Just Because It's Affordable Doesn't Mean You Should Buy It

Anything That Seems Too Good To Be True, 
Is Usually Too Good To Be True
Deciding to own a Classic is somewhat of a journey, deciding which one to buy can be a real challenge. Here are a few things to consider when starting your search.

First, What is Your Level of Experience?
For simplification, there is only one of three categories most people will fall into:
  1. Novice-You have never owned a Classic aged car and you have no idea of how much you don't know.
  2. Experienced-You have or currently own one or more Classic, you've developed a solid knowledge regarding the market, your cars, restoration efforts, parts, service and your local community of Classic car owners.
  3. Expert-You posses a wide range of experience and knowledge regarding almost every aspect of the Collector car marketplace.
Second, What Type of Classic Are You Considering ?
Again, for simplification, we're going to divide vehicles for consideration into three classes:
  1. Mainstream-Highly popular brands and models with above average access to almost every imaginable type of replacement part, strong support from other owners and numerous servicing/restoration businesses.
  2. Midstream-Semi-popular brands and/or models with limited access to parts, help and/or service options.
  3. Oddball-Far less popular and/or quirky brands and models with minimal access to parts, help, service options and owner support.
Third, What Grade of Classic Are You Considering?
  1. Above Average-Highly documented, expert level restoration with known quality, completed by experienced craftspeople requiring only maintenance.
  2. Average-Considerably older restoration now showing its age, or a vehicle which has undergone haphazard refurbishment efforts. In both cases limited ability to judge quality visually or via documentation, indicating an unknown and additional level of restorative efforts and maintenance.
  3. Below Average-A vehicle visually recognizable to be in poor condition, no documentation, of unknown quality requiring a significant level of restoration and maintenance.
Good-Cheap-Fast...Pick Only Two
Although this old saying is typically used in a different context, it has its place in the process of buying and owning a Classic as well.  

If you are like most people, you do not have an unlimited budget to work with. Therefore using the preceding lists as a starting point, an individual's level of experience should be equal to or less than the type and quality of a Classic. 
  • A Novice would lean towards choosing a #1 type and #1 condition Classic to lessen the potential for an excessively high cost of ownership (including restoration and maintenance expenses). 
  • A buyer with an average level of experience could choose from either a #1 or #2 type and quality Classic.
  • While an expert level buyer expands to include all types and levels of quality.
Which leads us back to where we started. Determining the quality of a Classic remains a rather nebulous effort when there is no documentation to back it up. But that does not mean there aren't any very high quality cars with a documented background and third party evaluations which are still "bargains". Case in point were a few Classics sold at Amelia Island
More specifically a stunning 1949 DeSoto Custom Convertible which sold for about half of what it cost to restore in today's dollars. Conversely, a 1970 Hemi 'Cuda convertible at the same $70K calls for a deeper review and significant caution.
Another point to consider is looking within markets which are or have recently become "economically challenged", such as the oil and coal producing areas of the U.S. There are bound to be great cars which are being offered for sale but without the well-heeled crowd from Scottsdale and similar "hot spots". The private market may also be hiding gems worth considering.
So unless you have access to an unlimited budget, have no concerns regarding a potential loss or cost to restore, stay away from Classics that based on price and what you can see, just seem too good to be true. Ask to view the documentation or speak with the seller BEFORE you make an offer and when an offer is close, take the extra step to have the car examined and evaluated by a third party expert.

You can thank us later... 

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