Classic car owners lose a lot of sleep over their precious rides. You know the ones that will drive round the block 4 times before finding the ‘right’ car park. The ones that will request a window seat at a restaurant, not because it’s romantic, but because they can keep an eye on their precious toy. The ones who respond to an event invitation with “What’s the parking like?”. Really, it’s amazing they sleep at all!
It’s no surprise though, considering instances of classic car theft increase in line with their value. Whether your beast is stolen for a joy ride, on-sold or (gasp!) scrapped for parts, losing your pride & joy to theft is devastating.
To help you all get a little more sleep at night, we’ve gone ahead and researched some tech-wizardry ways to keep your car secure. We’re going to assume that as a classic car owner, you already know about car alarms, standard immobilsers and common sense suggestions like parking in a well lit area. If not, there are some great tips on how to secure your classic car here.
4 Gadgets To Secure Your Classic Car
Cost: From $300 to uber expensive!
CCTV in your home or garage is a great way to keep your car secure. There are some good-value devices available now that also let you set up alerts to your mobile phone, or even let you access the footage via an app. You can also set motion sensors, additional alarms and police alerts depending on the level of system you buy.
Pros: The sky’s the limit in terms of CCTV gadgetry here. Just do your research to make sure you’re getting best bang for buck.
Cons: CCTV is more of a deterrent than anything else. Closed loop CCTV will film the crime, but not necessarily stop it from happening. And unless you spring big bucks for high quality, the police will struggle to identify the grainy, hoody-wearing thief anyway.
Cheats Suggestion: Use a baby monitor! For around $100 you can sit a baby monitor on the dash of your car. They’re completely portable and come with audio and night vision. Crank the volume so you’ll hear a smashed window and rest easy knowing that you’ll be woken if someone breaks into your car. A baby monitor sitting on the dash would also help to deter (or at least confuse) would-be thieves.
2. Kill Switches
Cost: $100 – $500, plus installation
Once a thief is inside your car, you need to make it close to impossible for them to start. Unfortunately, older classic vehicles are generally a lot easier to hot wire than newer models. Hell, before replacing the ignition, ANY key could start my old mustang! A hidden kill switch makes a car a whole lot harder to start and the would-be thief will give up and move on. Hopefully to a crime-free life.
There are also duel-key options like those offered by Ravelco. While on the pricey side, the duel pin plug is apparently impossible to duplicate and steel armoured cable makes them very thief-unfriendly.
Pros: You’ve got lots of options with kill switches, including multiple switches with sequential patterns which make it even more difficult to engage. They can also be concealed or integrated into your dash for a little extra ‘Bond’.
Cons: If electrical wiring isn’t your forte, make sure you’ve got an auto sparky on speed-dial as it can get complicated. They can also be frustrating if you’ve had a few too many beers and a friend is driving you home. Forgetting that sequential pattern may seem hilarious when you’re three sheets to the wind but I can guarantee your designated driver won’t appreciate it. And I’m speaking from experience here.
Cheats suggestion: Use an isolator switch! They cost less than $100, are easy to install and have the added benefit of preventing battery leakage if you forget to turn your lights off.
3. Vin Etching
Cost – Around $30 – $50
Vin Etching is a system that etches your VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number) onto your windshield, windows & other glass components. Recommended by police and car insurance companies, VIN etching makes vehicle less desirable to thieves since they won’t be able to easily sell it to a chop shop for parts.
Pros: Bloody cheap and may help you qualify for car insurance discounts. It also acts as a good deterrent.
Cons: To deter a thief, the markings must be obvious which may affect the car’s looks and resale value. Stupid crooks may also have no clue what they’re dealing with until after they’ve stolen the car.
Cheats Suggestions: Grab your Dad’s engraver and DIY. No seriously, don’t do that.
4. GPS Tracking Systems
Cost: $200-$600 or around $10-$40 a month
GPS tracking systems use a transmitter unit installed in your car, combined with cellular technology to keep track of your vehicle at all times. In the event of your car being stolen, you can easily see exactly where the car is and aid police in locating it. Decent GPS providers will offer a mobile app, along with custom alerts which can be set up to text or email you when certain exceptions are breached, such as ‘ignition on’.
Pros: Most other anti-theft systems try to prevent theft but GPS tracking helps you find your car once it’s gone. It’s effectively your last layer of defence. Cars with GPS tracking units installed may also help you qualify for reduced insurance premiums.
Cons: They can be expensive as some providers will try to lock you in to a 3 year monthly contract. Do your research and find a provider that charges you for the hardware upfront and then has a lower monthly cost. The other obvious con is that for GPS trackers to be valuable, your car must first be stolen, which is never ideal.
Cheats Suggestion: There are a lot of really low cost trackers which claim to work using crowd-tracking and Bluetooth. They might work if you’ve lost your keys under the couch (again) but don’t use them in your car – the thief will be out of range before you can say “what tha..?”
So with so many options out there, what should you use? Of course, it’s up to personal preference and budget, but most insurance companies recommend using a layered approach. If you have an alarm already, consider adding GPS tracking. If you already have a tracker but no prevention devices, consider CCTV, kill switches or VIN etching. The more layers of protection, the safer your car will be. Since no anti-theft system is completely foolproof however, make sure you’re insured at agreed value.
Have fun, stay safe and enjoy the ride!