Over the past few years, collector car auctions have made their way from being broadcast only on the Speed channel late at night, to being broadcast on numerous channels and even network television during prime time. From the Batmobile to the first editions of the new Corvette, Mustang and Camaro Z28, they are drawing more viewers than ever. One of the most hyped auctions was held in a small town in Nebraska last September to sell off nearly 500 neglected cars and trucks owned by retired Chevrolet dealer Ray Lambrecht. Some of the cars sold included ones that were put in storage the day they arrived from the factory and never titled. While many of these cars could have been instant collectibles, a lack of car left cars with 3 or 4 miles on the odometer in need of extensive restoration. The remaining cars were in a Nebraska field, many being overtaken by huge trees that were merely saplings the day the car took its place in line. While these auctions can light the spark to restore your own classic car, this is the last place you need to be looking for a project car. With all the attention going to these auctions, the price you will pay for one of these cars usually ends up being more than going to Hemmings online and buying one that is turnkey and ready to go. If you are one of those people that want to do more with a classic car besides sign a check and turn the key, finding a car to restore takes time and effort that you need to be willing to spend.
Stop Watching The Velocity Channel And Start Surfing For A Restorable
When it comes to shopping for a vehicle to restore, there cannot be enough said about location, location, location. If you live in an area that gets less than a foot of snow all winter, you probably have no idea what salt, potholes and extreme cold temperatures can do to a vehicle. For example, in Ohio, if your emergency brake cable lasts more than two winters, it deserves a round of applause. On the other hand, hot, dry climate is not good for an immobile vehicle either, but there is less chance of cancerous rust taking it over. You also need to consider the location when it comes to bringing the vehicle home. Transportation companies are not cheap, and it can sometimes take weeks to find one that will give you a deal just because they might be in the general area the vehicle you want is located. This cost needs to be added to the purchase price, as it is an expense, which you will never recover if you have already spent too much. Google salvage auctions, browse Craigslist in different states, buy a subscription to Hemmings Motor News, but fight the urge to be sucked into the hype of a televised auto auction. If you do not believe me, find some old episodes of Fast n Loud and watch what happens when Richard Rawlings has a few too many beers and is caught up in the moment. Chances are you do not have a successful series on the Discovery Channel and do not have the money he does to blow on cars, if you do, then you probably have not read this far.
Buying A Basket Case Online, Pictures Are Good, But Not The Best
Say you are browsing a salvage auction 1,500 miles away from you and find the exact car you want that does not look like it is beyond help in the pictures. A reputable auction or Craigslist seller will provide as many photos as possible of key areas such as the frame, floor pan, trunk pan, roof and any other areas that make or break a vehicle’s chances of being restored. If all you see is one or two photos, contact the seller or auction company and ask if they can provide more photos. In most cases, if you show a genuine interest, they will have no problem sending you the additional pictures you request. If they say they do not have time or just tell you no, then move on, the car is probably not worth the time you spend sending an email or making a phone call. If you do get the additional photos and they tell a good story about the car, before you start negotiating, there is one more step you need to take and that is having the vehicle appraised. There are companies that specialize in long-distance vehicle appraisals, all you need to do is Google one in the area the vehicle is located. You may have to make a few calls to get the best price, but once you find one, they will use their expertise to give you a report with items you may miss even if you were there yourself. Even if it turns out that what you thought was a perfect car is a piece of crap, whatever you pay the appraiser is well worth saving the thousands you will spend just to get the car to you. Once you receive the appraisal and it is what you expected or better, then it is time to start negotiating. By this time, you should have decided on a set price you want to pay with the transport included. When negotiating, make sure that you are using your brain not your heart so you do not end up sleeping in the car you want to restore.
Patience Is A Virtue In Restoration
While most people want instant results, restoring a car will take time and probably more money than you ever intended to spend. When buying parts, make sure you follow the same rules you did when buying the car itself and avoid buying things that are not well represented or may be in worse condition that what you already have. While a perfect restoration may take years to complete, the final product is usually well worth the time, effort and money. While you may do all or only part of the work, you will still have something that was born out of your ideas and passion. Now back to the car auctions. Remember this, while you should not buy a restorable car from an overly promoted auction, there are people that have money to burn, so when you decide to sell, that is exactly the place you want to take your beautiful classic car. Maybe Richard Rawlings will have a few too many beers and you will leave with a pile of cash in your hand.
Article By: Tammy Lettieri