Things to Consider Before Buying Or Bidding On A Vintage Car

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When it comes to purchasing a vintage vehicle, there are many things that you should take into consideration. The CEO of the UK-based used-vehicle website, AA Cars,  James Fairclough, who is also a lifelong vintage car enthusiast, cautions that anyone who’s interested in owning a vintage vehicle should thoroughly do their research.


Any vintage model that you are giving consideration too, should receive a full inspection and a proper test drive before buying. A very important thing to think of is the costs involved in owning and maintaining a collectable vintage vehicle. Vintage car buyers should always check the history of a given make and model before bidding or buying.


“Unlike modern cars, classic cars frequently don’t have service histories and some won’t have much history available at all, so look out for the ones that do have good historical records,”


“Some owners will have kept meticulous detail of everything that has been done to the car under their ownership, particularly if the car has been owned for a long time by the same keeper or recently restored.”



You should always try and get as much information on the vehicle by checking if there is a history connected with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or the registration number.


There can be many pitfalls and cost involved in Vintage car ownership. Any vintage or classic car must be insured, but this is a relatively inexpensive. Classic-car insurance policies for example, usually limit how many miles the car can be driven annually. It is a good idea though, to research the cost and availability of spare parts ahead of time for for the particular vehicle you have in mind. Fairclough went on to say:


“Parts for many rare old beasts can be challenging to find, and the more difficult they are to find the more likely they will come with a high price tag,”


“It's been our experience that older sports cars can be maddeningly fussy and costly to maintain, so proceed with caution.


“However, anyone who’s looking to fully restore a car that’s fallen into decline and disrepair needs a serious reality check,


“Be prepared for unpleasant and possibly costly surprises as the work progresses. For those that aren’t too keen on a restoration project, the last thing you want is to have to undertake a major engine or transmission overhaul after a couple of years, so make sure the car is in sound mechanical shape before handing over any money.”



Here are a few tips to remember if you are a newbie and find yourself at a Vintage or Classic car auction:

  • Proceed With Caution: Go to one or two auctions simply as an observer so you can gain an understanding of how an auction works and how serious buyers conduct themselves.
  • Be A Silent Observer. If you're not bidding on a vehicle, don’t become a distraction for the auctioneer and those who are bidding. That means phones off and mouths shut.
  • Get Pre-Approved: With some auctions, you may need to pre-apply to participate and can't just show up and participate. Unless you are paying by cash, you may want to consider obtaining pre-approval for financing, preferably from a company that specializes in exotic and vintage cars.
  • Don’t get carried away: Bid on a car that has strong personal appeal, and not just because everyone in the room is focused on a particular model or genre.
  • Bid Within Your Limits. Set a maximum price limit that is within your budget and stick to it, no matter what. A very important thing is to take into consideration that the auction house will need to be paid their commission fees. You will also have to factor in the usual car ownership costs as well as transportation of the vehicle if need be.
  • Talk to the Staff. Auction staffers are often knowledgeable about specific cars and auction dynamics. Let them know if you plan to bid on a specific model, so they can direct the auctioneer's attention to you.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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