Our guide to buy a classic car
I’m going to explain you how I bought my classic car but let me start by saying how things have changed for me since I acquired her. I personally went for a Porsche 1973 2.4T in late 2012. I want to share my experience with the purchasing process in order to get more people interested in this magnificent world. I hope you like it !!!
I was 33 at the time and even though I have always loved cars I never pulled the trigger to buy a classic. One of my colleagues at work insisted me to start looking for my car as I was wasting my time without one. He adviced probably a Porsche 2.4 would be perfect for me, so, as there was a Porsche garage next to my house, I went there on my own. It was a sunny Saturday morning; I went there to ask the owner for help in order to find a Porsche 2.4. At the time of this conversation I had no idea what I was looking for. But also, while I was waiting for the manager, someone else ahead of me was also looking for a car and the conversation just went about random numbers to me: 993, 924, 997, 911, 944, 959, 2.0, 2.2, 2.4, 356, … I felt so ashamed, I knew nothing !!! What were they talking about? I just wanted to buy a classic Porsche!!!! a 2.4 I got told to be perfect for me !!! And I knew nothing about those numbers at all … it was like going to a doctor and listen to their jargon with nothing to say or add, as you know nothing!!! Really nothing. It was embarrassing. So before deciding which car you want based on your taste and budget, learn about it.
1. Get documented, buy books about the car you want
Right away I went to buy a few books and learnt what those numbers meant and that’s when all the real trouble started!!!
On one side knowing nothing about something makes you happier (not only in cars, generally in life it does) but then to buy the right car you have to know what’s important, what’s original and what cost money to get it replaced and how much!!! But how do you know? Usually you are just an enthusiast of cars and given your budget you check which car you can afford (then you always spend a bit more though, or it’s only me!!!!) so, how do you know how much it cost to change an original bumper, it’s just a bit of plastic isn’t it? Or the steering wheel they all look similar, none will notice this is the 1969 model, not the 1971 (really, none will notice?? You wish!)
2. Find classic car sellers
Then where to find cars? In my experience the Internet is a good starting point as you can see prices, models and dealers. As a tip I want to say something about asking prices: If a car is offered at a price and it hasn’t been sold it’s because the price is cheaper than that and also, higher asking prices never push a market up, what really pushes market is buyers paying up!!!
Be always aware a lot of dealers sell classic cars and some of them come with a warranty, others don’t. Just ask for the conditions if you and buy from one of them and avoid misunderstandings. Over all, don’t get ripped off.
3. Inspect your car: Avoid surprises
I bought my car in the UK, certainly the South East and particularly the area around London has plenty of premises dedicated to cars, so prices tend to be more efficient than anywhere else in the country, meaning, the chances of finding a bargain or getting ripped off (if you get properly advised) are smaller (not impossible!!!) as there are more cars to buy and sell. But to get the right car (assuming you know nothing about them) you have to spend some money. The best money spent in the process of buying a car is finding someone to inspect your car. I personally inspected 3 cars before buying one and in the meantime I probably saw close to 10 of them. Every inspection cost me around 350 GBP (500$) but on the flip side the cost of finding something wrong on the car can save you a few thousands … again, how much cost an original bumper? You probably have no clue!!!!
Finding inspectors can also be tricky as you don’t know who is good or bad. You can do it in many ways. I’d recommend that if you know someone who knows a lot about your car (has written books, etc), ask him first, in general in this sector people tend to be friendly and helpful. If you are more into technology or you want to hear from other people, please, use this website by searching for inspectors.
After learning a lot in the previous inspection of what I should look at and all that, I ended up with a great car that I’m going to keep enjoying as much as I can !!
4. Importing classic cars
But sometimes you can decide to buy a car that is not in your country. Then you have to make sure a few things are in place. First of all transportation, how are you going to bring it home. Certainly I wouldn’t buy a car that has not been inspected, but more over if you are buying it from another country. Also, make sure before purchasing of the possible duties to be paid for bringing a foreign car in your country. Then, please make sure you get everything to get the machine registered and legally in your country, otherwise you’ll have to deal with a yearly trip to get the MOT equivalent in the original country of the car, plus dealing with getting an insurance in the country the car has the plate registered too. None of those cost are insignificant and they all are administrative intensive too. Just be aware
Well, you probably assume that once you got the machine with you, the rest is an easy job. I don’t think so !!!
5. Once you own the car …
Following my personal experience, I have to admit once you have the beauty with you, the experience continues with several issues. At this point, you have to handle and enjoy them as they are certainly part of the whole vintage experience.
6. Get a good classic car insurance
First of all, where can you get your car insured. It really is difficult to find the right insurer here in the UK and there is no search engine for that like you get for regular car insurance. I got told in Germany Insurance companies sell insurance for everything and anything in a very efficient way (easy job then). I guess in the US is a bit of a mix and probably not as good as Germany but not as bad as the UK (here I personally find it complicated to find the right deal). What surprise me is there is no internet search engine specific for classic cars yet, so it really is a question of calling a few of them and then make up your mind which one suits you more. You can save an enormous amount of money getting almost the same insurance from one company or another, so chase for your deal. In my last renewal I got a 900GBP and a 300GBP quote for a very similar insurance (the cheaper one had no home recovery)
7. Trust the mechanic who will service your car
Another part of the purchasing process is: which garage do I want her to go for servicing? The website you are in (www.classicarsgarages.com) certainly can help you make up your mind. Another good source of knowledge are your friends, a club, etc. At the end of the day, it is a matter of trust or perception of trust. I personally took the garage my car inspector told me and I'm utterly happy with it.
Be aware some mechanics might have less experience than others and even though they can be very helpful, rather than fixing your car, they learn with her how to fix other cars. Picking the right mechanic is important. How do you know that, just ask him questions you think he should know and see how he answers. At the end of the day any mechanic in love with classics will be more than happy chatting to you.
8. Where do you ride your car ?
I decided to don't become a member of a club or any other organisation for classics, so I don’t have regular meetings with other people and I should call myself a free rider. Then, when the sun is shining on a Sunday morning and you can have 2-3 hours of spare time to drive your beauty, where do you take your car? That one you have to sort out yourself with the help of a map.
9. Think about the availability of original parts
And last but not least, originality. Unless you have a big budget and you have money to spend on the right car with all the original parts in her, you have to look for original parts all the time. Where do you find them? If you have a limited budget, what should you buy first? Who can tell you? Again this website can help you answering those questions but you can ask at your Club, in your garage, etc
As you can see there are loads of things you have to “worry” but certainly the only thing you should really worry is driving the car and enjoying it. Every car has a soul and a different approach to driving, even sports cars are not similar, like for instance a Porsche 911 2.4S Vs Renault Alpine A110 … so please, drive and enjoy them as much as you can.
Spending money to replace a part has been overused it is one of my biggest pleasure, I can assure you it should be the same for you.
I hope you feel thrilled and you buy a classic car soon. Have fun !
Picture thanks to wallpaper.com