2 December 2007

A Moving Experience

The ins and outs of collector car transporting

So, you’ve done it – you’ve bought a collector car. Problem is, your new purchase is half a continent or more away from your home. Should you try to drive it back yourself? Hire someone to haul it for you on an open trailer? Or call one of those companies with the big enclosed transports you see at the collector car auctions? The answer depends on your car’s condition, the distances involved and the level of services you need and are comfortable with, among other factors.

Leave it to the professionals

First off, let’s dispense with any notions of driving your “new” old car home any great distance. Trust us, you’ll want to get to know your car thoroughly before taking it on the open road.

“Adventures” involving clogged fuel filters, overheating and shorted electricals make for good stories in the club magazines, but are no fun to live through. Also, when you add up the lodging, food and fuel costs to get there and back, it likely won’t cost that much more to have your car professionally transported.

Finding potential transporters can be easy. Page through most any collector car magazine or search online to find ads and listings for haulers serving the collector hobby. They range from long-established major carriers with fleets of liftgate-equipped, enclosed double-deck multicar transports to independent operators using a heavy-duty pickup pulling a one- or two-car trailer. Seek recommendations from collectors, restoration shops and collector car dealers in your locality.

Before setting up your haul, you will want to have your own full-coverage agreed-value insurance on your vehicle. The most important thing to understand is that the carrier’s insurance covers them, not you. If they are liable for significant damages, their insurer will provide your settlement. The law is very clear about who is liable for what – and you may be less protected by the carrier’s insurance than you think. Having your own coverage in force before the hauler picks up your car is the best insurance.

Open or closed carrier?

The most significant decision you’ll need to make is whether to have your car brought on an open or closed carrier. Experienced collectors agree that, if your car is restored, rare and/or valuable, the risks of transporting it exposed to the elements and the unforeseen on an open carrier far outweigh the added cost of shipping it in an enclosed transporter.

Another consideration is that open transports (and some closed haulers) use ramps for loading. Damage – both cosmetic and mechanical – from ramp-related incidents is unfortunately not uncommon. This is why major collector car carriers have equipped their enclosed trailers with power liftgate elevators that keep cars level when loading and unloading.

Rick Renner, managing director of FedEx Custom Critical Passport Auto Transport, says there has been an upswing in collectors shipping with commercial carriers over the past few years. “Insurers know that many claims from collector car owners are the result of damage caused by haulers that don’t have training and experience in loading, tying down and transporting collector vehicles,” he adds.

Finding specialized services

Although offering “door-to-door” service (as opposed to delivery to a shipping terminal), some over-the-road haulers may not be able to literally put your car in your driveway. If you live in an area inaccessible to large tractor/trailer rigs, you may have to meet them some distance away to get your car. Horseless Carriage Carriers Inc. in Paterson, New Jersey, addresses the situation with haulers designed specifically to facilitate close-quarter loading and unloading in space-constricted cities.

There are smaller, well-established transporters that serve regional areas and/or haul only to specific urban locales. Their customers usually deal directly with the owner when contracting for a haul. Prices are generally competitive with the nationwide haulers. Self-employed owner/ drivers also offer transport services, usually through classified ads in the hobby publications. Seek unbiased references and request documentation of proper licensing and insurance if you consider a hauler in this category.

Internet “car transport” searches bring up brokers for wholesale used car haulers that move later model vehicles on open multicar trailers. Their rates may be lower than the collector-car specialists. Riding in the open, your car may be loaded and unloaded several times on ramps and can spend more time outside in a holding yard. You may also have to take delivery at a shipping terminal. Seek price quotes once you’ve identified several potential transporters with the services and equipment you feel is right for your vehicle. Many transporter Web sites now have forms that can be filled out to request a quick initial estimate for your haul. Expect to pay more for priority service if you request a specific delivery date.

The transport company will have inspected your car prior to loading and the driver will do so again after the unloading is completed. Be sure you agree with the transporter’s report. Inspect your vehicle carefully before signing off on its delivery. Then, with the car safely “home,” your adventures in collector car ownership can really begin.

Additional valuable information regarding the transport of collector cars in the United States, overseas shipping and trailering can be found in brochures you can print or download at hagerty .com/NewsStand/freebies.aspx. What’s more, Hagerty Plus members save 10% on transportation costs with FedEx Custom Critical Passport Auto Transport and enjoy preferred booking with Intercity Lines. Visit hagerty.com/MemberDiscount/discounts_index.aspx for details.



1. Make sure your car is clean at the time of pick-up and take digital photos showing its condition.

2. Provide starting and operating instructions for the transport driver, including location of hidden switches, among other things.

3. Charge the battery and be sure there is adequate antifreeze protection for climate conditions that may be encountered along the route and at delivery.

4. Don’t fill the fuel tank, but leave some gas. A quarter tank is ideal.

5. Review the transporter’s policies and, if permitted, carefully package and secure any loose items in the car’s trunk or interior. Make sure they won’t block driver visibility in any direction.
To see this article in its original format, view the pdf version of the Winter 2007 issue of Hagerty magazine.

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