Owning a classic car is a dream many of us share. While modern cars have their advantages, there's just something so special about hitting the road in a classic motor. A man who shares this view is Mark Wilkinson, Managing Partner at Heritage Classic Car Insurance - an insurance company with over 50 years' experience and one of the first to offer a policy dedicated to classic cars. We ask him about his favourite cars and what advice he'd give to those in the market for a classic vehicle.
When did you first become interested in classic cars?
I've been around classic cars all my life as it was my father who set up the business in 1965, and he always had interesting cars. My earliest car memory is aged four, sitting on his lap driving an E-type down the drive. I have a particular soft spot for the Jensen Interceptor, which was another one of his cars.
What is your favourite classic car that you have ever owned?
As a family man dealing with all the practicalities this entails, I unfortunately don't have much time to indulge my own passion for classics. I do currently run a 26 year old Land Rover Defender 110 for a bit of green laning and off-roading.
Maybe not so much my favourite, but certainly the one with the most character was a MK1 Ford Fiesta, which are up and coming collectables along with certain other 80s and 90s vehicles.
What would be your dream classic car to own?
My dream classic car would be a 1973 Porsche 911 RS. Raw, visceral, beautiful!
Would you recommend a classic car as a form of investment?
Yes, however that does come with a 'but'! Values of classics have generally risen over recent years, with certain models rising massively, resulting in the current classic car bubble.
However, history is a harsh mistress, which shows that where there is a boom there will, at some point, to a greater or lesser degree, be a bust. That said, if current market conditions hold, with low interest rates, a relatively stable economy and the easing of access to pension funds all contributing to a more durable environment, the rising value of classic cars could be here to stay for a while yet.
The other consideration that may get overlooked in what can often be a very emotive purchase is the day-to-day running and maintenance cost. Unless you are a capable home mechanic, keeping a classic in tip top condition can often cost as much annually as any price rise.
Having said that, when you're zipping around country lanes in your latest classic I'm sure you'd be hard pressed to think of a more enjoyable investment prospect.
Which classic cars represent the best purchase from an investment standpoint?
In short, anything that is rare and has limited numbers left. A vehicle that has documented history or an interesting past, such as participating in races or had a famous owner, for example. Also, try to buy models that have performance versions, for example the GT2, GT3, RS, turbo versions of the Porsche 911 range.
Look for iconic vehicles that are now coming back into fashion, for example 80s and 90s hot hatch backs and end of era vehicles. For example, we are now moving into an era of electronic driving aids and small, high efficiency engines, so consider big engine, manual vehicles such as the E39 BMW M5.
My current top tip would be an Alfa Romeo GTV 3.0.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of purchasing their first classic car?
Look to buy something that you like, something that will make you happy. Get involved with the relevant car club or online community to get first hand, impartial advice on what owning the car is like, what issues and technical problems you may face. Someone may even let you have a go in theirs first!
Also, think about the practical side of owning the car - do you have enough space? Will it need to be garaged? Have you got relevant security? Do you know where the nearest specialist mechanic is? Is your partner sympathetic to your new hobby?
Is there anything else you would like to add?
What starts off as a small interest that will hopefully see your investment increase in value can often get a little out of hand, and before you know it there is a small collection of vehicles sitting on your driveway. Fortunately, we can help by offering a multi-car policy that gives the convenience of one renewal all managed from your personal client manager.
For our top picks of the best classic cars to drive when the sun is shining, check out our recent blog.