With studies showing that shoppers are doing more of their purchases online than in stores, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to make that everyone has bought something online or at the very least paid for something online. So it should come as no surprise that more and more classic car collectors are searching online for their next big purchase.

Online shopping sites, notably Kijiji, autoTRADER, eBay, and Car Nation Canada, have made classic cars much easier to find and purchase than ever.

Here are 5 things to consider when buying a classic car online:

What Type of Classic Car Do You Want and Why? 

We often get carried away with browsing images and being wowed by the beauty and condition of some of the classics available. If you’re considering a classic car, what’s the purpose of buying the said vehicle? To drive, to restore, to show off, or as an investment? The different reasons for buying a classic car may lead you down different paths, models and even initial investment amounts.

Do Your Research

So you know what car you want, now take some time and research. Learn as much as you can about your future classic, it’s history, costs for parts and servicing. Use reputed resources to research the value range of your desired vehicle. Perhaps verify or join your local owner’s/enthusiast’s club or discuss with professional appraisers. By the end of it, you may end up knowing more about the car in question than the seller!

Have a Budget in Mind and Stick to It

This is the one best practice guideline that often goes ignored. Buyers can sometimes get caught up in the idea of owning something out of their established budget. Remember, this is a passion purchase, so it’s best practice to keep a set budget in mind so your heart doesn’t
lead your wallet astray.

Buyer’s tip: Don’t expect to find your car in your immediate area. So, consider allocating a percentage of your budget for transport.

Only Utilize Reputable Online Resources

While this should go without saying, always use reputable resources for online transactions. Typically, these resources have Terms and Conditions in place to protect certain aspects of the transaction, and many offer escrow services to protect you from online fraud by ensuring money doesn’t exchange hands prior to all the terms of the agreement being met.

Once you find a model, and a price that works within your predetermined budget, it’s time to contact the seller. Many sites provide a method of communicating with the seller that ensures a logged exchange between the seller and buyer, should it ever be required at a later point in time.

Ask your initial “qualification” questions, which typically involve gathering any information you felt was missing from the description. Keep your questions specific and look for precise answers. This is a fact-finding mission, not a negotiation (at this point).*

* It is also OK to perform this step by telephone, but ensure to follow up on the information obtained by either email or through the website’s communication portal, asking the seller to confirm the summary of your discussion and the facts stated.

Do a Pre-Purchase Inspection 

Once you’ve had your questions answered to your satisfaction, you should invest the time (and money) to see, test drive and thoroughly inspect the vehicle. This should be done regardless of the vehicle’s location. Seeing and having the vehicle inspected by professionals is a wise, if not required step of purchasing a classic car. Obtaining the service records is also a safe and recommended way of transferring knowledge about the car’s history.

It is suggested to schedule your required appointments for mechanical inspection, authenticity of vehicle parts, test driving and any other verifications required such as fuel emissions tests, or appraisals. This ensures a smooth process of getting all the information you require to make an educated decision about the classic car purchase.

If everything adds up and you’re happy with all the information you’ve obtained, the vehicle and price, then we wish you the best of luck with your purchase. Just remember, the safest transaction method is to avoid the use of cash. Legitimate sellers should have no problems with certified cheques or escrow services.

Happy shopping!

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