Classic cars for sale are big business these days. There is no shortage of unscrupulous people who will take your money and vanish!
To be a knowledgeable buyer, the biggest chunk of your time will be spent in what I call the homework or prep stage. Probably 70 percent of your time will be spent studying classic car sale information, researching, and consulting with trusted friends or experts as to the authenticity and details of the car. After you have done your homework, the rest is a simple buying transaction. The more prepared a buyer, the smoother and faster the transaction.
What this means is you will need to invest the necessary time and money to thoroughly research what you are buying. It is all about the preparation. The one thing that rings true is either you are going to spend the time or money to investigate your potential purchase or you hire an expert to handle the transaction for start to finish.
Three Tips to Prevent Classic Car Scams
1. Know What You Want to Purchase
The top details for clarity are knowing what you are looking for, how much you have to spend, and how far you are willing to travel. Buying a vintage classic or muscle car is an exercise in search and process of elimination. Think of yourself as a modern day Sherlock Holmes. There is no use in looking at a show car if you can realistically only afford a project car or a weekend cruiser. Because the internet has made our world smaller, do not waste time if the buyer lives halfway across the country and you are only willing to buy locally.
Check the NADA price guide so you have a ballpark of what the car will cost depending on condition. If the deal is too good to be true, (Are you really going to buy a 1969 Camaro in great condition for $5000?) then it could be scam. If you contact the seller and they insist on wiring a deposit, then you will know for sure it is a scam. Guaranteed you will never see the cash again!
2. Research Your Vehicle
Buying a classic car has become serious business. Classic cars for sale are now selling for what I paid for my first house. Would you buy a house with out having a house inspection? Probably not. The same goes with buying a muscle car for sale. Do your research. Get as much information as you can about the make, model, and year, and options of the car. The more educated you are about the car, the better you can negotiate if needed. And it also indicates to the seller that you know what you are talking about.
The internet makes it easy to do research. Join a forum that is focused on the type of car you are looking to buy. I know serious car collectors who will not buy a car unless they bring in an expert or guru to look at it first. If it is good enough for them, it is probably an idea you may want to consider. There nothing wrong about not knowing everything about a car. You definitely want to avoid paying for what looks like a highly desirable car only to find out that it is a clone.
Many people have saved themselves thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars just by paying an expert to inspect and document a car. If the car is extremely desirable and rare, the old adage of you can pay me now, or you can pay me later applies. Either hire an expert, or talk with someone you trust who can help you look at the car. Online car forums and clubs are great resources for this type of information.
3) Make Sure All Your Questions Get Answered
Do not be afraid to ask questions. Having clarity gives you the confidence to make a buying decision. This serves many purposes. Before you physically look at the car, contact the seller and ask the important questions. Here are a number of key questions to ask the seller even if the details are not mentioned in the ad (This can double check seller credibility if they really do know the details about their car). I find asking questions in categories is useful in organizing the information.
Engine, Drive Train, Options
* What is original to the car? (Engine, transmission, differential)
* Drive train specs (hp, engine size, rear axle ratio, transmission type)
* Options – A/C PS, PB, Vinyl roof, trim packages
* How does it run?
Body and Interior
* Interior color and condition?
* Body panels original, any accidents, frame damage, paint and body panel condition?
* Currently inspected and roadworthy or project restoration car?
* Mileage and any known mechanical problems?
Title and Price
* Does the car have a clean title?
* What is the asking price or at least a ballpark figure
How does it look?
* Can you get detailed digital pictures? If so, get A LOT so you can see every detail.
* Send to experts or post on a forum for opinions. The seller may think the car is all original, but may not know. An expert can spot the obvious.
* Will they allow you to bring in an expert, or independent third party to inspect and verify the car (If not, RUN from the deal. Do not walk)
* Is there a place locally where you could arrange to put the car up on a lift and do a visual and physical inspection?
This may sound like a lot of work, but it is fundamental for a solid transaction where you get exactly what you want.
The best piece of advice I can offer is to remember you are in control of the transaction. If there is something that does not feel right about the car or the seller or anything related to the transaction, let it go. This includes being pressured by a seller to make a quick decision. If a deal is going to work, it needs to be natural and a win-win situation for both parties. There is normally something fishy going on, if a seller starts to hard close a deal. There is no use in trying to force a deal to work from either party.
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