October 19, 2018

How to get your classic car on film or television

Inspector Morse’s Jaguar Mark 2 was once dubbed ‘the most recognisable car in the world’. Now, that is a moot point: one might consider the Bullitt Ford Mustang, the Dukes of Hazzard Charger, Bond’s Aston Martin or even the Only Fools and Horses Reliant Regal Supervan III as more worthy contenders.

Still, what is certain is that after its life as a key character in this most English of detective series, the Jag’s value skyrocketed. After Inspector Morse breathed his last breath in 2000 the car ended up fetching £53,200 at auction in 2002 and then three years later went up for auction again and sold for in excess of £100,000.

Clearly then, there is money to be made if you get your classic on TV or film.

So, what do you have to do to make your motor famous?

Michael Geary, managing director of Motorhouse Hire, has been in the business of supplying vehicles for TV and film since the 1970s and he says that the key to this is simple – make sure your car is being used regularly.

“Of course, they want cars that are in good nick, but this is not a concours competition. They want used vehicles – everyday cars that you can drive. Just make sure your car is in good running order so you reduce the chance of breakdown on set.”

One of the major factors that may lead to a booking is the colour. “Some of those colours in the 1980s were rather vicious and production companies tend to steer clear of those,” added Michael.

Motorhouse Hire has placed cars in all manner of shows including Downtown Abbey, Foyle’s War, Miss Marple and Mr Selfridge. What though is the favourite?

“I often look at a 1929 Model AA Truck and a 1912 taxi that are on our books and smile, because I can’t remember how many times these two have been booked out, but I know it’s a lot,” he said.

There are plenty of ways into this. Some agencies attend classic shows hunting for cars that would be contenders for film work but that relies on you being at the right show at the right time.

One simple, more proactive way, is to search for agencies where you can simply register your car for acting work. If it takes the fancy of a production company and fits the brief, then you can expect a booking.

Once booked, you must ensure the car is in fully working order, that you are available for the shooting schedule and that it is insured for this kind of work. 

You might assume that your vehicle must be in tip top condition, but not so. In some cases a car that’s a little ragged around the edges will fit the bill.

Claus Christensen, CEO of bookaclassic.com, which platform features cars that have been used in blockbusters, Kingsman and Allied, said: “There have been instances where a car has turned up on set and it has been too nice looking and manicured. That particularly applies to things like Land Rover Defenders. They needed to be roughed up a bit.”

It may be that you think your classic will earn a few bob as a film car and add a bit of a value when you come to sell, but it’s not all about the money.

Claus explained: “Hey, this is a bit of fun. You get to spend a day on a film set, meet some interesting people and, if you are lucky, you’ll get to see your car on the big screen. What’s not to like?”