Buying A Classic Car

by A D - Date: 2010-10-12 - Word Count: 895 Share This!

Do you picture yourself giving that old Chrysler LeBaron to your teenager, and picking up a classic British MGB? Do you dream of cruising down the road in a shiny 1966 Ford Galaxy 500 Convertible, the wind in your hair - or lack of it - and the34 sense of nostalgia squeaking on the leather seats? Well, there are many very nice classic cars available out there for purchase. If you are considering buying one of them and don't know where to begin, perhaps these suggestions may serve as a guide....

Determine what you are looking for.
When shopping for a used/abused/adored/restored classic car you have choices ranging from cars that have to be hauled in a trailer because it's basically just a bunch of loosely connected parts to cars that you want to haul in a trailer to protect it's museum quality restoration. Your first level of decision making is to determine where in this spectrum you want start.

Questions to consider include:

* Do you want to do a major restoration yourself?
* Are you interested in and capable of doing some mechanical work yourself?
* Do you want a car you can drive every day?
* Would you enjoy entering your car in competitions?
* Do you just want a great looking car to drive on weekends in good weather?
* Are you buying as an investment?

The answer to these questions determine how you measure the flaws you are certainly going to find.

Do some basic research.
If this is your first venture into this fantasy land, you obviously have more research to do than an experienced owner. A good investment of your time, even if you are not a first-timer, is to do some pricing research. The "beginner" should spend at least a little time reading about some of the characteristics and unusual maintenance requirements of the different models. An excellent source of information is "Miller's Collectors Cars Price Guide 2003/4".

There are many classic car clubs located throughout the world. Joining or visiting one of these clubs would give you the opportunity to talk with some car owners who will gladly share their experiences with you about the practical side of owning their Austin Healey. Ask questions such as how easy or difficult is it to find a good mechanic for repairs, do you need to use leaded gasoline, what would they be sure to look for if they were buying another Austin Healey. In a single evening at one of their meetings, you could learn things that would help prevent much grief later.
Ask the initial questions.

When you locate a car you want to pursue, be prepared with a list of questions you want answered. Having an actual printed, in-your-hand list will help you remember the important issues and help prevent the conversation from wandering. Let me re-state a point to keep in mind when doing this initial investigation - you will find problems. Any car you look at will be 30 to 50 years old (or older). If it was in absolutely perfect condition, the price would be prohibitive unless you are prepared to pay for a museum quality car.

Keep in mind there are two basic types of questions: questions with factual answers and questions with opinion answers. Questions like "How long have you owned the car?" and "Have you had problems getting repair parts?" have easy, factual answers. Asking "How does it run?" or "How does it look?" is asking for their opinion. It is my opinion that asking the factual questions first are easier for the seller to answer and help lay the foundation for the opinion question. The answer to "Who does your drive-train and engine repairs?" not only gets you the name of a source of repairs, but also lets you know that repairs have been needed.

Test drive the car.
Now for the fun part! You have located a candidate, scheduled a test drive, and now you are ready to actually see and drive what is, quite possibly, going to be the fulfillment of your dream. A reality is that letting you judge one of these classic cars is as dangerous as letting a nineteen-year-old with raging hormones select a mate for life. Before laying eyes on this beauty, we need to determine, as rationally as possible, what are going to be the minimum requirements for appearance and performance. Our next goal is make a clear assessment of the car. To aid in this process, we suggest that you go prepared with the proper tools and a checklist to insure that things are not over-looked in the passion of the moment. One extra benefit of being prepared is that the seller will realize you are a serious buyer who is likely to discover the car's weaknesses and perhaps will be more complete in describing the car's condition.

The first things you want to evaluate are the condition of the bodywork and appearance issues. In general, bodywork is more expensive than mechanical work. The biggest enemy of a classic car is rust. You need to look for rust with the same zeal as a detective covering a crime scene. We discuss this more on our checklist.

Confirm the mechanical condition.
Keep in mind you are not looking for a car with absolutely no problems. You just want to know what needs to done immediately, what will need to done soon, and is this car capable of being maintained and available for your driving pleasure.

Related Tags: used car, used cars, used car buying, buying cars, inspectors, used car inspection, lemon squad, lemon busters, used vehicle inspection, used car buyer

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