Classic car ownership can be a highly rewarding experience – that’s why we started this website, after all.
While modern cars are undoubtedly better-than-ever in terms of features, safety, creature comforts, and performance, there is a certain je ne sais quoi about classic cars that makes them all the more appealing in this digital age.
This allure of classic ownership – combined with price rises that are making classics an increasingly appealing asset class (or speculative vehicle, pun intended, depending on how you look at things) mean that many people are looking to get into classic ownership.
There are many myths and “urban legends” when it comes to classic car ownership.
For example, you’ve probably heard that cars should be driven on occasion – even if you intend to store a car and keep it as unused as possible.
With that in mind …
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How Frequently Should You Drive A Classic Car?
In an ideal world, you should aim to drive your classic car at least monthly, if not more frequently (for example taking the car out for a weekend blast)
That drive should also ideally be a decent drive. Not just starting the car and taking it around the block, but actually letting it warm up properly and taking it for say a short drive into the countryside or down the motorway in the city (ideally so you can have the opportunity to get the car up to motorway speeds, work through all the gears etc).
While you don’t need to daily drive your classic car if you’re interested in preserving it, not driving it at all can actually be damaging to your pride and joy.
There is no set-in-stone rule, but trying to aim for at least a monthly drive is going to help keep your car in good, reliable condition.
Is Leaving A Classic Car In Storage & Not Driving It Bad For The Car?
Yes, it can be.
Many classic car sellers will like to state in their classifieds or auction listings that their treasured example has been unused for years, sat in a garage or storage facility somewhere.
However, this can actually be detrimental to the condition of the car.
As crazy as it sounds, cars were built to be driven (and then maintained appropriately). Not using a car as the manufacturer intended – i.e. not using at all – isn’t ideal from the perspective of keeping your car in the best possible working condition.
When cars sit for long periods of time, bad things can happen – rubber and plastic can perish, oil and other vital fluids can deteriorate, creatures can find their way into tight spaces and make nests etc.
In fact, we would generally prefer to buy a higher mileage classic with good service history than an ultra-low mileage example (at least if it is being bought for the purpose of driving and not investment – low mileage examples will often sell for more money due to the perception that lower mileage is always better, and because they tend to be worth more as investments)
Therefore, if you’re going to properly store a car and not use it for an extended period of time, it pays to look at what you need to do for safe long-term storage, in order to minimise the risk of damage and deterioration.
Harry’s Garage has some great tips in this ~20 minute video on how to properly store cars that are only being used very infrequently:
Is It Ok To Drive A Classic Car Every Day?
What about if you suddenly wind up needing or wanting to use your classic every day?
Is it ever ok to “daily” a classic car?
We’ve gone into detail on this very topic in another article, which you can read here, but in case you’d like the quick answer, you can definitely daily drive a classic car.
However, what you have to bear in mind is that classic cars do not have the same convenience, comfort and safety features that more modern cars have.
For example, many older classics might only have something like a cassette player and FM radio for audio playback – no Android Auto or Apple Carplay to be seen! In this case you might need to invest in an FM transmitter or cassette adapter, in order to provide some more modern functionality.
One of the editors of this site daily drove a Fiat 131 for several months while his other Fiat was being repaired (it took almost three months for a new rear windshield to arrive from Italy). It can be done – it just depends on how much you want or need to do it!
Conclusion & Recap
How often should you drive a classic car?
Ultimately there are no hard and fast rules – this is one of those “how long is a piece of string” questions.
That being said, a good rule of thumb is to try and drive your classic at least monthly, and make that drive a decent one.
In an ideal world you would probably try to use the car more frequently than monthly, but if you are trying to preserve the car and keep the mileage low for investment purposes (or because you just want to have a “garage queen” that is also in good functional condition) then monthly is a good rule to live by.
Because classics can also have a tendency to sit around, it pays to check tire pressures, oil levels, coolant levels etc before your drive – this will only take a moment or two but help to ensure that you keep the car in the best possible condition.
If you are going to properly store your classic, then it pays to take appropriate precautions as well. Just leaving a car sat as it normally would for months (possibly even years) on end can cause all sorts of problems.
As such, if you’re looking at buying a classic car that has been in long-term storage, it’s imperative to do your homework on how that car has been stored, and also what might need refreshing or replacing prior to more regular use.
We would also love to hear your feedback. If you have an occasional-use classic, how frequently do you try to use it? Leave a comment below to get the discussion started. Whether you drive your classic every day, or you prefer to keep it under lock and key to preserve it, your feedback and input is always welcome.