Once you make the decision to buy a classic car, it's important to know ten important rules before finalizing the purchase. By following these rules, you'll ensure that you've covered all your bases, right down to the classic car insurance and the upkeep of the vehicle.
But before you get started, you should consider your reasons for buying a classic car in the first place: Is it because you're planning to make a hobby out of car collecting? Or are you looking to make an investment?
During the classic car buying process, it's important to remember that while car collecting can be an investment, it's better if enjoyed as a hobby, too.
Now, read on to learn more about the ten important rules buyers should follow when making the decision to purchase a classic car.
1. Seek the Counsel of a Professional Inspector
Thanks to the Internet and special interest auto forums, many buyers are eschewing help from professionals. That can lead to expensive mistakes. It is highly recommended that classic car buyers seek the counsel of a professional inspector before purchasing a classic vehicle.
While you may feel confident with your research skills and purchasing decisions, it never hurts to have an inspector look at the automobile firsthand to see if there's something you may have missed. A trusted inspector can help you to estimate the costs of renovating the vehicle, and they can evaluate the condition of the vehicle.
2. Consider the Costs of Insuring the Vehicle
Generally, collector car insurance is affordable car insurance with low annual premiums. However, there are three different bases that an insurance company can use to value classic car:
- Actual Cash Value – the vehicle's worth in cash, per an insurance adjuster
- Agreed Value - the car's worth, as mutually agreed, between the insured and the insurer
- Stated Value – a policy that allows you to pay less than the car is worth, in exchange for lower premiums
To ensure that you get a fair value for your car, in the event of a loss, insist on an Agreed Value Policy. Get a quote for your antique car insurance here.
3. Avoid Rusty Vehicles
As a rule, stay away from vehicles with major rust on the frame. A little body rust is one thing to consider, but major body or frame corrosion on classic vehicles will make it difficult to have the automobile restored. The most common areas affected by rust will usually be the underside. Look inside the fenders, under doors and rocker panels. When rust becomes visible on these areas, it is best to be extra cautious, as one risks falling into a money pit.
4. Consider Upkeep Costs
A classic car isn't just a used car--it's also an old car. Even though your restored classic car vehicle may look and shine like new, it's important to remember that upkeep costs will rise over time.
Before finalizing the purchase of your classic car, factor in the costs of future repairs and maintenance. Classic cars are rarer vehicles, and spare parts may be pricier and difficult to find. Mechanics with the skill set to work on classic cars may command a premium.
5. Always Check the Mileage
When it comes to investment grade cars, low mileage is a plus. A low mileage classic is a rare find. To make sure you are not the victim of a mileage scam and the odometer wasn't altered in some way, look for significant wear and damage and other telltale signs. The gearshift knob and headliner are areas that will sometimes indicate that a car has been used more than the declared mileage.
6. Decide Whether You'll Drive the Vehicle or Not
Deciding whether you'll drive the classic car or not comes down to your overall reasons for purchasing a collector in the first place. Do you plan to drive the vehicle regularly, or would you prefer to keep it stored away in the garage? It's important to remember why you're collecting a car in the first place--and make sure that you get the most enjoyment out of the purchase.
Whether you get the most enjoyment out of driving it daily, occasionally, or if you prefer to admire it at home--the choice is yours.
7. Check the Vehicle's History
Whether you hope to make money on your collector car or not, it's wise to run some numbers and do your homework before purchasing a classic car. As part of your research, take the time to check the rear axle, transmission, and engine numbers to see if they all match the car's vehicle identification number (VIN). Numbers matching cars are preferred among serious collectors.
Generally, engines are stamped with the last six digits of the vehicle identification number. The rear axle and transmission should both be stamped with a specific date code, which should correspond to the vehicle identification number's date.
8. Look for a Specialized Mechanic
Not all mechanics know classic cars, and unless you plan to do all the mechanical work on your own--it's wise to search for a collector car-savvy mechanic before making the decision to purchase an old vehicle. Seek counsel in special interest forums and social media--and speak to other car collectors in the area to get recommendations from them.
If you take the time to find a mechanic in your area, before the need arises, you'll save yourself a major headache and a perhaps a rather large repair bill down the road.
9. Consider a Muscle Car
Muscle cars are hot collectibles right now. If you enjoy Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, or Chevelles, now is the ideal time to collect them. According to USA Today, muscle cars from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s are showing the most amount of growth--especially limited edition vehicles.
10. Make Car Collecting Fun
Since classic cars are often more of a hobby than an investment, it's important to rely on your passion for cars as you search for the right vehicle to purchase. If you're not collecting just for the money, you'll find happiness throughout the process. Attending car shows and making new friends are enjoyable byproducts of Antique & Vintage car collecting.
The bottom line? Don't purchase a vehicle you're not crazy about. If you're not anxious to take the car for a spin, then it's probably not the vehicle for you. If you're hesitant to show it off at your favorite car shows or car collector events, then it's probably not the best decision. Car collecting is the most fun when buying vehicles that one is passionate about, rather than buying acar just because it seems like a good investment.
By following these ten rules for buying a classic car--you'll be in a good position for making the best possible buying decision.