Everyone has a pretty good idea of the benefits of an owning an old car: People smile and wave at you, classic cars are fun to drive, you might enjoy tinkering with something mechanical, etc. There are lots of reasons NOT to buy a classic car. Here are the fifteen obvious (and not so obvious) ones:

“This car will pay for my retirement/kid’s college/hedge against the stock market crash/all of the above.”

Sorry, but old cars are old cars. Classic cars may look shiny, but they are not investments. After adding up insurance, maintenance, storage, improvements, and sale fees you will be lucky to break even on a classic car. Everyone has heard the story of the car that cost $5,000 when new some sixty years ago and recently sold for $5 million. What you don’t hear is the car had numerous owners, costs for storage, restoration, maintenance, and insurance for the multi-generational aged car. After factoring all these costs, the net return on these cars is not that great. The five-million-dollar car mentioned above is the exception. Most of these cars are net losers as investments. Here is a more detailed on article on classic cars as an investment (https://www.sharpclassics.com/articles/15-are-classic-cars-a-sound-investment )

“I will buy a project car and rebuild it into a show car."

If you think nothing of doing minor repairs on your cars (oil changes, tail lights, etc.) and have significant experience doing major repairs (sheet metal welding, engine rebuilding, etc.), then a project car might be right for you. If you have delusions of grandeur that your superior skill set of classic car restoration will magically appear as soon as you get a project car in your drive way, think again. Classic car restoration takes an immeasurable amount of time, energy, and money. Do yourself a favor and stay away from restoring a car until you have enough experience with minor and major repairs to really know what you are about to tackle in a total nut to bolts turn around.

“If I spend $200k on a car, I will have ten times the fun as if I spent $20k on a car.”

Concourse and/or ultra-rare cars are fun to look at, but this is one case where money does not buy fun or happiness. Go to a car show and you will see a dozen people “oohing and ahhing” a 1970 Triumph while the brand-new Lamborghini is passed over like yesterday’s newspaper. Buy a car you want for you. If it is that classic that costs as much, or more, than a house, make sure you are buying the car for yourself and not to impress others.

“Draining your bank account just to buy the car.”

Unfortunately, these old cars are sink holes for cash. Many of stories have been told where a buyer brings home his new classic car only to have the trans blow up or find undiscovered rust. These repairs cost money and if you don’t leave a little extra cushion in your car budget, you’ll be swearing at the car as it sits in your garage collecting dust while you go looking for a part time job to get your car roadworthy.

“Not having winter storage."

Lots of classic cars are bought in spring and summer only to have their owners scrambling for a home for them as soon as the frost starts hitting in the fall. Buying a classic car is a year-round commitment while only using it half the time. Maybe you can store it at friend’s place or you will pay for storage, but make sure you have this figured out BEFORE you buy the car.

“Buying a classic car on impulse.”

Give yourself a solid month of reflection to see if you really want a classic car and then spend another month or so to figure out what type of car you want. Then start shopping. Classic car obsession is a disease. Once you buy one, you want another and then another. Take your time to research exactly what you want. Talk to current owners, join Facebook groups for cars you are interested in, call sellers and lob questions at them about the car. Putting your time in upfront will only make you happier once you buy the car.

“Thinking you can flip it.”

Classic car dealers have the network in place to buy and sell cars and even they occasionally lose money when flipping classic cars. After you pay the title transfer fees and possibly the buying and selling fees along with storage, insurance and repairs, it is pretty hard to make a risk-adjusted profit on classic cars. If you want to make money on these cars, figure out another service to provide for classic cars, but flipping them is not the answer.

“You are spending your child’s diaper money on a classic car.”

Classic cars are adult toys. No one needs a classic car despite how much he may want one. Make sure you have a healthy savings reserve in the bank, your monthly expenses are in check, and your overall debt to asset and debt to income ratios are above the average guy before buying vintage automobile.

“Spring Fever”

We get it. It is nice out; convertible tops are down and the drivers are headed to the beach. Classic cars have a seasonal component to their pricing. They tend to creep up in price in the spring and summer, then collapse a bit in the fall and winter. If you can, pick up your classic car in the fall when sellers would rather get rid of the car.

“They don’t make them like they use to.”

Thank the lord for that. The Apollo space ships are in museums now. Adding machines are a nondescript feature on your phone. Entire generations have no clue what a record player is or did. Compared to modern cars, classic cars are lacking in all areas: gas mileage, performance, safety, suspension, braking, computer ignition, comfort features, etc. These classic cars are old technology. Only hobbyists keep these blocks of steel and wood on the road. If these cars were made today, they wouldn’t pass the basic EPA and safety inspections.

“I can get a 6.5% interest rate on the loan.”

Getting a loan on a classic car is almost as bad as running up credit card debt. Consider interest just another cost in addition to repairs, storage, insurance. A lot of people do finance classic cars, but don’t be one of those people. You want to enjoy this classic car and not look at it as a monthly payment sucking machine every time you open the garage.

“You found a low production car made for only two years in Poland during the 1960’s.”

Yes, you will stick out around town, but good luck finding parts and someone who can work on the car. Furthermore, when you go to sell the car, you need to find a unique buyer who values this car as much as you did.   Stick with the popular, and mass produced, cars of their time. Cars like Camaros, Challengers, Model T’s, Bel-Air’s, E-types, Jeeps and MGB’s are all good choices. There are plenty of model specific clubs, part manufacturers, repairmen and clubs to help you out during your ownership of the car. There is also a deep market of buyers and sellers for these cars to give you plenty of choices when buying and lots of potential buyers when you decide to sell.

“I will keep this car forever.”

You say these words when you buy the car, but some day you will decided to sell it. Job relocation, divorce, change of interest, an illness, downsizing your house, or any other reason could be one for you to sell.

“I don’t need to tell my wife.”

Most wives are not completely on board with car that is only driven a handful of times a summer and cost some fraction of college tuition. Just don’t show up with a thirty plus year old car on a sunny day and move her Toyota out of the garage and into the street. Unlike buying a hot stock on a tip which immediately loses half its value, it is hard to stuff a ’58 Impala in the office drawer for easy hiding. Have the conversation with her before buying a classic car.

“I am going to get laid."

Sorry, this is not a John Hughes movie. Most ladies don’t care what car you drive and buying a classic car to impress them is like getting a mohawk to get run for President of the USA. Buy a car because you want one as for impressing the ladies, why not walk over to one and introduce yourself like a normal person?

Leave a Reply

Feel free to include your website as it will appear in your comment allowing users to link back to your site.

Your Email will not be published but is required.