Maybe you’ve got an eye for an E-Type Jag, or you see yourself as Bond behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB5. Perhaps you love the nostalgia of home-grown heroes like the Holden Monaro.  

Whichever classic car sets your pulse racing, it pays to get a true picture of the costs involved. 

Owning a slice of motoring history can be a lot of fun, but it can also drive a serious hole in your bank account.

You need to think about how much you will pay for it, how much work needs to be done to restore or maintain it and how much you can insure it for. And that’s if you decide to keep it!

Our guide will give you some insight into the common costs involved with owning a classic car so that there are no hidden surprises that are bound to break the bank. 

Initial purchase 

The classic car market has skyrocketed during the pandemic as Australians scrap plans for international travel and focus on hobbies that can be enjoyed from home.

That’s seeing plenty of car lovers pay top dollar for the classics. A sale by auction house Grays in 20211 notched up some eye-watering prices including $183,000 for a 1970 Ford Falcon XW GT. If a muscle car is more your thing, a 1978 Ford XC Cobra sold under the hammer for $194,000.

It turns out cars don’t have to be in mint condition to score big with buyers. Earlier in 2021, a rust-ravaged 1958 Porsche 356A sold at auction by Shannons for $230,000.2 

That’s not to say all classic cars command six-figure sums. Plenty sell for considerably less. Even so, if you’re struggling to muster the savings to own a slice of motoring nostalgia, a Nimble Personal Loan could put you behind the wheel of a head-turning classic.

Pay the right price

Although you may be excited about getting behind the wheel of a classic, before you write out the cheque, ensure you are paying for a pristine vehicle not a beater. 

Price should be determined by age, condition, scarcity and original features. Sometimes our excitement can convince us to hand over more than it’s actually worth (don’t worry, it happens to the best of us). 

If you can check the average value online, it’s always good to compare similar models or asking prices. We also would recommend a pre-purchase inspection from someone who knows all about the classic car you are buying (so don’t bother taking a vinty down to a new car dealership).

To find the right person, check out your local car clubs or consult your car enthusiast friends. The cost will depend on who you know, what they know and how long it takes them to complete the inspection. 

Don’t buy only for the investment 

If you are a car lover or collector, buy for the love of the car rather than just the investment. 

Whilst it’s great to buy the classics to on-sell for a profit, you need to ensure you will be able to get your money back. 

So if you buy a 6-figure classic car and want to make money off it, ensure that you will be able to find a buyer who can afford to offer more than you paid for it. Otherwise, you may be left with a significant hole in your wallet and a car which doesn’t quite tickle your fancy.

Likewise, if your personal slice of history is not quite aged to perfection, hang onto it because it could see you quite the profit in the future. 

Storing your new ride

You can’t just park your new classic car in the driveaway. 

It’s not a normal car so it will be a little more fragile and need some extra loving care. 

If it’s not the kind of collector’s piece that you will be driving around the streets, you may need to consider having a safe space to store and preserve it. 

If that’s a bit unrealistic where you live, you may need to find a storage facility which offers some or all of the following:

  • Security – CCTV and/or alarm systems
  • Air conditioning and humidity control
  • Battery trickle charges
  • Tyre checks
  • Monthly engine runs
  • Accessibility

Although it may cost a bit extra, you will be guaranteed:

  • Safety and security for your antique ride
  • Protection from extreme temperatures and natural elements
  • Protection from other elements or vehicles
  • Lower risk of theft and vandalism
  • Lower insurance costs

You can expect to pay between $250 and $550+3 a month depending on the location, type of car, type of space, length of booking and the added extras such as engine runs. 

It may sound like a lot, but if storing your car guarantees a triple resale value, it’s a win for us!

Classic Car insurance 

Insurance is a must-have for any car, and a number of specialist insurance companies as well as motoring organisations like the NRMA, offer classic car cover. A simple Google search can put you in touch with an insurer.  But you may need to do some homework first.

Unlike modern vehicles, classic cars have survived long past the point at which they’ve depreciated to near-zero value. Quite the opposite – many will have risen in value, especially those that have been fully restored. 

That being the case, it can be hard to pinpoint a classic car’s market value, something that’s a breeze with modern cars. Instead of just hitting the keyboard for an online quote for cover, the insurer will likely ask for a professional valuation of the car in order to work out an agreed value4. From there, the premiums will be impacted by whether the car will be driven – and how often. Once you have a clear valuation, it’s worth shopping around between insurers to get the best deal.

Car thieves love classic cars

The current boom in classic cars hasn’t gone unnoticed by thieves5, and without many of today’s hi tech theft protection, classics can be an easy target for crooks.

Experts recommend changing a car’s locks after you buy it and install anti-theft devices like an immobiliser, alarm and GPS tracker to improve the car’s security6. If you can store it in a locked garage at home rather than leaving the car on the street, so much the better.

These types of security measures are an added cost but they can mean savings on insurance premiums.

Regular maintenance 

All cars need regular maintenance, however the classics may need a little extra TLC. Today’s electronic-rich modern engines typically require less frequent tune-ups compared to their older counterparts7. So, unless you plan to do a lot of your own mechanical work, think about budgeting for additional maintenance costs.

To really show your classic some love, it can be worth getting in touch with a specialist mechanic who focuses on older cars. Or join a local car club to find out which mechanics in your area are best-equipped to work with rare makes and models.

Spare parts 

A strong incentive to hitch up with a specialist mechanic is their knowledge of where to source parts. It’s a breeze to source spares for modern cars. Not so for older cars. You may find yourself engaging in a lengthy treasure hunt, and almost certainly paying more – especially for authentic parts. If you need to order parts from overseas, factor in the possibility of paying import tax in addition to shipping. 


Rust is the number one enemy of every car, and unfortunately it tends to be more common in classics. That’s not just because of age. Old cars don’t have the same level of weather protection as new cars.

Happily, there are steps you can take to minimise the risk of rust, from regularly cleaning and waxing the car, through to installing a humidifier in the garage8. It can hurt your hip pocket, but remember, rust is the leading culprit that sees classics hit the scrapyard instead of the concourse9, so the expense can be a wise investment.

New paint job 

Painting a car is a job best left to the professionals, and a fresh coat of paint can set you back between $1,500 and $3,00010. The price can rise if the car has multiple panels requiring different colours owing to the time taken to tape up areas or remove elements that don’t require a paint spray.  

Unexpected repair and restoration 

Old cars are like old houses – they can dish up plenty of surprises, especially once you’ve started a restoration project. What can start as a minor repair can turn into a major expense if you find hidden rust, or face a struggle tracking down parts.

That’s when a Nimble AnyTime Virtual MasterCard can be so handy, putting the cash at your fingertips to complete the project and bring your classic car back to its original beauty.


Please note this content is provided as general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situations or needs. For advice tailored to your financial situation, it is advised that you seek guidance from an accountant or financial advisor. The above post refers to application software (“App, Apps”) that is not affiliated or associated with Nimble. We do not have any control or responsibility over the content of the Apps. Use of the Apps may be subject to further terms and conditions imposed by the App provider, the owner of the mobile operating system and/or other related parties. The above links belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in this blog post. The information contained in this article is correct at the date of publication.

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