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Classic Car Challenge

HOW EASY is it to make money from the restoration of classic cars? Breathing new life into old classics used to be a hobby for those happy to pour good money after bad.

However, with demand for the star cars of yesterday at an all-time high, it is not the mug’s game of old. In fact, if you choose wisely and know your market, you could end up making a good bit of money.

To prove the point, Driving challenged me to turn a starting pot of £2,500 into £20,000 by buying, restoring and selling appreciating classics, and earlier this month I found my first investment: a 1967 Triumph Herald 1200 convertible.

The first car was always going to be difficult, as £2,500 (including restoration costs) is not a lot to spend on a car worth improving.

Classic Car Challenge

Local searches often throw up the best bargains, and word of mouth and advertisements in local newspapers can lead you to dusty gems hidden at the back of garages, which with a bit of work and proper advertising can give an excellent return on your capital.

And that’s how I found the Triumph, which has a long MoT, solid bodywork and an engine that runs beautifully. The tyres are good and it has already had disc-brake and alternator conversions.

In red paint with a black interior and a wood-finish dashboard, it was a snip at £1,850, although it does require work: interior panels need restoring; it has modern bucket seats; paintwork needs attention and second gear has weak synchromesh.

By selling the bucket seats, I may be able to gain a bit more cash to add to my budget, and if I can get enough for a respray I’ll really make money — a local dealer is selling a concours example for £16,995. It’s unlikely I will achieve that figure but I should have a bigger pot for my next purchase.

You can follow my progress on Twitter at @jrmayhead and I’ll be bringing you regular updates in these pages. If all goes according to plan, my final purchase will take pride of place at the London Classic Car Show, which is being supported by Driving and takes place in the ExCeL London centre in the new year.

John Mayhead is a freelance journalist who writes about classic cars