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How to Buy a Classic Car | Tips For Buying Vintage Cars

Volo Auto Museum Posted on 2019-09-20

Buying a classic car is an exciting process that can be a way to satisfy a vintage car craving or serve as an investment for the future. Regardless of why you want to purchase a classic car, you should know what to expect. Check out the following tips for buying a classic car.

How to buy a classic car

Where to Find Your Classic Car

While you look for a classic car, you'll have a few options that come with pros and cons. Auctions, private sellers and dealers are the three most popular options for buying a classic car. Before you look for your dream car, you'll need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of seller:

1. Auction

A classic car auction is one of the most popular places that you can buy a car. The large variety of vehicles is any car lover's dream. An advantage of these auctions is that they will often sell high-end vehicles that may never be available in another context.

In addition to in-person events, you can now view many auctions online. Whether you're buying the car in person or remotely, you may score a great deal if only a few buyers bid on a particular car.

One of the major issues with this style of car buying is the inability to complete a rigorous inspection of a vehicle before you buy it. You may not know about some of its flaws until after you receive it and the sale is closed, tacking on extra costs. Additionally, the seller and buyer premiums that get added on to the sale price of the car can raise fees by 25% when compared to a private sale.

2. Private Seller

Another option is to work directly with a private seller. Private owners may have had the car for some time and will have lots of information on it. If they are a car enthusiast like yourself, it's likely that they know a lot about its history and have maintained it well. You also have a chance of finding a lower price when you buy from a private seller.

Though buying from a private seller can be beneficial cost-wise, finding a seller that is offering a car you're interested in can be a major time commitment. You'll have to sort through sale ads on different car sites, rather than on a centralized database. This process makes it more challenging to find a car that you want and requires more time than other methods.

Buying a classic car from a private seller

A private seller can also make untrue claims. As they aren't a larger organization, it may be hard to find them again and hold them accountable if their claims don't hold true. While most sellers are trustworthy, you do take on more risk when you buy from a private seller. Due to this risk, it's also more difficult, sometimes impossible, to receive financing to purchase a car from a private seller.

3. Dealer

There are a couple of ways that dealers sell classic cars. One method is running a consignment shop. At this shop, private sellers can give their cars to the dealership for them to sell. When the car is purchased, the dealer receives compensation for the sale. The other popular method is for dealers to buy cars directly and then sell them to consumers.

A benefit to going with a dealer is that you can compare their inventory, viewing multiple cars at once. You'll also have as much time as you need to inspect the car, ensuring that it's up to the quality you'd expect. If you'd like a third party opinion, you can bring a body-man, mechanic or another automotive professional along with you.

Even more convenient, the best dealerships will have had their inventory inspected before they sell it. They will also often have a smooth buying process that lets you take the time that you need to make sure the car is right for you. Often, you'll find haggle-free customer service that features competitive pricing, so you're sure to get a good deal.

In comparison to working with a private seller, the buying process may be more pleasant, as many dealers will allow for test drives and give you plenty of time to make a decision. Additionally, a dealer will often offer financing, shipping and other buyer tools that make the buying process more convenient. Your money will also be safer with a dealership, as you don't have to worry about sending your money to a private party, only to get ripped off and never receive the car.

There are also some potential drawbacks to buying a car from a dealership, depending on the dealer. Some dealerships may not know much about a car's history other than the information that the inspection might give them. If you're buying a classic car from a seller who is standing in for a private seller, you may end up paying more due to commissions.

What to Look for on the Exterior and Interior

While an inspection from a third-party should reveal any issues in the car, before you get to that point, it's a good idea to look at the car yourself to see if a particular classic car is a good investment.

Looking at the Exterior

The exterior of the car is the first thing that anyone sees. For a classic car, appearance is one of the most important aspects, and you should take any damage to it seriously. When you examine the exterior, here's what you should look for:

  • Obvious signs of damage: Make sure to view the car in a well-lit environment, so that you can see any blemishes. Examine the paint job to ensure that it's in good condition and free of any fading or blisters that harm the vehicle's appearance. Next, look for dents or panels that have become mismatched or misaligned. If anything seems out of place on the car, examine it carefully as it may affect the car's value.
  • Rust damage: While you can expect some rust damage on a classic car, large sections of rust are not acceptable. Look at the body panels and floorboards to check for rust. Pay special attention to where repairs have been made or where rust has already been removed, as a poor repair job increases the chances of the rust coming back.
  • Signs of repair: While repairs don't automatically mean that a car is not worth buying, you should look for signs of it, especially if the seller doesn't have any repairs listed in the vehicle history. For instance, if you see evidence of extensive welding, there could have been major structural repairs done on the car that you need to know about. If a seller doesn't tell you about a repair, they may be making an honest mistake, but they could also be trying to take advantage of you.

Checking the Interior

When you look at the interior, there are a couple of features that you should check for:

  • Replaceability: As you inspect the car, you'll need to see if parts of the car can be replaced. With the trend of retro interiors with a modern twist coming in, you'll need to check to see if you can make changes to the car. If you're trying to keep the interior as close to the original as possible, you'll want to see if there are original replacement parts available on the market if the car's interior becomes damaged.
  • Damage: Unless you're looking for a fixer-upper, you'll want to check the interior for damage. Search for tears, burns or stains on the upholstery. You should also check carpets for any odd smells, such as that of mildew, which could indicate water damage. Like with the upholstery, also check the carpet for stains and other damage.
  • Functionality: Along with checking for cosmetic damage, you should also make sure that everything is functioning properly. Check if the interior lights work, the seats are easily adjustable and the dash bulbs function correctly. You'll also want to see if the horn, radio, A/C, heating, defroster and defogger features function properly.

Get a Third-Party Inspection

While you should always check the car yourself, you should also bring in a professional who doesn't have a stake in the sale. A third-party inspector is not be trying to sell you the car. Instead, they'll give you a second opinion on the vehicle and tell you what you need to know about it before you buy it. They'll make sure the seller isn't trying to take advantage of you and point out any issues you may have overlooked.

At an inspection, you can expect to gain valuable information from an inspector. Any inspector that you can trust will provide you with the following:

  • A detailed report: After an inspection, you can expect to receive a report that covers the condition of the car's interior and exterior. For a typical inspection, the inspector will check the suspension, controls, suspension, seats, glass, trim, undercarriage, body panels and brakes. The report will note any defects and give you more information about your vehicle. If there are any damages, they will often give you an estimate of repair costs.
  • Knowledge of the vehicle's history: Along with finding current defects, an inspector will look for evidence of past damage. They will search for rust, repairs or rot that have occurred in the past and document them. This knowledge will tell you if the valuation is fair and prepare you for any issues that are likely to come up in the future.
  • Answers to your questions: A trusted professional will let you ask questions and give you honest, informed answers. This time with the inspector is your chance to clear up any questions you have about the vehicle and make sure that it's worth the money you plan to spend on it.

Though a third-party inspector can be a valuable resource, they are not totally unbiased. They may not be biased towards the sale, but they will have some bias in their report. To protect themselves, they will often be overcritical when compared to other car experts, as they don't want a customer to accuse them of misleading them. Because of this, they will often overstate a car's negatives. While they are a good resource, a buyer should take their inspection reports with a grain of salt.

How to Pay for a Classic Car

Now that you've made the inspection and found out that everything is in order, you can move on to making the purchase. If you can't pay for the car outright, financing options are popular for many consumers buying from classic car dealerships. Instead of waiting for years to save enough money to buy your dream car, you can apply for a car loan and get approved in a short amount of time.

Financing options are available for buying a classic car

When you apply for a classic car loan, you'll see that many companies offer competitive interests rates and down payments. They will check your credit score and the value of the car that you are trying to buy. You can expect to make a down payment of between 10% and 30% and pay interest rates ranging from 5% to 10%. Additionally, your loan length will generally be somewhere between 10 and 12 years.

To get the best quality loan, go with a specialty lender who has experience with buying and selling classic cars. Quality dealerships will be able to point you to financiers they know that you can trust.

For instance, at Volo Museum Auto Sales, we have several high-quality financing services partners that we trust to provide our customers with the best deals. When you choose one of our partners, like J.J. Best Banc & Co., Woodside Credit or Collector Car Lending, you'll get a financing partner that can meet your needs.

Finding Classic Car Insurance

When you're looking for insurance for your classic car, you'll want to work with a company that specializes in the needs of classic car owners. Finding someone with this specialization is essential because the insurance-related considerations are different for classic cars than regular vehicles. For instance, a regular car is expected to depreciate, while a classic car is expected to appreciate.

Although classic cars gain value over time, you can find insurance for less money than a regular premium. These drop-in premium prices are due to classic cars often being kept off the road in garages, and, as such, avoid risks that could cause damage to occur.

A classic car insurer like Classic Collectors Insurance will bring detailed knowledge of vintage vehicles and their unique insurance needs. For instance, if you don't plan to drive your car very much, they offer limited mileage plans that will come cheaper than if you want to drive your classic car consistently.

Find Your Dream Car at Volo

At Volo Museum Auto Sales, we love classic cars. We love them so much that we built a museum for them. Unlike other dealerships, we care about the history of the cars we purchase and ensure that we only sell vehicles that have undergone rigorous inspections.

If you're interested in purchasing a classic car, you can view Volo's current inventory online, along with incoming inventory that will be available soon. You can also come to see our inventory in person.

Don't see your dream car offered? Volo Auto offers an auto locator service that will notify you as soon as the desired car is added to Volo's inventory. The process is simple as you only have to leave some information about the type or types of vehicle that you are looking for. As soon as Volo adds the car, you'll be immediately notified, putting you ahead of other interested buyers.

Consider speaking with one of our representatives today, and take the first step toward owning your dream car.

Buy your classic car from Volo Auto Museum



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