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Car Collecting

Collecting new and used cars is a very exciting and comprehensive hobby. Although it does take more financial resources than the other hobbies on this site, it is not that expensive to get into. Many classic cars are a great investment and can appreciate in value over time much like other investments.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Auto resources. We have a Auto forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Auto how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Auto books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis


Introduction to Classic Car Collecting

Few people miss a classic car when it drives by. The unmistakable styling and the grin on the face of the driver are sure to draw attention wherever the car might be. Classic car collecting is not just about how many cars you have or which cars you have, it is about the connection you have with each vehicle. A classic car collector is a collector of history, of stories. Each vehicle has a tale to tell and the collector`s responsibility is to help share that story.

Classic car collections require a lot of work. From turning an old beater into a showpiece to maintaining the vehicle, a classic car collector can choose to spend a few hours a week or a few hours a day preparing their vehicles for show.

Ask anyone who was around when these cars were first released, and you will no doubt hear a story about Mr. Dan`s Cadillac 12 or Rob`s 1967 Chevy Camaro. Classic and Antique cars have a way of starting conversations and connecting people from different generations. Jay Leno, an avid collector of classic cars, claims he will buy a car simply for the story behind the car.

The definition of a Classic Car varies from club to club and owner to owner. You might argue that your 1987 Bostonian Edition Mercury Cougar is a classic, while someone else might say your car is just an 80s cougar with a kit. As you begin your Classic Car collection, do your homework. Study the definitions of classic and antique cars. If a car`s status as a classic is unclear and you really love the car, why not get it? It may become a classic one day.

So, now you are ready to learn about one of the most exciting hobbies around. As you begin, make sure you do your research. Many of the classic and antique cars are already found. Keep an open mind as you hunt for your cars or you might just miss the Dodge Charger in your quest for a Plymouth Barracuda.

History of Collecting

Collections vary in size. You might have two items or two thousand items. Regardless of what you are collecting, the approach is similar. You are on a quest to find something you are passionate about in an attempt to preserve it for future enjoyment. If you collect items like antiques, artwork, or vehicles, do not be surprised if your collecting hobby becomes very costly, very quickly. Due to the popularity of these hobbies, the value assigned to these collectibles is higher than, say, a postage stamp or matchbox car collection.

History of Classic Cars

Definitions of Classic & Antique Cars

Your car collecting hobby will no doubt include much debate over what is and isn`t qualified as a classic car. The cutoff for a classic or antique varies by club and country. Regardless of what you think your car is, make sure your vehicle meets the requirements of the club or group running any motor vehicle show before you shell out cash to bring your car.


Antique Cars


The turn of the century was an exciting time in car history. Perhaps the most important vehicle of all time was manufactured during this decade. The Ford Model T changed global manufacturing. Henry Ford and his brilliant assembly line design made car production less expensive, faster, and far more efficient. In a similar burst of innovation, the Cadillac Model K introduced the use of standardized car parts.


The 1910s tore away from the less powerful 6-cylinder engines and experimented with larger, more powerful engines. The Packard Twin Six offered a luxurious 12-cylinder engine for unparalleled power and a smooth drive. The 1915 Cadillac V-8 Type 51 offered a highly styled body and a powerful V-8 engine.


In the 1920s, the unit body construction of modern cars was introduced. Vehicles designed and built during this decade include the Chrysler Model B-70, the Auburn Speedster, and the 1927 LaSalle. While these vehicles are now close to one hundred years old, there are still many hidden away across the country. During this decade, annual vehicle sales averaged 5 million cars. Compare this to around 3 million a year during the Great Depression.


During the 1930s, vehicles became both streamlined and compact. Manufacturers experimented with front wheel drive, independent suspension systems, and 5-cylinder radial motors. As a result, the Cadillac 8, Cadillac 12, Cadillac 16, Buick Roadmaster, and the 1935 Dodge Caravan were manufactured. These cars were well made and developed into models that are still manufactured now. For example, the Buick Roadmaster was in production until 1992 and the Dodge Caravan is one of the most popular minivans on the market.


Classic Cars


During World War II, many car manufacturers ceased production of motor vehicles and turned to plane manufacturing. During this period of time, the vehicles that were manufactured were made to be both practical and durable. An excellent example is the 1949 Oldsmobile Station Wagon.


After the war, designers went a little crazy. Some of the cars on the road looked more like spaceships than cars. The “Fabulous Fifties” included fantasy vehicles galore. The sleek designed featured large quantities of chrome and a myriad of accessories. Wrapped, single piece windshields became popular and are still used in modern vehicles. The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, the 1957 Chrysler Diablo, the Cadillac Eldorado, and the Ford Thunderbird are all excellent examples of the huge shift in design that took place during this decade.


The 1960s brought muscle cars to the masses. These were the most powerful, attractive vehicles around. The classic styling of the Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger, and Chevrolet Camaro filled the dreams of almost every car enthusiast. While the 1960s were not filled solely with muscle cars, they do come to mind first. Another vehicle that stands out during this period of time is the Lincoln Continental. Car manufacturers also produced a myriad of compact cars for the general public.


The oil crisis resulted in an increase in compact car production and a drop in the popularity of vehicles that were far less fuel efficient. The Ford Bronco and the Plymouth Barracuda were only a hint of what was to come in the 1980s. The 1970s include the last of what can be classified as a Classic Car today. However, a Classic Car is more than 20 years old. Soon, the 1980s will be included in the Classic Car group.


While these cars are not yet on the books as Classics, there are a few standout models that collectors are holding on to until they become classics. These models include the Dodge Lancer Shelby, The Mercury Cougar XR-7, the Honda Prelude, and the Lincoln Continental Mark VII LSC.

How to Begin A Collection

Research, research, research. It doesn`t matter that you prefer the styling of the 1910s or the sexiness of the 1960s, if you haven`t conducted extensive research you will not know what to look for or what anything is worth. Building a great collection takes time, patience, and creativity. The more cautious approach described below is perfect for classic car collecting.

Ready, Set, Research!

Organization is key to building and maintaining your collection. In this section we will cover a few suggestions, from researching car possibilities to showing off your collection.

You can find local car shows or order magazines online. Your best resource when starting out will be fellow collectors at small shows. Not only will you have time to talk to them, you can get a better idea of what you will need to do to start your collection on the right foot. Who knows, you might find your first car while you are wandering around.

There are endless numbers of car clubs in the United States. Many clubs specialize in a particular makes or models like Corvette Clubs or Pontiac Clubs. Others focus on a decade or a group of vehicles, like the 1950s or Antique Cars only. You can find a club in your area that specializes in your type of collection by doing some online research.

Determine Your Classic Car

As soon as a new car leaves the lot, it isn`t worth what you paid for it. However, classic and antique cars are special as they increase in value if properly maintained. For example, a car that cost $1000 in 1930 is worth at least ten times that in today`s market. You can have your vehicle appraised by a dealer or a club. The following information provides an explanation of the theory behind the value of a collectible item. If you plan to sell parts of your collection, you may choose to research its value in the classic car market before you invest your time and money into the car.

Classic Cars And The World Wide Web

Many transactions take place over the internet. From parts to vehicle sales, the internet is an excellent place to access vehicles all over the country and the world. Research is more simple and online forums allow you to have conversations with your fellow classic car collectors around the world. Take advantage of this invaluable resource as you begin your collection. Once you are an expert, you can share your knowledge with those just beginning their online research.

However, it is important that you protect your personal information and your collection when making transactions online. Internet security is better than ever but a good scammer can trick you right out of your money or your car. If anyone “accidentally” sends you too much money and then asks you to send the money to someone else, don`t participate. Overexcited car collectors all over the country have lost thousands of dollars to this scam.

Maintaining Your Collection

Your collection is valuable. Keep accurate records of each car in your collection. Not only will you know where to find any necessary information, the better your records, the better your coverage will be if anything should happen to any of the cars.

Start your classic car collection on the right foot. Create a file for each vehicle in your collection. This file should include the following information:

• Title

• Photographs of the vehicle from purchase to the end.

• Manuals, if available.

• Parts lists for reference.

• Detailed records of all work performed on the car.

• Receipts for all work performed.

There are special policies for classic cars. In most cases, you can add each new vehicle in your collection to this policy. Many of these policies will cover the vehicles, even if you do not plan to drive the vehicle outside of your garage or a show lot. You can also attain property insurance policies that will cover the vehicles.

Be careful when cleaning and maintaining your vehicles. Be sure to use cleaning products that will not compromise older fabrics, leather, and other interior surfaces. There are many excellent products available for cleaning antiques. These products are great for your classic car.

Most older vehicles will need regular maintenance performed under the hood. If you are not a mechanic or you do not have any prior experience working on classic cars, ask a fellow collector to teach you the basics. Unlike the cars of today, classic and antique cars are far more simple to work on. There are also many excellent mechanics who specialize in classic and antique vehicles.


With any moving vehicle, safety is important. If your car was in bad shape or wrecked prior to restoration, make sure the vehicle is roadworthy. Many states require that all vehicles pass a safety inspection. If a wheel falls off while you are driving or the steering wheel locks up, you could find yourself involved in a serious accident.

Your classic car collection should be enjoyed. Compromising your safety and well being by failing to ensure that your vehicle is not a safety hazard is always a bad idea. Vehicle inspections are cheap. Basic safety features like seatbelts can save your life. You may even find a seatbelt system that can be hidden or removed for show purposes without compromising the car`s original design.