According to the latest data from Britain’s historic vehicle club, there are nearly 700,000 classic car owners in the UK.
Although there are plenty of benefits to owning a classic car, there can also be lots to think about when buying, selling, restoring or driving a classic model.
While classic cars are loved for their vintage appeal, the flip side is that they’re often out of date when it comes to safety features, including the often absence of seatbelts, which can result in a £500 fine. From complex car insurance to missing seatbelts, which are the biggest classic car concerns?
Confused.com car insurance experts have analysed Google data to reveal the most searched-for terms when it comes to safely running your vintage vehicle.
The most common safety questions for classic cars:
1. Classic car insurance – 616,000
Receiving over half a million searches, classic car insurance has one of the biggest question marks. This type of cover is relatively similar to ordinary car insurance with a few important differences.
Classic car insurance policies can often work out cheaper than standard car insurance. One of the reasons is because classic cars are generally driven less and do fewer miles than other everyday motors. Often, classic cars will be used as a second car rather than a driver’s primary vehicle, meaning they are only driven on special occasions and not used day-to-day.
Individual insurers may use varying criteria when categorising cars as classic vehicles. However, the general definition of a classic car is a car that’s at least 40 years old (this is the age a car must be to be exempt from paying HMRC’s Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).
2. Classic car seat belt – 7,050
It’s widely known that classic cars often lack seat belts. Believe it or not, they weren’t always a legal requirement, and cars were often produced without built-in seat belts. It’s no wonder that “classic car seat belts” comes in at over 2,000 searches per year, as owners look to make their vehicles safe to drive.
Some classic car enthusiasts prefer to install original seat belts, such as static lap belts and retractable lap belts, to maintain the authenticity of their vehicles. Modern seat belts, however, offer improved safety. These are 3 point belts that provide both upper and lower body protection.
3. Are classic cars safe? – 2,160
As mentioned, many vintage and classic cars can lack some of the safety features found in modern cars, such as seatbelts, airbags, anti-lock brakes, crumple zones, and reinforced passenger compartments. Classic car owners need to be aware of any potential risks their car may have in a potential collision, and of the limitations of their vehicles when it comes to day-to-day use.
Many classic car enthusiasts take steps to improve the safety of their vehicles. This can be achieved simply by retrofitting these cars with modern safety features. For example, adding seat belts, disc brakes, and high-performance tires will greatly increase the safety of a classic car.
4. Classic car rules – 1,500
There are a few differences in terms of the legality of classic car ownership. For example, classics may be subject to different registration requirements and fees than modern cars. This can work both ways, where some classics are eligible for exemptions from certain fees or emissions standards.
Insurance can be a big area where classic cars differ from modern vehicles. Usually, they’ll require special coverage as their value and use can differ significantly from modern cars. Some providers may offer particular policies for classic cars, such as agreed-value coverage, lower premiums, and other benefits.
In some cases, classic cars can even be subject to driving restrictions, such as different speed limits or usage allowances on certain roads. These rules will be specific to your make and model, so be sure to thoroughly understand the rules relating to your own vehicle.
5. Classic car seat belt law – 1,460
In general, the legality surrounding the use of seat belts in classic cars is much more lenient than for modern cars. Many classic cars weren’t originally equipped with seat belts or other safety features, and so are not legally required to have them. It’s important to note this is only true for models that were not produced with seatbelts.
It’s highly recommended that drivers of classic cars wear seat belts, as they provide an effective and important safety measure should you find yourself in a collision or sudden stop. Many classic car enthusiasts install modern seat belts in their vehicles to improve their own and their passenger’s safety.
Confused.com car insurance expert Louise Thomas, said, “Owning a classic car can set drivers out from the crowd, with unique designs and performance offering a special driving experience. Some classic models can also be a great investment opportunity, gaining value over time due to their rarity.
“But despite the overall investment, there’s a lot of things to consider before taking the leap and buying a classic car. Drivers should be prepared for the cost of updating cars with modern safety features if they want to increase the safety of their classic car when driving on today’s roads.
“Certain modifications can also affect your car insurance premium, so it’s important to find the right type of classic car insurance to ensure you are covered.”