Flipping Classic Cars: What You Need to Know Before You Invest

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Red old American car 1970?s 1960?s parked for sale gas guzzler fuel price
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Is investing in the classic car market the next big thing? If so, is it right for you?

With TV shows about finding, fixing and flipping classic vehicles all the rage right now, it's no surprise that investors burned by the real estate crash who are looking for a new get-rich-quick scheme are finding this one: A classic car offers the lure of a hefty potential profit, with a far smaller outlay of capital than a house requires. But is it a good investment -- something you should consider to help diversify your portfolio?

If you're thinking about investing in a classic car, you don't want to lose your shirt in the process. Here are some things to consider before you take possession of a pink slip:

Don't Invest in a Classic Car on Impulse

"Never buy a classic car on a whim," says Ryan Guina, a classic car owner and publisher of the website Cash Money Life. "It's important to familiarize yourself with the market before buying so you know you're getting a reasonable deal."

The old adage is true: Your profit is made when you buy the item for a great price.

The old adage is true: Your profit is made when you buy the item for a great price -- whether it's a car, house or any other investment. Counting on your ability to negotiate an exceptional price when you sell later is a poor way to make money.

Do You Want to Drive Your Classic?

How long do you plan to drive the classic car that you bought for an investment? Will it be your everyday vehicle? Would you be happy if your classic car was your primary mode of transport for a while?

You need to remember that it might take you some time to fix and flip your car. So, consider buying a car that you not only know about but also are willing to drive for a while if you need to. You don't want to get stuck with a car you only bought because you thought it was a good investment.

Don't Forget the Extra Maintenance Costs

Classic vehicles can be expensive to fix and maintain, and you can't let those costs sneak up on you. It's just like factoring in maintenance and vacancy costs into the rent you charge as a landlord: If your margins don't include a cushion for "unexpected" maintenance costs, you're much less likely make a profit on your restoration.

Get Car Insurance Designed for Classics

Guina says it's a good idea to purchase specialized car insurance. "I was surprise at how inexpensive my insurance policy was on my 1973 Corvette," he says. "The best way to find a good deal is to shop around for an insurance company that specializes in classic cars."

Those types of insurance companies might very well be the best route for you and your investment to ensure that it's properly covered.

Much as prices do for fine wines and baseball cards, the values of classic cars can fluctuate over time -- they don't simply depreciate like new cars start to do the moment you drive them off the lot. You'll want to make sure that your insurer considers recent sale prices from reputable auctions and other venues when it values your classic car.

Do You Need a Dealer License?

Every state has laws on the books that address car dealer licensing requirements. For example, Florida considers anyone who sells three or more cars in a 12-month period a car dealer. The practice of buying and selling a lot of cars without a dealer license is known as "curbstoning." Not only is it illegal, it can also be a red flag for buyers -- which can make reselling your restored classic more difficult.

So if you're buying and selling a lot of classic cars in a single year, you should consider getting a dealer's license. That often will entail shelling out for an annual fee, insurance, bonding, and other costs.

Whether you're trying to make a quick buck flipping or simply looking for a sweet ride to refurbish and drive yourself, a classic car can be a lot of fun and a great investment. But as with any investment, there's a lot to consider before you buy.

Have you bought and sold a classic car? Did you start out just looking to flip it for a profit? Or were you after an everyday driver to enjoy before selling?

Hank Coleman is a financial planner and the publisher of the popular personal finance blog Money Q&A, where he answers readers' tough money questions. Follow him on Twitter @HankColeman.

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Levi Mendes

It is a very interesting article and i can't repeat more the points that were already told. Investing in cars in our opinion just makes sense if you are very passionate about cars. There are costs that you need to take into account and if you don't feel 100% sure we always suggest our visitors to talk with a specialist about they're plans. Investing in cars should in general be a 5-10 years project.

We have a great selection of cars that have a very good potential for investors
www.findinvest.com

May 06 2014 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
timeless_autosales

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February 26 2014 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Gillgam

Restoring cars you never make any money and only go in the hole. Guys that restore cars do it for the love of the vehicle, not to make money... It is a loosing proposition financially... but a winning one if you love and are passionate about the car you are restoring. Many guys restore a particular car or brand that interests them. It could be from the year you graduated high school or just a period in history that interests you. Classic cars are a touchstone of an era of time... The Styling, colors used, technology is that time period frozen in the form of a vehicle. The same reason that people buy antiques, they are relics of a time period, a little piece of history. Cars are cool antiques that you can drive around too...

February 25 2014 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Gillgam

If you have no knowledge or mechanical experience with cars, you better forget selling classics. Guys that love cars are the only ones that should do this. You have to know what you are looking at and if the car is a clone or fake of a higher-priced one. I have a friend that does this and does pretty well, but it is because he always had an interest and passion for cars. If you do not have that passion, forget it... I would suggest to those that want to sell something to stay in the relm that you enjoy and have knowledge of.

February 25 2014 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john.delman

Great article!
Please consider www.timelessautosales.com if you are selling a classic car.

At the Timeless Auto Sales website, you can escape into thousands of cars. It's a true destination for the classic car lover where you can connect with those who share the same passion.
Our mission at Timeless Auto Sales is to be the leading auto enthusiast community that helps to facilitate the buying, selling, owning, and appreciation of antique, classic, collectible and specialty cars and trucks.
Timeless Auto Sales also provides visitors with a one-stop shop for resources on how to select, appraise, finance, purchase, transport and maintain the car of your dreams. We connect not only cars together with people, but the people that love those cars together with each other.

February 11 2014 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hannah Jurgens

Like any business, CarFlipping is identifying reasonably priced goods that can be resold at a higher price by i). Re-Marketing the product better than the original seller; ii). Restoring, repairing, or improving the product; or iii). Selling the product to a larger potential buyer pool. Go to CarFlipping.com to get help in you car flipping adventure! Here's some reasons I have found that makes flipping cars for profit is better than flipping anything else!

●Significantly more BUYERS. Lets face it, everyone needs a car.
●Growing Market. With the current Economic environment, less people are inclined to go buy new cars and are keeping their used cars longer. This is increasing demand for used cars.
●Less risk. When Flipping Cars for a Profit you are buying a TANGIBLE item. As long as it is insured, it will not go to ZERO and you wont loose all of your money (like stocks for example).
●More Money to be made. It is not uncommon to earn 30% in less than 30-45 days when flipping cars. This is 240% to 360% percent annual return.
●International Market of Buyers. There are Buyer all around the world for the right cars.
●Less initial investment. Unlike flipping other items like houses, furniture, etc. you can start flipping cars with as little as $200 (or zero with the FlipBuyer Program)
●MORE FUN. Yes!!! You can drive them, work on them, show them off, take them to shows, etc. etc.

January 22 2014 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
katieyouns

yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeee mmmmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnna!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 15 2014 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vlady1000

Got to love it when they "original paint even" (light yellow car) and they pop the hood and it is blue underneath the hood. It was a GM car, that must have been a "one off" from the factory and they missed that. .lol.

January 14 2014 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vlady1000

I have been in stocks, investment RE and old cars for decades now. Overall (all costs considered), Investment RE has had the best return by far, then stocks, then followed somewhat close by the cars. I actually have done much better with old car parts(no maintenance, insurance, plates etc) than the cars. And very difficult to make money restoring a typical "classic". Even if you do the work yourself, you might come out making about $1/hr for your time. I always looked at as a hobby that does not cost me anything. The shows are mostly fiction, but entertaining, especially when they say something 100% incorrect about something that you know exactly what it costs (like a certain part or repair).

January 14 2014 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
unitedpaintings

Another pipe dream article from the clowns at DF.

January 14 2014 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply