Don't Just Kick the Tires: 3 Considerations Before Buying a Classic Car

Don't Just Kick the Tires: 3 Considerations Before Buying a Classic Car
Classic Cars Charlotte

Classic car connoisseurs may get hooked by a memory of a high school date, a first drive or a grandparents' gift. Whatever the inspiration to find and bring a vintage vehicle back to its original luster, restoring a classic automobile is a labor of love — and often of money.

Take it from Bob Crawford, one of dozens of classic car and motorcycle enthusiasts who offered a look under the hood of their prized possessions at the 2014 Matthews Auto Reunion and Motorcycle Show.

"It takes time, and sometimes more money than you'd imagine," he says, to get just the car and just the look you're after.

Crawford, who brought his restored bright red 1965 Corvette Roadster, knew he couldn’t restore the car on his own when he purchased it from a man in Richmond, Virginia, in 2004.

“It was far beyond what I could do, but I knew what I wanted,” he said. The restoration took nearly three years, and the classic car restoration work was done by two men in Spartanburg, South Carolina. They rebuilt it from the car frame, replaced the instrument faces, recovered the upholstery and added a new soft top. They finished it off with the bright red paint, Crawford’s favorite color.

RELATED: Tips for buying your first classic car

Crawford, like many car club members, said through the restoration process he learned more about owning a classic car, and also more about investing time and money in a classic automobile.

If you’re considering buying an old model, for nostalgia or an investment, here are three things to keep in mind:

1. Know your spending limits

Classic car restorations can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000, experts say, depending on the car's condition and what you'd like to have done.

Crawford says he spent “thousands and thousands” of dollars on his Corvette.

He has since bought an old Chevelle that he’s hoping to restore. But he went into the process with his eyes open. “I knew I couldn’t do it, so I’d be paying someone else,” he said.

2. Know your professionals

Ask around about restoration services and check recommendations on Angie's List. Also follow these 10 tips before hiring a professional car restorer.

3. Know your heart

Crawford is thrilled with the result and enjoys driving his bright red Roadster mile after mile. He’s driven all over the Southeast, including a lap around Lowe’s Motor Speedway as part of a classic car event.

“Not everyone wants to ride around after they’ve spent all that money on them,” he said, “but I drive it as often as I can.”