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How to invest in a classic car

An old set of wheels can be a shiny new investment — but watch out for risks.

Classic cars are becoming an increasingly popular investment, and some models are seeing high returns. But like any investment, your money is at risk.

Are classic and vintage cars sound investments?

Yes, they can be. But it depends on what car you have, and how rare it is. For example, a 1965 Aston Martin can go for $1.75 million, while you can find quite a few 1965 Mustangs in similar condition for around $40,000.

What do classic car investors look for?

Investors want a car that is desirable and increasing in demand. Even choosing the right color and trim can dramatically alter the value. Investors will look through auction listings to find actual sales figures and gauge the possible demand. They also want a car that is unique or rare.

Classic car experts recommend looking for a vehicle in the best possible condition that you can afford. That means little or no rust, original factory paint, an interior in excellent condition and mechanically complete, preferably running. The better state a car is in, the more it’ll be worth. Also, look for vehicles that haven’t been modified, staying true to their original factory specifications.

Documentation also adds significant value to a car. It helps an investor see how well the owner maintained the vehicle, and it makes the car more desirable to future buyers. Under your ownership, continue to maintain and add to the car’s paperwork.

What costs or risk factors should I be aware of?

Just like any investment, purchasing a classic car as a long-term speculation can be risky. The bottom can fall out of the market and the vehicle is always at risk of damage, fire and theft. Make sure you have the vehicle insured while it’s in storage. You can compare classic car insurance to get an idea of what that will cost you so you can calculate how much it will affect your possible returns.

To preserve a car’s condition, it’s imperative you have a dry storage place. Some owners use humidity tents that reduce corrosion, prolonging the car’s metalwork. It’s best to keep rubber and plastic components out of direct sunlight too, as these can degrade and devalue your investment.

Engines and other mechanical parts still require attention while in storage and should be protected against pests. If you’re new to classic cars, consider hiring a professional to help you.

How do I choose a car?

If you’re planning on buying a classic car as an investment vehicle:

  1. Set a budget. Decide how much money you’re willing to spend before choosing a car. Factor in both its initial price and any costs for restoring it. Compare your auto loan options if you’re going to finance the classic car.
  2. Decide how much work you’re willing to do. Are you looking to buy a car in perfect condition, or would you spend a little less money and a little more time fixing up a car that needs some work?
  3. Research the value history of cars in your budget. In addition to its value now, look into how much the car was worth a year ago, five years ago and ten years ago. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a car with a value that’s been steadily increasing.
  4. Research the history of any cars you might buy. Once you have your top choices narrowed down, research the production history of the car. Cars that are unique, limited edition or made as part of a small batch are more likely to have a value that increases over time.
  5. Inspect the car. If you’ve found a car you like, inspect it yourself or have a licensed mechanic take a look at it before buying. Pay close attention to issues that are likely to get worse over time, like rust or pitting.
  6. Buy the car. Once you’ve found and bought the perfect vehicle, make sure you have a safe, dry place to keep it. Check on its value regularly to decide when it’s the perfect time to sell.

Compare loans for classic cars

Name Product Filter Values Minimum credit score APR Loan term Requirements
No minimum credit score
3.9% to 27.9%
18+ years old, annual income of $4,000+, no active bankruptcies
Get pre-qualified for used car financing and receive competitive, personalized rates. Car Loans
Varies by network lender
Varies by lender
Must be a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
CarsDirect auto loans
No minimum credit score
Varies by network lender
Varies by network lender
Must provide proof of income, proof of residence, and proof of insurance.
Save time and effort with this lending service specializing in beginner-friendly or subprime car loan.
Auto Credit Express Car Loans
Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month and be a current resident of the US or Canada.
Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
Monevo Auto Loans
3.99% to 35.99%
3 months to 12 years
Credit score of 500+, legal US resident and ages 18+.
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit.
Good to excellent credit
Starting at 0.99%
Varies by lender
18+ years old, good to excellent credit, US citizen
Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out. Car Loans
Starting at 1.89%
550+ credit score, no open bankruptcies, $24,000+ annual income, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old
Get up to four offers in minutes through one simple application. Multiple financing types available including new cars, used cars and refinancing.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Classic cars can make valuable investments — but they can also be risky investments. Do your research and consider talking to a private accountant before deciding how to invest your money.

And if you’ve decided that a classic car is the right route for you, compare car loans that can help you get the perfect one.

Frequently asked questions

Picture: Shutterstock

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