Top tips when buying classic cars

We all love looking at classic cars – the long lines, the faded yet beautiful colour, the roaring engine – but when it comes to inspecting classic cars for sale, there are a few things you should consider.


1. The rust factor

Usually a little rust can be expected, but when you can actually see through a panel, know that this will mean replacing those panels. It will no longer be a factory original, so consider this very carefully before making an offer on that classic car.


2. The numbers

If you are buying a classic car as an investment, you have to make sure that all the numbers match up. In this case, the car’s VIN number, transmission, engine and rear axle numbers should match up.


3. Going the distance

When you are buying your classic car as an investment, a low mileage is always ideal. Know however that with a lower mileage comes a higher cost. If it is not an investment and you are buying a classic car just because it is stunning, mileage doesn’t really matter that much. If it does have a high mileage and it is beautifully maintained, it is a good buy.


4. Research is key

There are quite a number of classic cars for sale, so use this to your advantage and do your research. By doing a quick Google search you can find the average price for a specific model, the most common condition these models are found in and, if it is an investment buy, what you can resell it for.


5. Limited editions and customised cars

A classic car that is one of a limited number produced is a great investment buy. Also know that classic cars with electric windows can push up its value. Consider all the modifications, one-of-a-kind appeal and custom, factory ordered details when buying a classic car.


6. Colour me pretty

A car’s colour is always a big deal and, in cases where there are rare colour combinations, the value of the car goes up. Original paint in perfect condition is always something to aim for if you are making an investment buy. Also remember to take a look at the interior. The dash, seats, speedos and door panels can give you a very good indication of the car’s condition.


7. Take it to the road

Whether it is an investment buy or a ‘I love this car’ buy, always take the car out for a test drive – like you would a brand new car. This will help you get a feel for the car itself as well as allow you to hear all the noises, gargles and rattles that might end up costing you a whole heap to fix.

If you have done your research, you should be able to tell what noises are normal and what indicates a worn suspension, engine or driveline.


8. Join the club

Contact your local club – you can find a list of all the motor clubs in South Africa by visiting the SA Motor Club Association’s website. Most of these motorheads are truly in the know and, if you can supply them with a chassis number or registration number, they might be able to get a hold of a heap of valuable information including a history of its owners, restoration and service history.

Even if these clubs can’t supply you with any hard data, they can give you useful advice.


9. Planning and a little bit of ESP

If you are buying classic cars as restoration projects, make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. Do research on the parts you will need, how easily they can be found and what the going price for these parts are.

Paint jobs, body work, interior, and wiring – consider every last small detail before jumping head first into a project. Evaluate what you can do yourself and what you will have to pay to get done.


10. Call a friend

When you do go out to see the car, take a friend with you. A friend that knows a little about cars is always better than one that doesn’t, but even an extra pair of eyes can be helpful. Create a checklist of all the things you want to take a look at – seeing classic cars you love can distract you from the real issues you should be focussing on.


11. Care for your classic

After making the leap and actually buying your classic car, remember that storage and regular maintenance is also a huge part of preserving its value. Learn more by reading our Tips and Tricks for Maintaining your Vintage Car.


Now that you have the basics down of what to check when buying a classic car, why not start by browsing through Junk Mail’s collection of classic cars for sale.

Selling your classic car? Place your free ad on today.

Annabel Schoeman

SEO'er, blogger and lover all things weird, wacky and interesting.

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