Investing in Classic Automobiles

The market for classic and special interest automobiles and muscle cars has steadily expanded, resulting in increased demand for certain makes and models and driving (pun intended) the prices of many cars substantially higher. Additionally, the hobby which has grown around owning and restoring classic vehicles has burgeoned, and the ability to share information via the Internet among collectors has further fueled interest in these vehicles.

1932 Duesenberg Model J Town CarWhy Consider A Classic Car?

As with any investment, it is advisable to become educated about the subject matter as thoroughly as possible before taking the plunge and investing. An excellent place to begin is with the “bible” for this hobby, Hemmings Motor News which appears in major bookstores monthly and is a comprehensive publication of cars for sale throughout the country and abroad, dealers of collectible cars, restoration services, general information, and value comparisons. The sheer number of “marques” (makes) of cars which are no longer manufactured is almost overwhelming. Oakland, Packard, Cord, Duesenberg, and Auburn are just a few of the many automobiles whose scarcity makes them desirable to collectors.

What are Muscle Cars?

With the aging of the “baby boomers” has come the increased interest in “muscle cars.” These are the cars of the late 1950’s through the 1970’s, gas guzzlers with big blocks (motors) that drove fast and furious – the Chevrolet Corvette, the Pontiac GTO and Grand Prix, and the Plymouth Road Runner to name but a few. Many Boomers came of age behind the steering wheels of such Detroit machines, and now that their generation is retiring, often with accumulated expendable income, it has become popular to purchase such cars to try and recapture the days of past youth. This has resulted in huge price increases in the muscle car genre.

What is a Gear Head?

Someone who really knows the mechanics of automobiles, how to repair them, and how to restore them is popularly referred to as a gearhead. Unless a potential investor falls solidly within that category, to protect oneself it is recommended that upon deciding to invest in a classic car, a dealership devoted entirely to selling such automobiles be contacted.

The Internet is a source for all things automobile, including investment quality special interest cars, but as in many items for sale, care must be exercised not to fall prey to unscrupulous practices. Restorations of classic cars can be accomplished in many ways, many incorrect, resulting in an investment that isn’t worth the asking price. Consulting dealers who have been in the business of selling classics for years helps ensure that the investor will be given good advice and treated fairly and truthfully.

Many quality restorations will come with the accompanying paperwork detailing the work done. The history of the car is another facet which when documented can add to the overall value. Other factors can be low original mileage, ownership by a celebrity or historical figure, or where the car spent most of its time (i.e., California cars don’t seem to “rust out” as there is no need to use road salt as in other states). And don’t forget about the cost. Prices range from the very modest to millions of dollars for a rare Ferrari or Mercedes.

A final consideration in the decision to purchase a classic or muscle car is the sheer enjoyment of being able to drive it (in good weather of course). The limitations surrounding a pile of stock certificates are apparent, but a classic automobile can be driven to and exhibited at the local car show where other enthusiasts can admire it. And that’s fun!

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