Buying a car can be the second largest investment of a person’s life, yet some people don’t search nearly hard enough for a good deal. That’s especially true when it comes to classic cars, which can be sold in any number of places—not just dealerships, as with new cars. If you are shopping for a new-to-you ride, here are five spots to look outside of general auctions, Craigslist, and dealer lots.
Farmers generally appreciate mechanical things, meaning a classic or two can often be found on the back 40 of a farmer’s acreage. This market has been getting more attention over the last few years, thanks to outfits like VanDerBrink Auctions and the large collections of cars it has sold. Like an estate sale on steroids, a fast-talking auctioneer walks the property with the crowd of bidders and sells items as-is, where-is. A savvy buyer who can spot a diamond in the literal rough will find themselves right at home, often discovering a lot of car for a minimal spend.
Anytime someone is willing to open their garage door, you might find something dusty and forgotten in the corner. Cruising around town on a Saturday morning can often uncover any number of houses with items ready to find new homes spread out in the driveway. Just looking around and asking questions about the car-shaped tarp in the corner of the garage or yard might get you farther than you think. Like Barn Find Hunter Tom Cotter says, you’ve gotta be attentive, friendly, and also persistent. It helps if you can break the ice with a classic of your own, which shows you’re already a member of the tribe.
Police and government auctions
Often poorly advertised, police and local government auctions can be a smorgasbord of cars. Often vehicles which were abandoned or impounded and went unclaimed find themselves at these sales, sometimes a classic or two appear among the clapped-out Dodge Neons and Toyota Camrys. In the case of one northern Michigan car, a Plymouth GTX sat in a storage unit for years, and when the property owner wasn’t paid the car was turned over to the police. Not a bad way to discover a 1969 Plymouth GTX 440, although the current high bid doesn’t look like much of a deal.
Though slightly morbid, the old saying that “you can’t take it with you” holds true. Estate sales can be a place to purchase a person’s greatest treasures, including that polished beauty in the garage. Often times the companies which process estate sales research everything to be sold, ensuring the family is getting fair money for their items. It might not be a deal, but paying fair money for a great car has never hurt anyone.
If you want to buy a car, go where the cars are. This seems so simple, you’d be surprised how few people actually employ this method. Walking the rows of a car show or cars & coffee event could put you right next to your dream car—and in a conversation with an owner who might be willing to sell. Strike up a conversation. At the very least, you can get their contact information to stay in touch, and they might even know someone in their local car club who is willing to make a deal.
Is there one we’ve left out? Are you willing to share exactly how you got your dream car into your garage? Tell us about it in the Hagerty Forums below.