Look out for the brown stuff. Rust is a killer. Even if you fix it, classic cars will not be the same. Sure, you can replace the panels, but once you begin with a rusty car it will always be a rusty car. Never again will it be a factory original. A bubble or two on a quarter panel is ok, but once you can see through the trunk and the sides and floors are all eaten up, your money will be better spent on a nicer car.
Check the numbers
Look for what are known as “numbers-matching” classic cars. This means classic cars where the rear axle, transmission and engine all link up to the vehicle’s VIN number. Number-matching classic cars will be true investment classic cars. How can you tell if the numbers add up? Majority of motors have the last six digits of the VIN number stamped on them. The rear end and transmission are a bit trickier. Often, they’ll be stamped with date codes, which you can look up to decide if the dates sync correctly. If not everything matches, it’s not a problem, but it simply won’t pay as much as all-matching classic cars will.
Low Mileage means more money
The fewer miles on the speedometer, the more the car is worth. However, do not worry too much about it. A car might appear to have 40,000 miles on it, but once you check the speedometer it says 200,000. This means the car was maintained. It should be reflected in the price. Still, purchasing high-mileage classic cars is a slightly advanced maneuver. If the car hasn’t been driven to death, you can’t go wrong. Low mileage classic cars are a sure thing.
Don’t touch it if you aren’t dying to drive it
In other words, buy what you like. Don’t just buy it because you think there is money there.
Do your research
Thanks to the internet and auto-auction shows, there’s lots of information available out there about classic cars. You can get pretty detailed and decide if the car is for you. You have to accurately access condition if you really want to compare your potential investment to other recent sales. Skip any car that’s in less than “fair” condition.
Some models of classic cars are built in smaller quantities than others. What you want, if possible, is a car that the manufacturer didn’t produce in mass numbers. The lower the production numbers, the more the classic cars are worth.
Rare options = rich owners
It might sound crazy, but even something like power windows on a classic car that didn’t normally have them can boost the value way up. It might be comfort-related, power-window related or horsepower-related. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, you could order cars and make them unique. So, if you come across a Mustang that’s a one of one, it’ll bring in more money than any of the others.
Buyers care about the paint job, particularly if it’s a rare combination. For example, a car with a bright pink exterior and all-white interior ordered by Hugh Hefner to give to the Playmate of the Year. That’s a one-of-one car, and as far as investments in classic cars go, it’s a great one.
Gas guzzlers = cash generators
Classic cars, especially classic muscle cars, with huge engines are hot sellers. Corvettes, Mustangs, Camaros… those are the big blocks. They have more horsepower and were produced in fewer numbers than the smaller size motors. These are the classic cars that don’t have great gas mileage.
1980s cars are a great long term investment
Enthusiasts of classic cars predict that the now-neglected models from the ‘Miami Vice’ era will be the next trend. However, do not think that you will be able to turn your money around next week. This is at least a 5 to 10 year investment.