People collect antique cars for a variety of reasons. Antique cars are often excellent financial investments, and many owners love to take their antique gems on the road. Simply having a unique piece of automotive history on display in a garage is a dream come true for auto enthusiasts.
What Does it Take For a Vehicle to be Considered Antique?
There is no standard definition for the term Antique Car. The Antique Automobile Association of America (AACA) considers an antique car to be any vehicle that is over 45 years old from the present date. This is one of the most commonly used definitions for antique cars in the United States. Antique car collectors and experts typically break the history of the antique car into the following three eras:
- Veteran Era. The Veteran Era starts from the invention of the first automobile (Karl Friedrich Benz three wheeled vehicle in 1885) up to 1890.
- Brass Era. The Brass Era spans from 1890 to 1918, and includes all vehicles manufactured in this time period that run on gas, electric, or steam.
- Antique Era. The Antique Era is often used to define what constitutes an antique car; this era refers to any vehicles created between from the Brass Era up to 1920.
- Vintage Era. The Vintage Era encompasses vehicles manufactured between 1920 and 1930.
The span of time included in vehicle eras is often different from country to country or from one historian to another. Vehicles manufactured after 1930 to the 1960s or early 1970s are typically considered to be classic cars.
The Gems of the Antique Vehicle Era
What makes a vehicle valuable may vary considerably from one person to the next according to personal preference or opinion. The financial value of an antique vehicle is the most common factor in what determines the value of an antique vehicle. The most valuable antique cars include:
- 1904 Rolls Royce 10 hp. A 1904 Rolls Royce 10 hp sold for over $7,000,000 at a 2007 London auction. Only four models are thought to still exist out the original sixteen that were manufactured. This was the first vehicle produced by the Rolls-Royce, a brand that continues to carry the reputation as being one of the premier luxury carmakers 2013 Rolls Royce Phantom models carry $450,000 price tags.
- 1913 Bugatti Type 18. The 1913 Bugatti Type 18 fetched over $3,000,000 at a 2009 auction in Paris. An unpopular car in its time, only seven Type 18s were built and sold through 1914. The rear-wheel drive Type 18 had a four cylinder engine with a max speed of 105mph. Only three are thought to exist.
- 1884 La Marquise. The 1884 La Marquise sold for a $4,600,000 in 2011, setting a record for the highest auction price paid for an antique vehicle. This record was broken in 2013 by the aforementioned sale of the 1904 Rolls Royce 10 hp. The La Marquise has a wood fueled, steam powered engine that has to warm up for some thirty minutes before it can be driven. With a top speed of 36mph, the Marquis was considered to be quite the racer in its time. It is thought to be the oldest car in the world that is still drivable.
- 1912 Oldsmobile Limited Five-Passenger Touring. This 1912 Oldsmobile is thought to be the only one in existence. The 1912 Oldsmobile became a national celebrity after beating an express passenger train in a heads up race, an event that was immortalized in a famous American painting. A buyer shelled out $3,300,000 for the 1912 Oldsmobile in a 2012 auction.
- 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II Star of India. This vintage era gem was built and crafted for an Indian Maharaja in 1934. Named after a famous Indian jewel, the Star of India exchanged owners several times from 1940 until it was in a 2012 auction. The Star of India is worth somewhere in the area of $13,000,000.
While auctions provide a good idea of what antique cars are worth, collectible cars are frequently sold for undisclosed sums via private sale, making the true value of some antique cars unclear. While antique cars of all eras fetch a pretty penny, the most valuable collectible cars tend to be from the 1930s onward. The 1950s proves to be a particularly valuable decade; between 2009 and 2013 four 1950s models have been auctioned off at prices ranging from $12,000,000 to $29,000,000. While pre-1920 cars might not be the most valuable antique cars as far as money is concerned, they are a priceless piece of automotive history that are coveted by collectors and museums alike.
Titans Of American Automobile: The Most Sought After Classic Muscle Cars
While General Motors may have put Oldsmobile to rest in 2004, muscle car enthusiasts around the world will remember the automaker for giving birth to the world of muscle cars.
In 1949 Oldsmobile released the Rocket 88, a model that packed a powerful V8 into a body that was lighter and smaller than most vehicles at the time. The muscle car is a true American original, with its roots firmly planted in the Motor City. Muscle cars went through a sea of changes through the 50s, finally exploding in popularity in the 1960s.
The muscle car went on to become the defining vehicle of the 1970s; their power and speed was the perfect complement to the free spirit of the decade. The muscle car remains a popular choice with drivers today; the original American muscle cars live on in modern models of the Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Camaro, and others.
Muscle cars are one of the more popular collectible vehicles in the United States. Their often affordable price, powerful and fun performance, and iconic status make for a thriving collectors market. The most valuable classic muscle cars continue to turn heads and fetch considerable prices.
How a Car Earns the Muscle Moniker
While there is some argument involving what exactly constitutes a muscle car, it is generally agreed that muscle cars are smaller, lighter bodied, two-door cars that pack a big, powerful engine—typically a V8. Muscle car purists aren't interested in the smooth, quiet, and agile performance of sports cars and luxury cars; the muscle car is meant to roar. While some might argue as to whether certain cars are indeed muscle cars, there are models that all will agree are 100% muscle car. The following are some of the most famous and most valuable classic muscle cars:
- 1968 Ford Mustang GT500KR. The Mustang GT500KR was the first Mustang built in Ford factories. Previous Mustangs were the product of automaker and designer Carroll Shelby, who is one of the significant figures in muscle car history. Shelby and Ford teamed up to make this supercharged 400 hp, 5.4L V8 monster, producing 933 coupes and 318 convertible. Buyers looking to put a GT500KR in their garage can expect to pay around $110,000, depending on the mileage and condition of the car.
- 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi. The 1969 Charger Daytona Hemi was designed with performance in mind, not style, and it shows. This Dodge was built to win Nascar races, and that it did. The 1969 Charger Daytona has a unique aerodynamic oriented style, featuring an elongated nose and tall rear stabilizer wing. While this limited edition Charger might not have the handsome looks of its counterparts; it does have a massive 7.0L Hemi V8. This rare classic typically runs anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000, depending on the engine type.
- 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda'. The 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda' model was a complete redesign of the prior Plymouth Barracuda models. Named after the mean looking Barracuda fish, the 1971 Cuda' has a front grille reminiscent of the toothy Barracuda fish. The real meanness of the 1971 Cuda' lies in its 426 Hemi engine. A hardtop Cuda' will have a price tag in the area of $340,000, with rarer convertible models going for considerably more.
- 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV. The GTO holds a special place in muscle car history; the 1964 model largely set the standard for muscle cars of the era. Pontiac added new features such as high-flow heads and special exhaust manifolds to boost the already considerable power of the 400 cubic inch V8 engine. The 1970 GT0 Judge Ram Air IV usually goes for around $80,000.
- 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. With only 69 units manufactured, the 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1 is considered to be the rarest Camaro of all. The manufacturing process involved with this model was a slow and detailed process, as each massive V8 engine was assembled by hand. The 1969 Camaro is frequently one of the most expensive muscle cars sold via auction, with prices typically ranging from $300,000 to $400,000.
- 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD455. The Firebird remains one of the most iconic muscle cars of all time. The distinct firebird design that adorns the hood was a major departure from previous muscle car designs that was met with an equal amount of praise and scorn. The Firebird packed a roaring 7.5L V8 Engine, the end result of Pontiac's goal of building a vehicle capable of outrunning the Ferrari Daytona. With a purported 0-60 time of five seconds, the Firebird Trans Am SD455 puts a lot of power and speed in drivers' hands. Collectors can snatch up one of these classics for around $75,000.
The above six models are just a sample of the most valuable classic muscle cars; collectors can buy classic muscle cars for as little as $30,000 or as much as $2,000,000. The power and driving performance of classic muscles cars is as impressive today as it was the day they first hit the road. There is no shortage of classic models available; owning of these true American classics is a dream come true for any driver that enjoys having thunderous power in their hands.
Clearing Up the Confusion with Classic Cars
Classic cars have a beauty and an allure that simply can't be matched by most of today's automobiles. Even though technology has vastly improved over the years, many drivers would agree that cars that are decades old are more visually and aesthetically pleasing.
If you're in search of classic old cars for sale, you'll want to make sure that you're well prepared for the task, otherwise you might drive away with a classic hunk of junk.
Disadvantages of Going to a Classic Car Dealership
Just like you can go to a car dealership for a contemporary car, you can also go to dealerships that cater to classic cars and might also have cheap old cars for sale if you're looking for a car to rebuild. Some of the disadvantages of going to a classic car dealership include:
- Not being aware of the initial investment of owning a classic car
- Being sucked into the glamour
- Buying a car that's probably had several owners
- The salesman not having as much information about the car as you might like
- Difficulty negotiating
Owning a classic car might take more money than you'd like to spend. If you do decide to shop at a classic car dealership, the salesman might not be completely honest about how much work the car will need before it can be driven. Educate yourself about how much money and time it takes to fully restore old cars.
You also have to remember that salesmen are just that, salesmen. They'll say anything to get you to buy that car, including playing off your emotions and any nostalgia that you might have about the classic car. Rather than act like a shark like the salesmen at franchised dealerships, classic car salesmen will try to make a sale with sweetly honeyed words. Make sure you don't become a fly. Find out as much as you can about the previous owners while you're looking at old restorable cars for sale. You'll be able to look up the car's history online and can find out how many accidents the car has been in so that you can make a solid decision about whether or not you'd actually like to buy the car.
The original owners of classic cars will know more about the car than a classic car salesman. For that reason, it's a good idea to buy your car from either an independent seller or a seller that does everything possible to find out as much as they can about the cars that they sale and all of the tics and quirks those cars might have. Finally, you have to realize that classic car dealerships are still places of business where salesmen depend on their commissions to make money. What that means for you is that you might have a much harder time trying to negotiate a fair deal for your car.
Advantages of Going to a Classic Car Dealership
Deciding to do your shopping at a classic car dealership has its advantages as well. If you're new to buying classic cars or if you're looking for old junk cars for sale, then classic car dealerships can prove to be quite a good proving ground for you.
One of the very best things about going to a classic car dealership is that you'll have a wide range of cars to look at. Believe it or not, but salesmen can actually be helpful at car dealerships by teaching you more about classic cars and helping you find the perfect car for your needs, finances, lifestyle and for whatever you'll be using the car for. Classic car dealerships also allow you to stay in one spot while you're shopping. Turning to independent sellers for classic cars might have you traveling across the country, which you might not be terribly pleased with. Classic car dealerships are also more likely to have rare models for you to take a gander at as well.
Whatever you do and wherever you decide to go, you'll always want to make sure that you're well prepared, know how much you're looking to spend and the condition that you'd like for the car to be in as well.
Hidden Costs of Owning Classic Cars
You might think that the biggest cost of owning a classic car is the initial investment, but there are additional financial considerations that you'll need to make before you decide whether or not you're ready to become the proud owner of a classic car or an old restorable car.
While many people buy classic cars because they usually appreciate in value over time instead of depreciate like modern cars, you still need to check to see just how much the classic car you've got your eye on is going to appreciate before you buy it. If you buy a car for two million dollars, you need to be certain and without a shadow of doubt that someone will want to pay you even more than that for it should you ever decide to sell it.
Before you put any money down for a classic car, do your homework to see if it's actually worth however much money you'll be spending on it. The price of classic cars is most often determined by how widely available it is, the features it has and the condition that it's in. You should also make sure that you carefully inspect the car, either yourself or have it done by someone who is familiar with that specific make, model and year of car. To find a classic car professional, you can check with classic car clubs and local classic car dealerships. Bear in mind that if you have someone else inspect the car for you that you'll most likely have to pay for their services.
Classic cars also call for classic car insurance, which is something else that you should look into before you start writing any checks. Try to find an insurance company that specializes in classic cars for the best deal. In any case, you'll want to make sure that your classic car insurance policy is for either the actual value or the guaranteed value so that you can be sure that you'll be receiving a certain amount of money should you ever total your car.
A classic car needs to be cared for carefully, which means that you can't simply park it in your driveway or in your yard exposed to the elements and blazing hot sunshine. Some classic car owners such as the actor Jerry Seinfeld have gone so far as to spend an estimated $1.5 million dollars just to build a storage facility for their classic cars. While you might not be willing to spend this much money on your old car, you should still go out of your way to keep it looking good for as long as possible. There are motoring clubs that allow you to store your car on their premises and offer such features as video surveillance, heat, air conditioning and a charge for your battery as well. If you ever get the itch to drive an older vehicle, you'll first want to make sure that it's gone through crash and emissions testing, otherwise you might not be legally allowed to drive it on the street.
Since old cars don't come with warranties, you'll have to pay for the maintenance, repair and restoration all on your own. If you've never bought a classic car and you see classic old cars for sale that you might be interested in, you'll want to make sure that you look into the maintenance costs associated with those costs so that you'll know how much you'll be spending and where you can get parts. Even though you might fall in love with a car and be able to afford it, the price of fixing it up might be well out of your price range. The prices of tune-ups for classic cars can be as little as $400 to as much as $4,000, depending on the make and model. Should you decide to enter your car in competitions and shows around the country, you'll have to pay for transportation for the car and airfare, which can cost you anywhere from roughly $1,600 to $2,000.
While not related to the hidden cost of owning a classic car, you'll still want to make sure that you go out to crank up your car every now and then in order to keep the engine from rusting, the brakes from locking up and the clutch from sticking.
Advantages of Owning a Classic Car
Instead of buying a modern car, you'll be better off buying a classic car. The reason for this is that by buying a new car you'll more than likely have to pay for it on credit and sell it for less money than you originally paid for it. When you add in all of the interest you have to pay, the cost of maintenance and repair, you're potentially wasting thousands of dollars. Should you decide to buy an old or classic car and take excellent care of it, it's entirely possible that you can sell it for much more than you originally paid for it. While you might have to pay for some maintenance and restoration, you can still make a nice profit. Think of the interest that you pay on a car loan going into your pocket rather than your lender's pocket. Before you buy a classic car, you'll need to know just what you'll be getting into with the cost of maintaining it. You can't just take it to a regular auto shop and you might have to special order parts that might be nearly impossible to find.
By buying an old car you're basically recycling, which environmentalists can be proud of. Old cars also have a history to them that new cars just don't have; you might actually feel as though you're buying yourself a piece of history should you decide to buy a classic car. By buying an old car, you'll have the opportunity to own a convertible without having to pay sky high insurance rates like you would with a newer model convertible car. If you're willing to put in the effort, time and work, owning a classic car can teach you a lot about how engines work and how to take care of a car. Thankfully the engines on older cars aren't nearly as complicated as the engines on modern day cars, which means that even the least mechanically inclined person stands a good chance of being able to take care of their own maintenance and repairs with the right resources and tools.
Disadvantages of Owning a Classic Car
One of the biggest disadvantages of owning an old car is that you'll have to do more maintenance work on it. Another is that you probably won't have most of the modern conveniences that modern day drivers enjoy, such as air conditioning, FM radio, power steering or navigation. You also won't have the modern day safety measures in your classic car, like air bags or antilock brakes. So be careful of where you drive your car and when you drive your car.
As with most things worth having, owning a classic car isn't easy, but it can be well worth if it you're fully prepared to put in the money, time and resources into taking excellent care of it. By slacking on any of these you risk losing value on the car should you ever decide to sell it as well as ruining the overall appearance of the car.