Growing up in the world of sports and collector cars, browsing the showrooms (or warehouse oftentimes) of classic and exotic car dealers was a regular event. Nothing was more exciting than walking into a dealership with my father and browsing the eye candy that lay inside. If we were interested in a car, we could talk with the dealer, look under the hood, take it for a test drive and leave with a good feeling about what we were buying.

Fast forward a few years and things have changed a bit.

Online sales and marketing has forever changed how we buy and sell vehicles. The classic car industry is largely an international business and companies such as eBay Motors, Hemmings, Classic Car, and even Craigslist make it easy for any size seller to reach millions of potential buyers with a single post. Moreover, an interested buyer can narrow in on exactly the car they want with a few simple clicks. However, with increased convenience also comes increased risk, scams and unknowns. Here are a few things to remember when buying or selling online.

Get the Picture

A vehicle being sold online is only as good (or bad) as it is represented. This means buyers must be ready to ask lots of questions and request several photos.  Photos are the closest you will personally get to seeing the vehicle yourself. You can never ask for too many photos of a vehicle, especially when many of these classic cars have issues that lie in hard to photograph areas such as rust underneath the car. In general, photos are the most important resource in purchasing a vehicle online as they contribute a large deal to the condition and quality of the car.

Ask Questions

Look for a thoroughly written description of the vehicle. This includes a write up of how the vehicle is mechanically and physically. How the engine performs and transmission operates. How the car handles and feels. What is the condition of the paint, bright work, trim, glass and interior? Also the descriptions should include the history of the vehicle.

Request Documentation

Many classic cars are from eras way before CarFax or AutoChecks. When purchasing older classics cars, buyers often need to rely on service records that document mileage and maintenance. Much can be told of the quality of a car by how it was maintained over its lifetime. With many special interest cars, it is important to look for a description of the vehicles originality as well. Check for documentation of chassis numbers that match with the original engine and gearbox numbers. There are often services that cater to this such as Porsche North America’s Certificate of Authenticity, Ferrari’s Classiche Program, and other heritage certificates.

Get in Touch

Contacting the seller and speaking with them on the phone is good idea as well. This allows questions to be asked about anything missing in the description as well as request additional photos or records on the vehicle. Remember, research and knowledge of a vehicle is your greatest asset when buying a car online. Know what a correct car would be and compare that with the seller’s description. If there are too many variances, walk away.

Get a Second Opinion

Finally, I always recommend what is known as a Pre-purchase Inspection. This is simply the buyer requesting the vehicle to be checked out by a local shop or expert. For a low fee many shops will look a vehicle over and pick out any issues that they see or things that don’t look normal. PPI’s are a report of how the vehicle operates, how the body and interior look in person, and general opinion of the vehicle by a third party. It is cheap insurance and should always be considered.

The internet has made it much easier to chase down the classic car you want. Many get excited when they see their dream car online and quickly want to jump on the opportunity to own it. Just remember to always use caution and do your research. It takes time a patience to get connected with a great classic car. As always, we are happy to help with any phase of your purchase process. Feel free to contact us at Motion Consulting and let us get you into the car you’ve always wanted.