Your Computer Might Be Your Best Tool
Here are some of our favorite web sites for buying, selling, documenting and learning about collector cars.
There’s no shortage of automotive-related information to be found online. In fact, a quick Google search of the phrase “collector car” can turn up millions of results. So where do you start your online search when you’re ready to buy, sell or research a collector car? Sure, there are the familiar big names like craigslist, eBay Motors and Wikipedia. But we’ve come up with some others that may not be as well known, yet still have plenty to offer enthusiasts. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather a survey of those we find particularly helpful or best in class. And if you’ve already checked them out, take another look. Recent updates to several make them worth a visit if you haven’t checked them in awhile.
REVS: This is an example of a truly great onemarque site. It’s a one-stop shop for everything Tucker. There’s history, news and a detailed registry of the remaining Tuckers, which identifies the cars available for public viewing, all wrapped in an attractive period-correct feel. There’s even a store for Tucker photos, logos, hats and other assorted goodies.
BACKFIRES: One could argue that it’s no tough act to put a site together for 50 cars, but this is proof of what a few enthusiastic folks can do to honor a once pioneering vehicle and the people who made it a reality.
REVS: This is an interesting concept. The site’s motto, “Keeping track of every Jaguar E-Type, with your help,” is straight forward, but the execution is amazing. With a Wiki-like concept of allowing the public to enter information about individual E-Type Jaguars they own or find, this site has collected data for more than 11,850 vehicles and more than 80,000 photographs organized by serial number and searchable by a myriad of data points.
BACKFIRES: While there are some additional features, this really is a site based around one killer application. It’s an invaluable resource for E-Type lovers wrapped in a cluttered package.
REVS: This site is dedicated to an interesting niche of automotive history: fiberglass customs of the early post–World War II era. Most of us are familiar with the relatively ubiquitous modern Shelby Cobra recreations, but custom fiberglass bodies have a long history, and many featured their own unique (and sometimes amazing) styling. It’s obviously a passionate homage to these cars. And with a “Forgotten Fiberglass” class planned for the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, this site is required reading for those planning to attend and who appreciate the show.
BACKFIRES: Limited audience appeal, but still a fascinating place to spend some time and a great example of the Internet’s ability to give a home to obscure segments of the hobby.
REVS: With the Mazda Miata quickly becoming a classic in its own right (has it really been 20 years?), this marque-specific site is an example of the best of the breed. Not only are there highly active message boards, but the site also archives factory service bulletins, how-to articles by site participants and reviews of more than 4,600(!) parts and accessories. There also are archived copies of sales brochures dating from the model’s introduction, details of model-year changes and more things we wish we would have had access to for other cars we tried to restore.
BACKFIRES: The site is more focused on information than design, but we think this priority has been well placed in this case.
REVS: While at first it appears to be another price guide, this product from Sports Car Market’s Keith Martin is a tremendous research tool, featuring price analyses that are regularly updated based on the results of successful eBay Motors listings. Even more interesting is that the site captures and archives the full details of most listings, including photos (more than 1.5 million images collected so far, according to Martin) and the seller’s description. So, in addition to sales price data, you can see the difference between a 1968 Camaro that sold for $5,000 and another that sold for $50,000.
BACKFIRES: There is a small fee to access the full archive, but at press time, visitors could get a free three-day trial, and a different model is available each week at no charge.
REVS: This site offers a great deal of information, from a VIN and engine number decoder to historical and technical information. If you have a Porsche 356, or are looking to buy one, you need to visit this site. Clockwise from above: 356 registry to the place to buy or sell a porsche 356; bringatrailer.com finds some of the best deals to be had; Collector Car price Tracker is more than an another price guide.
BACKFIRES: Unlike XKEdata, the full registry of Porsche 356s and other features, such as the events calendar, are available only to paid members. Well worth the modest fee if you own a classic Porsche.
REVS: It isn’t really a classified ad service, but rather a site that celebrates the hunt for rare and interesting cars by facilitating the discussion of notable cars for sale on the Web (including some exclusively offered on the site itself).
BACKFIRES: This site and its daily e-mail updates are a true black hole for a car-lover’s time. Few of us have a garage (or wallet) large enough to act on the amazing cars that they manage to uncover, but we can dream.
What are your go-to marque-specific car club or general hobby sites? Send your recommendations, with a brief explanation as to why, to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature a few in upcoming issues or at hagerty.com.
To see this article in its original format, view the pdf version of the Spring 2010 issue of Hagerty magazine.