The Rules of Buying a Classic Car

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Many petrolheads dream of buying a classic car or maybe even starting a collection of vintage motors because, let’s face it, some of those classic cars are far more stylish than anything you could buy now, and they’re a lot of fun to drive too! Many people also dream of buying a vintage vehicle, holding on to it for a few years and then making a keen profit as it rises in value, unlike new cars that immediately lose hundreds of dollars once you’ve left the forecourt. However, buying a classic car isn’t something you should do lightly, especially if you’re planning to restore it. With that in mind, if you don’t want to be ripped off or disappointed, here are the rules of buying a classic car that you should try to follow to the best of your ability…

Classic Cars are Hobbies, Not Investments

Yes, it is possible to purchase a classic car and have it go up in value over time, but it is not in any way a sure thing and you never know if that 1958 Triumph TR3 will give you a great retirement fund in the future or not. You should always bear this in mind when making a purchase, making it clear to yourself that if you buy a vintage car it is because you appreciate it and you will get lots of enjoyment out of it. If you think of it this way, you are far less likely to spend more money than you can really afford or more money than the vehicle is worth, and if you do make any gains, well that will be a great bonus.

Treat it Like Any Used Car

Okay, so you probably shouldn’t treat it like any old used car, but you should remember that a classic car has been used, probably more than the average used car on the street, which means that when you’re buying it, you need to be even more careful than you would normally, making as many checks as you can to ensure that you aren’t being ripped off or buying something that will never be roadworthy or which will cost you more money to restore than you actually pay for it. Here is a good guide to buying a used car, be sure to perform all of the checks it contains and you won’t go far wrong. Taking a test drive if the car is said to be roadworthy at time of purchase, is also a very sensible precaution to take.

Have a Professional Inspect the Vehicle

Of course, it is even better practice to pay a professional to inspect any vintage vehicles that you may be interested in purchasing, so that you really know if it is worth your money or not. Many classic cars look great on the outside, but when you get down to it, they are nothing more than an expensive hunk of junk and a good mechanic, especially one who specializes in classic cars, is the best person to determine which of those scenarios is accurate in any given case. Yes, you may have you pay them for the privilege (unless you have any mechanic friends who would be willing to help) but it will be money well spent if it stops you from blowing thousands on a lemon.

Walk Away from Rust

A little rust here and there is nothing to worry about, but if the vehicle;’s body is suffering from a serious rusting problem, then don’t even think about it – run away. Rusty damage makes it extremely difficult for the average person to effectively restore a car to a high standard, which means it is highly unlikely you’ll be able to flip it and make a profit if that’s what you want to do, nor will you get it up to show standards. Of course, if you don’t care about any of that stuff and you simply enjoy tinkering around as a minor hobby and the price is right, well go ahead.

Do Your Homework in the Insurance Department

Most places, you are required to have car insurance for the vehicles you own, particularly if you are going to be driving them on public streets. So, it’s really important that you research insurance costs before you make a purchase. Surprisingly, insurance for a lot of vintage vehicles can be cheaper than insurance for newer cars, but there is some bad news: insurance for antique cars is usually only cheaper because they tend to be driven on the roads far less, spending far more time being pampered in garages. If you are actually going to drive your vehicle often, they could be far more expensive. This means you might have to call up a lot of insurance companies, explaining your exact circumstances to them, which can be annoying, but also very   if you want to get the best possible deal and at the end of the day, some older cars might just be too expensive for you to consider, no matter how much you love them, well if you actually want to drive them anyway.

Think About the Cost of Upkeep

If you’re thinking about buying a classic car that you plan to drive or restore for a profit, then you need to seriously think about the cost of upkeep and restoration. For example, the cost of rebuilding an older engine and restoring the interior can cost upwards of $15,000 for something like a 70s Plymouth, with the cost of more luxe cars like Mercedes costing significantly more than that. Even if you could pick one up for a few thousand dollars, this would significantly add to those costs and potentially wipe out most of the profit you could conceivably make from it.

Research the Availability of Spare Parts

If you’re buying a classic car that is in anything other than perfect condition – and good luck with that – you must also think about the cost and availability of the spare parts that you need to restore the vehicle and make it workable again. Some parts are like gold dust and when they can be sourced they are either very expensive or not in the best of condition themselves, or even a combination of both. This can make it really hard for you to do what you want to do with your vehicle once you’ve bought it, so it is very sensible to research these things before you buy.

Locate a Mechanic Before You Purchase

If you will need a mechanic to carry out any work on your purchase, it is also very sensible to locate one before you buy a vintage car. Some work can be carried out by any mechanic, but for a lot of things, especially when it comes to really old cars, you will need a specialist and they could be few and far between, not to mention very expensive. Don’t saddle yourself with a vehicle you can do nothing with and for which there is no readily available help!

Find a Good Transport Company

Car transport is really important when it comes to buying vintage cars. Many vehicles will not be roadworthy when you buy them, which means you will need to pay a third-party company to deliver the vehicle to you in a lot of cases – when you’re buying from across the country for example. Many of these companies do not treat your cars particularly well and they can and do get damaged, So, finding a good one should be a priority before you make a purchase that isn’t nearby.

Listen to Your Heart

Although most of the rules so far have been all about listening to your head, it is important that you enjoy the vintage vehicle you buy or what’s the point in spending your money on it at all? So, although you need to be sensible, crunching the numbers and making all important checks to ensure that you make a good investment, you need to remember, as I mentioned earlier, that buying classic cars is your hobby and it should be fun. So if you really love a particular car and you know it has some faults but you can see past them, don’t let all that other stuff put you off – find a way to make it work and you will get more enjoyment out of your choices.

Don’t Be Impulsive

Last but not least, you should not be so excited that you buy a vehicle on impulse. Unless you know that it truly is a one-of-a-kind vehicle that you are unlikely to come across again, it is far more sensible to trawl car sales websites and vintage car lots checking out what’s available and then buying the best vehicle you can afford. If you let yourself get carried away and buy on impulse, you could end up paying too much for a car that isn’t as good as one you could have found elsewhere. Keep a cool head and you’ll come out on top.

Happy car shopping!