Classic Car
Buyer Tips

How and Where to Buy Classic Cars Online

By Mike Richards Updated: 11/26/2018 Posted: 11/15/2018

Even as manufacturers release new models of modern cars to the market, many people are still drawn to vintage cars. Some people love these cars for their tough bodies and unique look. Although some drivers are excited about vintage cars for their appearance, others are simply curious about how it feels to drive a car manufactured in another era. This desire has lured many people into seeking old cars online in a bid to own the vintage cars of their preference.

Countries like Germany even have “H” plates designated for classic cars, where “H” means historic. In January 2017, there were 381,087 H-plated classic cars in Germany. This was a 10.8% increase from the number of classics registered in January of 2016. In 2018, this number rose to 422,213. Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, and Porsche are the major classic cars in Germany.

In the USA, the most online searches for salvage classic cars for sale are:

  • 1970 Chevrolet Bel Air
  • 1969 Dodge Charger
  • 1969 Ford Mustang Mach One
  • 1968 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 1967 Ford Mustang
  • 1966 Ford Mustang
  • 1965 Ford Mustang
  • 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra

How Easy Or Difficult Is It To Find Classic Cars For Sale Online?


Fortunately, there are a lot of people interested in purchasing classic cars. This has led to the creation of online communities of people who hunt down classic cars. This demand has driven the creation of online inventories with records of places where you can find classic cars. The different categories listed make it easy for buyers to determine the type of classic cars they want. There is also the option of choosing the age of the car to see if there is any available. This supply of information makes it easy for those interested in classic cars to make contact with sellers and even inspect the cars before making a purchase.

Where To Buy Classic Cars Online

The internet has made it easy to find classic cars. There are several places you can find classic cars online. Several dealers specialize in classic cars. They are always looking out for old cars auctions. Some of these auctions prefer dealing with registered dealers. Once these dealers acquire the cars, they then list them in the various websites selling classic cars.

However, some of these auctions allow individuals to bid for classic cars. There are also several individual classic car owners who prefer to sell the cars on their own without involving middlemen. This is because they cherish their cars and would like to sell them to owners who will cherish them as they do.

Buying Classic Cars At Auctions


  • Large collection of high-end classic cars you would ordinarily not find in dealerships
  • You can bid for your favorite classic car from any part of the world since the auctions can be accessed online.
  • You can get a car at a very low price.
  • Auctioneers often try to find out as much as they can about the car’s history. This often arouses interest and drives the bids up in classic and old car auctions.


  • You may not have the opportunity to bargain as you would if you bought the car from a private party.
  • You may not have the opportunity to inspect the car before bidding on it. Since these vehicles often come with a “buy as is” clause, you also do not get the opportunity to return the vehicle.

Buying From Dealers


  • You get to inspect the car before buying it. Since most salvage classic cars for sale need to be worked on for them to be roadworthy, you can gauge how much work will need to be done on the classic cars of your choice. This way you will determine if the cost is worth the joy of owning a classic car will bring you.
  • You get to bargain for a lower price. If you are lucky, the dealer may be motivated to let go of the classic car of your choice if he has had it for too long.


  • Unfortunately, if your interest is in the history of the car, you may not get the actual full story. This is because dealers are more concerned about selling the car than about its history.
  • Dealers are often making the sale on behalf of others. This means their cut is included in the price you will be paying for the classic car of your choice.

Buying From Individuals


  • Some of the sellers of classic cars may have had them for a long time. They understand its history and probably have an attachment to them. If you are dealing with a seller like this, you will probably be buying a car which is in great shape.
  • The price may be much lower since there are no middlemen involved.


  • It takes a lot of time and plenty of searches to find an individual selling a classic car. Individuals do not get the kind of visibility auctions, and dealerships get.
  • It is easier to get duped when dealing with an individual than a business entity. Several claims, including a rich history, may easily convince you to buy a given classic car. Sometimes this information is not true. It is important to verify all the given information before buying a classic car.

Things To Consider When Buying Old Cars Online

  • The price of the car. Classic cars are priced based on their history and brand. Once you have identified the car you would like to buy, it is important to compare prices from different places. You can look at different online dealers and possibly seek out individuals.
  • The condition of the car. It is possible to get low-priced vintage cars which could cost you an arm and a leg before you can drive it. It would be unfortunate for you to buy a car you will never be able to repair and even possibly enjoy driving. Before buying a classic car, it is important to confirm if indeed you can afford to own one or not.
  • When buying from a dealer or individual, have a vehicle inspector with you. This way you can have someone you trust to help you make this important decision. He will be able to verify if the car is worth its price or if it is even worth buying.

auction cars

Reasons For Choosing Classic Salvage Cars For Sale

It is sometimes difficult for many people to understand why you would spend time looking at old junk cars for sale. Even worse, why would you spend your hard-earned money on a car that will need lots of work before it goes on the road? To some people, it is not just about driving the car. It is the excitement of turning an old car into a roadworthy one. They will spend long working hours figuring out what the car needs. When they finish, they drive classic cars with pride.

It also serves as a reminder of one’s youth. Older people who drive their first cars reminisce on the joy they felt when they were finally able to afford to buy a car. It serves as an escape from reality to the days of one’s youth together with the fond memories that come with the vintage car.

People are always looking out for unique things. Nothing spells out unique like a vintage car does when on the road. It is common to see people halt to watch it pass by.

Most classic car sellers offer support in the restoration process. This could be in the form of parts and possible modifications, depending on the model of car. This readily available support has encouraged many people to try their hand on vintage cars. These cars are also easier to figure out compared to the modern hi-tech vehicles. Everything about the classic car is manual and quite fascinating.

Further Reading

Unlike modern cars, most vintage cars retain their value. Sometimes, the value of classic cars, especially high-end ones, goes up whereas modern cars lose value when in use. To many vintage car owners, this makes them a worthwhile investment.

Many collectors love vintage cars because of the fascination with vintage car shows is spread around in many countries. There is also a large number of people who do not own classic cars but always go for the shows to have a look at the cars. The love for classic cars can also be seen at old cars auctions.

Are Dealer Auctions a Good Place to Look for Classic Cars?

Access to dealer auctions is reserved to dealers’ license holders, but nowadays there are ways around that obstacle. The real advantage of dealer auctions is that they sell more high-end vehicles than public auctions. The quality and the condition of vehicles is also usually higher.

But are these auctions a good hunting ground for classic cars? The answer isn’t straightforward. While you may find classics in great condition, the prices will certainly be higher. But that is the nature of the classics market.

The price will not only depend on the condition of the vehicles, its history, paperwork, and authentic parts, but also on the interest of dealers present at the auction. As an individual buyer working on a fixed budget, you should not get caught up in a bidding war. If one or more dealers want a car on offer, high bids might start flying in right from the start.

But if the budget is not a concern, then dealer auctions could bear fruit. While you should still inspect the vehicle, the risks you take are far lower than those you would take by searching for classic cars at a public auction.

What Were the Classic Car Trends in 2018?

The demand for classic cars has been steady over the past couple of years after a rollercoaster in the early 2010s. Following the financial meltdown in 2010, prices of classic cars rocketed bringing in players with deep pockets who were in it for a quick flip and nothing but profit. Enthusiasts and collectors have been pushed aside, and even entry-level classic cars became pricey.

However, the bubble has long burst, and prices are returning to normal, Tim Gascoine, auction manager for Barons Classic Car Auctioneers told Fluxposure blog. The market can’t be pinned down geographically, especially with the emergence of online services that allow buyers from all over the world to participate in top-end auctions wherever they are held.

Still, some trends are developing during 2018 regarding what cars are popular and from what period. Some auction houses reported that modern classics, cars from the 80s and 90s, were in high demand and some of them sold for a lot of cash. Bear in mind, though, that those that went for big money were rare sports models. Although some buyers spent a lot of money on regular production models thinking the price would keep going up, the market quickly adjusted. The consequence was that market conditions and better research soon drove such buyers away.

Online car shopping

Is The Demand for Classic Cars Rising?

Looking at the demand, the United States had a positive start in 2018 after a five-year low in 2017. The latest Haggerty Market Rating, the classic car data analytics, and insurance company, shows the market is expanding, rising for the second month in a row to reach 65.41 points, in line with the 2018 growth trend.

“The biggest increase of any section this month was for auction activity. The median sale price at auction is up 6% over the last 12 months,” the insurance company said.

The start of the year saw an increased number of bidders at the 2018 Scottsdale Collector Car Auction Week in Arizona compared to last year, indicating an uptick in the market.

Europe has always been a hot spot for classic cars, and the Rétromobile 2018 by Artcurial Motorcars put on in Paris, also saw an increased number of bidders from all over the world.

In addition to the rising demand, it seems that European buyers have been more active with West Coast Shipping, a company specializing in vehicle transport, noting that more than 35,000 classic cars headed out of the United States, mostly to Europe.

What are the Main Auction Houses For Classic Cars?

Whether you are looking for a European or an American classic, it doesn’t matter where you are anymore. You can attend any auction by phone or online.

We have already mentioned a couple of prestigious auctions like the Scottsdale Collector Car Auction Week in Arizona and the Rétromobile by Artcurial Motorcar. However, it is impossible to talk about classic car auctions without naming RM Sotheby’s, Gooding Barret-Jackson Auction Company, Bonhams, Mecum, Russo and Steel, and Worldwide.

What are the Major Classic Car Sale Shows?

classic auction

While classic car auctions are held all over the world, the majority of these auctions are held in the United States and the United Kingdom. To see which classic car events are the most prominent, you should only look at the cars being sold and the amount of money they rake in.

So far this year, the most expensive vehicle sold was the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. This vehicle went for a whopping $48,405,000. The second most valuable sale was the 1935 Duesenberg SSJ, sold for $22,000,000.

The events that traditionally bring the most interest are the Amelia Island Auctions and Concours d’Elegance in Florida, as well as the Monterey Classic Car week, which saw the most valuable ever car sold at an auction, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Gooding & Company is the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that hosted the sale of the Duesenberg SSJ.

We have already mentioned the Scottsdale Collector Car Auction Week in Arizona and the Rétromobile by Artcurial Motorcar. But we should also mention the Goodwood Festival of Speed with Bonhams as the partner of Goodwood’s motorsport events.

There are certainly plenty more classic car auctions around, but if you are looking for the most appealing and high-value vehicles, you can find them at the auction houses we already mentioned.