If you're reading this newsletter, chances are good that you're a car enthusiast. If you don't currently own a classic, but have always dreamed of it, you also know that the road can become a bumpy one if you're not careful. You've probably been putting it off because you've heard horror stories of ruined marriages, never finished projects, and astronomical restoration costs. As in buying any used car, classic cars can be risky purchases. How can you get that car or truck you've been lusting for and stay out of trouble?
First, ask yourself if you are really ready for it. Be honest with yourself as you take a look. An older car can be a drain on personal time and your wallet. If you have a lot of social, work or family obligations, or if you have a lot of other financial obligations, it's probably best to wait. If you do have spare time and money you may be able to purchase a ready-for-the-road vehicle that has already had restorative and upgrade work done. If you're not quite ready for the big investment, but do have time and space, you may want to start with something that needs a bit of work.
Second, know the value of the vehicle you're interested in. There are several guides for determining prices on classic cars. Checking with car clubs and other enthusiasts can also be a good source of information. This is an excellent way of meeting up with others who share your enthusiasm and can give recommendations on where to look in your area. Try to find clubs that have special interest in the car you are interested in. Texas has a lot of car clubs. You'll find clubs that take in all types of vehicles, and others that invite only one particular make of car, or era of car, etc. Visit www.motorheadsperformance.com/CarClubs.html for a list of clubs.
Have a secure place to store your car. You'll need to protect your investment. If you don't have a garage or storage area yourself, check with local car clubs to see if they have group storage or recommendations of safe, secure storage.
Be prepared for maintenance costs, costly repair bills and/or restoration fees. Proper maintenance is critical for a classic car, and even routine repairs can be more costly because parts are more difficult to find and are often more expensive than newer car counterparts. Take the time to research your car so you know what the weak design points are, what parts tend to need more frequently repair or replacement, which parts are hard to find, etc. Again, car clubs which specialize in your particular type of vehicle can be a good source of information. Performance or speed shops can also be a good source of information because they're in the business of repair and upgrades to classic cars. Visit www.motorheadsperformance.com or call Motorheads Performance at 830-424-3883 if you have questions about your dream car!
Once you've determined you're ready, be a smart shopper. Here are some tips to help you make a good selection:
1) Fall is the time when a lot of vehicles change hands for a variety of reasons and can be a great time of year to look for good deals. There are people who started a project and either didn't have time to finish it, got discouraged and gave up, or ran out of money. Or, you have people who don't have the place to store the vehicle once the driving or show season is over. Classic car dealerships also generally try to reduce their inventories in the Fall, which can make it an excellent time of year to buy.
2) Find out as much as you can about the vehicle. Get as complete a history as possible from the current owner, with as many records as possible to back up information given. [We've encountered quite a few customers who were told one thing about what was in their vehicle, only to find out a very different story once we started a repair or restoration on the vehicle. One customer thought he had an aluminum block engine which had a supercharger that had simply been removed. Turned out that that the entire engine had been swaped for a run-of-the-mill engine which could not possibly have supported a supercharger (which he was looking to have re-installed). Needless to say, you don't want to find yourself here. At Motorheads Performance, we pride ourselves on our integrity and customer service. We'll give you the facts about your vehicle, and as much information as we can to help you make informed decisions.]
3) Check for obvious flaws. Has the current owner taken them into account when fixing their asking price? Don't be afraid to bring them to their attention and ask about them. Make sure you check to see if there are any alterations (body panels don't align correctly, paint is poor or uneven, you can detect body work underneath etc). A poor paint job, or panels which don't align correctly, an engine which is not usually in this make (i.e. a 6 cyl when an 8 is customary) may indicate that the last owner has cut corners on restoration. Repairs may be complicated and will therefore cost you much more. Its often better to go with a vehicle in much rougher condition than to try and "undo" what another has attempted to fix.
4) Have the car thoroughly checked by an expert. Often for $200-$300, an experienced shop which performs classic car appraisals will do a complete inspection of a vehicle. They will check for previous restoration work and condition and performance of the vehicle. They will be able to point out areas in need of repair, as well as those which will more than likely need repair in the near future. This can save you thousands of dollars and a lot of aggravation. Once you have your list, you have negotiating tools with the current owner. A good shop will give you approximate costs to make the necessary repairs as part of the appraisal process, making the cost of appraisal very worthwhile.
We wish you luck in finding your ultimate dream car. For more information or to schedule an appraisal, contact www.motorheadsperformance.com or call Motorheads Performance at 830-424-3883.