The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Vintage Car

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Vintage Car

Learn how to buy a vintage car with our guide, featuring great buying tips, market insights, and advice. Read now and start your classic car adventure!

Buying a vintage car is an exciting experience, but doing your homework before and during the process will help ensure this classic car will be a source of pride and joy for years to come. Whether you’re looking for a project car or hunting a show-stopping restomod, classic car buying requires plenty of research. After all, this isn’t like walking into a car dealership to buy a brand-new SUV for your family. This classic car buying guide will give you all the tips and tricks you’ll need to know how to buy a vintage car confidently.

Know What You Want When Buying A Vintage Car

Before you open your browser and start searching for classics, it’s important to know exactly what it is you’re looking for. Be realistic with your expectations. No buyers guide can tell you that, but once you have set some goals, this vintage car buyers guide is here to help with the next steps.

Velocity 1971 Ford F100Velocity 1971 Ford F100

What Is Your Goal Of Owning A Vintage Car?

Many will tell you that coming up with a budget is the first step in the classic car buying process, but to give yourself the best chance at happiness (and sanity), start your search by determining why you want to buy a classic. There are many reasons to own a vintage car from simply looking cool while cruising around the neighborhood to owning investment-quality classics, and knowing what your plans are for the car will help narrow down other decisions such as the type of vehicle you’re in the market for and even what a realistic budget should be.

What Is Your Classic Car Budget?

Everyone would love to own a Hemi ‘Cuda or vintage Ferrari, but budgeting for a classic car is an important step that should be decided early on to lessen your chances of being overwhelmed along the way. Some people will go into the process already knowing which make and model they will be shopping for, but having an idea of a budget is especially helpful for buyers who are first-timers or undecided.

When creating a budget, repairs and upkeep costs should be factored in, which will help reduce any surprise costs popping up down the road. For some classic cars, it’s easy to get parts at the parts store or reproduction parts online, but others are more difficult and expensive to do so.

Vintage Car Buyers Guide RepairAre you a DIYer when it comes to car maintenance and repair? | Credit: Tahamie Farooqui, Unsplash

What Are Your Abilities/Access To Repairs?

It’s getting harder to find a shop that will work on older cars these days, and keeping this in mind will help you best navigate the vintage car market. If you have the tools and willingness to get dirty, DIY repairs/maintenance can be cost-saving and rewarding, but if you need a shop, this might dictate what type of vehicle you should be looking for. If you’re looking for a car that’s easy to work on, consider a restomod with a newer powertrain and chassis or a late-model classic from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Do Your Research Before Buying A Vintage Car

Once you’ve figured out the basics of what you want and how much you can afford, now it’s time to start digging through the sheer volume of inventory out there to find the exact car you desire. You’re sure to encounter plenty of frustrations along the way whether it be from uneducated sellers who price their cars too high or have incorrect information to more unscrupulous people who are out to take advantage of buyers, but careful research will make the process easier in the long run. You can even use trade shows such as SEMA to research ideas for a classic car.

Keep Your Emotions In Check

Knowing how to buy a vintage car has more to do with restraint than money, so it’s important that you leave the emotions at the door when it comes time to lay down your cold, hard cash. This might be the most challenging of our vintage car buying tips since most of these cars are purchased with some sort of emotional connection (especially if you or a family member has owned one in the past), but unless it’s a super-rare classic or a special build, remain as emotionally detached as possible to that particular car.

VelocityVelocity’s 135,000-sq.ft facility builds classic Broncos, Mustangs, F-100s, F-250s, K5 Blazers, and Scout IIs

Where To Buy?

These days, it’s become almost too easy to find classic cars for sale, but choosing where to actually buy from is important. Generally speaking, you’re probably going to find better prices from private-party sellers, although these interactions often come with the added risk of fraud and the requirement to meet at a stranger’s house. Alternatively, auctions such as Barrett-Jackson and dealers can feel safer for buyers and they offer a wider range of available vehicles, but they tend to charge more for the cars in a more high-pressure situation. Finally, you can also buy direct from a builder like Velocity.

No matter where you buy from, don’t skimp when it comes to researching the vehicle completely to make sure all of the information and descriptions are correct.

Test Drive/Inspection

If you don’t learn anything else from this vintage car buyers guide, it’s to make sure the vehicle is inspected and hopefully even test-driven before you purchase it. Looking at a car yourself is ok, but you should hire a licensed inspector and, if possible, find one who specializes in that particular type of car. No matter which type of seller you’re buying from, they should allow an inspection, and if they don’t, that’s a huge red flag. When inspecting the vehicle, try to schedule it during the day (preferably in direct sunlight) and make sure the car isn’t wet or sitting in a shadow. If you can get a test drive, make sure the engine is fully warmed up before the drive, and then look for signs of leaks afterward.

Negotiating Price

The vintage car market can be extremely fickle, so do plenty of research when coming up with a good offer. If the seller says that $80,000 has been invested in the car, that does not guarantee the car will be worth anything close to that. With the abundance of websites and forums out there, it isn’t hard to find sources for up-to-date pricing and information, and on rare or more prominent cars, check owner registries for a specific history on that particular car. VIN decoding tools help confirm specs of a vehicle, and breaking down the info on a trim tag can confirm the authenticity of a seller’s claims.

After You Have Bought Your Vintage Car

Once you’ve purchased your dream car, don’t overlook key details such as shipping (go enclosed, if possible), storage, and insurance. Just as we suggested during the purchase process, be sure to do your research on each of these final vintage car buying tips to protect yourself and your investment. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a first-time buyer, this classic car-buying guide will make the thrill of the hunt a more rewarding experience.

Velocity Makes Owning A Classic Car Easy

Buying a vintage car from Velocity removes all the guesswork and headaches. There are five different restomods to choose from, and while these are classic cars, buying them is as easy as buying a new car. Velocity’s state-of-the-art 135,000-sq-ft facility ensures a high level of quality as well as a 14-week build process, and each vehicle comes with the added convenience of a set price and a two-year warranty. Velocity even accepts trade-ins toward your restomod purchase and can help with financing through Woodside Credit. Visit our website today and find out how easy owning a piece of history can be!

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