What to consider when hiring a classic car

Hiring a classic car is an increasingly popular way to add an extra dimension to a vacation or holiday, as a birthday celebration or as low risk alternative to buying a classic car. Many companies now offer a classic car hire service, particularly in the UK, but it is important to take care when selecting your choice of car and supplier as the industry is not widely regulated. The lack of regulation means that prices and what you get for your money plus the condition of the cars on hire can vary considerably from one supplier to another. To ensure you get an enjoyable experience that is value for money it is worth considering some simple questions to ask when you are looking at website and when you are speaking to the classic car hire company that you want to deal with. Very few classic car hire companies are listed on feedback websites such as Trip Advisor so when you are looking around at classic cars to hire it can be difficult to assess how good the supplier is. Often, however, this can be done by looking at their website and asking some simple questions. 1. Does the website project a professional image and suggest a business that is serious about hiring classic cars? 2. Can you find out anything about the company, such as who runs it and how long it has been in business? 3. Where is the company based? Does this suit what you plan to do? 4. What does the company say about the maintenance and servicing of its cars? Classic cars should be subject to a regular maintenance regime to keep them in tip top condition 5. Is the company part of the Historic and Classic-car Hirers Guild, which regulates classic car hire companies? These are simple questions to ask before selecting a shortlist of classic car hire companies to approach. When you have shortlisted the companies either using their websites or by phone you should consider their hire package, their prices and their typical hire periods. The hire packages available from classic car rental companies vary considerably, although the prices often do not reflect this. Some classic car hire companies offer a full 24 hours hire for every day you book, others restrict a day to AM to PM hire (typically 9am to 8pm). Some companies offer unlimited mileage while others limit the mileage and charge a mileage fee for all miles over the limit. Great Escape, for example, offers full 24 hours hire and unlimited mileage. Make sure you also check the insurance cover – this should be fully comprehensive with an excess. Most classic car hire companies do not offer a collision damage waiver option, unlike conventional car rental firms. The hire package should also include full breakdown cover – this is worth checking as some classic car hire companies do not offer a full UK breakdown service and hide this information in their small print. This can be very inconvenient when you do suffer a breakdown, which is not unheard of with a classic car. Once you are satisfied with the hire package on offer then you need to consider the price. The price of the car you want to hire should reflect the level of hire package on offer – when comparing prices, make sure you are comparing identical hire packages in terms of hours behind the wheel and mileage charges. If you want to hire the car for more than one day then some classic car hire companies – but not all – discount additional days. Check carefully that you are getting the best price – some companies automatically discount their 2nd and 3rd days while others only discount the 4th or successive days. When considering the price also look at the weekend and weekday rates. Some classic car hire companies ‘discount’ their weekday prices – in reality this may actually mean the weekend price is inflated, rather than the weekday price being discounted. For example, we operate a standard price for weekends and weekdays and we discount 2nd and successive days. When you have assessed these areas – which in reality is not complicated and does not take long – then you may want to line up a few questions to put to the companies by phone or email. 1. What condition are the cars in and how are they maintained? 2. What pre-hire checks are undertaken for each car? 3. When is the pick up and return time – is this flexible? 4. What does the insurance cover? What is the excess? 5. Where is the car located exactly? 6. What are ther age limits on the driver? 7. What are the licence conditions for the driver? 8. What is the cancellation policy? If you are buying a voucher as a gift, check whether the company offers vouchers and ask how they work. Most companies offer vouchers valid for 12 months. If you are buying a voucher, can you specify the start date (we offer this facility based on customer feedback) and can it be extended if it is not used in the standard period? Classic car hire is a hugely enjoyable experience that increasing numbers of people are taking up. With some careful research and well judged questions you can maximise your experience – and get the best value possible.

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