Pick of the Lot? 6 Things to Look for When Shopping for Classic Cars

If you’ve decided to try your hand at classic car collecting, buckle up for the road ahead. Once you’ve drafted your vintage vehicle wishlist, it’s time to start shopping. Before hitting the road towards classic ownership, you’ll need to decide between a dealer vs. a private seller. Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of both options, calculating the cost of vintage vehicle ownership and gathering expert research are a must. 

Unbeknownst to first-time buyers, buying a classic car often involves shopping in and out of state. Before looking out of state, buyers will need to meticulously plan their vintage vehicle’s journey from the dealership to your garage. Fair warning, trailering a classic car isn’t always the best choice, as road debris and weather conditions could damage it. 

Rather than taking a risk with a trailer, auto shipping providers like this, specializing in enclosed-carrier shipping for classic cars, can safely transport your vehicle to its new destination. Before you begin shopping for a classic car in another state, take time to investigate the best shipping company to get your vehicle affordably and safely to its new garage. 

Consider the work

Along with making shipping arrangements, consider how much work the classic car of your dreams requires. If you cannot do engine or bodywork on your own, repair costs could outweigh the value of owning a classic car. Even if you know how to repair classic cars, consider how much work you’ll need to do to get the vehicle up to your standards. 

Investigate the availability of parts

Some classic car parts are easy to come by, while others are as rare as the Holy Grail. If you’re up for the challenge of classic car-part hunting, low part availability won’t dissuade you from purchasing the vintage vehicle you’ve been eyeing. However, if the mere thought of rummaging through salvage yards exhausts you, conducting this research is essential. 

Understand that waiting for important parts slows the process of getting your classic car on the road. If you don’t want to wait, locate a classic car with plenty of available parts from the manufacturer or a secondary supplier. 

Look for rust

Late-model cars often have paint sealants and rust-proofing that slows the growth of rust. Unfortunately, classic cars did not originally come with any protection against rust. Manufacturers also used steel rather than composite materials, so rust was more common than it is today. 

Before you sign on the dotted line, inspect the car’s interior and the undercarriage with a hawk’s eye. Rust can hide in unexpected places, and it can be the death of a classic car. 

Hunt for the VIN

If you buy a vehicle from the 1960s or newer, manufacturers stamped the VIN into the major components. You should be able to determine if the car still has its original engine and exterior parts by looking for matching VINs.

Let the interior guide you

Replacing upholstery and dash components is often more expensive than classic car owners expect. These projects, in particular, tend to be the most challenging to do on your own. If the vehicle has a rough interior, consider how much time and money you’ll have to spend to get it comfortable and clean again. 

Trust your senses

You can learn a lot by paying attention to your senses. Test drive the classic car with the radio off. Drive it with the windows open and the windows closed. Listen to the sounds. Feel the sensations from the steering wheel. If something feels off, take this gut feeling as an indication that there’s a more extensive problem at work, one that will be expensive to repair. 

Wrap up

Buying a classic car isn’t as simple as taking it for a test drive and signing the papers. Consider the work of shipping it, finding the parts, and restoring it before handing over a small fortune. 


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