Classic Car Restoration: The Definitive Guide
2nd March, 2021
Restoring a classic car really is a labour of love – at least, it should be. Given the hundreds of man hours and potentially thousands of pounds that need to be invested in any restoration project, it’s crucial that you get an outcome that you’re happy with.
The key to happy outcomes lies in the planning. You should be under no illusions when embarking on a classic car restoration project and have a firm grip on what’s required so that you can lay the right foundations.
From choosing and buying the right classic to the nuts and bolts of bringing your vehicle back to its best, this ultimate go-to guide will help you to point you in the right direction.
Classic car restoration is not something that you should try to attempt without having some expert advice alongside you, guiding you along the way. We hope that this guide will be an indispensable source of information that gives you the confidence to make your classic car restoration project everything you want it to be.
- Is classic car restoration right for you?
- Choosing the right car
- Top buying tips
- Looking for signs of rust
- Deciding on your restoration
- Preparing to restore your classic
- Getting down to work
- Some final dos and don’ts
If your experience of classic car restoration begins and ends with watching TV programmes, you might have a somewhat skewed idea of what restoring a historic vehicle actually involves.
In reality, you will need to have a lot of time, money and energy to pull off the kind of results you see on TV. So, before you go out and buy the classic which will be your main focus for months on end, you need to be honest with yourself about a few things to ensure you don’t end up biting off more than you can chew.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before embarking on a new project:
- Do you have an emotional interest in the car? There are many reasons you might undertake a classic car restoration. Perhaps you’ve inherited a historic vehicle from a relative or you simply want to try and make a profit by selling your restoration. Whatever your reason, it’s important to have an emotional interest in the car, which will fuel you through to completion and help you overcome any bumps in the road along the way.
- Do you have enough time? As we’ve already alluded to, you’ll need a significant amount of free time to complete a car restoration project. The odd hours here and there simply won’t cut it – your project will end up dragging on for what seems like forever and you might not have the stamina or the motivation to see it through to its end. So, you need to consider your circumstances – if you work long hours or have personal commitments that must come first, a car restoration project might not be for you.
- Do you have enough funds? According to Simoniz, restorations can cost anywhere between £15,000 and £40,000 depending on how extensive the work is. So, you need to have sufficient funds available, bearing in mind that some parts might end up costing you more than you envisaged and that you can’t foresee all the issues of a car restoration project at the start. The last thing you want is to get halfway through restoring your classic then run out of money. While it is possible to find a classic for a few grand that only needs a bit of work, it might not prove as rewarding as a bigger-budget project. But if you’re just starting out, small might be the way to go.
- Do you have the right mindset? Car restoration isn’t for everyone. Whilst it can prove very rewarding (and profitable, at times), it can also end up as a huge source of frustration and worry if you haven’t got the right mindset for it. Ideally, you need to be a patient person who understands that you’re not going to see significant results straight away. In fact, many first-time restorers find themselves getting frustrated at the speed of progress. So, a bit of self-evaluation is necessary before you head to auction. As well as being a patient and meticulous person, you need to have a thirst for learning new things and understand that there will be the odd hurdle along the way.
If you’re sure you can tick all the boxes, the biggest decision you’ll make during your car restoration project is, of course, choosing the vehicle which will be front and centre of it.
We’ve already mentioned how important it is to be emotionally invested in your vehicle – a car that you’re nonplussed about will not inspire you to keep going when the going gets tough.
Some classic car enthusiasts will already have a vehicle in mind that they want to restore. But that’s not true of everyone. If all you know is that you want to try your hand at restoring a classic, you might want to make a list of all the cars you’ve owned and/or loved and consider if they’d make for a good restoration project. You should consider each vehicle in line with your budget, skills and goals. For example, if you want to turn a profit, you’ll need to think about whether you can reasonably expect to increase a car’s value.
If you don’t have an automatic affinity with any particular classic, you have the freedom to look around for a car that resonates with you and your personality. If you’re in need of some inspiration, here are some classics which can make for greats cars for first-time restorers:
If you like the idea of owning and doing up a classic sports car, the pretty and practical MGB has great appeal. It’s got a straightforward spec, it’s easy to work on and provides a characterful driving experience. In addition, it has excellent parts availability and club support.
Ford Anglia 105E
If you like more American styles, the 105E – arguably the most distinctive Ford to come out of the 1960s – could be up your street. With values on the rise and being reasonably cheap to maintain, it ticks a lot of boxes for a restoration project.
If the allure of the Porsche name appeals to you, the original affordable Porsche, the 924 makes a superb introduction to Porsche ownership. Values are rising, but you can still get your hands on 924 for a reasonable price, and you could turn a pretty profit with the right restoration.
This ever-popular MX-5 is a great first-time choice, combining charming styling and a superb driving experience with usability and amazing value for money. If you decide that an MX-5 is the car for you, rust will be the biggest thing to look out for.
Volkswagen Golf MkII
In many ways, a second-generation Golf is the car which you can’t go wrong with when it comes to a restoration project. With 6.3 million units produced during its lifetime, you have the pick of the models and parts are plentiful. So, if you just want something on which to learn the ropes of car restoration, opt for one of these little workhorses.
This French motoring icon, launched in 1948, has a distinctive, economical design that is economical and is a lot of fun to drive. Having been in production for 40 years, they’re fairly easy to come by and remain a relatively affordable buy. The 2CV is perfect for first-time owners for many reasons which includes having a superb support network of clubs and specialists on hand.
So you’ve decided on the model you want to restore, next comes the scary bit: handing over that hard-earned cash for the car you want. But it doesn’t need to be a daunting prospect, provided that you do your research and know what you’re looking for.
Confirm you’ve made the right decision
To confirm that you’re going in pursuit of the right vehicle for you, look through buyers’ guides to research the upsides and downsides of the model you’re interested in. This will enable you to gauge whether you’re on the right tracks or if you should have a re-think. Try to focus on things like common problems, the availability of spare parts and prices, as these are elements which many restoration projects live and die on.
Also, seek out the classic car club for the model in question. Owners clubs are often only too happy to provide their expertise and advice, knowing that if they create a good impression, they could increase their membership. Generally speaking, the people who run owners’ clubs are the most helpful and knowledgeable people you can find, who really care about keeping these wonderful cars on the road.
You should come away from your research knowing whether or not to press ahead with the purchase of your desired model. If so, you should now have a clear idea on the exact model you want to find such as the colour, engine, transmission, body shape and interior trim.
Look in the right places
When it comes to buying your classic, you have three options: buy from a dealer, find a private seller or go to auction.
If you buy from a dealer it’s generally more expensive but with the fallback of being able to go back to them with any issues. They may also provide a warranty. Buying from a private seller, you may not have many options if things go wrong but you may have better luck haggling down the price.
Before going to see the vehicle in person, phone ahead for more information. If the seller can’t give you a full breakdown of the car and its history, you should consider walking away from the deal. Enthusiastic owners with an extensive knowledge of the car are what you want.
Alternatively, if the car goes under the hammer at auction, you will be given the opportunity to carry an inspection of the vehicle before bidding starts. Remember, the auction catalogue might only tell you half the story – the car’s flaws are unlikely to be listed for everyone to see so a closer inspection by an experienced, mechanically minded friend might be in order.
When carrying out inspection checks of any classic, you should be on the lookout for the ultimate enemy: rust. While it’s rare to find a decades-old vehicle that’s completely rust free, you don’t want to invest in something that is going to prove more trouble than it’s worth.
Sometimes you can repair a rust patch and restore a classic car to full health, but not always. So, you need to know your rust in advance of any viewing appointments.
There are three different types of rust, according to Autotrader:
Surface rust is relatively superficial, occurring when the paint has worn thin and moisture from the air has attacked the surface metal. The good news is that it is fairly easy to repair and unlikely to spread, as long as you catch it in time.
Pitted metal often looks worse than it is, having penetrated the body panel to the point of creating pits in the surface – but, crucially, it has not yet rusted through the metal. With the right treatment, you can still get the panel looking new.
When a panel has rusted through, it’s effectively beyond repair. Even if you do manage to get rid of the rust, there’s a good chance that it will return. The hard and fast rule is, if you can see through a steel panel, you will need to replace it.
Stick within your budget
If you’re happy with what you see, it’s time to make an offer. But you should always try to stick within your budget. After all, the more you eat into your capital with the purchase of the vehicle, the less money you’ll have to play with when it comes to restoring it. Again, you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you run out of cash before the project is complete.
With that in mind, don’t be afraid to put in a low offer. You never know your luck. When making your offer, summarise any faults you’ve discovered on the car during your close inspection. As much as anything else, this will make you sound like you know what you’re talking about and convince the seller that you’re making a fair offer.
While it’s good to drive a hard bargain, be mindful of putting people’s backs up. This could go against you if you really want the car in question.
The same principles apply at auction. Once your lot goes under the hammer, don’t let adrenaline get the better of you and stick to your limit. They’ll be a very good reason that you’ve set yourself a specific limit. That’s what you deem the car is worth. It’s also a reflection of what you can feasibly afford.
Once you’ve got your hands on your classic, it’s up to you what you do with it. If you want to stick a big modern exhaust on it, that’s up to you. But, if you plan to sell on your classic for a profit, such an adaptation might not have the desired effect of increasing its value…
Opinion is split on whether it’s acceptable to modify a classic with modern parts. Some think it is fair game if you’re improving the driving experience, while others say it is messing with the history of the car.
But it’s important that you are sure with how you are going to go about your restoration before you get your tools out. There are three ways you can go about it:
Keep it ‘original’
If you’ve got your hands on a classic that has managed to get this far without requiring a mechanical or aesthetic alteration, you’ve got yourself an ‘original’ car. However, be mindful of just taking a seller’s word for it if they claim it to be original. Finding a true original classic is pretty rare and they usually command a hefty valuation.
The most fail-safe way to determine if a classic car is original is to look for matching numbers on the major components of the vehicle, which would’ve been stamped or cast during production. If the serial number is consistent throughout, you can be reasonably sure that it’s an original.
As you might imagine, restoring an original car can be tricky going as it means replacing parts like for like. However, there is potentially some money to be made from acquiring an original car – especially if you manage to put some value on it.
While historic car enthusiasts might dream of finding themselves an original classic, if you can’t drive it due to a mechanical fault or its age has taken a toll on the bodywork, it might be preferable to try and restore it back to somewhere near its original condition.
Sure, it can be a lot of hard work sourcing the spare parts and then replacing old, broken components. But restoring a car can be extremely satisfying. If you do it sensitively to the spec, most people won’t be able to detect any difference between an original and a restored car. That way, you can get out on the road and enjoy your classic, without the worry of thinking you’re going to do some irreparable damage to it.
When restoring a car, the goal is to reverse the signs of ageing and return it to what it looked like the day it rolled off the assembly line.
As we say, there are no rules to classic car restoration. You paid the money for your vehicle, so you have free rein on what you do with it. If you did want to add a modern part onto your classic car as part of the restoration, your vehicle may be classified as a “resto-mod”.
Again, a resto-mod vehicle will look nothing out of the ordinary to most people – modern alterations are usually slight like a new sound system or new parts having been fitted under the hood.
A classic car owner might look to modernise their classic for any number of reasons. For example, they want to make it compliant with modern emissions or safety standards. Or perhaps they just want to improve the driving experience of their historic vehicle.
With a clear vision of how you’re going to go about your classic car restoration, you can begin to prepare for your project. Before kicking things off, you need to buy the right tools, secure a space big enough to accommodate your vehicle and buy the parts that your classic needs.
- How much space do you need? A restoration can be done in a normal-sized garage, but it all depends on how big the garage in question is and the dimensions of your classic car. Securing the right space is key to productivity. If you find that you’re constantly knocking your knees and elbow as you work on your vehicle, you’re going to get fed up pretty quickly. Of course, you can bring the car out of the garage to work on it – but if the weather isn’t in your favour, it’s another reason to put off getting your tools out.
- What tools do you need? There’s a decent chance you might already have many of the tools that you’re likely to need: spanners, pliers, hammers and screwdrivers. These tools will allow you to carry out most of the work required to restore your classic. But you might need a few more tools that aren’t present in your average toolbox. For example, a telescopic magnet is considered an essential purchasing for locating a nut or bolt that has fallen into the engine bay. If you need to reshape a panel or repair a bump in your car’s bodywork, you will need to invest in an English wheel. But you won’t know what tools you need exactly until you’ve sussed out what needs to be done as part of the restoration.
- What work does your vehicle need? If this is your first restoration project, the quickest way to work out what is required to restore your classic back to its best is to seek out a specialist garage who will be able to advise you accordingly. Even with a thorough check-over upon buying the vehicle, it’s not always possible to see all the faults. If you don’t want to take your classic to a specialist, you can either go and buy a workshop manual and check the vehicle over yourself if you feel confident doing so, or speak to someone who has already done the same restoration project.
- Where can you buy parts? Your findings from ascertaining what your vehicle needs will lead you to a hunt for parts. Hopefully, having thoroughly researched the vehicle you were going to buy, parts will be easily available. But there’s always one or two parts which prove hard to come by during any restoration project. The internet will prove your biggest resource when sourcing parts, while many car clubs operate simply as parts dealers for restorers. For the parts which aren’t readily available, you may have to make them. This isn’t usually as daunting as it sounds, but don’t buy off more than you can chew. Lots of basic elements – washers, discs, plates, nuts and other threaded items – can be made without needing too much skill. When it comes to making your own parts, YouTube is your best friend – just search the part you’re going to attempt to make, which will also show you what tools you’ll need.
After all that research and preparation, you can now get down to work on your classic car restoration knowing you’ve done everything you can to set your project up for success. However, you’ll probably still go in with only a scant idea of how it’s all going to play out. You need to prepare for bumps in the road, but take reassurance in knowing that you don’t need to be a professional mechanic to do a great job of restoring your vehicle.
Let’s look at the different elements of a classic car restoration so you know what to expect:
While the thought of getting to work on the engine may seem overwhelming, they often prove one of the easier things to mend. It’s just about being able to follow instructions and knowing your way around your hand tools. If you’re adept with spanners, measuring and cleaning things, you’re halfway there.
Upon dismantling your engine, you should have the parts chemically cleaned. An engine shop will have proper chemical cleaners to save you the rigmarole of doing it yourself.
When it comes to putting your engine back together, search out engine diagrams and guides online (for your specific vehicle) which will tell you all you need to know about torque settings etc.
If a complete engine rebuild is required, it’s probably best to seek out a specialist who might point you in the direction of a readymade rebuilt engine and you can simply swap out our old one.
Bodywork often turns out to be the bit that catches out the first-time restorer. That’s because it requires skills and tools that most hobbyists won’t have. Generally, only specialists can beat panels. If panel replacement is necessary, it’s possible to carry this out yourself providing that the panels are bolted on. Cars with monocoque bodies - which the chassis is integral with the body – will require welding, and, again, you might want to leave this to the specialists unless you are particularly handy with a welder.
When it comes to addressing rot, if you find surface rust, you can make good by sanding down the affected area to the bare metal, then applying a paint primer before colour matching to the rest of the bodywork.
For pitted metal, sand down the panel to the bare metal; you can use a phosphoric acid-based product to encapsulate the rust if you’re having trouble clearing it. Once it has been smoothed, primer can be applied to cover the surface.
Rusted-through panels will need to be replaced.
Be careful of making the mistake of painting their car too soon. It’s a common error amongst first-time restorers who just want their classic to sparkle straight away. But ultimately, you could end up having to drill holes through your newly painted finish having discovered that more work needs to be done.
Painting should be one of the last jobs, once you’ve got the car up and running and rust-free. See it as a reward for all the efforts that have gone before it.
Again, when it comes to the electrics of your classic, it depends on your previous experience with wires. Looming a car yourself is doable, but it can take considerable time and detailed work. But dynamos, alternators, starter motors are all repairable even if you have limited electrical experience.
Upholstery is another area where first-time restorers reach out to the specialists because doing it yourself requires specialist tools (e.g., an industrial sewing machine) and specific skills (e.g., being able to sew).
If you’ve got a decent budget to play with, you might want to buy a readymade interior kit and simply have someone install it. These can set you back a couple of thousand pounds.
So, there you have it. You have everything you need to commence your classic car restoration project in haste. To sum things up, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind as your progress throughout your project:
- Acquire a classic which you feel emotionally invested in
- Choose a restoration type based on your goal
- Spend time preparing for your restoration, securing a suitable space, some hand tools and working out what your classic needs
- Use specialists when you don’t feel confident with doing the work yourself
- Take on a restoration project if you don’t have enough time to commit to it
- Expect to make it through a restoration project without plenty of knockback
- Buy a vehicle without having seen it first
- Risk running out of funds – make sure you’ve got the budget for the project beforehand
That’s our go-to guide to restoring classics. All that’s left to say is, good luck and let us know how you get on.
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When Fiat unveiled the 126 in 1972, they faced two considerable challenges. Firstly, the Nuova 500 was an extremely hard act to follow – the car that tempted many a Vespa or Lambretta rider towards the joys of four-wheeled transport.
09 August 2021
It’s funny how the passage of time changes our view of certain vehicles. Executive models might have seemed worthy but dull back in their day – but a few decades on, many have attained classic status.Our favourite dad cars from the 70s and 80s
If you’re ever nostalgic for the cars of your youth, you’re not alone. As a child, your dad’s car seemed enormous and all-powerful and some of the smells and textures stay with you forever.15 reasons why we love the Vauxhall Chevette
Arriving on the scene in the middle of the 1970s (1st May 1975, to be precise), the Chevette heralded a new departure for Vauxhall, its clean, simple looks a world away from the more elaborate styling of the Victor and Cresta from the 1960s.The history of Radford coachbuilders
We were very excited to learn, earlier this year, of the exciting relaunch of Radford – one of the most prestigious coachbuilders in British automotive history.
05 August 2021
Anyone who's driven the streets of central London at any time over the past couple of years will have been aware of a comprehensive new measure to clamp down on air pollution in the city (and no, we're not talking about the already well-established Congestion Charge here).
04 August 2021
We recently featured John Langford’s 1964 Magnetite Mk 4 Farina, and today, we pay tribute to Alex’s 1966 example.THE VOLVO C70 – THE FORGOTTEN SAINT CAR
The 1990s are now looking not so much remote as impossibly distant. As the popular phrase goes, when did you last see a Rover 600, a first-generation Ford Mondeo, or indeed a first-generation Volvo C70?
02 August 2021
We’ve teamed up with our friends at Practical Classics magazine to create a very special journey – a whistle-stop fundraising tour of Britain’s finest beaches in a VW Campervan. And we need your help.
30 July 2021
The Jaguar E-Type, the BMW M5, the 'James Bond' Aston Martin DB5 and that gullwing-door Mercedes – some iconic cars, down the decades, have sported straight-six engines.The campervan owner's guide to Henley Royal Regatta
There are many major fixtures in the British sporting calendar but one of our favourites is the Henley Royal Regatta.Our favourite European Car of the Year winners
It was back in 1964 that a group of enterprising motoring magazines from across Europe first got together and decided to vote on the best new car to have emerged across the continent that year.
29 July 2021
You probably know this by now, but we are big fans of classic car clubs here at Lancaster. We believe that, for all owners of classics, joining a car club is an invaluable first step.
23 July 2021
Good news for anyone considering a continental classic car tour this summer, after it was announced that millions of people will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ before taking their car to EU countries.
22 July 2021
Which book is ever-present on the best-seller lists – yet can also claim to have saved thousands of lives?Club of the month - The Green Lane Association
Formed in 1995, the Green Lane Association (GLASS) is the National User Group for those who enjoy using the Country’s network of ancient unsurfaced public roads and vehicular rights of way.
20 July 2021
You may be the proud owner of a classic motor with a sporty bent – an MGB GT, say, or an early Mazda MX-5, or a Mk2 Golf GTI. And perhaps you've wondered idly, from time to time, what it would be like to enter your classic into the odd motorsport event.
16 July 2021
In this article we’ll explore a little bit more about this amazing activity – the best places to do it, how to get a licence if you need one and some top tips to keep you safe while you’re out on the water.
13 July 2021
In 1973, a new Hunter GLS was somewhat of a Q-Car – even if the owner specified the ‘Limelight’ paint finish.Meet the Owner – Simon Frith and his Datsun Skyline 240K GT
Owners of once-familiar 1970s saloons are very familiar with the opening line ‘my dad/mum/grandfather/uncle/headmistress/postman had one of those’.
12 July 2021
Experiencing a Panhard PL17 was an experience on a par with entering the National Motor Museum for the first time or encountering the Genevieve Darracq in the metal – something never to be forgotten.The Škoda S110R – A Celebration
In the late 1970s, many a young “Ton-Up” driver in their customised Ford Anglia 105E (a la The Young Ones) was amazed to be overtaken by a rear-engine coupe.
08 July 2021
A 1958 Zündapp is not the ideal vehicle for motorists who wish to maintain a low profile. Whenever Ian Evans goes for a spin, the reaction of other road users, along with many pedestrians, is ‘what on earth is that?’
07 July 2021
Strap yourselves in and check the GPS, as we take a white-knuckle ride through the colourful history of the world’s most demanding endurance rallyTen of the best military museums in the UK
Did you know that we insure lots of old military vehicles here at Lancaster as well as classic cars? From old military Land Rovers to full-on tanks, we’ve got you covered!
06 July 2021
Not long ago, we profiled the Ford Probe. So today let’s celebrate the collection of Malcolm Oyston who owns no fewer than six UK-market cars.Quick guide to classic wheels
When it comes to your classic car, every detail matters. That’s why, if you decide you want to change the wheels, it’s a big decision.The best classic car owners’ clubs to join this year (Part 2)
Here at Lancaster, we have been supporting car clubs for the last three decades. We love the camaraderie between owners, meeting lifelong friends and sharing vital tips and knowledge about the vehicles we love the most.Classic cars made in Coventry
To celebrate Coventry's year as UK City of Culture 2021, we decided to look into the city's illustrious motor manufacturing history.A history of Morgan
From their factory on the edge of the Malvern Hills, British car markers Morgan have been at the leading edge of sports and race car manufacture for over a century.
05 July 2021
Now is the time to start getting out and enjoying the marvels of the UK countryside in your campervan. Pack up the cool box and picnic rug, check the tyre pressures, make sure you're equipped with some decent campervan insurance because it’s time to hit the open road.Common risks for campervan drivers you didn’t suspect
You’ll be familiar with the common risks associated with life on the road – drink driving, other road users, adverse weather conditions, driving behaviour – and even a few hazards linked specifically to campervans, such as the different dimensions and turning circles.10 restoration projects to tackle in 2021
Restoring a classic car can be a hugely rewarding process. This is work that requires real concentration and dedication, and will get you deep inside the working parts of your chosen vehicle.Future classics from the 2000s
You might think it's a little too soon to start earmarking future classics from the 2000s, a decade that seems not long gone. But we’re always thinking about the next great classics here at Lancaster and protecting them for the future.
29 June 2021
When the world was young and the Ford Fiesta 1300S Mk 1 was causing a minor sensation in outer suburbia; this writer was a devotee of Car magazine.How to keep mice and rats out of your classic car
If you find you’ve got a mini passenger in your Mini Cooper, what action can you take? We’ve put together our top tips for ridding your Riley of rodents – and prevent them from sneaking back.
23 June 2021
The Atlas is the sort of vehicle mainly glimpsed in the backgrounds of 1960s British films rather than on the road. The Standard light commercial was a rather appealing machine in its heyday, but it never seemed to find a market niche despite its virtues.At last…home insurance that’s built for the classic car enthusiast
At Lancaster Insurance, we understand that while your classic is your pride and joy, home is where the heart is.
18 June 2021
In this article, we’ll find out all the details – what you can get up to, where you can go, and some examples of companies running great classic car touring holidays that you can get involved in.
17 June 2021
Fifty years ago, Lancia unveiled its last independently designed car. Fiat acquired the famous concern in October 1969 and for many enthusiasts the 2000 Berlina marked the end of an era. It was also one of the most delightful sports saloons of the 1970s.
16 June 2021
Today marks the 60 birthday of not just one of Renault’s most important models but one of the most remarkable cars in motoring history.Club of the Month – Gay Classic Car Group
June is Pride Month so what better way to mark the wholesale celebration of Britain’s LGBTQ community, than by having Gay Classic Car Group (GCCG) as our Club of the Month?
15 June 2021
After recently succumbing to the lure of the ‘Landcrab’, Cameron Burns bought himself an 1800 Mk 3. His Morris was fitted with several decadent extras: reclining front seats, hazard warning lights, an alternator and a heated rear screen.
14 June 2021
When it comes to having a favourite classic car, you might look for the whole package. Not only can that mean the drivability, the style, the shape or the character, but also the feelings of nostalgia it may evoke in you.What were the best coupes from the 1990s?
The 1990s were a thrilling time for motor enthusiasts. Racing was graced by legends such as F1’s Michael Schumacher and Rallying’s Colin McRae, while car manufacturers pushed boundaries with exciting and innovative designs.The history of Morris Motors
If you stop to think about truly iconic British vehicles, or indeed companies, it won’t be long before the name Morris pops up. Morris Motors was one of the true giants of 20th Century Britain, operating through both world wars and creating a range of successful, iconic vehicles.The MG Midget – A Celebration
When MG introduced “The new Midget” in June of 1961, some Abingdon traditionalists were decidedly unhappy. A Mr. R. Gowring ranted in a letter to Motor Sport:Our favourite Reliant cars
The 20th Century in the UK was full of motoring success stories and many have endured to today (think Rolls Royce, which started in 1904 and Vauxhall from 1903. However, for every 20th Century brand that is still active, there are about a hundred who are now defunct.20 iconic cars from history
Classic cars become iconic for several reasons. They can symbolise bygone eras or represent strides forward for the car industry of their day. Meanwhile, they can achieve fame for their performances on the big screen or the world’s toughest racetracks.
11 June 2021
So you’ve got your dream classic car but have you got all the right accessories and gadgets to go with it?A classic car owner’s guide to potholes
Classic car owners know there’s no feeling quite like getting your dream set of wheels, keeping it in great nick, and taking it out on the road.THE REMARKABLE DAIMLER ONE-O-FOUR LADIES MODEL
The 1950s so often appear to be another world – the National Anthem played at the end of cinema bills, newsagents selling Woodbines and The Daily Herald…and vehicles aimed exclusively at the female driver.
10 June 2021
The Land Rover was used by the nation’s constabularies almost from the outset of production in 1948. They might have been seen patrolling the Mersey Tunnel, rural beats or major highways.
09 June 2021
Some aspects of 1990s life now appear impossibly distant – Eurotrash on Channel 4, short-lived BBC soap Eldorado and the Ford Probe.
07 June 2021
Driving a campervan at night brings all kinds of different challenges and risks. It’s important that you’re tuned in to what they are and have a strategy for dealing with them so you can minimise the chance of an unwelcome – and potentially serious – incident on the road.Which classic cars do Top Gear presenters own?
The Top Gear line up has changed a few times in recent years, but – for now at least – the BBC have settled on the presenting trio of Paddy McGuinness, Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff and Chris Harris.A quick guide to Sir Stirling Moss
His passing in April 2020, aged 90, was an emotional day for fans of motor racing. One of the true legends of the sport, a daring driver known best for his years on racing’s greatest stage – Formula One.THE AUSTIN MAXI REMEMBERED
One of the more pleasing developments of the past 20 years is the gradual retirement of the “British Leyland Joke”. They are occasionally revived in the form of (very) tired piano references, but BL products are now mainly assessed on their merits.THE TRIUMPH ACCLAIM – AN APPRECIATION
This year marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most important cars to bear the Triumph badge. When the Acclaim made its bow on the 7th October 1981, it pioneered Japanese involvement in the British motor industry.
04 June 2021
Depending on who you speak to, the 1980s, with its big hair, big shoulder pads and even bigger personalities, was either a decade that should be fondly remembered or forgotten altogether. The supercars from this era were equally ‘bold and brash’, with their large rear-wings and over-sized vents – and we love them for it.Murray Walker - A life in motorsport
The death of legendary Formula 1 commentator Murray Walker, aged 97, led to an outpouring of tributes, underlining how much of an admired figure he was in the world of motorsport.
01 June 2021
Back in 1969, a new Hillman GT was the perfect car for “String-Back-Driving-Gloves Man”. It had it all: the rev counter mounted atop the dashboard, the high-backed front seats and, of course, the ‘Go-Faster’ stripes. At £962, it was also £24 cheaper than a four-door Ford Cortina GT, while there was more than enough room in the glove box for a bottle of Hai Karate.
28 May 2021
As a classic car owner, you want to be able to drive your vintage motor on some of the best roads that the British Isles has to offer. It’s easy to forget that we’re blessed with some incredible landscapes here in the UK – it’s just a case of knowing where to find them.Classic cars from British TV comedies
Over the decades, vintage motors have played iconic roles in many great British TV comedies. Just think: how would Del Boy have got up to his wheeler-dealer tricks without his three-wheeler?Our favourite Ferraris
Every car enthusiast has their favourite Ferrari. Some – like us – can’t narrow it down to just one and have a whole list of Ferraris that hold a special place in their hearts.TALKING PICTURES TELEVISION – A CELEBRATION
This week marks the sixth anniversary of a television channel that is a source of delight to classic machinery and cinema fans alike. After all, who needs the likes of Celebrity Supermarket Warehouse Shift Worker and Help – Even My Agent Has Forgotten My Name?
24 May 2021
Whether you’re planning a solo staycation, a trip with your partner or a family holiday, Norfolk and the Norfolk Broads is the place to head. In this article we’ll cover what to see, where to stay and learn a little bit more about this fascinating area of the country.
21 May 2021
in the UK, we’re lucky enough to have some of the world’s best racing on our doorstep, with countless amazing circuits hosting races throughout each year.
19 May 2021
From 1924 to 1971, the USSR only manufactured one million vehicles. But it still managed to produce some memorable cars, albeit often heavily influenced by Western manufacturers. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best of them.
18 May 2021
The year is 1982. Adam Ant’s solo record Goody Two Shoes is topping the charts, and the tabloid press is ranting how a forthcoming BBC programme called The Young Ones will cause the end of civilisation. Meanwhile, a holiday in Weymouth awaits, and your home from home is a Morris Marina 575 Suntor. James Ebden’s rather stunning example is a reminder of this camper’ popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s.MEET THE OWNER – SIMON DWYER AND HIS 1959 POLICE MGA
As Goodwood has scheduled the Revival for the 17th to 19th of September, there is no better time to celebrate its famous “Pace Car”. Just as notable, Simon Dwyer’s 1959 MGA 1600 Mk 1 is one of the few surviving cars from Lancashire Constabulary’s traffic fleet.
17 May 2021
Sixty years ago, Dagenham unveiled a new model that could not be mistaken for any other car. The Consul Classic was the epitome of scaled-down Americana, from its quad headlamps to its tail fins and reverse-angle rear screen. Any driver who affected a Bob Monkhouse-style mid-Atlantic patois instantly craved the “long low look” and motorway pace of “the new look of British motoring”.The Transport Café – A Celebration
While some forms of roadside building have gone the way of AA and RAC telephone boxes, it is heartening to come across a surviving transport café. The Ace, near Wembley, which opened in 1938, is possibly the best known. Another name that will be familiar to many readers is Kate’s Cabin on the A1.
14 May 2021
How can you ensure that your dream Dodge is not a dodgy deal? And if you’re selling, how can you be confident that your buyers – and their payments – are real?MG Owners’ Club 2021 (sponsored by Lancaster Insurance) Race Meeting at Mallory Park, 5th May
The first race meeting of The MG Owners’ Club 2021 season – at Mallory Park Racing Circuit – was boosted by the debuts of several drivers, writes Jim Baynam. The race had its usual quotient of high-octane thrills and was the inaugural such event for Carl Bate (MGBGT), Anthony Bate (Maestro), Mathieu Dore (MGBGT), Jack Woodcock (ZR) and Tim Grigsby (TF).
13 May 2021
Right up there with the plucky vim and vigour of the original Mini and the elegant power of the Jaguar E-Type, the rough and tough all-terrain Land Rover is synonymous with Great Britain.10 fascinating facts about DeLorean
The DeLorean DMC-12 is synonymous with the Back to the Future series, of course. But there’s much more to this classic car than a movie appearance or three.
11 May 2021
With more than 2,000 members in the UK and across the world, our Club of the Month is the MG Octagon Car Club.
07 May 2021
On the 27th of April, the Morris Marina celebrated its 50th birthday, and one of many enthusiasts is Danny Hopkins, the editor of Practical Classics Magazine:Classic four-seater convertibles
There’s a lot to be said for owning a four-seater classic convertible, as opposed to a two-seater. Above all else, they offer an element of practicality – so if you want to go away for the weekend, there’s room for luggage as well as three passengers.Best classic car clubs for American cars
When it comes to car design, the Americans clearly believe in excess. While it’s not to everyone’s tastes, you can’t deny it’s led to some incredible machines over the years. The classic car world would undoubtedly be a more boring place without the likes of the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger roaring up to classic car shows around the country.60th anniversary of the E-Type Jaguar
The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most famous cars of all time. Described as a “combination of beauty, high performance, and competitive pricing”, it sits high on pretty much every classic car enthusiast’s most wanted list (unfortunately, for most people, it remains there forever). Having now turned 60, the E-Type’s appeal and good looks show no signs of fading.
05 May 2021
On the 25th April 1961, Citroën unveiled its latest model and issued a warning to all motorists: “If you believe that the characteristics of a car - performance, comfort, safety - necessarily on the number of horsepower, the amount of superfluous chrome trim or high cylinder capacity and corresponding fixed costs are to be measured, then do not concern yourself further with the Ami 6!”THE METROPOLITAN 1500 REVISITED
Both during its lifetime and after, the British-market Metropolitan 1500 received some very mixed reviews. The Motor of 3rd April 1957 noted in a very imperious fashion that the reader would be able to “…place his own emphasis on its traits according to his own tastes and circumstances…”. In other words – if you buy this car, you run the risk of being regarded as a vulgarian and quite possibly a cad into the bargain.The MG Midget – A Celebration
When MG introduced ‘the new Midget’ in June 1961, some Abingdon traditionalists were decidedly unhappy. A Mr. R. Gowring ranted in a letter to Motor Sport: “I am one of numerous MG Midget owners who regard the ‘New Midget’ with an air of disdain. I say the ‘New Midget.’ Mr. Courtenay Edwards, the motoring correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph, calls it “the Austin Healey Sprite wearing a false moustache and dark glasses,” which I feel is a much better description.”
28 April 2021
Driving is just like riding a bike; you never forget how, but after a bit of a break, you may be a little rusty. However, you don’t want that rustiness to lead to an unwelcome incident out on the road, which could cost you dearly.What is the Lakeland Motor Museum?
For many fans of classic cars, planning a trip to the Lakeland Motor Museum is a dream come true! This unique place is truly devoted to all things motoring. From getting up close to classic vintage cars and motorbikes to immersing yourself in some of the greatest moments in UK motoring history, there’s really no place quite like it.Our favourite classic Vauxhalls
Vauxhall is not often spoken about as a brand that builds great cars. But as the UK’s oldest surviving car brand, with models rolling off its production line as early as 1903, its motors really stand the test of time.
27 April 2021
With lock down restrictions on travel being gradually eased within the four nations, albeit it at differing rates, we’re receiving queries regarding 4x4 insurance and what is covered as people look ahead to getting back on the open road. Here Andrew Evanson, Senior Operations Manager at Lancaster Insurance, talks about what is covered with our 4x4 policies.
21 April 2021
The Nürburgring is a bucket-list destination for just about every petrolhead on the planet. It attracts some two million visitors each year and is, without doubt, one of the premier automotive attractions in the world.8 fast facts about the VW Beetle
The VW Beetle has claims to be one of the best cars to ever go into production. Designed to be the ‘people’s car’, its appeal spanned cultures and generations, going on to become one of the best-selling cars of all time. It remained in production for more than 80 years, with Volkswagen eventually calling time in 2019.
16 April 2021
Did you know that the UK boasts more than 300 distilleries, producing gin, vodka and whisky? A trip to one of these can make for a very nice day out – you just need to find somewhere safe to leave the campervan so you can properly enjoy your tipple!MEET THE OWNER – MARTIN HUGHES AND HIS VAUXHALL CAVALIER SR
It is hard to believe that the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk. II is fast approaching its 40th birthday, and even more difficult to appreciate how rare they now are. There are just two examples of the SR on the road and Martin Hughes’ 1982 four-door is believed to be the last Jamaica Yellow model in the UK.ONE FAMILY FROM NEW – A MORRIS OXFORD TAXI IN GREECE
Any Morris Oxford Series VI is a car worthy of great respect – especially this 1969 example owned by Costas Georgopoulos. His father acquired it new, and the Farina served the family and the Peloponnese seaport town Nafplio as a taxi for many years.THE FIAT 127 AT 50
To celebrate 50 years of the 127 – 27 facts about this ground-breaking Fiat:20 FACTS ABOUT THE MORRIS MARINA
The Morris Marina will celebrate its 50th birthday later this month, and we plan to feature an exceptional example on the actual date. For now, here are twenty fascinating facts about a much-misunderstood car:
15 April 2021
According to How Many Are Left?, just 15 examples of the Renault 20 TX Automatic remain on the road in the UK. Forty years ago, they were regarded as desirable transport – well-appointed, versatile, extremely comfortable and with a certain degree of panache. More importantly, this example, co-owned by Chris Salter and Reg Duffett, was once the daily driver of a great friend to the classic community.THE FIAT 130 COUPE AT 50
50 years ago, Fiat unveiled one of their most beautiful cars: the 10 Coupe. It was not just a belated heir to the 2300S and the Lance Flaminia Coupe but a car fit to rival the BMW 3.0CS and the Mercedes-Benz 280CE. Famous owners included (but of course) Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.THE WORLD’S FINEST BUS? – THE CITROEN U55 ‘CITYRAMA’
In 1956, the French travel firm Groupe Cityrama commissioned the famed coachbuilder Currus to build transport suitable for a new generation of tourists.THE AUSTIN A30/A35 COUNTRYMAN – A CELEBRATION
In 1954, the motorist in search of a small estate-car had four options. The recently launched Morris Minor Traveller looked most appealing, while the new Hillman Husky was essentially a modified Commer Cob van.CARRY ON CAMPING – IN A 1961 COMMER ‘MAIDSTONE’
The year is 1961 and, somewhere in Hampshire, a family is en route to their summer holiday near Swanage. Dad is ranting about those Ton-up boys, Mum dreams of Laurence Harvey, their daughter reads about John Leyton in Mirabelle magazine, while son plots his way to owning a Corgi model of the Citroën DS19.Best car shows of 2021
For classic car owners and enthusiasts, nothing beats the excitement of a classic car show. This is especially true in the UK, which is home to a glittering array of world-leading classic car events. These shows provide the opportunity to see some of the best and rarest vehicles in the world up close, maybe even purchasing one of your own.12 of the best car movies of all time
Cars make movies. Movies make cars. The two go together as well as just about anything. We can’t imagine a time that car movies go out of fashion. At lease, we hope not.
14 April 2021
Volkswagen has enjoyed the best of times of late. The German manufacturer has famously been involved in an emissions scandal which dates back to 2008 has so far cost the company €30bn (£25bn) – and it’s rising. But VW still has a strong fanbase – especially among classic car owners.Best Instagram accounts for classic car enthusiasts
Did you know that more than 30 million people in the UK are now using Instagram, the photo and video sharing social networking service? And numbers are growing year on year. Classic car enthusiasts are not wasting the opportunity to utilise the platform either, posting thousands of pictures of rare and classic vehicles for us all to enjoy.
13 April 2021
We’ve put together this handy guide to some of the basics you need to understand in order to take the perfect picture of your classic. Making your car stand out from the crowd has never been easier.THE TALBOT SAMBA – A CELEBRATION
Of all the cars celebrating their 40th birthday in 2021, the Samba is one of the rarest, with just 19 remaining in use. They were the last new car to bear the Talbot badge - and one that represented a fresh direction for the brand.The Reliant Scimitar GTC – A Celebration
Looking at the Scimitar GTC, it is hard to believe that it debuted in the same year as the Audi Quattro, the Austin Mini Metro and the Ford Escort Mk3. This is not to imply that the Reliant looked at all dated, for it was a true Grand Tourer; handsome, purposeful and always looking ready for a dash along the A27 to Goodwood.Five special edition Ford Escort Mk2s
In 1979, there would have been few keen motorists unaware that Ford was planning a radical new third-generation Escort – a front-wheel-drive hatchback no less. In the meantime, there was a spate of Limited Edition Mk2s.The Triumph 2.5 P.I. Mk1 – A Celebration
The 2000 made its bow at the 1963 London Motor Show and by the mid-1960s Canley was already considering a more powerful version. One option was enhancing the 1,998cc-engine to create the ‘2000TS’.
12 April 2021
At Lancaster Insurance, we’re seeing a greater number of enthusiasts owning more than one vehicle. To help take away the stress of multiple renewal dates and cluttered paperwork, below is more information on our multi-vehicle policies and how they may help you!
09 April 2021
As a Mini enthusiast, you might think you know all there is to know about the British’s people’s car. But, put your knowledge to the test with these ten fast facts about this brilliant British icon.Cars driven by celebrities before they were famous
Being classic car enthusiasts, we tend to judge celebrities by the cars that they drive. So, the likes of Chris Evans and Rowan Atkinson, who are well known for their love of classic cars, are top of our list (we don’t actually have a list of our favourite celebrities, of course).8 of the best mid-engine classics
There’s nothing middle of the road about a mid-engine motor. Many high-end sports cars have their engines in front of the rear axle, making for a vehicle that’s supremely easy to handle even at top speed.The most impressive car collections in the world
If you had all the money in the world and wanted to put together the classic car collection of your dreams, which vehicles would you choose? Every classic car lover has a dream team they would build if they become filthy rich. How do real-life millionaire car lovers spend their cash?THE LAGONDA 3-LITRE – THE CAR OF HRH THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH
Of all the many motor-cars associated with the late HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, perhaps the most famous is his Lagonda 3-Litre Drophead. It was a vehicle renowned for its performance, comfort, and, most notably, an innate sense of gravitas in its heyday.
08 April 2021
Celebrating its’ 30th birthday in July this year, the Club started as a national enthusiast club for the Series 3 and later encompassed coil sprung 90 and 110 vehicles due to popular demand. Today, the Club caters for all models and members don’t necessarily have to own or drive a Landy to join, just have an interest in them!Best coastal classic car drives in the UK
From the White Cliffs of Dover to the Giant’s Causeway, British coastlines are both steeped in history and endlessly beautiful. It’s a dream for owners of a classic car who live for those escapes, getting behind the wheel and setting off to make unforgettable memories.History of car safety features
When you get behind the wheel of a modern car, you’re entering a space that has been shaped by generations of automotive engineers. You can almost date a vehicle by the safety features that are built in – a fascinating area for classic car lovers.MEET THE OWNER – DAVID FOOT AND HIS RENAULT 18TD ESTATE
For a car that was not uncommon on British roads during the 1980s, the 18 seems to have been largely forgotten. It deserves to be better remembered for it was a Renault of many good qualities and a more than viable alternative to a Vauxhall Cavalier or the Ford Sierra.5 top campervan owners clubs in the UK
Owning a campervan is a real joy. It gives you the freedom to go wherever you like, whenever you like and take all your home comforts with you. It allows you to be more active, spend time in the great outdoors, and become part of a large, friendly community. What more could you ask for?
07 April 2021
One of the many stars of the 1959 London Motor Show was found on Stand 145. Here was a coupe primed to compete with the Aston Martin DB4 and the Jensen 541R, one built by ‘dedicated craftsmen who jealously guard the hand-made reputation that has made AC the choice of the discerning motorist during the past 50 years’.SEVEN ADO16S FROM AROUND THE WORLD
As the BMC/BLMC ADO16 was the UK’s best-selling car for many years, it is sometimes easy to overlook their presence in world markets. Here are seven of the most intriguing overseas interpretations:
01 April 2021
For a time, you couldn’t go for a drive without seeing a Lotus Elise – never a bad thing. But they are a much rarer sight these days, even though they’re still in production.5 sympathetic classic car modifications
If you want to add a modern part onto your classic car as part of the restoration project – but retain the essence of your historic vehicle – then you need to be subtle with any modifications that you make.
29 March 2021
A brand synonymous with style and class, Aston Martin has produced some of the most luxurious and sophisticated sports cars ever to grace our roads.All about the Honda NSX
Stunning the motoring world when it debuted over 30 years ago, the iconic Honda NSX rivalled anything the European car makers had to offer at the time. But what started out as an experiment by the Honda team, turned out to be the making of a Japanese automotive legend.20 fascinating facts about the Fiat 500
Oozing Italian Dolce Vita charm, the diminutive Fiat 500 was a big hit throughout Europe when it first launched in 1957. And that popularity has endured until the present today.10 classic automatics
For a time, you couldn’t go for a drive without seeing a Lotus Elise – never a bad thing.MEET THE OWNER – IAN COLE AND HIS AUSTIN ALLEGRO 1300 SUPER
‘I absolutely love this particular car which took me over 20 years to secure, so it’s going nowhere’. Ian’s 1975 Austin Allegro 1300 Super is certainly an eye-catching machine, not least the paint finish – ‘“Citron Yellow”; a rare survivor and a colour that is seen on MGs of the same period and the Jubilee Marinas’.
26 March 2021
Yesterday Ford announced the end to production in 2022 of the Mondeo - bringing to end a nearly thirty-year tradition. It is quite bizarre to think that little over 11 years separates the launch of the first models from the last of the Cortinas, and some readers will remember how in 1982, the debut of the Sierra caused shock-waves amongst Ford traditionalists. Indeed, some had not yet recovered when they heard rumours of an FWD replacement.
24 March 2021
As classic car owners, we’re really just temporary custodians of vehicles that have seen many previous owners and will hopefully see many more in the future. So, what are the options for finding a new home for your precious classic car after your death?MISUNDERSTOOD? – THE AUSTIN ALLEGRO SERIES 3
For many years the Austin Allegro was the subject of myth, folklore, received wisdom and downright abuse. Fortunately, the once-familiar “British Leyland Jokes” appear to have largely vanished, and any surviving model is now an object of fascination.
23 March 2021
If you’ve decided it’s time to sell your classic car, you’ll likely want two things: the best possible price for your vehicle and a quick sale.6 of the best classics from the 1950s
The 1950s were a good time to be alive. The Second World War had ended and people were optimistic about the future.The royal family and their classic cars
It’s no secret that the world is obsessed with the British royal family. We can’t get enough of talking about what they do, what they wear and where they go.How to plan a campervan trip to the South of France
If you’re looking for the perfect country for campervan travel, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than France. From the stunning countryside to the vibrant cities, there are plenty of places to explore. Plus, with a host of campervan and motorhome campsites, Aires and stopovers to choose from, you can plan your route (and your budget) with ease.How to jump start a classic car
Classic cars aren’t always reliable starters, as any experienced owner will know. In fact, sometimes you can find that a car will start one day without any problem and then a week later you turn the key and… nothing. However, before you reach for the jump leads, as you would do on a more modern car, just hold on – or you could potentially have a fire on your hands.
22 March 2021
We recently featured Lucy Worsley’s Bulgarian-built Maestros, but Patrick owns an even rarer version. His 1986 Moonraker Blue HLS is believed to be the only example on the road in the UK and ‘This car has only done 19,000 miles and has been sat in a garage for three years’.
18 March 2021
The pastime of collecting classic cars shows no signs of disappearing – however, the market is undergoing a seismic shift, with baby boomers making way for the new generation.What are the Pride of Ownership competitions at the NEC Classic Motor Show?
When you own a classic car, it’s natural to want to show people how fabulous it is. One way of doing that is by entering it into a classic car show or competition, such as the Pride of Ownership awards.
17 March 2021
If you’re a classic car owner, it’s up to you what you do with your vehicle.Lancaster Insurance expands cover for prestige vehicles
Lancaster Insurance has today announced a new partnership with Chubb to enhance its high value offering. Understanding that a standard policy may not always provide the right cover, the new scheme will give owners the confidence to truly enjoy their prestige vehicle with a range of bespoke benefits on offer.Fast facts about the Mazda MX-5
The mighty Mazda MX-5 is one of the most popular classics we insure here at Lancaster Insurance. It doesn’t come as a great surprise. Born in 1989, it has gone on to become one of the most famous roadsters of all time, with early models able to be picked up for peanuts (just watch out for that rust!).
16 March 2021
It is rather dispiriting to read how few examples of the BX survive in the UK, and Philip Greaves’ 1984 16TRS is one of the earliest on the road. His first experience of this very desirable Citroën was travelling in the model once owned by his mother – ‘Some of my earliest memories were in that car and of its unique dashboard - a glowing spinning drum speedo with LED rev bar and lots of switches’.Classic cars that turn 50 in 2021
From the invention of the microprocessor and the opening of Disney World to decimalisation in the UK, 1971 was a vintage year for a whole host of reasons. And many of these technological and cultural changes were also mirrored in the world of car design and production. Many car makers dropped the chrome radiator grills and wood and leather interiors of the 1960s in favour of American coke-bottle styling and black plastic.10 of the best classic vans and pick-ups
For a vehicle with stories to tell, you can’t beat the humble van. Light commercial vehicles and pick-ups are not just part of motoring history – they give insights into the bygone world of work, too.Driving your motorhome or campervan in Europe after Brexit
With European travel due to open up once again in 2021, it’s time to start looking ahead and preparing for your next motorhome adventure. Part of that preparation will be to familiarise yourself with the changes that have been imposed on travel now that the UK has left the European Union.
15 March 2021
‘The older generation usually knows of the model but due to its rarity not many have seen one. I’ve been asked if it’s a Jaguar or a kit car’. The Jowett Jupiter, owned by Anthony Jackson, is a very exclusive vehicle and one of the most ambitious products of the post-war British motor industry.
12 March 2021
Picture the scene – a semi-detached villa somewhere in East Cheam on Wednesday 15th March 1961. You are glancing at The Daily Herald over breakfast with Housewives’ Choice playing on the BBC Light Programme in the background – and then you come to the motoring page. ‘0-100 mph in 15secs - that’s the new Jag’ reads the headline while, even more incredibly, the E-Type was capable of 150 mph.MEET THE OWNER – RACHEL SMITH AND HER AUSTIN A55 CAMBRIDGE MK. I
The British Motor Corporation promised that the Austin A55 Cambridge possessed ‘an unmistakable air of authority’, and 790 XUH really does look imposing. His custodian Ms. Rachel Smith.
11 March 2021
The A90 Atlantic was one of the undoubted stars of the 1948 London Motor Show. For many visitors to Earls Court, a drophead with a “Jewelescent” paint finish seemed wholly removed from the fog, the damp and queuing for their bacon ration. This was the car Austin intended to appeal to affluent drivers in California with its ‘sports car performance with saloon car comfort’.MEET THE OWNER – GORDON MORRIS AND HIS VAUXHALL VENTORA V.I.P
Any FE-Series Ventora is now an unusual sight, but Gordon’s example is a car of special distinction. In May 1973, the advertisements stated, ‘Your Vauxhall dealer is offering a limited edition Ventora called the V.I.P. It’s black and it’s absolutely beautiful’. Mr. Morris came by his car in 1987 ‘as I was membership secretary for a while for the VX 4/90 Drivers’ Club’.The history of the Ford Escort
Few models of car offer as much variety as the beloved Ford Escort. From small family saloons to hot hatches and rally cars, from panel vans to luxury models, the range has given us everything. Between the late 1960s and the new millennium, there have been six generations of this perennially popular car on Britain’s streets. In total, some 4.1 million models were sold in the UK, and it frequently topped the bestseller lists.UK film locations to visit by campervan
If you’re a fan of British cinema, it’s well worth building a road trip around some filming locations. Not only will it help bring some of your favourite scenes to life, it’ll also give you an excuse to explore those parts of the UK that you have yet to see first-hand.What kinds of automobilia can you collect?
If you’ve run out of room to collect classic cars, the next best thing is to build up a collection of old motoring memorabilia – known as automobilia – which can come in all shapes and sizes.How to make money on a classic car
While talk of people making more money from buying and selling classic cars than property or gold might be a little over exaggerated, it’s true that you can turn a healthy profit from investing in a classic.
10 March 2021
Most owners choose not to drive their classic cars on a daily basis. In fact, the average historic vehicle is driven only 16 times a year, covering around 1,200 miles.9 fast facts about the Lamborghini Miura
As far as most people are concerned – including ourselves – the Lamborghini Miura is one of the best cars ever designed.Peugeot 205 GTi – a modern classic
Looking back on the 1980s, there were certainly some design disasters but also design triumphs in the world of car manufacture. With their bold, attractive looks and great performance, the hot hatchback has to be one of the high points!
09 March 2021
No, this is not a misprint, as the Morris badged version is one of the rarest and most desirable models to devotees of the Metro. Virtually any car-based light commercial of the 1980s has a very poor survival rate, but the early Metro van is probably now a more unusual sight than an MG 6R4. Not to mention offering considerably better fuel economy.
08 March 2021
Fifty years ago, a factory in County Durham produced the first examples of a quite remarkable new coupe. The Clan Crusader’s production run may have lasted for little more than two years, but it made a more significant impact than other cars might achieve in ten.MISUNDERSTOOD? – THE MGC
‘All New, all powerful’, exclaimed the adverts, and on paper, a new C appeared to be the perfect sports car for the go-ahead motorist. As early as 1964, Abingdon gave serious thought to a more powerful version of the B, while the Austin-Healey 3000 was not far from the end of its distinguished career.
04 March 2021
All cars are created with good intentions. However, somewhere along the way, some cars take on dark associations. Unfortunately, in some cases, they can’t shake them off afterwards and are forever tinged with the incident or ownership that formed that shadow.The car’s the star – classic cars in films
A movie appearance can do wonders for a car. As well as making it a more desirable object, it can put some serious value on a vehicle.RARER THAN RARE – FORD CORTINA 1300 DE LUXE MK.II ESTATE
With many popular cars, it is the entry-level versions that so often have the worst survival rate. Many owners treated the likes of a Cortina 1300 Mk. II “Series One” De Luxe Estate as a humble workhorse. Similarly, the De Luxe saloon’s common fate was becoming a sub-par replica of the GT, the 1600E or even the Lotus. This is just one reason why Andrew’s 1967 “Alpine Green” example is such a fascinating machine. Another is that it recently played a very important role for his family.Meet The Owner - Theo Kyriacou and his Fiat 131 Mirafiori Sport
‘I’ve owned at least one Fiat 131s since I bought my first one, a 1600 Special in 1979, and at one point, I had three. My current metallic grey 131 Mirafiori Sport I bought in 2001 when I was told my previous silver 131 Sport was beyond economic restoration. “Everything can be fixed/repaired, but it’s not worth restoring this one! Buy another one” I was told’.THE PEUGEOT 205 - A CELEBRATION
Some new cars manage to anticipate the future and make many of its rivals look archaic; the Citroën DS in 1959, the Mini in 1959, the Fiat 128 in 1969 and the Audi 100 C3 in 1982. And when Peugeot unveiled their latest small hatchback in February 1983, there was a sense that “The 1980s” really had commenced. Even after 38 years, Gérard Welter’s styling barely dates, and for an idea of the 205’s impact in the UK, picture a bright red GR amidst a sea of second-hand Ford Cortina Mk. Vs and Talbot Solaras.
03 March 2021
As well as being a lot of fun to drive and a potentially lucrative way to invest any spare cash, there are a host of other benefits to classic car ownership.MEET THE OWNER – SIMON FIXTER AND HIS BOND
A few days ago, Simon took his Equipe 2-Litre Mk. II Convertible for its first drive out after about ten years of being off the road. It is the sort of car that virtually demands that its hood be lowered, even in February, and a genuinely individualistic machine – even if too few people recognise it as a Bond. Mr. Fixter remarks while ‘everyone seems to like it’; members of the public tend to mistake it for ‘an obscure Alvis, Bristol or Jensen’.50 YEARS OF THE VAUXHALL FIRENZA
Fifty years ago, Luton unveiled ‘the kind of car that makes you impatient to be on your way’ – the new Firenza. Here was a coupe to rival the Ford Capri at home and score a major success in the company’s crucially important Canadian export market. As it transpired, the Vauxhall with ‘distinctive styling’ reached neither goal – despite its many strong-points.
02 March 2021
Classic car restoration is not something that you should try to attempt without having some expert advice alongside you, guiding you along the way. We hope that this guide will be an indispensable source of information that gives you the confidence to make your classic car restoration project everything you want it to be.A brief history of Triumph
As a popular first foray into classic car ownership, the Triumph cars of the 1960s and 1970s hold a special place in the hearts of many UK classic car enthusiasts.
01 March 2021
This month, the Mk1 Golf Owners Club take the accolade of Club of the Month! The club caters for owners and enthusiasts of the VW Mk1 Golf and exists to be a base for the preservation and restoration of the original Volkswagen Golf. Keeping with the times, the club has members with original swallowtails to heavily modified cabriolets.Get your classic looking its best with our latest competition!
March brings with it the changing of the seasons, as we approach spring and hopefully warmer weather, and usually it signifies the start of the classic car season. Whilst we may have to wait a little longer to enjoy road trips in our classics, today we are launching our brand new competition which will hopefully bring a little cheer!CAR OF THE MONTH – HOWARD BRYAN’S TVR “WHITE ELEPHANT”
‘Photos don’t do her justice – she is a car of such presence’. Naturally, Howard’s White Elephant causes a sensation on virtually every journey, and even in his home village, people stop on the pavement and mouth ‘what is it?’. Such reactions are quite understandable, for that elegant coachwork has no TVR badges. And incredibly, just seventeen years ago, this unique piece of Blackpool Thunder was languishing in the ‘TVR Graveyard’.
26 February 2021
We’ve insured thousands of classic cars in the 35+ years we’ve been in existence. Basically, you name it, we’ve insured it. Having built up a wealth of experience and knowledge within the industry in the last three decades, we are able to quote for virtually every type of classic car available.Meet The Owner – Adrian Miller and his Vauxhall Viva HB SL90 Crayford Convertible
Last year we featured Adrian’s Viva De Luxe “Brabham” but, incredibly, this is not the rarest car in his collection. In March 1968, Crayford Engineering transformed five of the HB range into dropheads. Each was based on the SL90, finished in white and wore Cosmic Mk. I alloy wheels’. Luton officially approved the conversion, and they were distributed solely by the Leeds Vauxhall dealership Wallace Arnold.What is the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs FBHVC?
If it wasn’t for the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), many classic car owners wouldn’t be able to drive their pride and joy on British roads. The Federation was created to uphold the freedom to use historic vehicles on the road, representing the interests of classic car owners to officials, politicians, and legislators.
24 February 2021
As classic car enthusiasts, we are indebted to the many brilliant automotive designers who have given us our passion – without their unique vision, ideals and principles, we’d have nothing to get excited about. All cars would be one of the same, destined for the scrap heap at the end of their life, rather than carefully preserved as so many historic vehicles are today.How to plan a classic Italian Job-style road trip
What comes to mind when you think of the classic British film, The Italian Job? Michael Caine – certainly. The Swinging Sixties – for sure. And classic cars. Lots and lots of classic cars!
23 February 2021
The classic Porsche 911 has been found to be the most valuable historic vehicle on the market with the models bringing in over £900 million to the UK economy. Research from the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation and Endurance Rallying Association (HERO-ERA) calculates that the 23,029 models add up to an estimated valuation of £911 million. The Porsche 911 was miles out in front in the list, with the Jaguar E-Type claiming second place with an estimated worth of £371 million from 4,120 models.
22 February 2021
In this article, we set the record straight on what the new law will mean for classic car owners and help you keep up to date with the government’s long-term plans. But, first, it’s important to put it all into context by looking at the environmental impact of classic cars in the UK.DO YOU REMEMBER – THE LANCIA GAMMA BERLINA?
In the early 1980s, certain large cars were more frequently encountered in brochures and the automotive press than in the metal – the Talbot Tagora, the Renault 30 TX and the Gamma Berlina. All deserved far more commercial success, especially the Lancia - one of the most distinctive saloons of its generation.
19 February 2021
When Jaguar unveiled the E-Type at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961, several observers cast their minds back to 1957 – and an equally remarkable two-seater sports car from Browns Lane. The XKSS came about after the company temporarily retired from competition racing in 1956. However, there were several unsold D-Types at the factory while Jaguar’s dealers in North America saw a demand for a “Class C” production racer.
17 February 2021
Many classic car enthusiasts hope to make money from their hobby, but sadly not all of them are so lucky. So, what is it about a classic car that makes it appreciate in value? What factors should you consider when choosing a car as an investment? And how should you care for your car in a way that will boost its value over the years to come?What is green laning?
Do you love driving? Enjoy a challenge? Want to get off the beaten track – literally? Then why not give green laning a try? This exciting hobby, which involves seeking out and exploring lesser known byways, is much loved by drivers of classic Land Rovers and other 4x4s. It’s a great way to remind yourself of those bygone days when motoring was still a thrill.What is the Gay Classic Car Group?
The classic car community loves welcoming new owners into the fold. They’re a welcoming bunch who love sharing their passion with others, and passing on some of their motoring knowledge. With hundreds of classic car clubs up and down the country, you won’t have to look far to find a club that’s perfect for you and your vintage motor.
16 February 2021
‘Usually, the response is I drove one of those when working with BT. Or surprised to see one of those thought they had all rusted away. I enjoy going to car shows and like the response of people in regards to seeing an everyday car from years gone by’. The HA-Series Viva is indeed a rare sight; the production run was only from 1963 to 1966 and, as with several British vehicles of that era, it was prone to corrosion.
12 February 2021
In France the Estafette genuinely merits the term ‘iconic’; from mobile shops and ice-cream vans to mini-buses and as transport for the telephone service. The Renault could also be seen delivering bread, acting as a support vehicle at the Tour de France, and, as with Simon’s 1963 example, as a police van.
10 February 2021
'It was through my other half that I started getting into Maestros' remarks Lucy 'Steve has had many over the last 15 years and, after meeting him eight odd years ago, I got into the car scene.'MEET THE OWNER – BEN SPEARS AND HIS TRIUMPH VITESSE 2-LITRE MK.I
When Standard-Triumph planned the Vitesse, they intended its grille and quad headlamps to distinguish it from its cheaper stablemate. However, this has not prevented members of the public from greeting Ben’s 1967 example with ‘Wow - that’s a lovely Triumph Herald!’.
08 February 2021
Through no fault of their own, some cars never seemed to establish a niche in the UK. In Spain, the SEAT 133 was regarded as the heir to the 850. However, British motorists were perplexed by what seemed to be an enlarged Fiat 126. The Cherry Europe was the product of an ambitious agreement between Nissan and Alfa Romeo, but it seemed to have no apparent role in Datsun GB’s line-up.
05 February 2021
1981 - the year of the Royal Wedding, Adam and the Ants singing about the perils of being a dandy highwayman and BMXs making the Raleigh Grifter look passé. It was still a time of three-channel television, Sunday closing for shops, and the Ford Cortina as the best-selling car in the UK.FIVE PIONEER BRITISH HOT HATCHBACKS
One of the most persistent debates in the world of classic cars is 'what was the first "Hot Hatchback?" The answer is often 'the Simca 1204', but here we are considering the first British-built examples of the genre. Some cars are automatically ruled out of contention; neither the Mini-Cooper nor the MG 1100/1300 were available with a factory-fitted tailgate.MEET THE OWNER – DAVEY PESKETT AND HIS NISSAN PRESIDENT
Few, if any, people are likely to approach Davey on seeing his 1974 Nissan and tell him ‘my dad/mum/next-door neighbour/teacher used to have one of those’. The H250-Series President was never officially sold in the UK, and Mr. Peskett ‘only bought it by fluke from Japan’. In its homeland, this was the car for senior politicians, business tycoons and the Royal Family.
01 February 2021
‘It’s a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No extended wheel arches, very discreet “V8” badges and not a lot to give away its performance, asides from the four exhaust pipes’. Richard Monk is the General Manager of the MG Owners’ Club, a valued long term partner of Lancaster Insurance, and the custodian of a very special MG ZT-T XPower 385 - the only one built on the production line.Time to get your tools in order!
With restrictions still in place for many of us, we wanted to spread some cheer among classic car enthusiasts and give you the opportunity to win some amazing prizes!Don’t let your classic become a statistic
Our classics mean the world to us, and worryingly on our Facebook forum (The Classic Car Enthusiasts Forum – Powered by Lancaster Insurance) we’ve seen a spate of owners sharing the unfortunate news that their pride and joy has been stolen or involved in a fire, some of which haven’t had the right insurance in place.Club of the Month – The Classic Corvette Club
Our first accolade of the year goes to the Classic Corvette Club UK (CCUK). An enthusiastic and friendly club, we have been working with the team for over five years and currently sit on their insurance panel, offering members a discount of up to 25% off their insurance premium.
28 January 2021
We recently showcased the Rover 800, and Alex Sebbinger-Sparks is the proud owner of a rather notable top-of-the-range example. ‘Being registered in the first week of August 1986, this car was one of the first batches of “Silver Leaf” 800s’.
26 January 2021
Classic cars are a source of joy for their owners – why not share that joy with children who are in need? That’s the idea behind Sporting Bears Motor Club, a group of classic car and sports car enthusiasts who come together to raise money for good causes and make children’s dreams come true.
25 January 2021
In the 1950s a Morris Oxford belonged to the same comfortably secure realm as The Billy Cotton Band Show and Mrs Dale’s Diary – which is why the Series V caused alarm and consternation on its launch in March 1959.DO YOU REMEMBER – THE VOLVO 760 TURBO?
Picture the scene. It is the spring of 1986 and waiting at a set of traffic lights are a sober-looking new Volvo Estate and a 1977 Capri 3.0S Mk. II festooned with “Go Faster” stripes and driven by a Paul Calf-look-alike.
22 January 2021
Back in 2019, we posted a feature about the Traction Avant Commerciale, the car that is arguably the world’s first hatchback. And today, our star classic is Matthew’s 1956 example, which is used and enjoyed the way Citroën intended.THE LEYLAND PRINCESS 100 CLUB SPECIAL – A CELEBRATION
Some Limited Edition cars, along the lines of the Ford Zephyr 6 Mk. IV Special or the Hillman Hunter Topaz, were produced to clear the showrooms of soon to be replaced models. Others, such as the Morris Minor Million, the Mini 1100 Special or the Ford Capri 280 “Brooklands”, celebrated a milestone anniversary or marked the end of a highly respected vehicle.Can you use E10 fuel in your classic car?
Motoring fans like nothing better than starting up their classic and taking it out for a regular run through the countryside. After all the pleasurable hours of tinkering, it’s fantastic to really let rip and soak up some admiring glances from other road users.The Austin Metro turns 40
Much-loved cheeky 80s runabout the Austin Mini Metro turns 40 this year. Often the butt of jokes for being on the rusty, dowdy, unreliable side, the Austin Metro is now achieving a cult following from a new, younger crowd.5 classic cars with crazy doors
Not all doors are created equal. While many of us know only the standard car door (supercar owners aside), there have been some innovative (some might call them crazy) attempts over the years to switch things up – with varying degrees of success, we might add.
21 January 2021
The Mini Cooper will be 60 years on 20th September, and naturally, we will be celebrating this milestone in summer. To best understand just how the Austin “Seven” Cooper/Morris Mini Cooper twins transformed the sports saloon, take a look at five potential rivals from 1961.MEET THE OWNER – PAUL MATTHEWS AND HIS FORD FIESTA SANDPIPER II
About twenty years ago, the first-generation Ford Fiesta seemed to largely vanish from Britain’s roads – which is one reason why Paul’s 1981 model attracts attention wherever it goes. And course, any Sandpiper II automatically stands out in any classic car gathering.What to see at Beaulieu Motor Museum
If you’re planning a trip to Beaulieu any time soon, there’s a lot to offer any classic car enthusiast. You could get behind the scenes of BBC’s Top Gear to see cars of all shapes and sizes driven by The Stig and co. Or, you may prefer checking out some of TV and film’s most famous motors courtesy of the ever-changing On-Screen Cars exhibition. Think Del Boy’s Robin Reliant, Mr Bean’s Mini, Bond’s Jaguar XKR, and many, many more...