While thinking about your garage isn't quite as evocative as a daydream drive of your treasured classic, it's important to be aware of the damage poor storage of your vehicle can cause.
As any classic car owner knows, the purchase of that first vehicle is the beginning of a journey of care and attention. Understanding the common causes of damage during storage is an important step as a classic owner, and proper knowledge will help minimise headaches and maximise enjoyment.
For many owners, learning the principles behind proper vehicle storage is the satisfying beginning of a lifetime hobby that invariably leads towards the purchase of new additions to that most special of vehicular families.
Safe storage: What to consider
So, what factors should an owner be aware of?
Fire: A visceral, immediate threat to any garage and the cars it contains. The threat of fire damage, be it in an older building or modern structure, is real and requires a careful appraisal to protect against.
Flammable materials are common in a garage, and many a story exists of seemingly benign items being found to cause significant damage.
Fuel vapour a cause for concern if related materials are left unchecked; the potential for a flash fire is real and any materials that are exposed to the open air of the garage should be disposed of and stored according to a reliable, repeatable routine.
Sprinkler systems are, of course, mandatory. Some modern systems are able to target fires instead of blanketing a room with water – a valuable consideration for an owner of a large collection of vehicles that may be damaged by water if one small area sees a fire occur.
Local water supplies for emergency services should also be considered. In the event of a larger fire that breaks out and establishes itself, having a source that can be used for tools like firehoses can be the difference between moderate and catastrophic damage to your collection.
Although many threats are subtler and more insidious than the immediacy of fire damage, few capture the mind more than the thought of your beloved asset up in flames. Fortunately, the aforementioned threats are easily identified and amended.
Water: Water damage can creep in over time, threatening the safety of your classic car and posing a problem that is often too late to easily address once visible signs of it appear.
Common water-related issues include flooding or more subtle incidents like burst piping in the roof and flooring. Even concrete surfaces can have water seeping in beneath them – a real threat to a garage that can require the removal of your vehicles entirely while being repaired.
Excessive moisture is an obvious and understandable side-effect of a water leak or similar issue. This poses a particular threat to classic cars that are commonly built in part out of very perishable materials like leather and wood.
Modern technology is here to help, however. Techniques like infrared imaging were simply not available in the past and can help a classic car owner to quickly and easily survey a storage area for signs of leakage that could become a threat.
Staff: Third-party garages often have dedicated mechanics and experts at hand to ensure the vehicles are attended to and turned over regularly. While these individuals are competent and important in protecting against the degradation of your assets, they can also be a source of risk – an 'insider threat', if you will.
If your storage solution or garage will involve the use of maintenance staff or mechanics, it's important to observe the standards of cleanliness around the area itself, and how mundane or routine tasks are carried out. Classic cars require a patient, careful eye, and the signs of this can be seen in how the premise is cleaned and maintained on a daily basis.
Business continuity for your classic
Owners will benefit from taking a leaf from the business world on the subject of business continuity.
While an obvious concept to some, many classic car owners will invest in rudimentary security and maintenance devices for their garage but will fail to go through the motions of what would be done in the event of an actual incident.
By creating a scenario from start to finish, you will likely uncover certain subjects and areas that would have been missed otherwise. This can help you to build a plan for the continued safe storage of your vehicles should the garage become unsuitable for them.
If you need to evacuate your cars, how much time will it take to do so? If applicable, do any staff live nearby, and are they able to react quickly to an incident before it's too late? If the garage needs to be evacuated quickly, where will the vehicles be safely stored while repairs are undertaken, and is the security in these places sufficient for the task?
Although this line of thought can create an intimidating to-do list for a classic car owner, it remains a valuable way to frame the subject of security and investment that comes with the ownership of such a prized asset.