How do you protect your vintage car?

Services like OnStar provide an added layer of security for modern cars, but technology is a double-edged sword. On these same vehicles, weaknesses in software security have allowed criminals to take advantage of keyless entry systems. When it comes to vintage cars, many owners keep a close eye on their prized vehicles, but there is always the risk that unscrupulous criminals could swoop in.

When Porsche announced a comprehensive system soon to be available for everything from a 356 to a Carrera GT, we started talking around the water cooler more about security and protection in general. There have been add-on security systems available for some years, but many are designed for newer vehicles and are being retrofitted onto models that are more analog. The Porsche system represents an option for select owners to use a tailor-made system.

For a non-Porsche owner, that leaves a wide array of options ranging from hidden ignition switches to battery kill buttons, fuel cutoffs, and pedal/steering wheel locks. Some owners also place security cameras aimed at their prized possession in hopes of helping catch a would-be vandal making an attempt at taking a car from the garage.

1968 AMC Javelin and 1970 AMC AMX theft
1968 AMC Javelin and 1970 AMC AMX garage theft. (Illustration by Wesley Eggebrecht)

Just a few years ago, total vehicle thefts were trending up, according to Hagerty Senior Manager of Claims Michelle Ayers. Many collectible vehicles benefit from additional focus and protection from owners, but criminals nonetheless have a keen eye for classic vehicles, which are easier to not only steal but also dispose of.  Parting out or shipping a vehicle out of country can both be lucrative options to a person in search of a quick buck.

New technologies like geofencing and GPS have useful applications, but even services like Lojack don’t work in areas with no receivers. And if there aren’t redundant contingencies in the vehicle, a thief can simply isolate and remove the singular transmitter and be on his or her merry way.

The trend has since mellowed, but finding yourself looking at an empty spot where your pride and joy once was parked is a still a legitimate concern for owners. With all that said, any security is better than none, even if that means the basics of secure storage or building alarming.

What is your method of choice for securing your collector car?

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    A police officer friend told me that an old fashioned steering wheel lock with the front wheels turned is a good detractor for a would be thief. I’ve been using one for decades but will be adding a kill switch and/or other methods to supplement. More than one defense…

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