6 tips to get a deal on your next ride, according to Hagerty readers

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classic bmw cars in row unsplash / Alex Suprun

Buying a car is a big moment. It’s a point in time full of potential and grand plans, even if the new acquisition is not a pie-in-the-sky project. Getting a good deal on a purchase makes that new-to-you-car feeling all the sweeter. After all, no one ever brags about overpaying.

In the interest of helping out buyers near and far, we asked the Hagerty Forums for tips on how to iron out the best deal when car shopping, and we think even haggling veterans will benefit from being reminded of these six essential pointers.

Walk away (or at least be prepared to)

You found the car, and you are currently driving over to look at it. Maybe you’ll take it home. The key thing to do here is to set your limits. Determine how much work you are prepared to put into the car, if any, and how much you are prepared to spend to get there. Set the maximum you’d be willing to cough up just to buy the car. Got it figured out? Now stick to it. This is surprisingly difficult for many enthusiasts when presented with something they have been after for some time.

With a few rare exceptions, there is more than one example of any vehicle you might want. The work to find another one might be worth your time and money compared to overpaying or doing heaps of work on something that turned out to be rougher than you wanted. Sometimes, walking away is the best path. It will be difficult, but one day in the future you will look back and say you’re happy you did.

Appeal to the seller’s emotions (but be honest)

Anyone selling a vintage car (outside of a dealer) likely has at least some passion for the car. Appeal to that passion and assure the current owner that if you’re the next owner it will continue to receive the care he or she so lovingly gave it. Be genuine though. If you’re looking for a car to hot rod, don’t be a liar and the owner you want it for a restoration project. No one likes liars, especially if they see the car at a show or event months later in a completely different shape than what you indicated in your interaction. Car communities, especially for some makes and models, are very tight-knit. You don’t want to be on a list of people that sellers avoid.

Research

Those with the most expertise on a certain model often find the best deals on those models. The leg up is knowing what issues are deal breakers and which might sound scary but are manageable. Having connections to make or model experts will often help you avoid trouble, and these people often have connections to sellers looking for a buyer just like you.

This research will also help you understand the market into which you are wading. Knowing where things have been trending and what options or features are valuable (or best avoided) puts you in the best possible position to negotiate. When you see an ad somewhere or a car on the side of the road, you might almost instantly know if it is worth your time to investigate… if you’ve done your homework.

Luck

There is a certain amount of “right place/right time” with any deal. However, while you can’t count on the stars aligning, you can make sure you’re looking up on a clear night, so to speak. Hang around where your desired type of vehicle typically resides, and generally immerse yourself in everything to do with the particular vehicle you’re looking to purchase. That could mean auctions, online forums, Facebook groups, events, or anything else that can educate you. 

Look at the car

A deal is best executed when you’re able to see the car in person to assess its condition. Putting your own eyes on a car will always tell you more than you’ll discern from a carefully wordsmithed seller’s description or even 250 photographs. It also gives you the chance to ask questions about what you see on the car while also reading a seller’s body language and non-verbal cues. Do they look nervous when you look around or ask about a particular area of the car? Look harder…

Talk to sellers like they are people

We shouldn’t have to mention this, but here it is. The vintage car community is full of wonderful people, and we should all strive to be positive ambassadors of the culture at every turn. Being a jerk to a seller will not get you better results. Showing up to look at a car and pointing out five things wrong, being insulting about the condition, then making a low-ball offer is just plain disrespectful. Just because you saw it work on a reality TV show doesn’t mean that stuff flies in the real world. Treat a seller with respect and you’ll receive the same in return.

Overall, buy what you like and have fun with it. If there is a tip you’ve had great luck with in the past, share it below. While you’re at it, be sure to jump over to this week’s Question of the Week; we’re asking the Hagerty community to weigh in on the best looking factory two-tone paint.

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