When Does a Car Become a Classic?

When we talk about vintage vehicles at White’s Bodyworks, the question often comes up about when a car truly becomes a classic. This is often a slightly contentious issue because there are no real set rules. Get a bunch of classic car enthusiasts in a room and you’ll soon see that there are more than a few disagreements.

40 years is usually mentioned but this is because the rules change for cars and they don’t have to pay vehicle excise duty after this time. There are also a few other categories such as veteran cars (anything manufactured before the First World War), vintage cars (vehicles made before 1930) and post-vintage cars (made between 1930 and 1945).

Anything after that and more than 40 years old can reasonably be considered a classic vehicle. That sounds fair enough to our team at White’s Bodyworks.

Unfortunately, it’s not as clear cut as that and there are a few different schools of thought. For example, is a Mini Coupe made in 1995 a classic or not? Some would say that it is definitely. But it’s not yet more than 40 years old.

So what other factors determine, at least in some people’s minds, what makes a classic? Let’s take a closer look.

1. Nostalgia

If a car gives you a sense of nostalgia, then you might reasonably consider it a classic. This can depend on how old you are, of course. If you were around in the late 70s and early 80s as a kid you might fondly remember the Ford Granada. If you were born in the 2000s, the Peugeot 206 might be something of a classic in your mind.

You don’t have to have lived through a particular period, you may just have a liking or attachment to the 60s or 70s because of their style. Nostalgia can often be connected to our favourite TV shows or films that stick in our memory.

Nostalgia, just like the 40-year rule, can be a bit difficult to pin down and is maybe not the best indicator of whether a car is a classic or not.

2. Classic Car Design

For some classic car enthusiasts, there has to be something in the design of the vehicle that makes it stand out. We can understand this, we all have our favourites, whether it’s the sleek design of a vintage jag or the shark fins on a classic Cadillac. Many cars of the past have a unique identifying feature in their design that makes them stand out – we immediately recognise what they are.

The humble Mini is a point in question. It was undoubtedly made famous by the Michael Caine movie The Italian Job but the car has been an enduring brand throughout the last 50 or more years.

3. The Cultural Impact of Classic Cars

The reason that the Ford Mustang became such an iconic car in the late 60s wasn’t so much because of its design or thundering engine. It was mostly down to the legendary star of the big screen Steve McQueen. Its role in Bullitt has become a part of our cultural history and for that reason alone we see it as a classic. You won’t be surprised to find that it sold for $3.4 million when it came up for auction in 2020.

Think of the many Bond cars going back to the iconic  Aston Martin, the VW in Herbie Rides Again, the Delorean in Back to the Future and Dodge Charger in The Fast and The Furious. All these cars became classics more because of their association with big movies than anything else.

A Classic is in the Eye of the Beholder

Age is one thing, provenance is another. Some old cars disappear and are hardly thought of again. Others become the target of classic car enthusiasts. Some are obvious like the Ford Capri, one of the top racy numbers of the 70s. Others like the Morris Minor are less obvious. Indeed, the Morris Minor owners club has branches all over the UK today and thousands of members.

The thing to note is that classic car owners are generally quite devoted to their vehicles and it may be that this should be a defining feature determining why we call it such in the first place. In the end, of course, it’s just an identifying name. If you want to call your car a classic, then you are welcome to do so.

Bring Your Classic to White’s Bodyworks

We have more than two decades of experience in restoring and repairing classic cars of all types. If you’re searching for a garage you can trust and a team that is passionate about what they do, then White’s Bodyworks should be your first port of call.

You can check out our extensive portfolio here.


4 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Restore a Classic Car

There’s no doubt that restoring a classic car is a labour of love. Most vintage vehicle enthusiasts don’t undertake this kind of project without having a passion for what they are doing. There can be a lot of hurdles to get over with even the smallest restoration. It can be frustrating and even infuriating at times.

We’re assuming that you’ve already decided that this is what you want to do and no one is going to stop you. You’ve been putting it off for long enough and now is the time to take the plunge.

You’re aware of your skillset and what you’ll need to learn, where you’re going to carry out the restoration and the time you have to devote to the project.

Here are some additional and very important questions you now need to find answers to before you get down to the nitty-gritty of planning and implementing your classic car restoration.

1. Which Car Are You Going to Restore?

It’s not always the case but most classic car restorers have a particular affinity for a certain make or model. It might be a vintage Morris Minor or an old Jaguar, maybe something more exotic and challenging.

In the end, you need to care about the car and it must mean something to you. Of course, there are some restorers for whom the journey of bringing a vintage vehicle back to life is the primary reward. For these individuals, the final result is less important than the process itself. That’s fine.

For most, there’s a connection to the car that they are restoring. But there are things that you need to consider. The first, and perhaps most important, is whether there are classic cars of this type on the market and how you find them.

In general, the older the car, the more difficult it is to restore. This is partly because of the availability of spare parts but also because the condition is likely to be worse.

If you are intending to make a profit by selling your restoration after you’ve finished, you need to understand that choice of vehicle is going to be vital. In many cases, the cost of restoration is much higher than the resale value. Crunching the numbers if this is your plan can be complicated.

2. What is Your Budget?

Of course, one thing that is going to determine the make of the car you choose (and its condition) is how much you have to spend on it. A vehicle that is rusted down to the frame will cost a good deal more than one that just needs some bodywork repair, an engine overhaul and some new tyres.

There are lots of things that can affect the budget. The amount of work you have to outsource to a garage is one. Another is the availability of spare parts and how you are going to find these.

One of the biggest problems newbies have is that they fail to understand the size of the project and its cost. If you’re on a tight budget, according to Fluxposure, picking a simple car should be the order of the day. On average, however, for a solid restoration, you can be looking at anything from £5,000 to £20,000 over and above the cost of the car itself.

3. Where Are You Going to Find Your Car?

It’s all well and good of having a restoration dream, but the one question you’ll need to answer is where you’re going to find your car. Fortunately, there are several options:

  • Online: One place to start is by searching listings online. Even on sites like eBay, you can find restoration projects ready to go. It’s important, however, that you never buy something online sight unseen. Check out classic car online magazines as well.
  • Classic Car Clubs: Particularly if you have a certain make of car in mind, reaching out to clubs and networking with them can help you spot the restoration project that you’ve been searching for. There are hundreds of these across the UK and someone always seems to know someone with a car for sale. They’re also a great source of advice once your restoration begins.
  • Auctions: Car auctions are another good option and they give you the chance to see the car up close and find out what condition it is in. There are several held throughout the UK each year.

4. What Condition Is It In?

The condition of the classic car and how much work you will have to undertake is also an important question you need to answer. This will mostly depend on your passion for the project, how much you have to spend and what you want to achieve.

You can’t just take the seller’s word for it, the car needs to be fully inspected before you buy. That might require bringing in an expert who’ll be able to spot hidden issues that are going to add to your budget.

Partnering with White’s Bodyworks

There’s one good reason why many classic car enthusiasts partner with White’s Bodyworks. Whether it’s for servicing or a fully-fledged restoration, we’ve got the team in place who know what they are doing.

We’ve worked on a wide range of vintage vehicles over the last couple of decades and we have a national reputation for quality work and amazing facilities.

Find out more about the makes and models we’ve worked on in the past here.

All about having a classic car painted

If you’re thinking about having a classic car painted, you probably have some questions. You may worry that repairing a classic car will devalue it or that it won’t last very long. We’re here to help you understand why you might want to respray a classic car and how to get the very best shop for the job in this 7-minute read.

1. Why would you respray a classic car?

There are many reasons to respray a classic car. If it’s old, it’s likely the paint is damaged in some way – either from the sun, scuffs, collisions or rust. If you’re very lucky and there’s no damage to the original paint, you may just not like the colour and want to change it to something more suited to your tastes. Lastly, you may have bought the car already repainted and the colour they chose wasn’t available on the original. And so you’re looking to restore it to its original glory and paint it in a factory colour. Once you’ve started thinking about respraying a classic car, you’re probably worrying if repainting a classic car will devalue it.

2. Does repainting a classic car devalue it?

Not usually. If the car is in good condition otherwise, repainting it with a factory colour can increase the value. According to Badell’s Collision, “Having your car repainted is an investment in many ways. Not only will you treat yourself to a vehicle with a like-new finish, [but you will also] add to its residual or resale value. By investing in repainting, you can get a higher trade-in value for an older vehicle. You can also raise your asking price when selling a used car directly to a buyer. But, for cars more than 10 years old, you should consider if the improved trade-in value will outweigh the price of repainting the car. A functional older vehicle can be transformed with a coat of fresh paint. Just make sure that it will be a valuable investment. If the car isn’t in good condition otherwise, repainting it may turn out to be more expensive than the car is worth on resale.” It might be worth getting a valuation on a before and after – just to be sure you’re making a worthwhile investment.

3. Common types of resprays:

The common types of resprays are bare metal resprays, full resprays, partial resprays and the repair and refinishing of panels. We’ll go over each in more detail:

  • Bare metal resprays

With a bare metal respray, the car is stripped (often inside too) and any damaged metal is repaired. Then it is painted and everything is put back together. The bare metal respray is the most comprehensive, accounts for the metal’s condition and ensures a consistent finish.

  • Full resprays

On a full respray, the existing paint is simply flattened out and any imperfections are repaired before the whole car is repainted. With a full respray, you get a consistent finish, but you won’t be able to check the condition of the metal across the whole body and make repairs to it; like with a bare metal spray.

  • Partial resprays

A partial respray is where the car is prepped for paint only on a part of the car. The paint is flattened, imperfections are repaired and then just that section is painted. This may be if you want the car two-tone or with details. With a partial respray, you’re not checking the metal’s condition and you may find inconsistencies with the painted and original car sections.

  • The repair and refinishing of panels

Like partial resprays, the repair and refinishing of panels only repaints a small area. This may require bare metal or simply flattening the existing paint. The panel may be removed or painted in situ with the rest of the car taped up. As with partial respray, some inconsistency between the painted colour and the original car may show. Body shops may attempt to blend the painted panel with the surrounding car paint to minimise any colour differences.

4. Average cost of a classic car respray

The average cost of a classic car respray starts at £5k upwards. The cost is based on the process used and how long it takes to complete the respray. Your shop should give you an estimate before commencing work. Be sure to ask what guarantees they have in place and how long the paint job is expected to last for the service that you chose.

5. How to choose a good respray shop

Choose a good respray shop first based on their knowledge of the different processes and materials that can be used to repaint your classic car. Look at their reviews and ask if they have any examples of repaint jobs they have done on other classic cars. Always get a quote from a few respray shops and don’t just go with the cheapest. Choose the shop with the best pedigree for your classic car.

6. How long will a respray last?

The time a respray will last depends on your budget and the painting methods used. The lowest duration paint job lasts 3 years and the longest a paint job will last is 25 years. Remember, there is no make or model specific knowledge that is useful here. It’s what process you choose, the shop’s knowledge of how to treat the metal, what paints and primers they use and how they finish it that determines how long your respray will last.

Hopefully, this guide all about having a classic car painted will help you decide if a respray is right for your classic car. From the cost to the impact on its value, there is a lot to consider. If you want to have a chat about your classic car and repainting goals, reach out to our helpful team here. We’ll run you through the options and give you an idea about the cost and time involved with your classic car repainting job. And if you’d like to browse our portfolio of completed work first, you can view that here.

5 Reasons to Buy a Classic Car

There’s something eminently cool about driving a classic car. It means you stand out from the crowd and it’s a great conversation starter.

Yes, you may need to take more care of your vehicle and there might be some immediate repairs that have to be carried out at your local
garage, but there are a lot of different options out there which make owning a classic possible for practically everyone.

Whether you’d love to drive a classy MG or have set your heart on a more gentle Morris Minor or even something older, you can often find vintage vehicles for sale online at very reasonable prices. These have often been well looked after and hardly need any work doing them at all.

Here we look at 5 great reasons why you might want to go down this route rather than buy a brand new vehicle.

1. The Cost

If you want to buy a new car nowadays, it can certainly cost a lot and put pressure on your finances. The most popular option is to take out a loan. You pay a sizeable deposit first (anywhere between £500 and £1,000 depending on the car) and then a monthly amount for several years until everything is paid off.

The average cost of a new car is between £12,000 and £17,000 so it’s a big investment if you’re buying your first vehicle and have limited finances. What’s more, new cars tend to lower in value over time and more quickly than most of us think.

In contrast, you’ll probably pay much less if you are buying a classic car. A lot, of course, depends on the car that you are choosing. If it requires a good deal of restoration work, you are going to have to fork out for those garage bills. But many classics are in excellent condition and available for sale online. You just need to do your homework and due diligence before you part with your cash and there are some great deals out there.

2. Classic Cars Can Increase in Value

Like most antiques, the value of your classic car is likely to increase with age as long as you look after it properly. It’s also worth considering older models (perhaps made 10 to 15 years ago) that are likely to fall into the classic category at some point in time.

There are several things to consider if you want to own a car that is going to appreciate over time.

For example, you should make sure that it has most of the original fittings and parts as possible. Check the mileage too – the lower this is the more value you are likely to find it increasing by over the years. Certain brands appreciate more than others but they cost more – if you’re looking for a good investment, however, it’s worth checking out makes such as Jaguar, Mercedes and MGs.

3. You Get a Better Drive

Okay, this might be a personal opinion but there’s nothing better than getting in a classic car and hitting the road. Of course, you won’t have the techy ABS and state of the art air conditioning but you have all the style and panache that you need.

Let’s face it, driving a modern car can be pretty boring – you have no such problem with a classic. They’re certainly more challenging and rewarding to drive. And you’ll certainly get noticed.

4. You Get to Learn About How the Engine Works

Owning a classic car is more than just about the look and feel of a particular vehicle. Owners are generally engine fanatics and take great pride in learning how everything works.

Classic car engines are certainly less complex than modern vehicles but you can spend hours tinkering away to your heart’s content. If you like getting your hands dirty and learning new things, a classic is a great choice.

5. You Don’t Need an MOT

This might sound counter-intuitive for an older car but, if it was built more than 40 years ago you don’t need an annual MOT. This applies as long as the vehicle has not been substantially changed during its lifetime.

You do have a responsibility, however, to ensure that your car is properly serviced and is roadworthy – you could be still stopped and fined if there is found to be a fault that is considered dangerous. But you don’t have to fork out for that MOT every year.

Of course, owning a classic car takes some level of commitment on your part. A lot will depend on how often you want to drive it and the age of the vehicle you choose. If you are looking for a cheaper buy than a new, modern car, however, there are plenty of options out there. Our advice is to do your research and make sure you get the vehicle checked over by a qualified mechanic before you buy.

At White’s Bodyworks, we’ve got decades of experience of dealing with classic cars of all makes and ages. If you are planning to buy a vintage vehicle, contact our expert team for some friendly advice.

6 Best Motorcycles to Restore

Just like classic cars, vintage motorcycles are highly treasured by their owners. You may have a particular model or make that you have an affinity for or perhaps you want to buy a classic bike that will increase in value as an investment.

At White’s Bodyworks, we’ve got almost 30 years of experience repairing and restoring classic motorbikes of all kinds. If you’re thinking of buying one, either as an investment or a labour of love, here are our 6 favourites that you might like to consider.

Some may be out of your price range, but if you’re looking to restore a classic motorbike, part of the fun is dreaming of what could be.

1. 1937 Brough Superior SS100

Even by classic car standards, this is a very rare bike and you’ll be lucky to find one in working order. There are thought to be only 71 dotted around in various locations across the globe.

It’s age and design mean you’ll have to part with some serious cash if you do manage to discover this little gem somewhere. One model recently up for auction at Sotheby’s had a list price of between €180,000 and €250,000. Find one hidden away in a garage somewhere that requires serious restoration and you could end up earning a tidy profit once it’s back on the road.

2. 1962 Norton Manx

Norton is synonymous with classic bikes and it’s one of the most popular models to buy for the dedicated enthusiast. Speed and reliability are probably the main calling cards of this superb bike. This model was the last Manx produced by the company as by this time they were suffering from competition in the marketplace and low sales.

While not as rare as the Brough, you will need a fair bit of financing to afford one in relatively pristine condition. At a recent auction in Stafford, one fetched £33,000.

3. 1974 Ducati 750SS

Ducati is another big name in classic motorbikes and this 1974 version is probably the epitome of Italian racing. Its distinctive style and design make it a highly sought after bike which has been known to fetch up to £100,000 at auction, depending on provenance.

4. Triumph Bonneville T120

No list of classic motorbikes would be complete without a Triumph or two. Often thought of as the motorbikers motorbike, the Bonneville was in production between 1959 and 1975.

It’s a great bike to ride and there are still quite a few on the road today if you keep your eyes open. Expect to pay around £10,000 to £11,000 at auction for a bike in reasonably good condition.

5. 1969 Honda CB750

If you’re looking for a mid-range motorbike with a fair amount of pedigree, you can’t go wrong with a Honda. This 1969 model is still seen on the roads today but the rarer ‘sand cast’ is probably the most valuable. These are the bikes that were produced using sand-casting for the crankcases before new processes came in. A rare prototype of the bike sold in America recently for more than $200,000.

6. 1955 Moto Guzzi V8

If you’re searching for a classic motorbike that looks out of the ordinary, this one is certainly well worth your attention. At the time it was designed, the V8 was considered one of the most advanced racing bikes in the world. Today, its slightly odd shape might put some enthusiasts off as could the estimated auction price over $300,000.

Over the last 27 years or so, we’ve seen many, many vintage motorbikes come to our garage in West Sussex. We recently had this amazing Moto Guzzi 750 Ambassador in for repairs which made our team purr with delight.

If you have a passion for classic motorbikes and want a partner you can trust, contact the team at White’s Bodyworks on 01273 933633.

How Hard is it To Restore a Classic Car?

At White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex, we’ve made a name for ourselves helping enthusiasts rebuild, restore and repair classic cars of all varieties.
There’s no doubt that restoring a classic car is a labour of love and it takes a special kind of person. But is it hard work?

Well, that all depends on the condition of the car, what parts need replacing or sourcing and what kind of skillset that you have. It all depends on why you are renovating a vintage vehicle in the first place.

Is a Classic Car Right for You?

The first thing you need to think about is whether this is a good idea or not. The team at White’s Bodyworks are often seen at local classic car meets and there are always a few people there who love the look of a vintage vehicle and start to consider whether they should restore one

  • A classic car is not just a hobby, it’s a long-term commitment. You have to be prepared to not only hunt for the right car to restore but put the hours and the money into doing getting it back on the road.
  • It can take as many as a thousand hours to restore a classic back to its former glory. You may have to spend a lot of time hunting for rare parts and you will need a certain amount of funds available. You’ll also need plenty of patience.

Choosing Your Classic Car

If this doesn’t daunt you, the next step is finding your classic car. You have two choices here: buy one that has been restored already or pick a doer-upper. Of course, there are varying degrees of restoration. If your classic car just needs work on the body and a tweak to the engine, it’s not a lot of effort.

If it requires more, however, you’re going to have to ask if it is worthwhile.

The people who go for major classic car restorations are usually those with some mechanical skill, a place where they can strip their car down and a real passion for vintage vehicles. Classic car restoration takes a lot of patience, so if that’s in short supply you may want to think twice and choose a model that only has a few things wrong with it.

5 Things to Consider Before Restoring a Classic Car

  • How much are you going to spend? The trouble with any restoration is that the budget can quickly get out of control. That’s why it’s important to assess your purchase and form a realistic budget for repairs and restorations. You’re never going to get this completely right but make sure the budget you set is manageable and leaves some leeway for unforeseen circumstances.
  • Where are you going to restore it? You need a garage to house your classic car while you restore it. This can be a big stumbling block if you don’t have the facilities though you can rent space. It’s worth joining a local classic car club, as you’ll be able to get plenty of advice from people who’ve been through it all before.
  • What are your skills? Yes, you can learn new skills as you go along and, if you have a mechanical bent, this will probably be quite useful and enjoyable. Be realistic, however, about what you can achieve and where you might need a little help.
  • What equipment do you need? At some point, you may well need some specialist equipment. For example, if you have to get the engine block out you will need some kind of heavy-duty winch or crane. You will need a decent, high-quality set of hand tools, maybe welding equipment and an air compressor to start with and it’s a good idea to get the very best you can afford.
  • Do you need a specialist classic car garage? It’s possible to learn as you go when it comes to classic cars but it’s difficult. Having the backup of a specialist garage means you can easily call on them when you have a job that you can’t handle. Many classic car enthusiasts want to do as much of the work themselves as they can. But they’re realistic enough to know when they need help.

Finding a Garage in Sussex That Specialises in Classic Car Renovation

If you are undertaking a major restoration, it’s important to look for a local garage that has some experience of classic cars. Ideally, you want someone that shares your passion and is willing to take on those jobs you can’t handle and at a price you can afford.

At White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex, we’ve got nearly 30 years’ experience handling a wide range of classic cars, helping with everything from stripping and repairing engines, mending bodywork and sourcing rare parts.

If you’d like to find out how we can support your classic car restoration, contact our team today.

01273 933633 / repairs@whitesbodyworks.co.uk
Unit 23, Firsland Park Estate, Henfield Road, Albourne, Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 9JJ