Estate sales are a great place to find classic cars and other automotive gems. If you’ve recently purchased an antique car, what now? Should you store it, sell it or drive it around town with the top down? Taking care of an antique auto requires dedication and a little know-how. There is a whole series of steps to take before you park it long-term. If you decide to drive it occasionally, there’s insurance to consider. And if you do decide to drive it, how much is too much? What’s the best course of action to take when you’re suddenly entrusted with 3,500 pounds of classic American history?
Once you have it legally transferred into your name, the first order of business is to insure it for the proper amount. Even if you’re not planning to drive it, you still need insurance against property loss and vehicle damage. In most states, an antique auto is defined as one that’s more than 25 years old and mostly only driven to and from exhibitions, in parades or for similar purposes. Check online with companies like The Hartford that offer specific policies for antique vehicles.
Whether you’re storing your car for winter or because you don’t plan to drive it often, you should winterize it first. This includes changing the oil and filter and adding a fuel stabilizer. Follow these steps:
- Fill the gas tank to the brim after you add the stabilizer—this enables everything to mix properly
- Take the car for a short drive to get everything circulating, and then take it to your storage unit or garage and park it
- Remove the air cleaner and shoot a little engine fogger into the carburetor while the engine is running until the exhaust begins to smoke
- Then shut it all down, replace the air cleaner and disconnect the battery
Taking these precautions helps assure it will start back up easily for you when you’re ready to take it for a spin.
How often should you drive your antique car? Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the topic, but the consensus seems to be: as much as you want. That’s not to say you should make it your regular ride back and forth to work, but when the weekend rolls around or summer ramps up into full swing, most hard-core collectors will tell you to go for it. The only thing you might want to take into consideration is your insurance policy. If you do plan to cruise around town in it, talk to your agent to make sure you have the proper coverage.
Share your good fortune with those around you. An antique car is a wonderful reminder of days gone by. Don’t be afraid to share your small piece of American history with your community. Run it in the yearly parades and show it at exhibits. You might even take a few well-chosen people for a spin around the block every now and then.
Contributed by Peter Small
Peter is a muscle car junkie who restored his first vehicle (a 1968 Pontiac Firebird Coupe) in high school, alongside his father and grandfather.