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What to look for when buying a classic car

If you are in the market for a vintage vehicle, there are several crucial aspects you should take into account

classic cars
Classic cars on the road.

There are many reasons why classic cars maintain, and even increase, their value: historical importance, achievements on the racetrack, iconic design or nostalgia for certain time periods. Characteristics like these make many collectors — and many investors — see them as a potential asset; however, to get the most out of a classic car, it is very important to examine it well before you buy it. It is advisable to be thorough and check the exterior, the cabin, and the engine.

Bodywork

Buyers should carefully inspect both the interior and exterior of a car. You have to examine the paint, the sheet metal and the different components of the body. Above all, it is very important to look for signs of oxidation or corrosion in the areas that are hidden from view.

It is also a good idea to measure the thickness of the paint (there are special devices for this) to find out about possible previous modifications. If the car is in very good condition and has never been repainted, it can be a real gem.

Interior

The same goes for the cabin and its wear, as some interior trim pieces can be very difficult to find and restore, even for the most skilled craftsmen. You should take a look at the condition of the upholstery, make sure that all the controls work and that the doors fit well into their frames.

The interior of a Ferrari GTO.
The interior of a Ferrari GTO.

Engine

It is very important to use the VIN (vehicle identification number) to find out about its past. A car has a few places buyers should check to make sure the VIN numbers match; typically, this code can be found behind the windshield (in the lower section on the driver’s side), on the driver’s door jamb or under the hood, right on the firewall.

A V12 engine with 27 liters of displacement.
A V12 engine with 27 liters of displacement.

Although some cars have their VIN number stamped on the engine, classic cars often include it on the documents too. All VINs must match to ensure vehicle authenticity. Of course, finding a gasket that leaks oil or some other liquid is not good, and it should be analyzed to assess possible future repairs.

History

If the complete maintenance history is available, the price can be much higher than that of a similar vehicle that does not have it. If the owner has been careful, the history will include any inspections, repairs, or renovations that the classic car has undergone.

It is worth taking the time to go through every document that corroborates any specific work that has been carried out on a vehicle. Of course, this transparency will significantly increase the value of the car, as classic cars with an obscure past will never be worth that much.

The VIN number of a car.
The VIN number of a car.

Once all these aspects have been checked, the best would be to carry out a running test to make sure that all the elements of the engine, the transmission, the shock absorbers and the brakes work properly.

Finally, when hiring insurance it will be essential to get travel assistance services, as the age and rarity of these vehicles can cause breakdowns more frequently than in the case of a modern car.

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