No Proof of Ownership
When purchasing a vehicle the seller should produce documentation to prove ownership of the vehicle, that there are no liens on the vehicle, and that the ID number on the title documentation matches the ID number on the vehicle. Even the project car you buy from your neighbor to work on in your garage should be properly documented. You will also need proper documentation for tax purposes, to manage your estate properly, and in the event of a theft, accident, or divorce.
Especially in a cash sale, it is important to obtain the title, a bill of sale, and proper documentation about who the automobile belongs to and how it was purchased. A qualified appraiser can help you verify your documentation and make sure that all the information is accurate. Sellers are always asked to provide documentation during AAG’s pre-purchase inspections to help you feel confident about the information you are provided.
Believing Everything the Seller Says
Once again, documentation is critical to prove that a seller is honest, or that they know anything about the collector car. A seller may not know whether the parts are original or when they were replaced. Without a careful pre-purchase inspection by a certified appraiser, it can be difficult to see rust or to be sure that rust has been treated and repaired properly. Was Bondo or another body filler used? Was the engine rebuilt? These are details the seller may not know and may only be visible to a qualified inspector, making your pre-purchase inspection a critical part of assessing the collector car.
Purchasing at Auction with no Test Drive
Just as it is unwise to assume that you will be able to choose a model without knowing what to look for in a test drive, it is a bad idea to buy any collector car without driving it first. It can be tempting to buy a collector car for a better-than-average price at an auction, but without driving the vehicle first, you can’t really be sure if the price you are paying is appropriate. A pre-purchase inspection by a certified inspector who is allowed a test ride in the vehicle will help you to make a more accurate assessment about the fairness of the price.
Sending a Cash Deposit
Proper documentation protects the value of your collector car and your investment. In a similar fashion, paying your deposit in a way that is fully documented protects you from unscrupulous sellers. Cash deposits are hard to document and track, and in the event of a dispute, they are often lost and cannot be recovered. Always be sure to document any payments you make on a vehicle, and consider using a third party or an accounting service to handle deposits and payments to insure your safety.
Assuming There is a Warranty
Don’t assume that a collector car comes with a warranty. Even if you are purchasing a brand new vehicle, you need to check with the seller for warranty information and read all warranty documents carefully. Especially in the case of classic collector cars, there is no standard expectation that a vehicle will come with a warranty, and warranty terms may vary by seller.
Ignoring Conflicts of Interest
A pre-purchase inspection is crucial when buying a collector car, but not all appraisers are equal. Conflicts of interest occur when the appraiser is associated with the seller, mechanic, or restorer who is offering the vehicle for sale. Appraisals can vary significantly when performed by unqualified, non-certified agents, or by individuals associated with the sale of the vehicle. An independent, certified appraiser can provide an appraisal that is accurate and unbiased, helping you avoid biased or even fraudulent assessments.
The best way to purchase a collector car is to hire an independent, certified company like AAG. We provide you with all the documentation necessary to make the right decision before you buy and to protect your investment after you buy. In addition, our appraisers have the knowledge, training, and experience to compare your choice to other cars of its make and model, helping you to make an informed decision. Call us today to schedule a pre-purchase inspection before buying a collector car.