When classic cars were newly built car crime was less prevalent so they do not have the security of modern vehicles. This is a challenge for the classic car owner especially if they use their car every day or for touring.
Locks and Keys
Even when new, locks on cars before the 1980s were easily bypassed and became easier when they were worn. Often all it needs is a key from a similar car. As the locks were not shielded it is also easy to drive a screwdriver through the door skin to release the lock.
At best, then, old locks will only deter the casual criminal. Others will be able to get into the car where they may not even face a steering lock.
Anti-Theft Alarms and Immobilizers
Most classic cars, especially those before the 1980s do not have any form of alarm of immobilizer as standard. In any case, the alarms that were fitted to later classics are easily disabled by the modern car thief as they are not as sophisticated as modern security devices.
As a result, the classic car owner would be well advised to fit a modern third party alarm system. However, it may not be possible to fit them to older cars that have original electrics that predate the 12-volt negative earth electrical system that has long been the standard.
Physical Security Devices and Deterrents
Alternatively, or additionally, one should use visually obvious physical security devices, such as a steering wheel or gear lever lock. These are readily available and relatively inexpensive although paying a bit more for something that is better designed and made will be a good investment. Another option for suitable cars would be to use a removable steering wheel which can then be removed from the car.
For cars that are parked off the road but in public view then using the normally despised wheel clamp would make the vehicle safer. A cheaper alternative for longer-term storage would be to remove one or more wheels to discourage the would-be thief.
Generally, the first step should be the more robust options including garages, gated yards or driveways and locking pillars. As classic cars are rarely the owner’s only vehicle it is possible to use the more secure everyday car to provide blocking protection.
Security and Everyday Use of a Classic Car
The foregoing makes it clear that there is an obvious need for additional theft protection if a classic is going to be parked in public places. It should be realized that add-on security may make theft more difficult but even an alarm will do little to prevent access to the interior of the vehicles and its contents.
The everyday user must bear all that in mind and recognize that a classic car cannot be used in the same way as a modern car. The reduced security will have insurance implications both for the vehicle and for the contents. Nothing of value should be left in an unattended classic car.
Many high-value modern cars use radio tracking devices such as Tracker and Trackstar (in the UK) essentially offering two broad levels of protection depending on the option chosen. These are not cheap but not out of reach for most classic car owners at around £120-250 to install and about £400-750 subscription for the period of ownership.
The basic cover enables the vehicle to be tracked by the service provider and police so vehicles are usually recovered within hours of the theft being reported. The writer had his modern car recovered in less than 24 hours using such a device.
Premium services monitor the vehicle and detect unusual movement. In such events, the tracking company checks with the registered owner that the vehicle has not been stolen. Again the writer received such a call when his car unusually moved without the engine running – it was on a transporter to the repairer.
These are a good choice as they are invisible and provide a high level of protection, especially for high-value classic vehicles. Indeed insurers may make them a condition of cover as they do for expensive modern cars.
Classic Cars Will Never Be Totally Secure
As this article suggests classic cars will never have the same level of security as modern cars so owners need to bear that in mind and think carefully about how they use their historic vehicles. However, there is much that can be done to reduce the risk and provide some deterrence to thieves.
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