Buying a classic or vintage car is really no different than purchasing a standard day to day vehicle.
Why are you buying a classic car?
It all comes down to why are you buying the car? Understanding what your purpose is for the vehicle is the difference in being able to enjoy the experience or a decision you end up regretting.
If you choose to purchase a car that requires restoring, remember that it may take several months, possibly years, before it becomes roadworthy. If restoration isn’t your forte, there are turn-key and ready-to-drive solutions available.
Whatever your decision is, one important factor to bear in mind is that not all classic or vintage cars are a strong investment.
If you choose to buy a car that requires restoring, you’ll need to think about how long it’s going to take and will there still be an interest for it by the time you finish?
In this guide we give you a breakdown of why not all classic cars are an investment, the best places to buy a classic car, a buyers guide on what to lookout for, and what are some of the best classic cars in Australia.
Are classic cars a good investment?
The answer is yes and no.
The problem with a classic car investment is that not all models and makes are equal. Some will appreciate more than others, so it’s a good idea to know your cars before raising your hand at a classic auction.
A multitude of factors can affect the classic car market including cars associated with movies or celebrities such as James Bond and the Aston Martin DB, or the famous yellow Chevrolet Camaro known as Bumblebee from Transformers.
Scarcity or rarity of a classic car can also affect its value. For example, the Mitsubishi Evo 6, Tommi Makinen edition, is a classic collector for its rarity as well as being tied to world famous, 4 time world rally champion, Tommi Makinen.
It all boils down to demand and interest.
Many vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s have seen no price appreciation for over a decade, apart from iconic models such a Cadillac Eldorado, with research showing a further 2% drop in the collectible 1950s American car market.
However, vehicle makes from 1970s such as Aston Martin V8 and 1990s including Honda Civic DC 2 Type R edition, are now experiencing an appreciation in price as people born from this era have become more established.
Remember this, if you’re purchasing a car that needs to be restored, how long will it take and are you willing to sacrifice time elsewhere? For example, time away from your family and life. If you’re only thinking of spending a couple of hours a week on the car, will you lose interest long before it’s appreciated in value?
The key to a classic car investment is to always do your research.
Where to buy a classic car in Australia?
Unfortunately, buying a custom classic car in Australia is not as easy as purchasing a Toyota Corolla from your local dealership. You can’t just walk in and pick the luxury package, engine size, colour, and drive home that day with everything you wanted ticked off.
It’s going to take time and research to find the car you want whilst making sure you don’t get ripped off. Here are some of the ways you can explore when making a unique car purchase.
Pros and cons of buying at an auction
- Provide a diverse range of high-end cars that have never sat in a consignment dealers showroom.
- Can be accessed via phone or internet, giving you access to a larger range of cars.
- There are more chances of walking away with a steal if there are limited bidders.
- Limited options for inspection.
- If you discover any issues after purchase, there are no second chances or refunds.
- Expect to pay 10-25% extra in buyer and seller fees.
PROS and CONS of buying from a dealer
- You are able to conduct an in-depth inspection as well as use an expert inspector to check the car.
- Room for negotiation. Don’t be afraid to offer 20-25% below asking price when starting out. Lookout for any faults, giving you the opportunity to bring the price down.
- Dealers may not have intimate knowledge of the cars history outside of what an inspection might discover.
- You could pay a higher price of around 10-15% of the total sale price because of commissions.
PROS and CONS of private seller
- You deal directly with the seller which cuts out any additional fees and commissions. Collectors who are selling will also often know the history of the car and will want it to go to a good home. Their passion will generally reflect on the condition of the car.
- Can negotiate price.
- Most sellers only list on 1-2 sites. May take more time searching through ads on every car site before you find the right car.
- Can be blind sided by a passionate seller.
Get it inspected
Before purchasing a classic car, it’s always a good idea to have the vehicle inspected by an expert.
They will look at the cars exterior, engine, brakes, tyres, radiator, belts, hoses, and fluids. This is especially important if you’re not a mechanic and can help you avoid buying a car with major problems as well as give you bargaining chips.
- Always research the car your interested in. Find out what problem areas the vehicle may have and check if the issues have been resolved. For example, european classics can have electrical problems.
- Test drive the car if you can before buying it. This will allow you to get a feel for the car and also test for any issues. Listen carefully for any strange noises including squeaking, grinding and clunking.
- Have an appraiser look at the car first. They are able to provide valuable information on the car such as if it’s been in an accident, whether the engine, transmission and other vital components of the car are original. They can also provide a price by looking at the value of comparable cars currently in the market.
- Run a VIN check and get a used vehicle history report to make sure the car is not stolen, does not have any unpaid debts, and is actually registered to the seller. There is usually a small cost but it’s well worth the check.
- If you’re doing the inspection yourself, carefully examine the interior and exterior. Are all the parts original? What kind of damage is there. Lookout for any welding marks. Pay attention to the quality of the paint, are there any dents, scratches or misaligned panels, missing trim, and odd smells.
- Inspect the windscreen for any chips or cracks.
- Check the mileage of the vehicle. The lower the better, however, be aware of mileage scams. If your skeptical, pay attention to other aspects of the car that may have significant wear or damage. This can include the carpet, gear shift knob, spare wheel, tyres, and brake pads.
- Lookout for rust damage. If there is significant amounts of rust it means the car has not been maintained properly. This can also be an indication that there could be more serious problems with the car.
- Get It Professionally Inspected! This one can’t be stressed enough, always get the car inspected by a professional as it could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
TOP Classic Cars in Australia
Here are some classic cars to consider:
- 1971-74 HK Monaro GTS
- 1972 Falcon GT-HO Phase III
- 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 CID Fastback
- 1955-63 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
- 1981-82 De Lorean DM-C
- 1964-71 Mini Cooper S
- 1969 Lamborghini Miura
- 1968-1980 MGB Roadster
- 1961-75 Jaguar E-Type
- 1952-2011 Chevrolet Corvette
- 1990 Subaru Technica International STI (blue)
- 1986-92 First Gen BMW E30 M3
- 1989-97 First Gen Mazda MX-5
- 1997-2000 EK9 Honda Civic Type R
When purchasing a classic or vintage car it is important to make sure your car meets safety standards and is roadworthy.
Have a look at our vintage car restoration guide that compiles every step you will need to go through before you get your dream car on the road again. If you are considering upgrading your car to make the rides more enjoyable, we have listed the ones that noteworthy.
This includes making sure your windscreen doesn’t have any chips or cracks. Whether classic or vintage, Deans Auto Glass Perth can repair and replace all car makes and models.