Shop Talk

Buying a classic car

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I get asked this a lot... "What's the best way to buy a classic car?".  There is a tired old saying, "buy the best car you can", and honestly I think it used to mean, the shiniest, most restored one which for a lot of people is the wrong car.  The truth is its not a simple question, its worthy of a book in fact.  But it is possible to get to general principles and at least share a broad sense of how to go about it.

Classic cars are taking on a different place in mainstream thinking and media.  Jay Leno's Garage, articles almost weekly on $20 Million Ferraris sold at glamorous auctions.  In the minds of many people they have become an asset class, along with real estate, fine art, wine and so on.  That's not what I am talking about, and certainly not what my customers are about.  We are all about an old storied car that we love. So first principle is find something you love and will enjoy.  Unlike an oil painting or a mutual fund you use and experience your car.  

Find something you can afford.  You will feel pressure to stretch your budget, to get more than is comfortable.  Don't do that,  get something that's not going to worry you financially.  All old cars are cool and you can enjoy the journey in a car that costs $3500 maybe even more than one that costs $3,000,000.  There is tremendous value and enjoyment in a Plymouth Coupe, and MGB GT, as there is in a Jaguar E-Type.  Whatever your budget range stay within it so your car is a source of joy not stress.

Decide the kind of journey you want to go on.  Do you want the best possible car, and just focus on caring for it, do you want something you can improve and personalize, or do you want a project that challenges and fulfills in the way only a deep restoration can.

Take your time.  Shopping is at least half the fun and the people and places you will meet along the way can be pretty cool. But most important you will learn a lot; what's out there, what you like and don't like. The car above was parked by a winery with a for sale sign on it. It was a great deal! 

Be open minded, you might make a discovery you did not count on.   Again old cars of all kinds are involving to drive, full of character and charm and they all do time travel.  You might set out to buy a Mustang and come home with an old Volvo, you might be a Triumph buyer at the beginning and a Lotus owner at the end.  Again, the car above at the winery was bought by a Mopar guy, not by a quirky french car enthusiast. 

Resources - Go to car shows, troll Craigs list, visit and so on.  But also look at the specialists. Some of my favorites across a range of budgets are..  

So have fun shopping and if you need a car evaluated, let us know.