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10 Things to Think About When Buying a Classic Car

todayJuly 12, 2023

Background

Any collector will tell you that there are certain tricks of the trade to help you find the items you’re looking for. With the right steps, you can assemble a collection you can be happy with and proud to show off. This is especially true with classic cars. A classic car collection is eye-catching but exciting, but finding the best models can be challenging. Fortunately, you can succeed and even acquire some of the most desirable vintage automobiles ever made.

One of the first things you’ll want to do is determine exactly what models you want. A good tip is to identify some of the most popular classics around—not only British and European cars but vehicles from the U.S. Here’s a look at some of the most sought-after classic cars for collectors.

5 Popular European Classic Cars

1. The Jaguar XJ6 Mk1

Over a five-year period, this luxury car turned heads on British roads and highways. The Jaguar XJ6 Mk1 was produced from 1968 through 1973. When Jaguar introduced this model, it had a price tag of £1,797. Today, you can find this Jaguar for anything from £2,000 to £30,000, depending on the condition.

There’s a lot to love about the XJ6 Mk1. It reaches a top speed of 193 kph. With its six-cylinder 1,792cc engine, the XJ6 Mk1 performs wonderfully and offers a comfortable interior with high-end styling.

2. Rolls Royce Phantom

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When it comes to luxury, perhaps no other European car can match the Rolls Royce. And one of the most legendary models of this make is the Phantom. This is a car that, for many years, has appealed to wealthy executives, celebrities, and even royalty.

The Phantom has had eight generations of production, with the first generation beginning all the way back in 1925. Virtually any Phantom version is a classic, but the original model is the one to look for. It’s built for ultimate comfort, including opulent trims and materials. Of course, you can also count on the Phantom to perform well no matter where you take it.

3. Lotus Esprit

This classic car quickly turned heads with its unique, sporty design when it came out in 1976. While most sports cars in this era were curvy and sleek, the Lotus Esprit made waves with its simple body, complete with sharp angles. This classic car doesn’t match the horsepower, acceleration, or top speed of its rivals. But this Lotus is one that collectors clamour to get their hands on and add to their collection.

4. Aston Martin DB5

Anyone familiar with the Aston Martin DB5 surely recognises it as the iconic car of fictional British secret agent James Bond. The car is prominent with Bond in the film “Goldfinger” and helped heighten the popularity of the Bond franchise and the vehicle itself. The Aston Martin DB5 was in high demand after the film’s release.

This convertible reaches a top speed of 228kph. It has a 3,995cc engine with either a five-speed ZF box or a three-speed automatic transmission.

Bicester, Oxon., UK – April 24th 2022. 1967 Aston Martin DB 6 car travelling on an English country road

5. Austin-Healey 3000

Today, you can find an Austin-Healy 3000 for as much as £70,000. It was £1,257 when it was introduced to the public in 1959. It was produced for nine years and was one of the leading models in its class. A big sporty model, the two-door Austin-Healey 3000 roadster had a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine and could get up to 182 kph. This gorgeous car is nice to look at and also provides a comfortable ride.

5 Popular American Classic Cars

On the other side of the Atlantic, classic cars are arguably just as popular and common to collect as they are in the U.K.. It’s helpful for U.K. and European collectors to be aware of what vintage models are most striking to Americans.

1. 1967–1969 Chevrolet Camaro

One of the most popular aspects of this version of the Chevrolet Camaro was the variety of engines available. There’s a six-cylinder 230ci engine but an even beefier 427ci big-block engine that made 430 horsepower. This muscle car was perfect in the late 1960s for people looking for a car with a roaring engine and good top speed. This version of the Camaro wasn’t super roomy, but its sleek look and reliable performance made it a big seller. Today, this car—in good condition—is a big coup for any collector.

2. 1941 Jeep

If this year stands out, it’s because it was during World War II when rugged, durable equipment and transportation were essential. In 1941, the U.S. military used the first Jeeps to carry soldiers across demanding terrain. Interestingly, 1941 Jeeps had shovels and pickaxes secured to the sides.

Today, Jeep models are insanely popular as off-road vehicles for outdoor adventure. Adding an original Jeep to your collection would be a fantastic addition.

3. 1953 Cadillac Eldorado

What a Rolls Royce was to people in Britain and the rest of Europe, a Cadillac was to Americans in the 1950s. The 1953 Cadillac Eldorado is the pinnacle of Cadillac’s statements of luxury and style. This model came out when American cars were sporting fins and lots of chrome. The Eldorado is no exception, as you will note from the imposing front end. This vehicle didn’t come cheap to buyers, so those who could get into one certainly were making a statement.

4. 1964–1973 Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang is synonymous with power, performance, and toughness. The first generation of Mustangs was born in 1964, and they were quickly big winners. Though they appealed to younger drivers, more seasoned car owners were happy to get their hands on these convertible models too.

Perhaps most notably, the Mustang was relatively affordable compared to other coupes and convertibles. You could find first-generation Ford Mustangs today in excellent condition for around $40,000. 

Reno, NV – August 4, 2021: 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Fastback at a local car show.

5. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427

In the mid-to-late-1960s, Chevrolet took things up a notch with the dazzling Corvette. The 1967 Corvette 427 is one that collectors today seek earnestly to find. When the Corvette first hit the public in 1953, it was supposed to be a counterpart to the famous European sports cars of the day. By the time the 1967 Corvette 427 model was available, it quickly became a classic. Because the Corvette has undergone significant changes over the decades, this version is a huge collector’s item.

Savannah, GA / USA – April 21, 2018: 1957 Chevrolet BelAir hardtop coupe at a car show in Savannah, Georgia.

10 Tips You May Not Know About Buying a Classic Car

Purchasing a classic car requires a lot of planning, research, and patience. But it’s also something you should have fun with. The following are some tips to help you get started as a collector or to assist you in buying your next vintage vehicle:

1. Research thoroughly.

First-time classic car buyers are sometimes so excited that they jump into a purchase without doing their homework. Spend the time necessary to know everything you can about the car you want to buy. Know what the value is and compare the car to similar ones. You can learn a lot by reading online reviews and joining collectors’ groups and forums.

2. Get an inspection.

Always let a professional inspect your prospective purchase. You may not have plans to drive the car much; you may only want to keep it on display. Still, a seasoned mechanic should look for structural damage and other flaws that could affect the car’s value and appeal.

3. Understand the upkeep costs.

Buying a classic car and owning it are part of what it means to be a collector. You also need to keep the car looking nice, and you want to maintain its vintage look and feel. Doing this requires a financial commitment. This may include not only routine maintenance but more costly repairs such as drivetrain replacements, transmission work, or interior changes. Research how much you will need to spend on upkeep before you get serious about buying a classic vehicle.

4. Know what type of insurance coverage you will need.

Depending on the make, model, and year of your classic vehicle, you might need to purchase speciality insurance to cover it. Talk to your current auto insurance provider to find out whether the classic car you intend to buy requires special coverage. If you need to go elsewhere, compare different providers so you can get the most cost-effective and comprehensive coverage possible. Doing this ahead of time can save you headaches down the road.

5. Have a passion and follow it.

People get into collecting classic cars because they love automobiles—driving them, working on them, checking them out as they sit in the garage or driveway. Like all collectors, certain models stand out to you. You’re passionate about particular cars, so make sure those are the ones you seek to collect. Realise that collecting cars will take time, money, and effort. If this is your passion, it will be a much more satisfying and exciting hobby. Don’t let it become a chore.

6. It’s going to take work.

Nevertheless, collecting cars and keeping them up isn’t easy. You’ll have to make financial sacrifices. You may experience some disappointments and frustrations. There are times when finding the perfect vehicle becomes difficult. You’ll have to devote the time and funds, and you’ll need to visit auctions, private-party sales, and online sites. Then, once you have the car, you’ll need to be meticulous in maintaining the car.

7. It might not give you a return on your investment.

Classic car buyers often find out that turning this purchase into a profit isn’t always the case. You’re better off starting this endeavour for the enjoyment of having the car and working on it. You can make money off this purchase, but there’s often some luck involved.

8. Verify the title and VIN.

A common mistake buyers make is not paying close enough attention to the car’s title and VIN. It’s best if there’s a clear title and you won’t have to apply for a new title. Also, the VIN on the title needs to match the VIN on the car. VIN problems could indicate serious issues such as accidents or theft.

9. Test-drive the car.

This may seem like a no-brainer for purchases of regular cars. However, more classic car collectors neglect this step than you might think. The car needs to be safe and legal for the road. A test drive will help you discover problems that could otherwise be deal-breakers in your purchase. During your drive, pay attention to how it handles the road. Listen for odd noises as you hit bumps and turn corners.

10.  Get the car safely to where you need it to be.

Sometimes a classic car may have mechanical issues, making it difficult to drive home. You may even have your eye on a classic car that isn’t running at all. If you have plans to work on the car yourself, or if you know a trusted mechanic who can get it into good shape, you can arrange for the car to be shipped directly to you. Shipping your car is a viable option, especially if it’s in no condition to use or if you’re purchasing it from a great distance.

Applying these guidelines to your car search can make you feel more prepared. You’ll be on your way to enjoying a thrilling hobby of buying and maintaining some of the most legendary cars ever produced.

Written – Sarah J Greene

If you’d like to contribute to our site on motoring related matters of interest, classic, modified, restoration, barn finds, supercars, clubs, groups and others, please get in touch

Written by: Steve

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