Burn It: How to Purchase Your Dream Car
You don’t have to be rich to own a classic car. But you do have to be smart. Before you act on your fantasy, here’s how to fall in love wisely.
Step 2: Find Your Ride
Once you’ve settled on the type of car you want, you’ve got to determine whether it’s in your price range. Published guides like Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book can give you some broad estimates on your auto’s value. A simple Web search for the type of vehicle and its year will also usually display what the selling range is for that make and model.
Finding that exact car you’re looking for can sometimes feel like searching for a needle in a haystack, but stick with it. Randy Nonnenberg, co-founder of bringatrailer.com, compares the process of online auto shopping with online dating: Expect to have fun, but also go into it knowing it may take some work. (You also may find that the car you ultimately end up with may be nothing like the car you originally set out for.)
Once you’ve located a car you’re excited about, that’s when the real fun begins. Chances are it’s not just going to be sitting in a garage on the other side of town. It may be across the state or on the other side of the country. In that case, you have to ask yourself: Is the car a good deal or is it too good to be true? “Buying a 1963 Corvette that’s 3,000 miles away [based on] three pictures on the Web is fun,” says Nonnenberg, “but it usually ends in tears if you’re not careful.”
To start the vetting process, always ask for service records. This will help in some cases, but if the car is 50 years old, records could be spotty at best. Other options range from traveling to see the car for yourself, which could be costly, depending on the car’s location; hiring an unknown local mechanic to give it a once-over; or hiring an independent car inspector, like InspectMyRide, to check out your dream car. (InspectMyRide is an incredible service, for the record. An inspector will drive out and check out the vehicle on your behalf, providing a 150-plus- point inspection report.) Between that and an AutoCheck report, you should easily be able to determine if the asking price for your dream is legit or an insta-pass.
If you’re having a hard time finding a car that fits all your specifications, broaden your parameters. Say you’re looking for a four- wheel-drive Jeep in January—you will be one of thousands looking in, say, the chilly Northeast or the Rockies. Instead, look in warmer regions like Arizona or Florida. The price you’ll pay for having the car shipped could easily be made up by the lower sale price you’re paying for a car.