How a classic car can become one of the family
A classic car can be the great indulgence you promised yourself for years and finally made your own. Or equally, it can sneak up on you unexpectedly. The middle-aged owner’s pride and joy might have started out as the cheap and cheerful first car they could never quite bear to part with. And so yesterday’s heap of junk can morph into tomorrow’s classic – though not usually without a lavish outpouring of TLC.
Sometimes, the love of a good car can even span generations. John Mayhead, Sunday Times columnist, explains how it was for him...
A passion for tinkering that led to love
“My love affair with classic cars began when I was eighteen. My dad, a mechanical engineer, bought me a 1968 VW Beetle, a brush-painted monstrosity with its engine in a box on the back seat. Together, we took the car apart, fitted new panels, restored the engine and re-sprayed her red. I say we – I watched my dad do most of the work and cleaned a few bits here and there. But I started to understand the emotional connection that can exist between a mechanical object and a human being.”
The romance doesn’t always build so slowly, of course. For Sam Skelton, it really was love at first sight:
“Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with? I have, and her name was Agnetha. She may have looked somewhat cold and severe, but beneath that inscrutable skin beat a heart of passion and strength. I loved being with her. I adored her from that dark, wet night in Doncaster when we first met. I loved the sense of adrenaline I felt from just that first encounter, and I couldn’t stop thinking about her for days. It’s a shame she was a psychopath.”
Four legs good, four wheels better?
A classic car can inspire a broad range of emotions. It doesn’t have to be romantic love. Many owners look on their car in the same way they would a pet – and it’s easy to see the parallels. There’s indisputably something of the tortoise about a VW Beetle or the Morris Minor... though perhaps the late (not so) lamented Austin Allegro might be a closer match in terms of performance.
A Land Rover Series 1 or 2 is the ultimate loyal old hound. A British bulldog, maybe – no great looker but it will cheerfully go wherever you want it to. The much-loved Morgan roadster has the droopy ears and soulful eyes of a beagle... and the almost unfeasibly cute Mini has to be the hamster of the classic car world.
But it’s not just the look of the beast, it’s the whole experience. Cat Mulligan, owner of a 1971 Beetle, noticed that driving a classic car can prompt the same kind of reactions you might encounter as a dog walker – especially from people who own, or once owned, the same ‘breed’...
“We’ve taken the car on trips around Devon and Cornwall, and the response we get is amazing – people just look at it and smile. I totally love driving it near the sea – putting a smile on somebody’s face just because you’ve driven past them. I don’t feel the need to listen to the radio – just driving it is interesting enough.”
But maybe, for some, a classic car will always be closer to a human than an animal. The same owner ‘invited’ her VW to her wedding:
“We were staying at the venue so we didn’t really need a car, but we couldn’t get married without the Beetle. After the service, we had loads of photographs taken around the Beetle, then drove it off behind the reception hall. It was just like any other guest.”
Looking after your loved one
Just like the human members of the family, classic cars vary in temperament and character. Some are always happy – their only requirements an oil change once a year, a reasonably-priced classic insurance policy, and the odd wash and polish. Others are more demanding, refusing to work properly unless tuned like a grand piano and pampered like a Duchess. But for all their foibles, you end up loving them dearly, and wouldn’t change them for the world.
Aviva work closely with Hagerty International, a leading UK specialist in classic cars, to provide insurance for owners. You can find out more on the Classic car insurance page of our website.
Your car may be a classic... but how about your driving?
Whether your car is a bit of a loveable eccentric or a marvel of modern engineering, it’s still only as good as its driver. Dare you put your driving to the test?
Monitor your driving with our free Aviva Drive app and once you’ve done 200 miles, you’ll get a score based on your cornering, braking and acceleration skills. The safer you drive, the better your score – and the bigger the discount you could earn on your car insurance.