Mar 26, 2021

Is the Cost to Own a Classic Car Worth It?

The Pit Boss

It's no secret the cost of owning a classic car can add up quickly.

My love of classic cars is immense. I can thank my dad for instilling that love inside me from a young age. The rumble of a big-block V8 is unmistakable and can’t be recreated in today’s cars no matter how hard car manufacturers try.

There’s just something timeless about old cars and their sleek looks. The curves, the intricate headlight designs, that old-school smell as soon as you open the door. Yes, it was a simpler time and the cars were straight-up rad. It makes sense that they command a lot of money these days, and for good reason. If you’re lucky enough to own or buy a rare piece, there’s no telling how much you can get in return for one. But, because most of us aren’t millionaires and can’t afford to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on the spot, you have to start at the bottom. When it comes to classic car ownership, navigating the ownership waters can be tricky.

Classic and antique car

Classic cars are fun to look at and a blast to drive. However, if you aren’t careful, what once began as pure enjoyment can quickly turn into a stressful situation. Most people who spring for an old car don’t do their due diligence before purchasing one. Yes, most customers buy them simply based on the fact that they gain value year after year, however, that isn’t always the case. There are certain makes and models that command more money, while there are others that regress in value. So, before you empty your bank account for a cool-looking muscle or classic car, you need to do some major research.

Curious of the cost of a classic car? It depends on what you want.

You’ve found that perfect classic car but just aren’t sure if the asking price is worth it. You’re not alone; many first-time classic car owners have been in the same position. First and foremost, you need to understand old cars are unlike newer cars in every way. You thought to know the maintenance history of a new car was important, it’s a requirement before you even think about entertaining the idea of owning a classic car.

My advice? Don’t overthink this. You need to shop for the right buy. Expect to pay between $20,000-$35,000 if you’re looking for a road-ready classic car. The price is almost always broken down by the following factors:

  • Age
  • Manufacturer
  • Vehicle mileage
  • Original condition
  • Car color

Compare the following cars. 1970 Chevrolet Corvette vs a 1962 Corvette. Both have the same vehicle condition, mileage, color, and manufacturer. You’d think it would be the same price, right? You’re forgetting one major factor; age. Older cars, especially muscle cars, will command more money simply because they are rarer and in demand. It can get tricky but as long as you have a firm grasp on all of the above factors, negotiating price will be much easier.

Fact: classic car maintenance will keep your hands full.

Classic car maintenance

It’s go-time and you’ve picked the car you want. The price is within your budget and you’re ready to write that check. Have you done your due diligence? Make sure you do these before signing on the dotted line:

  1. Get a professional mechanic to inspect the car first.
  2. If there’s rust, don’t bother.
  3. Make sure the engine, transmission and rear axle match the VIN
  4. Understand the cost and availability of aftermarket parts.
  5. Will you drive it or will it stay in the garage?
  6. Figure in the cost of upkeep.
  7. Research classic car insurance costs.
  8. Locate a trustworthy mechanic.
  9. Make sure it’s the car you want.

All of the above will help you decide whether the purchase price is worth it. Always remember that old cars will require maintenance no matter what. Think of it like having a baby. It will need constant TLC, but the trade-off is you’ll get stares and often stopped to talk about your ride.

After you buy your car, it's time to start looking at insurance to protect your prized possession and help with the cost if anything were to happen. Take a look at the famous Hagerty Insurance for collectable and rare cars.

It’s a sense of pride to own a classic or muscle car, you just need to put in the work to reap the reward.

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