Buying a Classic Car

by Michael RichComment — Updated August 3, 2023

Buying Your First Classic Car? Make Sure You Check for These 6 Things

A large number of people buy multiple cars in their lives. However, only a few are able to buy classic automobiles as these are uncommon and usually quite expensive also. If you’re going to buy your first vintage car, then it’s a good idea to do your homework. You need to know what exactly you are getting into to make the best purchasing decisions.

Essentially, the following are some of the key aspects you need to look into when shopping around for antique or classic cars:

1. End Goal

The first thing you need to do before you jump into the vast wonderland of classic cars is to identify your needs. Are you buying a 50s car or 60s car just to make money off it years later once it’s gained more value, or are you doing it just because you are into cars and want to drive a classic just for your own pleasure? Remember, many people have made good profit on vintage cars but it can be a risky affair. You may not get the price you’re expecting for a vintage car once you set about to sell it as the collectible car market is volatile.

2. Fundamental Questions

Some questions you should definitely ask when buying a collector car include:

  • Do you want just any vintage car or a specific model?
  • How much is your budget for the vehicle? (remember, restoration projects especially in vintage vehicles can easily go above your budget, so it’s generally better to get a car in a good condition even if it’s costlier upfront)
  • Will you be taking the car out for drives, or do you want to just keep it in your garage as a display piece?
  • 3. Inspection Checklist

    A classic car is a prized possession, so make sure to get the car thoroughly inspected. You can find a reliable professional or an inspection agency for this job. Else, if you want to do it yourself, look for the following:

    Car Title: Make sure that the car is registered to the seller. If it’s not registered, then you may have to research and identify the real owner and apply for a new title which will add to the total expenditure.

    Interior: Examine the interiors of the car, paying close attention to the different components and parts installed. These include the radio, emblems, badges, seats, dashboard, etc. Ideally, these should be original parts and not replacements. Remember- the more original parts the car has, the more its appeal and value. Additionally, if any parts are broken/damaged, then bear in mind that finding replacements could be difficult and surely expensive.

    Exterior: A few things you need to inspect in the car’s exterior include the paint job, condition of the panels, dents, etc. See if you can spot any major welding signs in the car’s frame that indicate structural repairs in the past. Again, you want your car in as original condition as possible.

    VIN: VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. The official VIN tag on the car you’re interested in should match the VIN on the car’s title (you can look up a car’s history through its VIN here). If these VIN’s don’t match, it could mean that the vehicle was involved in a major accident in the past, or the VINs are counterfeit. In that case, it’s best to avoid purchasing the car.

    4. Insurance

    Just like modern cars, vintage cars must be insured. You can’t drive a vintage car on American roads if they don’t have minimum insurance coverage required by the law. The actual insurance premium of classic cars can vary based on car type, year of manufacturing, coverage limit, etc. That said, collector vintage cars can cost less to insure than other regular cars if you get classic car insurance instead of regular insurance. This is because the insurers assume that owners of vintage cars take good care of their vehicles and use them infrequently.

    You can compare vintage car insurance quotes online to get a good deal and get the insurance hassle-free. Just be sure to read the fine print before you make any payment.

    5. Maintenance Costs

    Many classic car buys invest in high-demand vintage four-wheelers to earn a profit. You may yourself have heard of stories of people who bought classic cars for tens of thousands of dollars and sold the cars for twofold or threefold the cost a few decades later. Such stories may inspire you to take the leap of faith and buy a popular classic car right away. However, you must learn about the upkeep costs of such cars before making any decision. Know that these cars have to be properly maintained so they remain in good condition and get sold in a short period of time when you wish to sell them.

    Before purchasing any classic car, research its maintenance costs and hidden costs first. You can either gather this information online or find a local car club or a car enthusiast who is knowledgeable on that car’s model and build.

    6. Reliable Mechanic

    Classic cars are built differently from the cars of the current generation. If you buy a vintage car but are unable to find a skilled mechanic if and when it needs some repair-work, then you may find yourself in a pickle. So, be sure to find an experienced mechanic for your desired car who is well-versed in the intricacies of the car’s engine, body, and other components. It’s also a good idea to research the availability of the car’s parts if you need to get certain parts replaced in your car down the line.

    Vintage cars have a special charm- there are no two ways to do it. How else can you explain the huge demand for vintage cars even today? That said, buying a good collector car can be tricky which is why you must do your homework and go to the market fully prepared. The information above can be of huge help in that regard. Good luck!

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