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Second Hand Car Buying Tips

Second Hand Car Buying Tips

Buying a second-hand classic car is risky business. It is a different story though for those with the knack for picking the right set of wheels. Choose well and watch the money-spinner draw in more than just admiring glances.


NRMA motoring researcher Russell Linfoot throws Foxtel’s A&E fans a couple of pointers on what to keep in mind before parting with your cash.

First of all, if the price tag seems too good to be true, that is likely right. Prices are generally dependent on condition. Those hoping to save money at first, be prepared to endure even more cost and trouble in the end.

Linfoot, a past president of the Veteran and Vintage Chevrolet Automobile Association of Australia, prefers buying a car that is already restored, compared to taking on the restoration. When picking between two vehicles, his preference goes to the vehicle with the higher standard of restoration.

Also consider whether the car is for show or for touring with car clubs in rallies. The later the model of the car, the more comfortable it is on a long trip.

Linfoot says there are exceptions but the broad rule is that a collectable priced less than $15,000 would require serious restoration work. He recommends a buyer be prepared to shell out above $25,000 for a useable ride. It is also critical to research and attend auctions to get an idea of price. Car magazines or journals are also good guides for determining value.

Obtaining spare parts can also prove a headache with old vehicles, but that can also be a lucrative business. Linfoot has one word of advice for those who stumble upon a stock of old spare parts (springs, axels, globes or even spark plugs) – make a bulk purchase. If buying an old car, also be prepared to carry around a range of spare parts, including tyres.

Linfoot also cautions that vintage era cars (produced between 1919 and 1930) have virtually no safety features. That includes rudimentary two-wheel brakes, heavy steering, leaks on a wet day, oil fumes and poor ventilation in the cabin. Special lubricants are required for the engine and gear box. To make things even more challenging, these lubricants often are no longer available over the counter.

For those looking for what’s hot in the market right now, Linfoot points to the post-war cars from the 1950’s and 1960’s which offer more in terms of comfort, speed, safety and styling.

There is a lot of chrome which people love, fins, wrap-around windscreens and lots of features that stand out from today’s car. Examples with a very strong following include the Dodge Phoenix, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Thunderbird, Aston Martin and the early Holdens,” says Linfoot.

Meanwhile, those looking to sell their old vehicles should keep these tips in mind. Originality is an important feature to expect a high price. Ensure the paintwork is well maintained and in good condition. Body or panel damage will detract the car value. There should also be no oil drips, as that can stop a car from being re-registered.

All the electrical systems in the car do deteriorate over time and suffer from age. Make sure the engine is regularly started and kept in tune for an easier sale.

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