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Make Time For Classic Car Care

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

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Make Time For Classic Car Care

Geoff Maxted
DriveWrite
November 13, 2013


Classic Aston Martin
For most of us the daily grind will involve driving somewhere. We have become used to our cars starting and performing properly, even in the depths of winter, such is their dependability. Classic cars however require a rather more dedicated approach.

Any car over, say, twenty years old, is likely to be feeling its age and the astute owner will ensure that pretty much any small problem or minor breakdown can promptly be resolved by ensuring that the car is equipped for the job. These days motorists are complacent and are rendered helpless when it comes to DIY repairs; but, to be fair, modern cars are way too complicated for most anyway and we need to rely on specialists in vehicle servicing. This is not the classic car way.

It’s important to remember that auto science has moved on in leaps and bounds and older cars were more likely to suffer problems even when new. With a classic car it makes sense to check all the fluids, belts and moving parts before setting off on any journey and going tooled-up when on the road. It’s obviously impossible to carry the entire contents of the garage in the boot but it is a good idea to take some essential items to deal with the odd eventuality.

Packing a toolbox with a generous selection of the right tools is a no-brainer but it’s easy to get carried away. Don’t forget those basic items that are always needed but never seem to be at hand. Also, as anyone who has ever suffered a breakdown knows, you are rarely wearing overalls at the time. A pair will roll up easily into a corner and could have a pair of those snappy rubber gloves in the pocket.

All classic owners need spare parts and your local specialists can usually find the most obscure things. Seeking out appropriate parts that are manageable at the roadside makes a lot of sense. Fan belts, starter motors and fuel pumps are all notorious, although, of course, there’s a limit to what can be carried. The serious minded may feel that a portable power pack – which these days are light and compact – wouldn’t hurt either.

Finally, a little box containing the usual bits and pieces is essential. Fuses, wire (assorted) and gaffer tape, for example. Often, a lot can be achieved with very little but there is one thing so important, like life itself, that cannot be omitted and that’s a can of WD40. Whoever came up with that should go down in history as the patron saint of classic drivers!

If none of the above works then a tow rope and a mobile should be your last resort. In the meantime it pays to remember that winter can take its toll on any classic or vintage car and it may well be that the best course of action is to lay the car up over the darker, damp months. Correct car storage is a bit of an art form. You can leave it to professional storage firms or, with a bit of thought and planning, your garage could become a place of hibernation. Use the winter months for maintenance and be ready for the Spring when you can take to the road again. Just don’t forget the toolkit and some wet wipes.



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