1. Do your research
You may already know which type of classic car tugs at your heart strings. If not, do some research online or join a car club to pick the brains of other enthusiasts. Once you’ve narrowed it down and you know the car you’d love to own, it’s time to get more closely acquainted with it. What engines were available? Were there any special editions released? What years were key updates made?
Armed with this knowledge, find a seller for your preferred vehicle. Ask how long have they had the vehicle, and what they know about its history. Also check ownership and other details, and follow up if all looks in order.
Find out free basic details on the vehicle at the Motorweb website.
2. The inspection
Inspect the car during the day, and take a careful look at any receipts for repairs and maintenance. Check that any modifications carried out by the seller have been certified. Don’t buy a vehicle that is halfway through restoration – otherwise you may inherit costly problems.
We recommend the following steps:
- Take your time. Even if the seller is peering eagerly over your shoulder, take a deep breath and don’t feel pressure to hurry the inspection process.
- Check the car body. Search carefully for signs of rust.
- Check for visual signs of any repairs. Examples are mismatched paint, and misaligned body panels. You can use a magnet to check for filler.
- Check the springs and struts. Make sure these are in good condition, or have been upgraded correctly.
- Look under the bonnet. Check the engine oil, inspect belts for signs of wear, and check the engine mounts.
- Start the engine. Does it start easily? Does it blow excessive smoke? Listen too for unusual rattles or other noises.
It may even be worth organising an independent vehicle inspection. This should give you more confidence if you decide to proceed with purchasing the vehicle. It may even be useful in getting a better price when it comes to the negotiations.
3. The test drive
Make sure the car is in good condition, and that you enjoy driving it. Take it on the motorway to check acceleration in each gear, and that it’s comfortable at higher speeds. Drive the car at lower speeds too – turn the wheel lock hard to check the CV joints, and test the brakes.
If the car fails inspection or the test drive, walk away from the purchase. As any classic car owner knows, good things take time – and unless it’s a very rare vehicle there will likely be another similar one available on the market shortly.