Thursday, May 27, 2010

You Don't Have to be Rich to Collect Cars

Wow, what a collection eh?
Lots of people think that you have to be rich to collect cars, but they're wrong. That's right, even the every day Joe (or Jane) can and does collect cars. Sometimes they don't even know they're collecting. A collection doesn't have to be Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other cars priced higher than most houses like the collection above.
You can collect whatever you want, although I would let people like Jay Leno and Ralph Lauren deal with the really old classics and extremely rare exotics.
If you enjoy older cars then you're in luck. There are plenty of them out there for very low prices, quite possibly the lowest they'll ever go is right now.
Of course money does help, especially if you're looking for the best and rarest cars out there. But if you're a car lover like me, who enjoys cool cars regardless of price, there are plenty of great options. All you need is some knowledge, creativity, and the "drive" to find the right car and keep it in tip-top shape.
Some people collect a certain car model like Mustangs. Some collect one brand like Chevys. Others collect a certain year or era of cars like the year they were born. There are plenty of possibilities. You can collect cars that have something in common with each other, or you can do it randomly. A collection can be old, vintage, or even modern cars.
A car collection can be as small as 2 cars or as big as a thousand. But a collection isn't 2 daily drivers like your mom's minivan and dad's SUV. The cars need to be special for some reason. Special to you, special to others, and they need to be an important part of the automotive history.

Eight-Great cars that could be cool to begin an affordable collection;
While some of the following cars may not be worth anything now, they could be worth some money in the near and far future and even if they aren't worth anything, they certainly have their place in the car enthusiast world.

70's Datsun/Nissan Z

70's Toyota Celica 

Late 80's BMW M3

Mid 80's to early 90's Chevrolet Corvette

Porsche 944 & 944 Turbo

1980's Ford Mustang

1980's Chevrolet Camaro

Alfa Romeo Spider / Veloce

Eight-Great tips to finding some great cars;

1. Look for limited edition models. The rarer the car, the more special it will be which will drive up the value. Also along the same lines are 'sport' and 'club sport' models. These are rarer and more sought after than regular models, they are usually faster and look better.

2. Look for cars with some history. Cars that won races, won awards at shows, and have been owned by celebrities are always great additions to collections, although celebrity owned cars are the same as anyone else owning them.

3. Stay away from rust buckets. Rust is a car's and your worst enemy and once it starts it doesn't stop until you replace entire sections of the body. Don't buy a project car unless you want a project.

4. Buy from old folks. Often, an older person has owned a car since it drove out of the dealership, it hasn't been driven much in the past few years, and they just need it gone. You can probably bet that car has been taken care of in its lifetime and usually the owners don't want much money for it. A lot of times they don't even know the true value and you can get a great deal.

5. Go with your instincts. If something about the car just isn't rubbing you the right way, walk away from it. Your gut very rarely lies. 

6. Buy a car with some character. Some cool features that no other cars have. Something that is genuine to that make and model. Cars with character are head turners and head turnin' is assurance.

7. Get some car collecting books that will help you find cars you might not even know exist.

8. Buy the second year the car was available. Usually the first year has lots of defects and problems that the company probably addressed the following year. Although some of the most hunted cars are the first year introduced like the 1953 Corvette.

Eight-Great points you'll have to figure out before you start;

1. What are you collecting and why? The most important question. Are you collecting out of sheer interest or do you plan on keeping the cars for a time when they're worth more money? Are you collecting to enter your cars in shows? Or maybe you're collecting for all these reasons. It's good to have an idea so you can properly budget and get your priorities straight. If you want show cars, you will probably have to put in more time and money than if you're collecting out of sheer interest. If you're collecting to wait for your cars value to appreciate then you're gambling. Sort of putting money into the stock market and quite possibly never seeing it again. But there is a chance that one day, that car you were hoping would become a gem will be worth a fortune.

2. How much money do you have to spend on these cars? Although you don't have to be rich, you need to have a steady income to maintain the cars and keep them in good condition. Older cars will need more TLC and rarer cars usually have pricier parts.

3. Do you have somewhere to store the cars? A garage, a barn, a shed, a friend's place? This is important because if you keep a classic car outdoors for too long there will be visible rotting from the sun and rain that will be costly to fix and upkeep. So shelter for your cars is a must. Car covers are second best but I wouldn't rely on just that. Water and dirt still get under the cover and damage paint and body panels.

4. How much time are you willing to spend keeping your cars in good condition? Do you work full time? Are you able to spend time after work and weekends on the cars? Owning a collector car is similar to having a child. It needs love and attention and it needs to play once in a while. All cars that you want to be able to drive should be driven at least once a month, every 2 weeks is probably better. After sitting for too long, tires get flat spots, moving parts cease up, and exhaust pipes tend to rot from built-up moisture.

5. Does your significant other approve of your hobby? Some may say "screw it, I'll do what I want," but it's much easier and less stressful to have someone behind you who supports your hobby rather than complains that you spend more time with your cars than you do with them. Who knows, your loved one might want to take part in your hobby, if you're lucky. Ask her (or him) if they want to take a joy ride in the car(s) when you take it out for a spin. Maybe make a picnic day out of the ride? Bring the car(s) to family gatherings to create some family interest.

6. Do you have friends with the same interests? When it comes to collecting, racing, or buying/selling cars, it always pays to have good connections. Friends will be an extra set of eyes, hands, and wheels that might come in handy when you need something. 

7. How much patience do you have? Patience and persistence are two of the most important parts of owning classics. Locating parts and fixing problems can get a bit frustrating so you're going to need to be patient or you might screw up your whole plan.

8. RESEARCH! Before you do anything, do plenty of research. The internet is a great place to find free information. There are probably dozens, if not hundreds of websites for your car. Look into car models and which options those models should have come with. Also look into engine vin numbers and make sure all vin numbers on the car and engine match. Find out if parts are available, how much they cost, and where they are located in case you need a part quickly. Research you car's value, how much others are selling it for and if it is still depreciating. Own your car before you own it. Search for clubs, groups and online forums that support your car. These will be great for information later on. When you think you've done enough research, start over. After you're burnt out and you know everything then you can get started.

The most important thing when collecting cars is enjoying them. What's the point of owning a car and not driving it? Wasn't that what it was meant to do? Driving the car will actually keep it running well and keep you from forgetting about it. Unless you have a million dollar museum piece of a car, drive it like it was meant to be driven. 
If you have anything to add please let me know and I will gladly add it.

~M/o  "Stay up to Speed"