What You Should Look for When Buying a Classic Car

Updated on April 30, 2020
Michael Ttappous profile image

Michael has been an online freelancer and writer for many years and loves discovering and sharing about new experiences and opportunities.

Is It a Car or Is It a Work of Art?

James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is the classic car best known for representation in movies and is recognizable across the world of vehicle enthusiasts. It has left its mark on history. The same can be said for the Mercedes 1957 300SL Gullwing, a production car that was one of the fastest and most eye-catching vehicles of its time. Indeed, these types of classic cars are from a bygone era.

Today, they are auctioned off for millions of dollars and stand as a heritage of a different period. However, they are not alone in representing automotive heritage. There are hundreds if not thousands of cars that can be considered classic, with many being far less burdensome on a bank account to own. In fact, some, like Austin’s 1961 Mini Cooper S, are miniaturized versions of some of their bigger brothers. The Mini has served as an ever-growing symbol of the classic car era, with over 5,000,000 international sales of its iterated versions.

Whether you are interested in the loud V12s and beautiful aesthetics, or the more compact and purposeful classic cars, the bottom line is that by investing in a classic car, you are investing in a slice of history and in a slice of art. While today there has become a culture of upgrading and tuning more widely available and cheap production cars, there is still that pure-hearted, nostalgic interest in the art of old. The goal amongst these two different groups is the same: they are there to admire and appreciate works of art.

Questions to Ask When Shopping for Old Cars

When you make that seemingly inevitable decision to invest in a classic car, there are many vital things that you need to keep in mind. In particular, there are steps to consider so that you do not wreak havoc on your budget. Below is a short list of things to keep an eye out for so that your investment does not come back to bite you:

  • Is There Any Rust? When you buy a classic car, give it a very good inspection for rust. You do not want to be investing in something that requires substantial body work to get back into shape. If rust is one of the first aspects of the car that are noticeable, you have to ask where it has been, and what effects this has had beyond the surface.
  • Is the Color Original? Original color patterns are signals that your new classic car is rare and potentially valuable. Once you get your eyes on it, do some research to check what it looked like out of the factory.
  • Can You Buy Replacement Parts? Keep an eye out for features that stand out a little on an old car. Research needs to double for parts that you find are a little off and not seen much anymore.
  • How Much Do They Sell For? I’ve mentioned it twice already because it’s twice as important. Knowledge gives you the power to pick the king from amongst the pawns, and you need to be able to tell the difference when you decide to spend your hard-earned cash. Learn the brands, their models, and what makes each one valuable. Maybe one day you'll find a normal car with a lot of this potential. Why not reinvent what’s classic?
  • Do You Know How to Work On This Car? This is not to say that you need to be an expert. But, you do need to know how a vehicle works. What should the engine not look like? Do the tires have tread? Who services this model nearby? What is its M.O.T and registration history?
  • Who Owned the Car Previously? Don’t stop yourself from asking the owners questions about the car. They will likely have passionate stories to share that add to the value for the car itself.

As long as you’re prepared, you’ll be able to identify the most potential within the cars that you investigate. And this brings us to an essential part of the classic car-buying process: Know what you want. Do you want to buy it to own it and drive it (like Jay Leno)? Do you want to make it a hobby to try and restore it to its former glory? Or do you just want to trade it and make a profit on the deal?

More Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Classic Car

It is vital to have expectations of the future so that you can measure your progress and intentions. Either way, ensure that your research and your knowledge matches your goal. Consider things like:

  • Do I have the garage space to store it if I want to work on it?
  • How many of these cars are available in this area?
  • What do these models normally cost?
  • Are the engine components reliable?
  • How many miles has the car driven?
  • How expensive are the parts?

Online sources are a very cheap and effective way to answer some of the more challenging questions. But, at the same time, you have to address some of the more sneaky questions: Do the VINs match amongst the car’s parts? Does it look like it has been pieced together after being released from the factory? Have mice torn apart the interior?

You have to be vigilant when hunting for that perfect classic car, but don’t let that put you down. Everything worth doing requires some preparation, and knowing your field already puts you at a competitive edge no matter what you decide to do with the classic car you eventually purchase—whether it’s an Austin Martin or a Mini.

Would you ever buy a classic car?

See results

Photo Credits:

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • WheelScene profile image


      2 years ago from U.S.A.

      Great comprehensive article, I enjoyed reading it! You included some wonderful pictures also, keep up the great work!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, axleaddict.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)