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Buying a vintage car

If you're interested in buying a vintage car, the first step is research, says Elise Ceolin, a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle owner and collector car enthusiast.

"Buying a vintage car is not easy," says Ceolin. That being said, be sure to ask for help from either someone who knows about the model you're interested in or a mechanic whom you can trust.

Since buying a collector car is quite different from shopping for a regular vehicle, here are some tips from the experts on a buying a classic new-to-you car.

Buy a car that suits your lifestyle
"Buy the car you want and can afford," says Maurice Bramhall, owner at Maurice Bramhall and Associates, classic car specialists in Toronto.

Ask yourself the important questions first, says Bramhall. For example: do you want it for parades? Will you need to go on highways? Two seats or four? Will it need to be automatic, have modern brakes and air conditioning? These will help to narrow down the wide variety of options.

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Choose a car you can enjoy with the minimum amount of frustration, he adds.

Ask the right questions
Ask the seller for the complete ownership and service history, if available, suggests Bramhall. "Obtain a professional pre-purchase inspection by a mechanic who knows the car type and period. And research the value based on its actual condition, not what is seen by an initial visual inspection."

Another important question to ask is whether the car underwent any minor or major restorations, says Ron Leo, owner of a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray convertible.

Find out if the car has been repainted and look into the vehicle's paper trail -- where it was manufactured, originally sold and any restoration documents, adds Leo. Do the work beforehand to avoid any unexpected surprises once you've spent your hard-earned cash.

The other costs
Along with the actual cost of the car, insurance, storage and maintenance costs are a necessary fact of life in the automobile world. Maintenance costs can be very low for a vehicle that has been well-maintained, says Bramhall. "But trying to reverse years of neglect and abuse by a previous owner is very difficult and expensive."

Be sure to deal with an insurance company that has experience issuing insurance policies for vintage automobiles, says Leo. And if the car will be stored for the winter, there are a few things that can be done to minimize impact on the car.

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-- Posted September 12, 2012
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