Exploding the Myths of Classic Car Ownership : Part I 
Friday, April 8, 2011, 02:29 PM
Posted by Administrator
Myth 1: Classic cars are expensive

The honest response here is that they do not need to be expensive – and classic car ownership is all about how much you can afford to spend.

No-one can expect to pick up a classic Aston Martin for small change, but at the same time some great examples of more common cars can be picked up, literally for just hundreds of pounds. In the same vein, a decrepit old wreck of a Ford Anglia will be much cheaper than a fully-restored, roadworthy version.

As a general rule of thumb though, classic saloon cars (i.e. family motors) are priced much more competitively than sports versions. Classic Triumph ownership is a great example – a neat and tidy Herald saloon could be bought for well under Ł1,000 but its sports equivalent, the Spitfire, could easily be double the price.

To be honest, it's much like buying a new modern car – where top quality sports models cost much less than affordable family cars. But with classic cars you get much more fun and definitely more admiring glances. New Daewoo Matiz or old MGB? Hmmm, let me see now…

Myth 2: Classics can’t run on unleaded petrol

Oh yes they can, but you need to take advice. Generally, more recent classics with alloy heads and hardened valve seats run ok on unleaded petrol, but my advice would be to check with those in the know like classic car clubs and other owners.

Very old engines found in cars like Morris Minors do struggle on unleaded and damage can be caused to the engine, but even then it's a rectifiable situation if you're prepared to pay a couple of hundred quid or so for a reconditioned cylinder head.

Another option is to use a liquid fuel additive, which you pour into the tank before filling up but generally avoid any weird gadgets or gizmos which claim they will enable you to run on unleaded. The easiest things is to check with other enthusiasts or owners and, let's be honest, the internet has made that incredibly easy.

Myth 3: The insurance premiums are high

There is no reason to believe that classic car insurance is any more expensive than normal car insurance, although you do have a better chance of getting competitive quotes if you use a specialist classic car insurer like Sureterm Direct.

Rather than add your classic to existing insurance policies, or sell something that doesn’t quite suit your vehicle, specialists understand all about classic car ownership and are able to tailor unique insurance packages to match your vehicle and needs exactly.

The very best thing to do is make sure you speak to a classic car insurance specialist operator, rather than relying purely on online application forms. This way, you can cover every single aspect of what you need your policy to cover.

And if you are a member of a classic car club, companies like Sureterm Direct offer you extra discount in your classic car insurance premium.

Myth 4: I need loads of tools in case my classic car breaks down

This all depends on your level of car maintenance expertise in the first place. If you don't drive around with a full toolkit in the back of your 08 reg BMW today (and, be honest, who does?) then why would you want to do so just because you own a classic?

If you get good insurance and breakdown cover, any serious problem can be dealt with quickly by the experts. If you know your way around an engine just a little bit, then I'd recommend stocking up with some water, oil and anti-freeze and carrying a set of spanners and screwdrivers. This is enough to deal with minor problems. And duct-tape is a must. It’s sticky as hell, tough and water resistant, so for a quick repair to rubber hoses and vinyl roofs, it's a must-have. Sometimes I think the world must be held together by Duct tape!

Oh, and invest in a good tow rope. Sorry to be negative, but it's essential.

Myth: UK classic cars are tax-exempt

No they're not. Cars built prior to Jan 1 1973 do qualify for zero rated road tax. You are still required to display a tax disc to prove that when you applied for the disc you had current insurance and MOT. But you don't have to pay anything.

You can thank the government for the Jan cut-off. So it means you may have to stump up while your neighbour's car, built 24 hours earlier, is tax-free. And remember, it's when the car was built – not registered.

Myth 6: Spare parts for old cars are very expensive

Again, this depends on the type, make and model of car and how desirable, common or rare it is in the classic car world.

Unsurprisingly, there are specialist parts dealers and, in some cases, it's easy to buy newly-manufactured replacement parts based on the originals' design. If you get into classic car ownership and join a club, then networking with other like-minded individuals soon helps you navigate through the parts minefield – and it's surprising how many serious classic car fans have actually stockpiled spares so they can help out other owners – even it's for a small fee.

Once again, the internet comes into play here and it's a fun and helpful way to find spares. Quite often, you'll find forums and sites where some people are seeking spares and others selling them.

Myth 7: Classic cars are unsafe

No, they're not. They were roadworthy once and age doesn't make them instantly unsafe! But it is true, of course, that they are not as well equipped with safety features as modern cars. In the not so distant past, there were no airbags, ABS or crumple zones – go further back and even seatbelts were missing!

Volvo's "king of safety" reputation started in the 1950's and it took a while for other manufacturers to catch up, but a good quality classic is still a safe motor so long as it's in good condition. Generally speaking, older cars are made more substantially (i.e. heavier and stronger) than more modern vehicles. And while they don't fold and absorb crash impact energy like modern cars, the bodywork is certainly a lot tougher.

The sensible classic car owner has, in the forefront of their mind, the fact that while the car may be tougher – the stress and strain on the driver/passenger in a heavy shunt is a lot more uncomfortable than with a car of today. So, to compensate, they drive much more safely – leaving appropriate stopping distances, appreciating weather conditions, and respecting speed limits and road signs.

- John Kelly
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Classic Car Restoration 
Friday, April 8, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Austin Healy Sprite 
Friday, April 8, 2011, 02:15 PM
Posted by Administrator
Leaping into production in 1958, the Donald Healey Sprite was a low cost sports car which used existing BMC parts to ensure the overheads of production remained low. The Austin Healey Sprite would prove to be a big success.

The commonly named "Austin Frogeye", the Mark I Sprite, was a massive success in its three years of production, with no other car competing on price or performance. As its widely used nickname suggests, the distinctive look of the Mark I Sprite owed itself to the round headlamps on the bonnet of the car, nicked named "frog-eye" headlamps. Cheap and easy to maintain, the wings and bonnet was a one piece unit which opened up to allow easy and large access to the engine. The Mark I used the 948cc Austin A-Series engine which was tuneable and capable of 43bhp, the A35 gearbox and axles, and the twin SU carburettors. Equipped with leaf spring suspension to the front, and wishbone suspension to the rear, the Mark I got its suspension from earlier models such as the A35 and Morris Minor.

The Mark II saw some cosmetic changes including the famous headlamps being moved onto the wings, a change of rear bumper, and the introduction of front disc brakes. The Mark II was also equipped with a new larger engine from the Morris Minor 1000 and Morris Minor 1100, increasing the engine size to 1098cc.

A less performance-geared Mark III Sprite was more refined with lockable doors, wind up windows and quarter lights. With the rebranding of the Sprite by BMC to the Midget, the Sprite Mark III was also sold as the MG Midget Mark II.

The Mark IV had two main differences: an increased capacity to 1275cc and a convertible roof instead of the removable roofs from the earlier variations.

The production of this classic car ended in 1971. Today many of these classic cars are known as "Spridgets" by the classic car enthusiasts community, due to the Austin Healey Sprite and the MG Midgets sharing the same design and parts. This makes finding parts relatively easy due to the parts being interchangeable.
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