Classic cars are beautiful pieces of art and history. Their lines and curves are so aesthetically appealing, and if you own one, they’re a ton of fun to show off at car shows, meetups, and just in your own garage. However, if you want to actually drive a classic car, the experience can be a bit jolting. Classic cars are a lot less comfortable than modern cars. They lack a lot of the conveniences, creature comforts, and safety elements to which we’ve become accustomed, and they don’t always have the personalized touched that we’ve come to expect from our vehicles.
For some classic car owners, upgrading certain elements of their prized vehicle is what’s necessary to make it better for the road. However, when you’re working on a car that’s older, you want to improve things like comfort, safety, and personalization while maintaining the character and look of the vehicle. With this in mind, here are five ways to upgrade your classic car.
- Put in better seat belts.
If you’re going to drive today, you need seat belts in your car. Depending on the exact make and model of your classic car, you’ve got either no seatbelts or very outdated seatbelts. Newer models offer better restraint in case of an accident, thanks to straps across the torso and better tension and locking retractors. It’s a safety feature on which you should never have to compromise, and fortunately, there are several aftermarket seat belt products available for classic cars.
- Go for better brakes.
Another safety upgrade that you’ll probably want to make on your classic car is the brakes. Many older models have drum brakes, which are adequate if they’re newer, but on older cars, they may not always work as intended. Wear and tear occurs easily on drum brakes, making them less reliable and putting your life (or, at the very least, your lovely car) at risk. At the very least, you’ll want to put disc brakes on your front wheels; putting them on all four isn’t a bad idea, though. Disc brake kits for classic cars run about £800-£1000, and installation can run two to three times that if you have someone else do it. Better brakes are, however, a worthwhile investment in the modernisation and safety of your vehicle.
- Install an AC system.
While this may not be a big deal if you live in a cooler climate, you will likely want some air conditioning in your classic car if you plan to drive it at all during the summer — which is, of course, prime season for showing off your awesome ride. You’d be hard-pressed to find a classic car that has AC, so it’s an expensive upgrade, to be sure. Still, it will keep you comfortable as you cruise down the road, and it will prevent you from sweating all over your vehicle’s upholstery.
- Upgrade to power steering.
If you’re used to driving a more late model car, then you may be surprised at how much upper body strength is required to steer a classic car without power steering, especially if you need to parallel park or do some other tight maneuver. You’re probably looking at a minimum of £800 for the upgrade, and that’s on a vehicle for which power steering was an original option. However, power steering is much easier on your body, and it can make steering your car in tight spots a lot easier.
- Add a personalized number plate.
Putting an ordinary reg plate on a classic car can feel a bit anticlimactic. Instead, you might go for a personalized plate with the car’s model year, your name, or something else that allows your personality to come through. It adds to the overall mystique of your vehicle, and it tells people that this classic car belongs to you.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.