The very first question that comes to mind should be, "What Classic Car Should I Buy?"
More often than not, you'll have a specific make and model in mind that you do a search for on the web, in forums or car dealerships. While this in itself is good, most beginners fail to do any research on the car and will have no clue on how to determine a classic car's condition.
Remember, not all classics are created equal, and there are models that are considered lemons and depreciate in value, even when fully restored.
The next question should be, "How Will I Use The Classic?" The answer to this will depend on personal preference. Some will want a car they can display on shows, while others intend to use their new investment for cruising around town during the weekends. What's more, there are those who live to restore a rundown classic to working, or even mint condition.
Image source: @Clasiq_hq
How you intend to use the car will more or less dictate the make and model. High-end classics cost a fortune and they become more expensive the longer they're around, so they won't be a good fit for people who want something to drive around in. The general rule is that higher mileage the vehicle has, the less it’s worth. Value goes down significantly each time miles are added to the clock.
If you plan on keeping a car that's estimated to rise in value in pristine condition, you must also invest in a temperature-controlled garage. With this setup you can afford to wait until demand for the classic goes up. The rarer the car, the more likely it is to be sought after and the more valuable it will be to collectors and enthusiasts alike. It pays to have an idea of just how much a car’s value is before you go out and buy one.
Image source: @classic_car_garage
Finally, the closer a classic is to its original condition, the higher its price tag. The only exception is when there's a "Day Two" upgrade, which means that vintage aftermarket parts were installed in place of the original ones, i.e., a 1969 Chevelle had day two modifications to Jardine headers and Anson slotted mags. The value might be retained if the original parts were kept and are included in the package.
A higher upfront price is usually better as long as the classic's engine and parts are still in good shape. Getting a $20,000 car in good condition is wiser than getting a clunker at $7,000 that needs about $15,000 worth of work.
When determining a classic's actual value, you'll need to take a look at the car's engine, the suspension, trims, glass condition, seats, dashboard, brakes, transmission and steering.