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Jake Hare

     Your first time can be wonderful time or a big let down but no matter what it will be a time you will never forget. No we're not talking about that….we mean the first time you buy a classic car. Now let's face it there are some pretty old virgins out there…at least when it comes to buying a classic car.  Now your saying wait a minute I have bought many cars in my life and a lot of them used. Ah my friend but buying a car to restore and buying one to drive are as different as dare I say day and night?  

     The first thing you should be aware of is- unlike a car to drive, it really doesn't matter if the car runs or not. It nice luxury to have to drive it home and in moving the car around, although you do develop nice muscle tone pushing that dead weight around the yard, but if you're serious about restoring your car, it will soon be incapacitated when you pull the engine out. But I am getting ahead of myself.  Lets begin at the beginning.

     There was a time when muscle cars  roamed free perched on used car lots like a discarded dish towel, but nowdays that has all changed.  Today, they can be found any where, occasionally even on a used car lot. One of the first places to look is specialty lots. These are lots that cater only to classic cars. The advantage is that usually these cars are fully restored and ready to go, which is just the ticket if you want a classic ride but say your mechanical  abilies are limited to pulling the dip stick.   The disadvantage to these are price, somebody has to pay for that restoration and you don't get the joy
of restoring it yourself. There is great pride in being able to say "I restored this car."  These types of lots are located all over the country and are easily found by looking in the yellow pages under the heading USED CARS.  

     You always heard the old way is the best way.  And still one of the best methods of finding a classic car is to look through the wanted ads of your newspaper.   Most bigger city newspapers even have a section devoted to classic cars.  However, don't forget to skim through the regular automobiles for sale.  Many times someone will list a Trans Am for sale under the regular Pontiac banner or group it together with a 1989 Gran Am, to save the cost of two ads. So it pays to read all the ads.

      Other places are the car corrals of a swap meet.  However, usually these cars are rejected projects that the owner has lost interest in and are ready to sell.  The good news you might get a good bargain,  the bad news it may take three trucks to get it home as it usually reassembles a giant AMT scale model.  

     The Internet has also became a place to buy and sell  cars.  There are many web sites that are available  One of the best is Deals On Wheels.  This company also puts out a magazine that is devoted to the sale of classic cars.  The website is very simple to use and is broken down by various groupings such as 1960's Mopars.  Here we found GTXs Roadrunners, Chargers even a 1962 Dart. Another good link is the  old staple of classic car buffs: Hemmings Motor News.  This magazine is the bible of finding and locating old cars and parts;, their website is just as good as the magazine.  Other sites include Classic Car Mall  and  all of which list vehicles for sale.  Some sites have photos others like just has ads. Most of the sites allow you to contact the owner or dealer by an e-mail.


      In The good ole days, as they were called, you went face to face with the buyer and it was a battle to see who would come out on top.  The seller wanting the most they could get for the car and the buyer wanting to give the less for it and you met some where in the middle.  That old fashioned policy is still the best way to buy a car.  Ands usually the first contact was by phone.  Today the first contact is done by e-mail, especially if you're shopping on the Internet.  

       Your introductory e-mail should state who you are. And saying you saw their ad on  and would appreciate a little more information.  Ask these questions:  How long have you owned the car?  If the car is restored, when did the restoration occur? Who did the restoration?  A professional restored car is always worth more then an amateurs job.  Does the car have a clear title?  A lost title or worst one that is owned by someone else, such as the bank, can quickly turn your dream car  into a full blown nightmare.  If the car is not restored and is apart ask what parts are missing? Little pieces of trim can be more harder to find than body panels, especially when buying models that are not that popular in the reproduction market.  For example it is not that important that a 1969 Charger is missing a hood, then it is that a 1971 Fury is missing tail end trim.  at the end of your e-mail include your phone number and request theirs.

       Next contact should be done by phone, if your shopping locally, forget the e-mail and go directly to the phone.  Here you can get more specific about the car.  Overall condition:, is there any rust?  If so how bad?  Right now you realize one thing that has not changed since the first black Model T was sold: "not all sellers tell the truth."  If they start telling you how great the car is and the only reason the are selling it is that grandma needs an operation take it with a grain salt, and be suspicious.  Ask more leading questions.  How bad are the quarter panels rusted out?  While your talking to the seller write down their answers.  This will help you if you are comparing more then one car.  It will also help you determining the  honest factor of the seller.  Other questions to ask include condition of the interior?  How bad is the carpet worn?  Condition of the vinyl top?  For convertibles add dose the power top work?  How bad does the top leak?  If the answer is that any parts were replaced ask if the seller has the paper work to prove these changes.  Paperwork can be repair bills or invoices for the parts.  Beofre hanging up ask these questions again.  If the answeres differ from the first time beware that "onions are in the soup." in other words things don't smell right.

        If you find the car over the Internet it will require that you travel to see the car. There are services like Buyer Services International who will for a fee inspect the car for you and even arrange for it to be shipped to you. However, unless your buying a Hemi car this not usually cost efficient. There are many ways to travel bus, or you can drive or fly.

       If the car is less then 500 miles from your home I would suggest driving.  Just be sure to take someone along who could drive one of the vehicles  back or take a trailer.  If over 500 miles best option is to fly out.  Purchase a round-trip ticket even if you have all intentions of buying the car. It will save you hassles at the airport , plus ensure that you have away home in case the car is what you though. If you do buy it, and can not transport it at that time you should arrange for storage somewhere, there always storage areas listed in the phone book and for a small fee you will be able to store you car safe and secure. You should never leave a car with the seller's while most car buffs are honest they are those that might use the opportunity to remove some of the equipment, and replace it with cheaper stuff.  So it pays to get phone numbers of storage yards before you make your trip, ask about the rates and availability.  You may want to rent the one over the phone, explain what you are doing and that in case you won't need it you might be able to get a refund.  Offer them a deposit to hold the unit for you.

       Well with our car found and our question asked and our storage area rented, we are ready to inspect the car.  We will cover that next month.