5 Classic Car Tips

Curious whether your pride and joy would stand up to a judge’s scrutiny? Pick up a few pointers from the pros at the Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Photo by David Buck

This weekend, on September 17 and 18, 2016, the Cobble Beach Golf Resort Community hosts the fourth edition of its annual Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Some 200 classic cars will be on display, vying for the coveted Best Of Show designation. We spoke to event founder Rob McLeese and lead judge John Carlson about what they look for in a quality classic car. Here are some tips to meeting professional standards.

Make Sure It Qualifies

Think you have a classic car? You may be wrong. According to Carlson, there is a strict definition of what is considered a classic car. “We often hear, ‘That's a classic 1957 Chevy.’ But to purists, the vehicle needs to meet the criteria defined by the Classic Car Club of America.” It may need to meet a minimum number of vehicles produced or sold for a certain dollar value (generally, sold for more than $1,200 when it was new), and would usually be the highest end model within a particular group, says Carlson.

The Right Battery Is Key

“The cars need to be correct,” says Carlson. “They need to have the proper battery,” which he points out as one of the most overlooked aspects. “There are many reproduction companies producing exact copies of what a battery looked like back in the day. But it's usually twice as expensive. A good judging team will look to see if the batteries are correct. If not, there is a significant point deduction.”

Keep Modifications at a Minimum
Even though additions, such as air conditioning and disc breaks, make the vehicle more comfortable to drive, you may have lost your chance at classic car glory. You should always ensure that your contender is as close to the original as possible. “If a car's painted, it can’t have more than 10 per cent modification,” says McLeese. “You can paint a fender. You can paint a section where something happened. But if you’ve redone the whole front or back of the car then you lost your preservation status.”

Use the Correct Valves

“Some valve stems, depending on the year of the car, were metal,” says McLeese. “The majority of valve stems available on the market are rubber.” To ensure you have the proper valve stem, McLeese advises, find a manufacturer that has a tire tube with metal valve stems that are the correct configuration, or search out those valve stems at swap meets and different kinds of car functions. “It's something judges really look for because it lends to the car’s credibility and authenticity.”

Know Your Vehicle’s Story

Your vehicle’s history can either add or take away from its value. “Let's use muscle cars, 1960s to early ’70s, as an example,” says Carlson. “If one person submits an overview of their particular car and it had some significant owners, or it had been raced, or it had appeared in a major show back in the day, that car may be given the nod over an ordinary mass-produced vehicle.” He points out that alternatively, a mass-produced car may be accepted because of its high-quality restoration. “It’s almost like a job application,” says Carlson. “Every car has its own personality.”

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