Buying a Classic Car from a Dealer

A majority of the 40,000-plus classic cars, trucks, muscle cars, antiques and motorcycles listed for sale on are sold by dealerships. In fact, we have well over 500 dealerships selling their vehicles on our Marketplace! Dealers are a great resource and with some simple preparation, you can find a great car and negotiate a fair price with confidence.

Advantages to buying from a classic car dealer

As with other types of classic car sellers, there are plenty of good reasons to buy from a dealer. The most obvious advantage is selection. Our nationwide network of specialty classic car dealers have dozens or even thousands of vehicles on-site. While most are generalists, many dealerships specialize in certain makes and models, or in vehicles from a certain country.

If you need a one-stop solution to facilitate your purchase, most dealers can arrange for essential services like financing and transportation. Many dealers also offer service contracts, value-added warranties and other specialty services which may be of value to you if you’d rather not take on the full responsibility of maintaining your own vehicle.

If your financial situation is such that you want to sell your current classic car before buying another one, it will take some time and effort to do so on your own. We’ve got your back on that point, for sure! You should be aware that dealers often accept other classic cars in trade, which can significantly simplify the process of exchanging your current car for your next.

Dealerships generally have repair shops and mechanics on-site and can address problems that surface during inspections and test drives. Because of those repair shops, buying a classic vehicle from a dealer increases your chances of finding a running vehicle with few or no immediate problems in the first place.

Finally, dealers are established businesses with reputations to uphold and employees’ families to support. A key expense of any business is the cost of customer acquisition. It’s well known in the business world that acquiring new customers is a lot harder and more expensive than earning repeat business, so any dealer has a compelling reason to make you happy before, during and especially after the sale.

Another benefit you get from dealing with an established business is that your dealer buys and sells cars every day, so they are adept at filtering out problematic vehicles such as stolen vehicles, cars with questionable title histories, and other vehicles that could potentially cause you trouble down the road.

Dealer Disadvantages

Of course, dealers aren’t always the best sellers for everyone. If you’re extremely knowledgeable about classic cars, you may feel confident enough to bypass the lot and seek out your next classic from a private seller, or even bid at an auction.

The most common reason to avoid dealers is to minimize expense. As mentioned above, dealers are businesses with payroll expenses, facilities expenses and other overhead that has to be factored into the price of every vehicle and repair job. This means that dealers won’t generally be the cheapest source of vehicles. You’ll need to decide for yourself if the added value and peace of mind you get by buying from a dealer are worth it.

Dealers are, by nature of their day-to-day jobs, professional negotiators. Some buyers, especially first-time classic car buyers, may feel intimidated when it comes to haggling. This need not be the case, however; a little price research beforehand should give you a good idea of the price range you should be able to negotiate.

Tips for Buying from Classic Car Dealers

Find a target price by searching for vehicles of the same year, make and model as your vehicle. Study the listings, especially those near the dealer with similar equipment and in similar condition. Understand that your best dealer price is likely to be closer to the upper end of the range, and for that premium you should expect top-notch service, a safe transaction and solid help in procuring financing, shipping, and perhaps other services.

If the dealer is local to you, ask to test drive the car. During and after the test drive, ask lots of questions. Ask what the dealer has done to the vehicle, and exactly how thoroughly they stand behind each item of work they’ve done.

If they have an on-site service center, ask for a tour. Strike up a short conversation with a mechanic and ask how many vehicles they work on in a given month and how much experience they have working on vehicles like the one you’re considering.

After the sale, drop us a line and let us know about your experience!


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