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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

Here are Some Suggestions to Consider When Buying a Classic Car Online

With today’s limitations of attending classic car auctions in person due to social distancing measures, buying a classic car online has become a common practice. Shopping online opens you to a world of vehicle choices. It also opens you to the possibilities of a scam or buying a lemon. Thus, here are some tips to follow when shopping for and buying a classic car online.

Tip # 1 – Know how you will use the vehicle.

What are you going to be doing with the vehicle? The criteria for purchasing a car you want to compete in shows versus one you want to drive regularly is much different. Know what you want to do with the vehicle.

Tip # 2 – Determine the vehicle’s condition class.

Condition class is a numerical rating system universally used for measuring the condition of classic vehicles. Here’s an excellent article about what the numbers mean.

The best way to determine a car’s condition class is to have it professionally appraised. Our advice is to never, ever, buy a car sight unseen. We always recommend the use of a professional appraiser before buying any classic, especially if it is an investment vehicle.

Tip # 3 – Know the value.

The internet has a treasure trove of information about the value of classic vehicles. Sites like Sports Car Market and Hi-Bid and Old Cars Report attend auctions and publish results. Check them out and to assess the value of vehicles.

Tip # 4 – Check the documentation.

This is important, especially when selecting a vehicle for investment purposes. When cars were originally sold dealers furnished the buyers with a manual. It contained original paperwork – things like the dealer invoice, window sticker, warranty card and owners’ manuals. It may even have included build sheets or buck tags (Fords). These helps identify the authenticity of a vehicle. If a claim is made that the vehicle is original, ask to see the original paperwork.

Tip # 5 – Use an inspector.

The single best way to protect your interests when buying a car online that you have not seen is to hire a reliable inspector. It will usually cost you around $300 to $500 for a good inspector and they are worth every penny. Look online for reliable sources (never use one recommended by the seller).

Tip # 6 – Always use a bill of sale.

A bill of sale is an agreement between you and the seller regarding the terms of the sale. You can find templates online or contact your local attorney. A good bill of sale should be as detailed as possible, and include information like:

  • The condition of the vehicle
  • The delivery date
  • Year, make and model of the vehicle, as well as other descriptive information
  • VIN Number – the vehicle identification number
  • Odometer reading (mileage)
  • Buyers contact and address information
  • Seller contact and address information
  • Date of the sale
  • Agreed upon purchase price and payment terms
  • Signatures of both buyer and seller
  • Any relevant terms and conditions

By a car sight unseen online can be a risky proposition. Follow these tips so you avoid getting scammed.

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