacing worn parts--these are just some of the good practices you'll need to get used to. And, in some cases, keep in mind that you may need to restore the car to its original state or repair any damage.
4. Sharing passions
Collecting oldtimers is not only a way to have a beautiful classic car, but it is also ideal for expressing one's personality. Participating in classic car events, fairs and exhibitions is a great way to showcase collections and meet other enthusiasts. And if you are really brave, you could even participate in a historic rally!
But the most important thing is, as always, to enjoy the ride: this time behind the wheel of your unique piece!
I think if you’re “new to the world of oldtimers,” then you really need to start with the many affordable and reliable historic cars that are available. Those are usually much less finicky than their crazy-expensive counterparts and you run less of a risk of loosing interest in the hobby. Personally, if I hadn’t started with cars like the Datsun Z cars, 60s era Volvos, and 70s era Fiats, I probably wouldn’t own a 70s era Ferrari today. Those less-expensive options served as a great primer for the more expensive car I own today. And in most cases, less money doesn’t mean less fun.
Your step two should really be step one. Learning as much as possible about vintage cars you’re interested in will help shape your ideal car—which one is right for you. Once you’ve gathered enough information about certain cars, you’ll narrow your focus to just a handful of cars that will fit your needs perfectly, and more importantly, you’ll know what to look for and what to expect when it’s time to make a purchase. I spent three decades researching my car before I finally bought it. Of course, I was a teenager when I first saw one, so my finances had to catch up to me desires! Which is why I spent a lot of time with the less expensive cars first.
“Maintain” is accurate for any car, not just collectibles. A car is a big purchase, not matter what car it is, so you should always be taking care of it. “Restore”, on the other hand, can be a point of contention amongst some enthusiasts! There’s beauty in perfectly restored cars, but there’s also great beauty in that perfect patina. As they say, “it’s only original once,” so choose wisely before restoring a car. Make sure it’s what you really want! Once you start down the path of restoration, the expense grows astronomically and there’s no turning back.
Couldn’t agree with “sharing passions” more! These are cars, they need to be driven and they need to be seen. There’s a whole lot of people out there who will never be able to afford such cars, and just seeing them brings them joy. As a child, seeing cars like this inspired me to one day own one. Take your cars out and let them be seen by the people, engage in conversation, tell your car’s story to everyone!