Is it time to hire or fire your classic car?

There’s no getting around it, times is tough. And the turning of a new year is often the time to take stock and review.  Which is never a great time for classic cars.  Or their fans.  Because in tough times it’s hard to justify a classic car. Over the last 12 months classic car enthusiasts have been advertised the opportunity to hire out their classic car and make some money to justify its keep.  Quietly, under the radar somewhat, at Great Escape Classic Car Hire we’ve been offering this service for over 7 years.  Today over 70% of our classic car hire fleet of 80 vehicles is offered to customers this way.  We even have a dedicated Owner Operator Network where customers can hire classic cars direct from the owner. But there’s a reason why we do this quietly.  Hiring your classic car isn’t right for everyone.  We know, we’ve found out the hard way.  So if you’re considering renting out your classic car for hire, either directly through your own website or through a third party, here’s some questions to consider and advice from us.  Feel free to call us on 01527 893733 or email  If we don’t think classic car hire is right for you, we’ll tell you.  If we think it is, we’d be happy to have an informal chat.

Hire your classic if…

• You want to cover the cost of owning, running and improving your classic • You own a classic that you don’t use very much but do not want to sell • You want to finance a car that you otherwise could not afford to buy and maintain • If you want a small annual income from your car • You do not use your car very much and will not miss your car while it is available for and out on hire • If your car is not a prized, concours car • If you are willing to let other people that you do not know drive your car • You like the idea of others enjoying your car • You want to ensure your classic is regularly exercised and maintained • You don’t mind it being used in all weathers

Do not hire your classic if:

• You don’t want or need an extra income to pay for its maintenance • You use your classic regularly • It is a prized or concours car and you highly value its condition • You do not like the idea of other people driving it • You will worry about it while it is on hire • It is in generally poor condition, unreliable or needs mechanical work

Our five key rules for hiring your classic:

1. It must be in good and reliable condition with no major mechanical or visible faults 2. Although we work to minimise all risks, you must be aware of and accept that there are inevitably risks involved in hiring your car 3. It should not be a highly prized possession and you should expect minor damage like stone chips 4. Your car will generally be treated well but not as well as you would treat it 5. You will cover the cost of owning and maintaining the car and receive a small income but this is not a get-rich-quick scheme

Which Option is right for me?

If you think you do want to hire out your cars, or are considering buying some cars as an investment, there are three main options available to you, all with different pros and cons.

1. Running a classic car hire business

The most straightforward and obvious option is to set up your own classic car hire business.  This solution may suit you if you are retired, semi-retired or looking for an extra income.  It will work for you if:

  1. You want to maximise your earnings

  2. You have some IT skills and can create and manage your own website

  3. You want to see who hires your car and personally manage the handover to give you more control

  4. You want access to the car while it is not on hire

  5. You want a greater share of the income

  6. You will enjoy meeting customers and sharing their enjoyment of your car

  7. You are available evenings and weekends to meet customers

  8. You are prepared to be flexible to accommodate customers

  9. You are practically able to meet customers at your home without disruption to your neighbours – or you have a local storage site that you can use

  10. You do not mind meeting customers at your home or vehicle storage site

2. Placing your car with an existing hire company

This is the simplest option as you can earn an income without any day to day involvement.  You avoid any business set up costs and the burden of the fixed costs that come with running a hire company.  However, as you will incur additional costs (for storage) and split the income, you need to choose a hire company that can maximise the return on your car.  The hire company must also be experienced in managing hire cars so that your car returns to you in the same or better condition than when it left you.  This solution may work for you if:

  1. You want a ‘hands off’ approach with less direct involvement in the hire of your car

  2. You do not have facilities or do not want to meet customers at your home or vehicle storage site

  3. You are willing to release your car to Great Escape between March and October without immediate access to it

  4. You trust Great Escape to manage your car professionally and effectively on your behalf

  5. You accept a lower proportion of the hire income

3. Working in partnership with an existing hire company

This option combines the advantages of 1 and 2.  The hire company generates and administers the hires for you and arranges insurance while you fulfill the hires and manage the maintenance of your own cars.  You avoid the hassle of generating the hires and setting up insurance etc and have the advantage of keeping your car with you.  By working with an existing, established classic car hire company you get the benefit of their experience, for example including checking and managing hirers.  There are therefore many advantages to this arrangement – the only downsides being that you will probably find that hire levels are less than with option 2 and you may need at least 3 cars in order to make this option work.  Great Escape, for example, will not set up new Owner Operated sites unless there are at least 3 cars, due to the cost and effort involved in marketing new sites.  Having multiple cars also means you have options in the event that the car on hire fails.

When considering a hire company to work with we recommend you ask these questions?

  1. What systems do you operate to check and manage hirers?

  2. What does the insurance policy cover and how does it work?

  3. How many hires can I expect in the first year?

  4. What happens when it goes wrong – who sorts it out?

  5. What is commission does the hire company take?

  6. How long have they been in business?

  7. What is their website like?

  8. What experience, and over what period, do they have with existing owners?

Still interested?

If you are still interested in hiring out your classic car using one of the three options above, here are some questions to consider. We’ve drawn them from the most common questions we are asked by potential new owners.

1. What sort of people hire classic cars from Great Escape?

Classic car hire is very different from modern sports car hire.  Our customers are typically 40+, professionals and classic enthusiasts.  We hire almost exclusively to couples or families.

2. How will my car be used on hire?

Your car will either be used for a wedding, in which case it will travel only a few miles, or for a ‘day trip’.  We provide customers with travel routes to help us control usage and on average our cars travel 150 miles per day.  We can install a GPS system to monitor usage of your car on hire.

3. What checks will you undertake before you hire my car?

We check each customer in respect of two main areas.  Firstly, we check that the driver is appropriate for the car – this involves not just their driving history and licence status but how they sound on the phone.  We ask leading questions to assess whether they are likely to abuse the car.  Secondly, we ask for details of how they intend to use the car.  If they plan to drive an excessive mileage we politely reject the opportunity.  We always obtain licence and address details in advance of hire.

4. How will you control the condition of my car?

We carry out a full clean and valet of your car before and after each hire.  Before we release the car we carry out a full condition check, which is signed by the driver.  We revisit the check after each hire with the driver.

We consider damage such  as stone chips to be normal wear and tear.  All other damage will put the customer’s deposit at risk.

5. What happens if the car breaks down?

If the car breaks down on hire we will arrange repair or recovery to our storage site by our breakdown provider.  We will arrange repair of the car by a local specialist at your cost and with your agreement.

In the event of customer refunds, the cost will be borne equally between Great Escape and you.  In the event that the vehicle is unavailable for hire while under repair we will agree a realistic timescale for the vehicle to return to hire duties that will limit Great Escape’s losses in the event of cancelled hires.

To find out more about hiring your car feel free to call or email us for an informal chat. We have a full information pack available for prospective owners to help you decide whether it is right for you. Call 01527 893733, visit or email

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