How to store a classic car is a constant worry for owners. We worry about flat-spotted tyres, flat batteries, shrinking rubber seals and, most of all, rust.
Of course, if we lived in the Californian desert there wouldn’t be an issue, but the combination of the cold, damp UK climate and too little time to dry our cars properly after every drive is a recipe for disaster.
And don’t get me started on the profligate use of salt on our roads for the six months of winter…
The pragmatic car owner accepts that there are some things that are within our control and some things that we will never be able to influence, no matter how irritating. So we splash our cash on preventative measures and keep our fingers crossed on the rest.
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Keeping your car dry and well aired
The most pressing challenge is to keep the battery charged, which is easily accomplished by buying a trickle charger/conditioner for under £50.
The second is to keep it dry and well aired and this can be considerably harder to achieve. I’ve got a stone-built garage but it’s built into the side of a mountain, so the floor and back wall are almost always damp and the same gaps that provide decent ventilation also provide access for the neighbour’s cats that like to curl up on the roof.
The solution was to buy a dedicated car cover. The trouble is that the cheap ones have a tendency to rub on the bodywork and trap moisture under them, while the ones that don’t rub and do let the car breathe are expensive. This is why I’ve soldiered on for years with a mish-mash of tarpaulins and crossed fingers.
I’ve discovered that tarpaulins and cross-fingers aren’t terribly effective.
This wasn’t a problem when my classic car collection comprised one old car that was worth considerably less than the cost of the solution but now I own an extravagance that represents an unhealthy proportion of my life’s savings, the case for better protection was more clearly made.
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Which is why I’ve just bought a Cair-O-Port from Hamilton Classic Ltd.
The Cair-O-Port (I know, why?) looks like the sort of gazebo that you might buy to guard against your summer barbeque being rained off but it is actually a pretty sophisticated piece of engineering that provides a controlled micro-climate that helps keep your car dry and rust- and mould-free.
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Easy to install
Erection is just about a one-person job, helped considerably by a very helpful video and building it took me under an hour from first opening the box to driving my car into it.
It’s a simple enough process and the only difficult bit was attaching the legs to raise the frame up by myself; if I’d been more patient and stopped to ask for another pair of hands to help it would have been a doddle.
Stretching the cover over the frame can be challenging too as it is a tight fit in places but you won’t have any problems if you are methodical and patient.
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Easy access to your car
It’s been running for a couple of weeks now and it’s a brilliant concept that works flawlessly.
While other similar car covers also inflate, the Cair-O-Port’s freestanding metal frame makes working on your car or removing it from the cover for a quick mid-winter blast, a doddle.
A zipped side entrance gives easy access to the driver’s door, while the end almost completely unzips, which makes driving in and out as easy as driving into your garage.
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Peace of mind
Three integral fans circulate air to dry the car when it’s damp and to keep it dry when it’s not.
I’ve snaked in a battery trickle charger too, which keeps the battery topped up; my classic is now dry and ready for use whenever I need it and it only costs a few pence a week to run.
Available in four sizes, the Cair-O-Port isn’t cheap (the medium size that I needed costs £475) but the peace of mind it gives me is priceless. I thought long and hard before buying one and my only regret is that I didn’t do it years ago.
You can find out more at http://www.hamiltonclassic.co.uk/ or by calling 0118 973 7300.
For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.
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