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5 Things to Expect When Buying Second Hand Classic Cars

Many people would say that buying a classic car today represents one of those things that sounds better in theory than it looks like in practice.
 
In other words, you might think you want to buy a secondhand classic or antique car without thinking through some of the challenges of keeping one of these vehicles around (like classic car insurance, for example.)
 
On the other hand, these cars can be an excellent investment and carry their value. If you are a real gearhead, fixing up and restoring one of these beauties can be a rewarding experience.
 
With that in mind, here are some of the top things to consider if you are in the market for a vintage or antique used car.
 

Up to Code?

 
First of all, it's important to expect that many of the systems on the car you buy will not be in the condition that you need them to be in to really use this car and drive it around.
 
One of the best examples has to do with the fuel system. Many classic cars still have actual carburetors. This system is profoundly out of date and obsolete. You can expect it will take dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars to get this auto system to work practically for modern driving, not to mention vintage car insurance and other costs. 
 
Modern cars, instead, have a fuel injection system of the kind that mechanics are used to working on. The parts industry is oriented towards producing these types of equipment – nozzles, etc. The old carburetor system is going to be challenging to work on.
 
There are many more examples like that, too. Vehicle technology has exploded in the time between now and when your classic car was made. That's one of the biggest challenges to keeping one of these cars on the road.
 

High Total Cost of Ownership

Think about this, too: you should expect to have a relatively high total cost of ownership or TCO for a classic or antique car
 
Even if you're only driving it several times a year, you will still need to have that car in a certain condition to get it on the road. Parts and labor will be more expensive than they would be on your average family car. All of this will contribute to a more expensive bill for your legacy automobile and its inclusion in your garage.
 

Specialty Insurance

 
When you have a classic or antique vehicle, car insurance is likely to be a lot higher.
 
One reason is that the old cars weren't built with the modern safety features of today's vehicles. There's also the risk of operating something with other obsolete technology, like the fuel system mentioned above. There may be risks associated with the less regulated speed controls on the classic vehicle or anything else.
 
Experts point out time and time again that classic vehicle insurance costs a lot of money. Don't neglect this calculation as you come up with the total cost of ownership, including collector car insurance or classic car insurance, for keeping one of these vehicles yourself.
 

Expect Old Tires

Here's a side point on what to expect when you're shopping for an antique or classic vehicle.
 
Don't expect the tires and other replaceable gear to be in excellent condition.
 
The sellers aren't going to have these vehicles looking like they just came off of the factory line. They're antiques – and you can expect that a lot of the less durable items, like tires, are going to need to be replaced. You can also expect to do some additional research on how to get these out-of-date items for your car.
 
Some people actually recommend keeping a second model of the same car on hand for parts. But even that won't help you with the tires – you'll need to have a trusted tire supplier who has this type of thing in their inventory. And that alone is going to cost more money as well.
 

Prepare for Less Use Daily

 
One more thing you can expect with an antique or classic car is that you won't be behind the wheel of it every day.
 
Some auto bloggers and others talk about why this is. They explain that a classic or antique car isn't really that practical. You're not likely to use it to commute to and from work or pick up kids from after school events. You might not even have enough modern seat belts to go around, and don't even think about airbags, which only came on the market in relatively recent years.
 
So that's another thing to keep in mind when you're buying one of these vehicles. It's not as practical for daily transportation. It's probably something you're going to keep in a garage and take to shows or enjoy on special weekends or occasions.
 
When you set your expectations correctly and get adequate vintage car insurance, you can expect to have fun restoring an old vehicle. When you neglect to think about those costs of ownership above, you can run into unpleasant surprises after you sign the title.
 

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