8 Essential Tips When Buying Vintage Cars

Some essential tips when buying a vintage car…

While the charm and allure of classic cars might seem attractive to many, refurbishing old cars is no easy task.

It takes significant know how, expertise and knowledge about vintage cars to turn an old bucket of bolts into a gem.

However, it is still possible to find great deals when you know how to go about it.

Understand That You’re Buying a Used Car

People often don’t understand vintage cars values and assume that because they are classic, they are somewhat above regular used cars. But this is far from the case.

First of all, not all old cars are classics.

According to State Farm insurance, a classic car is a car that is at least 10 years old and has either an historical significance or was a limited edition.

Any classic car that is 25 years and older is considered an antique.

Lots of people automatically assume that because a particular car is an antique or a classic that it will automatically appreciate with time. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

In many cases, yes, a classic or vintage car will appreciate with time. But others will depreciate. This can be due to many factors, but it usually boils down to supply and demand.

The car market just like any market is subject to fluctuations and is often at the whim of the emotions and changing tastes of buyers.

Buying Vintage Cars Should be a Hobby, Not an Investment

Stacy Johnson, an avid car collector, stated that he doesn’t buy vintage cars for money, but for the pleasure of collecting them and driving head turning cars.

He says that since the market is so fickle, people shouldn’t get in the car collecting business to make a buck.

Every dollar made off the sale of a vintage car should come as surprise, but buyers shouldn’t count on it.

Make Sure You Get the Car Inspected By a Professional First

It’s easy to go online, look at what a particular a model is fetching on the secondhand market and think you have a great deal on your hands.

However, you should slow down a little before you make your decision. Make sure that you hire a knowledgeable mechanic with significant experience with vintage cars to perform a thorough inspection on the vehicle.

Also ask if there are any major parts that would need to be replaced.

Stay Away from Rust at all Costs

Some things can be fixed or replaced on vehicles, but when it comes to rust, there isn’t much you can do, especially when it is widespread.

If you see any signs of rust, chances are you won’t be able to restore it to classic condition.

However, if you see a few bubbles on doors or panels, you shouldn’t make a case of it.

Take a Look at Insurance Costs

As surprising as it may sound, insurance costs can actually be lower on vintage cars. However, this comes with a catch.

To get lower rates, you won’t be able to drive the car as much. The reasons why so many specialized insurance policies are cheaper is because vintage cars are driven less and are babied.

Even if you intend to ride your vintage car, you should shop around for policies as a regular policy might be too costly.

You should also decide if you intend to drive your classic in the first place. Some people just want to collect cars and don’t really care to drive them.

You have to decide if the car is just too valuable to be driven.

If your intention is to drive it, make sure that you go for a test drive first.

Try to Assess Maintenance Costs

Yes, you can find many great deals on the market for vintage cars. However, you’ll have to factor in the costs to restore it and maintain it in case you intend to drive it.

If you have to do major restorations such as replacing the engine for instance, you’ll have to be prepared to pay a premium since old parts are harder to find and usually much more expensive.

In some cases, you might even have to import certain parts.

Look for Mechanics Before You Buy a Car

If you buy a vintage car, you might be at the mercy of a few knowledgeable mechanic who will be able to service it.

This is why you should inquire with the mechanics in your area and see how many are familiar with the type of car you’re intending on buying.

If only a handful are familiar with this particular model, you might want to reevaluate your decision.

Know What’s in Demand, But Always Follow Your Heart

When buying vintage vehicles, especially for resale, it’s always better to know in which direction the market is swaying.

For instance, there is a decent demand for European vintage vehicles at the moment.

While European vehicles have a higher ceiling on average, parts are also much harder to source and they’re also more expensive.

American muscle cars are having a revival at the moment and are a great deal for those who are looking to flip vehicles.

Old pickups are also very popular. However, they won’t fetch you as much as classic imported vehicles.

On the other hand, parts are much more plentiful and cheap. “Big block” vintage American cars with big engines are also very hot at the moment, such as old Chargers, Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs for instance.


Buying old vehicles should not primarily be a business, but a passion. The vintage car business can be very fickle and trying to get a consistent return on investment may be difficult if you don’t have genuine love for vintage cars.

However, if you want to make a few bucks, it is definitely feasible if you manage to follow some of the tips in this article.

Just remember to do your homework and make sure that you have the car inspected beforehand so you don’t end up with a lemon.

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