There are thousands of used car dealers in the United States. However there are relatively few who specialize in Antique, vintage and classic cars, trucks, muscle cars, hot rods or roadsters. Used car dealers who specialize in older vehicles are often collectors themselves and are very familiar with specific makes, models and years of vehicles. If they do not have what you're looking for they will probably know where to find it and will do so for a small commission. In addition, they will also be familiar with the peculiarities of financing, insuring and shipping older vehicles. Here are some tips for locating a used car dealer that can meet your needs.
Use car dealers who specialize in unique, collectible cars will be a part of a network of like minded car buffs. They will belong to or at least know of local car clubs, auction houses, dealers and individuals with the same interests. Likewise, those people will know of the local dealers. You should therefore start your search by looking on the Internet for the kind of vehicle you are seeking and then backtrack to the appropriate car dealers. And along the way be sure to question the people you find to get their opinions of the dealer's business practices.
Once you find prospective dealers, put together some relevant questions and go "interview" them. Remember that you are the customer and they want your business so don't be shy about asking pointed questions. You want to find out all you can about their business experience and practices before you get too involved. For example, find out how long they have been in business, get a list of references so you can verify their ethics, ask them about their experiences with the particular vehicle you are looking for, notice how they maintain their office and shop (which indicates how they will care for you), ask about their markup and finder's fee, and find out if they can help with financing, insurance and shipping (if needed). And most importantly, whether or not they happen to have the perfect car, do not agree to anything on the first visit.
Used car dealers are a lot like real estate agents. They work on a commission and will be tempted to stretch the truth if it means a sale. They will also be Leary of doing too much work on your behalf unless you make some sort of commitment to stick by them while they look for your vehicle. You don't have to make a deposit or sign a contract but work with just one company at a time and give them a due date for finding the vehicle. That will give them the incentive to do their best and give you the option to move on after the end date if you want to without any hard feelings. And if you do decide to go elsewhere, let them know that you are still interested should they hear of what you want. Meanwhile, check their references and status with the Better Business Bureau in your area to assure they have a good reputation.
When you find the vehicle you want don't be in a hurry to make the deal. Remember that the vehicle is being sold for a reason and it is up to you to figure out why and what it's actual value is. And remember that no matter how friendly and helpful the salesperson is their number one goal is to sell the vehicle, which means they will not necessarily be forthright with every related issue. Your first task is to get an accurate appraisal and inspection. Do not ask the salesperson for recommendations, find one on your own. And if they do recommend someone, don't use them to assure they do not get some sort of commission or kickback. If you're buying a valuable vehicle have it professionally appraised by a licensed appraiser and inspected by a certified mechanic. If the vehicle does not warrant that expense refer to our library of buyer and seller guides for suggestions on appraising, buying, insuring and shipping vehicles on your own.
And finally, once you are ready to make the deal be sure that you arrive at the dealership with the proper identification and documents they require and that you have insurance in place so you can drive it or have it shipped home. Once again, you will find helpful information about those things in our library.
Many classic car dealers list their brass, antique, vintage and classic era vehicles in our Classified Ads section. And you will find many of them listed under Dealers - Used Cars in our Business Directory. You can also search our website for a classic car dealer here.