How to Buy Classic Muscle Cars
If you are considering buying your first classic muscle car, keeping a few things in mind is important. These tips can help you find a vehicle that will meet your needs and provide years of enjoyment.
Remember, a classic muscle car isn’t an investment – it’s a hobby. Ensure you’re passionate enough to commit to the car before purchasing.
Table of Contents
1. Look for a vehicle identification number (VIN)
Like any investment, it’s important to do your homework before making a purchase. For muscle car collectors, this can mean taking a close look at the vehicle identification number (VIN). VIN decoder tools can help you discover information about a classic car’s accident history, past buyers, and market value. These reports can also help you determine if the car was ever stolen or used as a rental vehicle.
In addition to VINs, muscle car collectors should also look for a fender tag, cowl tag, or door jamb sticker that contains other vital information. These details can include engine size, trim, paint color, and vinyl top color. These details can help verify that a classic car is exactly as described in the dealer’s sales literature or private owner’s claim.
Another way to research a classic muscle car is to visit an auction or car show. This can be an excellent opportunity to connect with other muscle car enthusiasts who may have a classic car for sale or can point you in the right direction. Many auction companies, such as Barrett-Jackson and Mecum, specialize in selling classic cars. Car shows and swap meets are other popular places to find classic muscle cars for sale.
Once you’ve found a classic muscle car for sale, it’s important to keep in mind that it will require more maintenance and general automotive knowledge than a modern vehicle. Regular maintenance can include oil changes, tire rotations, and brake pads. It will also be more expensive to replace parts for older vehicles than for modern vehicles. This is due to the fact that many parts for old cars are no longer in production, and replacement parts must be sourced from specialty vendors.
2. Check the odometer
When buying classic muscle cars, make sure to check the odometer. It will help you determine the car’s true value. Some owners will adjust the odometer to make it look like they have fewer miles on the car than they actually do. However, this mistake can be very expensive if done too often. You should always be suspicious if the car’s odometer reads lower than it should.
Another thing to keep in mind when buying a classic car is that it will need more maintenance than your everyday car. Many classics are built with old parts, which can be less durable than newer models. This means they will need more frequent oil changes and other maintenance work than a modern vehicle.
Aside from checking the odometer, you should also take the time to learn about the classic car that you are interested in. This will allow you to spot any problems that may be a concern. It is also a good idea to drive the car before you buy it so that you can test it out and see how it drives.
You should also be aware of any modifications that have been made to the car. This can reduce its value and even damage it. While it is perfectly acceptable to make small cosmetic upgrades, you should avoid making any major modifications or changing the engine or transmission of a classic muscle car.
If you’re looking to buy a classic muscle car, there are plenty of options on the market. You can find them at car shows, auctions, and local dealers. Be sure to do your research before buying a car and be sure to visit a dealership that specializes in selling classic muscle cars. They will be able to give you expert advice and recommend the right car for you.
3. Check the condition of the car
Classic muscle cars require more maintenance than traditional vehicles, so it’s important to check the condition of the car before buying. A professional inspection will reveal any issues that need to be addressed so you don’t get into a money pit.
Reviewing the vehicle’s maintenance and repair records is also a good idea. This will better understand the vehicle’s history and help you make a more informed purchase decision.
Be sure to ask the seller if they will let you take the vehicle to a local shop for an inspection. If they refuse, this could be a red flag.
Muscle cars have a lot of torque, and that torque can cause significant stress on the frame. It’s important to ensure that the frame is in good shape before purchasing a classic car. A rust-free frame is essential for a long-lasting and enjoyable driving experience.
Also, be sure to look at the suspension for any signs of damage or wear. A professional mechanic will be able to assess the condition of the suspension and recommend any necessary repairs.
The frame is the most important part of any muscle car, so be sure to pay special attention to it. Inspect the spring hanger mounts, inner quarters, and torque boxes for any signs of damage or rot. If these areas are damaged, it’s a good idea to steer clear of the car altogether.
Another thing to look for is any signs of bodywork or paintwork that has been done recently. This will help you determine if the car was restored correctly and whether the owner has any prior knowledge of automotive bodywork.
4. Get a car cover
Whether you’re driving your classic muscle car on the street or storing it in a garage, it’s important to protect it with a high-quality car cover. A car cover will help keep the paint looking fresh and protect it from rusting or other environmental factors. The cover will also help prevent rodents from entering the vehicle, which can damage or even ruin the engine.
The car cover you choose will depend on the location and climate where you’ll be storing your classic muscle car. For example, desert or coastal areas will require a cover that can combat wind-blown sand and sea spray. In addition, UV rays can cause the interior fabric to fade and leather to crack, so you’ll want to choose a cover that has ultraviolet protection.
Another benefit of a car cover is that it can protect your classic muscle cars from scratches and dings. This is especially true if you park your car in a busy driveway or multi-purpose garage. Even if you are careful to avoid damaging your vehicle, accidents happen. A car cover can provide a layer of protection against dings and dents, which can reduce the value of your classic muscle cars over time.
Buying a classic muscle car can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to do your homework before making any major purchases. A professional inspector can act as a second set of eyes and ensure that the vehicle you’re purchasing is exactly what it claims to be. This can save you from wasting money on a project that’s more work than it’s worth or a car that needs more repair work than you’re willing to take on.
5. Drive with caution
They don’t make them like they used to, but classic muscle cars still command attention with their bold colors and aggressive stances. But if you plan on buying one of these head-turners for any purpose, you’ll want to drive cautiously. After all, these older vehicles aren’t as reliable as their modern counterparts.
In addition, classic muscle cars don’t have traction control systems, which means that they require drivers to use their skill and finesse to manage wheel spin and maintain grip during high-speed driving maneuvers. For these reasons, classic muscle cars aren’t ideal for highway and everyday driving unless you’re a pro driver who can handle the added challenges of owning one.
That’s why it’s important to do your homework before making any purchases and also to hire an inspector to act as a second set of eyes. This will ensure that the car you’re buying is as described in the dealer’s literature or the private owner’s claims. It will also help you rein in your emotions so that you don’t buy a vehicle that requires more work and money than you can afford to invest in at the time.
Finally, remember that classic muscle cars aren’t designed to last forever. They’re not as reliable as the vehicles you drive on a daily basis, so they require more maintenance than regular cars. This includes a more frequent schedule of oil changes and fluid checks and additional maintenance such as tire rotations and brake service. Investing in a good car cover can also protect your investment from sun damage and rust. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your classic muscle car for years to come.