London, England - Jenny Squillaci and her Sicilian husband Vittorio’s quirky little Fiat 500 has soared in value to £6000 (R132 000) since they bought it in Italy 15 years ago for just £50 - then about R570.
But old cars are less reliable than more modern vehicles and the couple happily admit that over the years the 50-year-old Fiat has cost them a small fortune to maintain.
Jenny, 68, from Basingstoke in Hampshire, is editor of the Fiat 500 Enthusiasts Club’s magazine. She says: “The nature of older vehicles is that they occasionally develop faults and break down - it’s part of the charm of buying a car of character.
“The biggest return you will get is in the fun your car brings - it can provide joy for all the family and even raise a smile and wave from strangers as you drive past.
“Although our car has risen in value, I have also spent thousands of pounds keeping it on the road. Driving a classic car is rewarding but an expensive hobby.”
Paul Lucas, of Lenhoy Classics, said it was important to realise that irrespective of any investment returns you may get from a classic, there will always be maintenance bills to pay. He said: “Don’t kid yourself that buying a classic car is always going to make a great investment.
“The main reason for buying should be the pleasure that it will bring. Although you can do a lot of general maintenance yourself, it is important to use a professional mechanic for any major work or restoration to ensure the car maintains its value.
“Always keep any bills as proof that work has been done.”
Despite a modern trend for rare vintage motors to be stored away under lock and key, Lucas believes old classics were built to be driven. By taking a car for a regular drive it will keep the engine lubricated and ensure that parts do not seize up.
It is important to keep the motor well maintained and to regularly inspect the whole of the car for rust. Regular maintenance will hopefully ensure small problems do not turn into expensive major projects.
If a car chassis frame becomes corroded - with signs of sagging in the middle and doors catch on the frame when opened - you may be facing a total rebuild that could cost more than £10 000 (R220 000). Knocking noises may indicate the engine needs a rebuild costing at least £1000 (R22 000).
Parts for older vehicles can also be expensive and manufacturers such as Porsche can charge more than £1000 for simple items such as a clutch. Motorists should also factor in the cost of garaging as keeping a classic outside in harsh weather will make it prone to rust.
Mail on Sunday