Classic Car Buying Tips
Guys who buy classic cars face two challenges: these cars are often purchased sight unseen from someone halfway across the state or across the country, and the money outlay for classic cars can be great while the warranties and guarantees are scanty. This is not like buying a new car, where you get to test ride it and get lots of warranties from a dealer who is practically sweating for you to take a car off the lot. Sure, a classic car is cooler, but you do need to follow some basic buying tips to get it into your garage safely:
- Do your research. Your best bet is to join a classic car club before you buy your car. This gives you lots of enthusiasts who can vouch for a retailer (or not). In addition, you might want to ask the local classic car mechanic about vendors you can trust. If you find a classic car and need to check out the guy who is selling it, ask for references or past customers who can tell you what their purchase experience was like. You will also want to run the retailer’s name through a local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, and local police department to make sure that the person or company has not been involved in any scams. Googling the company or retailers name doesn’t hurt, either.
- Try to meet in person. If you are dealing with a classic car retailer, vendor, or enthusiast, chances are that the person travels a lot to car shows, meets, and other events. Ask when the person will be in your area and ask to meet up. The retailer might even be able to travel with your car or car parts so that you do not have to buy something you haven’t seen.
- Ask lots of questions. Ask about the pricing, quality, condition, authenticity, and age of the classic car you are buying. Ask to see lots of pictures and ask about warranties and guarantees. A seller knows that a purchase is a big deal and will be glad to answer all of your questions. Be careful about any seller who is vague with answers or asks for upfront payment or payment to a third party.
- Get someone to look at the classic car before you buy. Ideally, get out to see the car yourself. Another option is to hire a qualified appraiser who works near the seller and also have an inspector look at the car for you. Buying sight unseen is a big risk, so you want some expert opinions about whether a car is a good deal or a real dud.
- Find safe ways to pay. If you pay by credit card, your credit card company can stop payment if your car is not delivered as promised. You can also pay a small amount for an escrow service, which will also keep your money safe until you are sure you haven’t been ripped off.
- Get everything in writing. You should have a contract that states exactly what you are buying and for how much. The contract should also outline what happens to your deposit money if you don’t buy the car. In most cases, you should get your deposit money back, unless you have placed a burden on the seller. Finally, be sure that you have a contract that outlines what happens if you are not happy with the car. You should have in writing the details of any fees, the details of who pays for shipping, and any time limits on returns and refunds.
- Stay away from any deals that seem too good to be true. There are many great classic cars out there at very good prices and you will find one eventually. Don’t give into the temptation to skip an inspection or a contract because the price is low.
Following these simple tips should keep you safer while you hunt for that perfect car.