Top 10 Collector Car Buying Tips
Look before you leap when buying a hobby car
Buying a collector/hobby vehicle should be an exciting, fun thing to do. But—without the proper considerations—the results can be frustrating and financially disastrous. Always try to consider all the options available to you when planning a purchase. Here are some critical points to consider before you close any deal.
Carefully consider what year, model and body style you really want to own. A collector car should never be purchased because it's a good deal. Buy a car you will still want to own five years from now. Convertibles are normally more desirable than hard tops.
Establish a maximum affordable budget that will allow you to buy a finished vehicle or one that needs minor work you can do yourself. Restoration shop rates are high. If you buy a fixer-upper, you may quickly exceed your budget on outside labor. Simply plan ahead.
Diligently do your research work. Read all the information about your selected vehicle that you can find. Check auctions, price guides, club newsletters and owners for originality and correctness. Know the codes and numbers before you start to look. Mistakes are costly.
Parts availability is extremely important. Check parts sources for your vehicle in publications like Hemmings Motor News. Abundant reproduction items, along with new or used original items, will make a project car buildup much easier.
Investment potential is also important unless you have money to burn. It doesn't make good financial sense to spend more on a restoration than the vehicle is worth unless you plan on keeping it forever. By forever, hopefully it should appreciate to match your cash outlay and make your great-grandchildren wealthy.
Be sure to check the cost of adequate insurance and have protected storage available. Collector car insurance normally limits yearly mileage to an average of 2,500 and is inexpensive. A family car insurance company might not cover the vehicle at all or be prohibitively expensive. Have a professional appraisal done to present when filing for your insurance.
Consider how you want to use the vehicle. If you're buying a driver, then a few paint chips and other wear and tear are acceptable. A show car should be pristine top and bottom, but both versions should reflect the asking price.
Just because a car is rare (i.e., low production) doesn't mean it's desirable or necessarily valuable. Interior and exterior color, drivetrain, options, and other factors all have a large bearing on the price. Beware of spending big bucks for rarity—you just might be throwing money away.
Decide how much work you are willing to do yourself. If you burn out on a project, it usually results in selling for a loss. If you aren't familiar with restoration work, buy a finished vehicle, turn the key and enjoy!
Be sure to obtain all the original sales paperwork on the vehicle if available and all the receipts for work done by the previous owner(s). Documentation is important to establish current value and to pass on to the next owner when you decide to part with the car.
Hemmings is the long-acknowledged bible for car collectors. The Hemmings.com web site takes the printed version a step farther by offering information on car museums and more.
eBay is the online auction leader. Its automotive section lists a wide variety of vehicles up for auction by their owners.
In addition to listing buyers and sellers of antique, classic, and performance cars, eClassics.com also has car-club and other enthusiast-related information.
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