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How to buy your 1st classic car

After years of looking at cool old cars pass you by, you’ve decided it’s time to buy one and call it your own. In this mini-blog series we’re going to be looking at the different aspects of buying your first classic. This article is for your average everyday guy or gal, let’s get started.

1- Picking the right car

Camaros, Corvettes, Austin-Healeys, Jaguars, the list of make and models are almost endless. On top of that, each model has generations and year to year changes.

First you buy with your heart and secondly with your brain.

Let’s take the MGB as an example. On your mind is a wire wheel, steel bumper roadster in Tartan Red or classic British Racing Green. A great later Rubber bumper at a great price might come your way, we say skip it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a Rubber bumper car, in fact the later models have an upgraded cooling system that actually makes it able to sit in traffic all day long, but that’s not the car you’re dreaming of. Both cars will need parts and service and it’s much easier to pay to fix something you truly love, than to fix something you’re not really connected to. Also you don’t want to pull up at stop light and the car you actually wanted pulls alongside next to you.

2- Parts availability

When somebody asks me if they should buy a car, I always look at the parts availability. Most any mainstream, common classic car will have good aftermarket support. Mustang, Camaro, most Mopars all have a great parts network and you can get pretty much anything at a reasonable rate. You don’t want to lose your season trying to find an obscure part for a Lancia. Most British cars are very easy to live with because of the huge parts supply available.

3- Picking the right example

Now here is where it starts to get tricky. You’ve finally narrowed your choice down and you started to look at all the ads and all the auctions.

How do you find an honest car?

 If the ad says, long-term ownership by a club member, that’s usually a very good sign. Club members usually have their cars maintained by the local specialist and in most cases have bought a good example to begin with.

Things to watch out for are freshly painted cars or a very recent restoration. Not to say that you can’t find a great recently restored car, but if I were to repaint my car it would mean that I was planning to keep it for a long time.

4- Call a specialist

It doesn’t matter is the car is local or across the country, call a local specialist to take a look at it with you. I can’t stress this enough. For maybe 100-150$ you’re getting a lifetime of knowledge. Not only will the specialist know what to look for, he will also know the quality of the parts used, the correct feel of the vehicle when he drives it and he’ll even tell you what his other clients have paid for something in similar condition. In the event that the car also doesn’t work out, the specialist usually even knows of clients that are thinking of selling their cars.

Photo Courtesy of Patrick Ernzen



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