Points to be considered in choosing a suitable model. When and how to buy to the best advantage.

Every year, thousands of motorists for others of current vintage, which means that an equal number of cars pass into the used car market. A proportion of these hve undoubtedly passed the zenith of their useful life, and whilst they may still be good for considerable service in the hands of someone to whom "tinkering" constitutes half the pleasure of motoring, they cannot be considered reliable means of transport for the average motorist. Many, however, are in sound and very good condition (as a result of the pratice amongt new car purchasers to change their cars every year or every alternate year) and still capable of many miles of trouble-free motoring.

Buying a Used Car.jpg


Some things scarcely change - like the trials, tribulations and concerns in buying a used car. We've given you the It's My Classic take on the process, so now consider some words of wisdom from the 1930s.


Reprinted from "The Motor"

February 28, 1939

Adequate selection

The used-car buyer, therefore, has an  adequate selection from which to choose, and can, by the exercise of a little discrimination, obtain a vehicle which will prove eminently satisfactory in every respect. Many people, indeed, never think of buying a new car, although their means permit. They hold that any small expenditure which may be incurred in outting the used car into first-rate condition is more than compensated for by cutting out the depreciation - in some cases 30 per cent. of the initial price - which arises almost as soon as a new car is put on the road

At this particular time of the year [late February] the used-car market is well-stocked with good models, but a little later on, with Easter imminent, the demand will increase, so the best advice is to buy now and thus have a far better chance of choosing the type required at a reasonable figure.

Before plunging too deeply into the question of make, it is as well to come to some more or less definite decision regarding - (a) the purchase price; (b) the amount of money one is prepared to pay in running costs; and (c) the type of car best suited to one's requirements. These points considered, one can then get down to teh job of looking around for a suitable vehicle.

Where to buy

The question next arises as to where to buy. It is a sound idea to consult your local dealer. He has many cars passing through his hands during the course of a season and will, in all probability, have or know of one which will fulfill your needs. Furthermore, the probably knows the past history of those in his used car stock. He will, therefore, be able to give a very fair idea as to their previous usage, for it must be borne in mind that no two cars of an identical vintage can be guaranteed to be in the same condition, as so much depends upon the driving habits and mileages of the previous owner.

Peruse also the classified advertisements of used cars which appear each week in The Motor. Here will be found details of the hundreds of cars for sale, both by traders and by the owners, and in the case of the latter it may afford the opportunity of getting in touch with someone who has lavished considerable care upon his car and thus has an unusually good article for sale. Also, a very sound idea can be formed as to what sort of car can be obtained for a given outlay, and the makes, among which will be found a car to your liking.

Buying a Used Car Past history.jpg

". . . past history . . ."

A further suggestion is to go along to one of the large used car stockists, where literally hundreds of models may be inspected at leisure - often within one showroom.

Price and Age

The price of used cars is determined largely by the date of manufacture. Much, therefore, must depend upon examination and upon the word of a reputable dealer as regards the all-round condition. It may, however, be taken as a general rule that used cars of recent vintage and with not too great a mileage behind them can be reasonably expected to give satisfactory service. In the case of older models, no dealer can be definite regarding internal condition, and in such cases a thorough examination by an engineer from one of the motoring associations is advisable. This will cost £2 2s., but may prove to be money well spent.

Many dealers make a pointof issuing a three months' guarantee with cars over a certain price, in which case the purchaser is well covered against mechanical failure. Some even go further than this and have in operation an approval scheme, by which the prospective owner can take the car and if, during the stipulated period, he finds that it does not come up to his requirments, return it without loss of cash.

Buying a Used Car Thorough examination.jpg

". . . a thorough examination . . ."

Previous Mileage

A big point to be considered when contemplating the purchase of a used car is its previous mileage. In the most case of cars of a low initial value, a mileage in excess of 20,000 may mean that wear will have occurred to the cylinder bores, brakes, shackles, shock absorbers and such parts, and that the plugs and tyres will have expended the greater proportion of their useful existence. In the cases of carsof the more expensive types, it is fair to presume that as regards many of these points a considerably greater mileage can be covered before any further big outlay need to be made.

There are still many good used cars on the markets which are actually out of production. The prospective owner who is attracted to one of these would do well to bear in mind that spares may not always be easy to obtain.

Some owners of a mechanical bent make a point of maintaining the working parts of their cars in good condition, to the exclusion of everything else. As a result, it is not always wise to conclude that because a car is in good condition as far as coachwork is concerned it is necessarily faultless in this respect. Smart coachwork is undoubtedly a most desirable feature, but it is, after all, the working parts which propel the car from one point to another.

Buying a Used Car It's the working parts.jpg

". . . it is the working parts which propel the car from one point to another."

Buy What You Want

A final point - when hunting around to find a used car, be strong willed. Somewhere in the market there is a car which will fit in exactly with your requirments, at a price you are willing to pay, and much dissatisfaction is often occasioned by buying haste and repenting at leisure.

It's My Classic - the UK classic car and motorcycle magazine for people with a passion - come and share your classic stories with us