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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

Beginners Guide on How to Buy a Vintage Car

We recently wrote an article about 5 tips you should follow when choosing a classic car for restoration.  Patrick Peterson, the editor and publisher of AutoDetective, contacted us and said he had some tips of his own.  We always welcome another enthusiasts perspective and wanted to share his thoughts on buying a vintage classic.  Here is what he had to say… 

There’s nothing like hearing the rumble of an engine from a vintage car.

That sound, coupled with the look, feel, and smell of a classic brings you back to a time when Rock n’ Roll ruled the airwaves or roller skates and disco were cool. If you were into cars growing up, you probably had your heart set on a dream automobile and vowed to own it one day.

Depending on your age, the car of your dreams could be a classic by today’s standards. A lot of children from the 60s-90s are all grown up and have the purchasing power to chase the car they coveted as a kid. If you’re in the market for a vintage car, here are a few tips on how to get your hands on one.

Tip #1: Do A Little Introspection

Before you even start to chase your dream vintage car, you need to look at yourself in the mirror and ask why you want to own one. Is it a longstanding promise you made to your “younger self” as a reward for making it this far in life? Or is it because you want a cool ride for those weekend road trips with the family?

Knowing “why” answers a lot of questions.

If getting a vintage car is a personal journey for you, you’re looking at a long-term restoration project.

The car doesn’t even need to be in running condition as long as every significant component is intact. Be aware that most classic restorations fall by the wayside and never get finished. You need to commit a considerable portion of your time and money to restore a car to its former glory.

If you don’t have time to tinker and repair, getting a roadworthy, restored classic car is the way to go.

You’ll run into fewer problems, and you’ll be able to use the car immediately. Be sure to do a vin lookup to check the car’s owner and history before buying it.

Tip #2: Do Your Research

The next step is to do extensive research on where you can score a classic car and who to trust or avoid. Not all vintage car dealers are the same, and not all sellers are trustworthy. The “best” dealer or seller is a little subjective. You should form your own opinion, but just the same, it’s a good idea to scour the web for forums and join car clubs.

There are several places where you can get a proper vintage car.

Classic Car Dealerships

Dealerships are an excellent option if you want to test drive the vehicle before you buy. Note that car dealers are middlemen who earn a commission from the sale. Expect to pay more if you get a classic from a dealer.

Car Auctions

Auctions are exciting, especially government auctions, and you have a chance to get a vintage car at a low price. The problem with buying at an auction is that you won’t be able to do a thorough inspection or test drive the vehicle.

Private Sellers

You can get a fair price and the car’s real history from a private seller. Be sure to test drive the vehicle and pay a professional to inspect the vehicle before you buy.

Tip #3: Parts and Maintenance

Some classics are easier to maintain than others. There’s no point in getting a vintage car if you can’t find the parts for it. Talk to people who own the same make and model you’re looking to buy and ask them where they get parts from.

There are plenty of different classic car clubs across the country, with members ready and willing to support you. Car clubs are a great way to learn about parts and maintenance. You’ll even make a few friends!

Now that you’ve experienced a classic, what now? Do you plan on holding on to your vintage car until you grow old, or will you sell it after a few years? It’s good to have a plan so that your old classic car can bring joy to other enthusiasts.


Author’s bio:

Patrick Peterson, born and raised in the automotive world, regularly test-drives new vehicles on highways and back roads. As the editor and publisher of AutoDetective, he’s really passionate about everything related to cars. He’s also a frequent contributor who crafts exquisite content pieces about automotive topics on high authoritative websites across the U.S.


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