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CRUSIN': Tips to follow when buying a Classic Car
In Mar. 22 issue, Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

Are you thinking about buying a Classic Car? Here are some tips to follow when looking for that special car.

Unless you are really lucky, when you do find a car for sale it won't be local. This is where things start to get a little tough. You can trust the seller's description of the vehicle and trust his judgment on what he considers "a little rust." Or the best thing to do is plan a road trip and check out the car in person. By doing this you may save yourself a lot of headaches and problems down the road.

Personally I would recommend you check out the vehicle yourself. There are many advantages to doing this yourself. You can follow the following steps.

Walk around and crawl under the vehicle to check it out. The digital picture that the seller sent to you over the Internet may look a lot different than the car does in person. Sight down the sides of the vehicle and look for any wavy spots in the quarter panels. Take a magnet with you, wrap it in tissue paper and check for body filler or rust repair. If there are spots where the magnet does not want to stick you can bet there has been a repair made there.

Check under the car for signs of frame rot. Be very suspicious of recently applied black undercoating. This stuff is often used by sellers to hide Swiss cheesed floor panels or frame rails.

Hear and drive the car. Some people have been lucky and bought a car they have never seen until the truck delivers it in the driveway. Most Classic Car people are very nice and honest when selling, but there are some out there that will sell you a disguised pile of metal. There are several things you can tell better when you are setting behind the wheel of the car and taking it for a drive.

Nothing makes a sale easier than to be standing there talking to the seller with a pile of cash in your hand. He wants to sell the car and there you are with a wad of bills in your hand. It is much easier to make a deal standing there with the cash in your hand rather than talking to the person on the phone.

If a seller has set the price at $18,500 for his 65 Mustang and has already tried to deal with four buyers on the Internet, he may drop down to $17,900 when you are standing there in front of him with cash in hand.

Then there are times when you have no choice other than buy your dream car from a seller sight unseen. If your dream car is rare or unusual often times these come far and few between. You may not have the luxury to get to see the car before someone else gets it. If that happens, just dig deep and hope for the best.

There are ways to protect your self and here are a few of those ways.
Ask if you can leave a deposit to hold other buyers off until you can make arrangements to go see the vehicle your self, or have a trusted friend to do this for you. If the car is not what you thought it would be or what you were led to believe, you can always walk away and loose only the deposit instead of being stuck with the keys to a real clunker.

Get the VIN number. Ask the seller to provide you with this information and any other supporting documentation to back up the claims of the vehicles status as a collectable. There are some people out there who will take a standard issue model of an older car (for example take a 6 cylinder Chevelle) and with after market and reproduction parts and trim, create a false collectable (in this case a SS 396 Chevelle).

Many of these clones are superbly done and the only way to tell the difference is through the examination on the VIN, engine stampings, body codes and so on. The clone is almost always worth much less than the original.

Get some advice, if you don't know much about the vehicle you are looking at find someone who can coach you and advise you about the right questions to ask the seller. You can usually get help from someone in one of the local Car Clubs around Russell County. Most would be more than happy to.

Always listen to your first feelings when you see the vehicle. If something tells you something is not right, even if the car looks great, take a long time to think before making the deal. As anyone who has been into old cars for a while can tell you, that inner sense of something being not just right is almost always right on the money.

I hope these little tips will help you when you start looking for that classic car you have always dreamed of.

If your Car Club is having an event or if you are having an event and would like to have some Classic Cars there contact me at at least two weeks before the event. Until next time good luck finding you Dream Classic Car and drive safely.
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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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