• December 9, 2023

Still want that classic car? How to make your dream a reality

A few decades late, you finally have the money to buy the car you wanted in high school. You can imagine yourself getting behind the wheel and finally looking really cool. But do you have any idea what you are getting into?

“I tell people, ‘cool your heels off, you’ve waited so long and found the best you can,” says John DiPietro, editor of classic car dealership Carroll Street Auto in Manchester, New Hampshire, and former auto Editor at Edmunds.com.

Nothing about buying your dream car is easier than buying a new car. For example, most banks don’t usually fund expensive 20-year-old collector’s cars. You need cash or a real one low-interest personal loan. And without special Classic car insurance, it’s valued as just another old thug when it adds up.

And remember, many old cars “creak, don’t have the latest safety equipment, have poor fuel economy, and are much smaller than today’s cars,” says Mark Holthoff, Klipnik’s used car editor. a website for used car enthusiasts. Even so, for two decades he bought an average of one car a year – usually a vintage Mercedes – and enjoyed driving older cars because he felt more connected to the machine and the road.

Plus: Do you own one of these cars? It could become a desirable collector’s item

But if that vision of your high school car just doesn’t leave you, the experts tell you how to make your dream a reality.

Where to look for your classic car

Nowadays you can cast a wide net when looking for a classic car on the Internet. DiPietro’s method is to put the year, make and model in Google followed by “for sale”.

Holthoff recommends looking at the classifieds from owner clubs such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW
BMW, + 0.58%.
Also check out auction sites like Bring a Trailer, eBay,
EBAY, -10.03%
Hemlines and Cars & Commandments.

Auction sites “artificially increase the cost of classic cars,” says DiPietro. “You get two rich people bidding for a car and – boom – now a normal Joe can’t afford that.”

Check out: 10 classic cars that could finance your early retirement

Still, just looking at prices and comments on auction sites can be instructive. And you might even find a bargain at the nationally famous Barrett-Jackson auction in the first few days.

“I’m looking for a car that is not necessarily highly collectible, but for some reason someone fell in love with it, took great care of it, but now they have to sell it,” says Holthoff.

Pricing of your dream car

In recent years, the cost of many classic muscle cars has risen so you probably won’t find many good ones at bargain prices, DiPietro says. But there are exceptions, and there are still cool, affordable cars that are under the radar, like the Mazda RX-7 or even a Mustang GT.

That doesn’t mean they are expensive like 30 year old used cars. In general, well-preserved and original cars from every decade sell at a premium. The question is how much that premium should be.

Well-known pricing guides like Kelley Blue Book are of little help in determining the value of an older car because so much depends on its condition and availability. Instead, check out the finished prices from auctions and eBay. Hemmings also offers data on previous offer prices.

When you’ve found several cars that look good, “don’t buy the cheapest, buy the best,” says Holthoff.

“You are not only looking for the right car, but also the right owner who will sell you the car,” says Holthoff. One quick phone call speaks volumes about how the owner feels about the car and how it has been looked after. Be sure to ask for service records. When major work has been carried out, e.g. For example, an engine conversion, ask who did the work and give them a call or check on the internet.

You may pay more than expected, but it will Save money in the long run for repairs, overhauls and resale value. And plan to spend a little more money “sorting the car” and worrying about things like buying a new battery or a set of tires, DiPietro says.

See also: A step-by-step guide to buying a used car

Test drive and inspection

It is important to test the car you want as the reality may not match the dream. It is risky to buy a view that cannot be seen at a remote auction.

If you go to a car, try to “bring a wingman,” says DiPietro. “You might be looking at potential customers with rose-colored glasses, so it helps to have someone with you to hold you down.”

You should take a traditional test drive and look for unusual noises, smells, or blue exhaust. But what you are really testing is whether you still want to write the check.

If the car seems fine on your test drive, take it to a mechanic who can put it on an elevator and examine it more closely. Howl
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is a great way to find mechanics who specialize in different makes of cars – and could be the right person to work on your car after you buy it.

Continue reading: Don’t buy a classic car if you want to resell it for a decent profit

Finally, if everything looks good and the price seems fair, you should pay the asking price. According to Holthoff, subtracting $ 500 from the asking price to lose to another avid buyer isn’t worth the risk.

And what if you never find the car you wanted in high school? “Well,” says DiPietro, “they always say,” Don’t meet your heroes – let them be great in your head. “

More from NerdWallet

Philip Reed writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @AutoReed.

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