A classic car brings the look and feel of a bygone era to the present day. Whether it's a powerful muscle car, a streamlined roadster or even an iconic movie ride, these vehicles stand out. However, because these cars are older, you need to be aware of a few things when shopping for a retro ride.
Thanks to the internet, finding classic vehicles is easier than ever. Unfortunately, this easy access also means the days of sellers not knowing the value of their classics are over. Classic cars in good condition are not cheap. If you want a classic car that you can drive immediately, prepare to pay the price. On the other hand, if you are competent with restoration and are looking for a project, you’ll see hundreds of “barn finds” on the web. These derelict or abandoned vehicles don't cost much. However, you'll need to be honest about your mechanical abilities because these cars will need a lot of love to become street worthy.
When shopping for a classic, remember that the era you choose will directly affect the cost. The older the vehicle, the more scarce it will be, and increasing rarity usually comes with increasing price. Set a budget first, and then search for your dream car within it. You can find many late-model classics from the late ’80s and ’90s, which are reliable enough to drive daily, for relatively low prices.
Finally, insurance becomes more complicated when it comes to protecting older vehicles. The terms vintage, classic, antique, collector all have different meanings regarding rates and coverage. You will likely need an appraisal to ensure you're purchasing insurance for the vehicle’s actual value (this is critical after making upgrades or doing restorations). These insurance policies also include multiple stipulations, such as driver experience and limits on annual miles.
Understand the reality
All classic cars have their issues and problems. These concerns can stem from age, neglect, or just design quirks from a time when safety and handling standards were far less stringent. Here are some factors to consider:
- Brakes: While classic vehicles, especially muscle cars, had plenty of power and acceleration, many did not have the best brakes. Most vehicles used drums rather than discs for braking. However, drums can heat up and fade from frequent use, leaving you unable to stop no matter how hard you press the pedal. You can purchase an upgrade kit to make your classic vehicle's brakes more reliable.
- Oil: Because older engines were not built to today’s standards, they need more frequent oil changes. Be sure to select an oil that is specially formulated for use in classic cars without catalytic converters.
- Leaks: Old gaskets, hoses and parts that no longer fit perfectly lead to more frequent leaks. Be prepared to check levels more often to ensure you are operating with the correct levels.
- Parts: Finding replacement parts for many classic vehicles can be difficult and expensive. This challenge is especially true for more rare antique cars. The parts are one potential issue, and many garages may not have the experience or ability to perform repairs. You'll have to find a shop that knows how to work on older vehicles or be skilled enough to do the work yourself.
Buying your classic car
Now that the tough stuff is out of the way, it's time to make the purchase. Use the same methods that help with buying a modern car. Check online reviews and forums for information on the vehicle you want. Consider visiting a classic car show to see firsthand examples of what you are looking to buy.
Once you locate a potential match, do a detailed in-person inspection. Check the bodywork, suspension, tires, interior, engine and under-hood accessories. It’s a good idea to bring in a mechanic skilled in classic vehicles. Then, if possible, have the owner start the engine and go for a test drive.
Once you are comfortable with the car and feel confident in its integrity, congratulations: you've just become the proud owner of a classic!
Whether you’re shopping for your dream car or a daily driver, Mike Duman Auto Superstore can help you find the vehicle that’s just right for you. We’ve been helping to connect cars and drivers for more than 40 years, so contact us today.