3 Tips for Buying a Muscle Car

Buyer beware? Damn straight when it comes to muscle car collecting. Many supposedly super rare muscle cars running around out there today aren’t what they seem. Identifying plates can be faked, numbers can be re-engraved, or some muscle cars simply didn’t come with enough corroborating codes to begin with. Legendary collector Floyd Garrett offers up a few tips on how to make sure you get what you pay for:

1. Do your homework. Know which machines to investigate – and which to walk away from. Find out where to look for VIN codes, trim tags and build dates, among other things. Be familiar with what these codes mean and make sure all numbers match. Hagerty Plus has two pamphlets – Researching Your Collector Car and The Paper Trail: Title and Registration Basics – that can help you research a car’s history and begin the title and registration process. To request them, call the “Ask Hagerty” Concierge Service at 888-310-8020, option 3, or you can download a copy on the “Freebies” section at hagerty.com/library.

2. Get full factory-supplied documentation. Don’t even consider dropping big bucks without seeing printed documentation. The best way to guarantee the car you’re pursuing is really right is to see some or all of the papers – original invoices, bills of sale, window stickers, build sheets and tank stickers – that came stashed inside, plastered on or handed over with said vehicle when new. But what if you’re really hot for a car that can’t be confidently documented? “If there’s no paperwork, at least get a reduced price,” Garrett recommends.

3. Know the person you’re dealing with. Working with a renowned, reputable collector or seller may well be the only saving grace in this whole crazy market, what with some muscular models selling for more than a mill and all. Rarity is the driving force behind these huge numbers, and, as Garrett explains, “The rarer the car, the more important it becomes to know exactly who you’re negotiating with.”

Dave Kinney is publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide.
To see this article in its original format, view the pdf version of the Fall 2007 issue of Hagerty magazine.

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