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The 10 secrets of a truly valuable classic car collection

the top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, maintenance, storage and more

Are you seriously considering – or actually planning – on building a valuable personal classic car collection? That’s a luxury dream shared by many, and if you’re ready to get serious, we’ve got some information that we think will be helpful. Our correspondent Tomas White has done the research, and he’s sharing the top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, maintenance, storage and more.

the 10 secrets of a truly valuable classic car collection

OK, so you are a car aficionado and you have decided to start a new hobby of buying and collecting classic cars.

The top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, arranging for maintenance and storage, and more.

But where do you start? How do you take the first steps? We’re here to help you embark on that momentous journey.

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1. Consider being a classic car enthusiast versus collector

If you are thinking about starting to buy and maintain a collection of classic cars, it’s actually useful and important to broadly think through your goal: is your ultimate aim to be an enthusiast or a collector?

While these two categories are not exclusive, the distinction is a meaningful one. Enthusiasts love driving their cars everywhere, getting under the hood to fix things, and letting friends share their joy by taking them for a spin – or even letting them take the wheel every now and again.

Collectors, on the other hand, gain pleasure from the simple possession of the object. They treat their cars like fine art – and an investment that requires conservation.

valuable classic car collection

How to buy a truly valuable expensive classic car: Mercedes Benz. Courtesy Photo.

The reality is that possessing anything more than 4 cars will require you to put a collector’s hat on at least part of the time. A collection larger than this number requires a level of capital, effort and commitment that a simple enthusiast wouldn’t tolerate (or perhaps couldn’t afford).

2. Maintain an investment mindset in either case

If your heart is driving you toward classic cars, you may think it doesn’t matter whether or not you actually make money on your investment in these rare and beautiful vehicles. But actually, enthusiasts and collectors should both approach all purchases as investments.

the top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, maintenance, storage and more.

The top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, arranging for maintenance and storage, and more.

Why? Well, on a basic level, you don’t want to be fleeced out of your money. Second, if collecting becomes your lifelong hobby, you should expect that your tastes will evolve over time. Meaning that through the course of a few years, there will be some churn in your collection. Most people tend to want to trade up – which involves buying ever more expensive cars. So you want to spend your early money wisely – it will give a lot more freedom and flexibility down the road.

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3. develop a focused and realistic buying strategy

The distinction between enthusiast and collector can also guide you when making the following basic decisions: 1) What cars should I buy? 2) What is my plan for maintaining the cars? 3) Where do I plan on storing or displaying the cars?

The first step in starting a collection is deciding what cars to buy. You should do a lot of research and choose a theme that most attracts you.

the top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, maintenance, storage and more.

The top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, arranging for maintenance and storage, and more.

choose a theme

A theme can be something as broad as cars from a certain country, to something as specific as a particular designer. Other themes can be cars of a certain vintage, to the type of engine or materials used.

are you actually planning to drive it?

Another factor in buying a car should be your desire to drive it. Super Premium race cars these days are actually not being bought to cruise around in.

The top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, arranging for maintenance and storage, and more.

The more miles on the odometer of these cars, the more value they exponentially lose. If you plan on doing long joy rides or going to your local racetrack, then keep that in mind.

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how much do you have to spend?

It goes without saying that your budget will ultimately have an impact on what cars you decide to buy. Clearly not everyone can afford a $70 Million 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO. Nor do you need to.

There is, in fact, an active and happy community of Yugo collectors, frequently mentioned as being one of the worst cars in the world!

The beauty of car collecting is that outside of the headline grabbing cars, there is an almost endless option of themes to choose from. There are also entry points for almost all beginners.

The top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, arranging for maintenance and storage, and more. A Ferrari 250 GTO at Goodwood Revival in the UK.

4. Join a community

As one of the greatest joys of car collecting is being part of a community. It could also be helpful to explore which car clubs are active in your region. Connecting with other enthusiasts is not only fun, but a necessary source of tips and information about cars, how to find rare parts, as well as a way to have eyes and ears on the ground about cars coming to auction.

5. Develop a workable maintenance plan

Being realistic about your maintenance plan is also a key consideration when starting a collection. Some questions to ask are: 1) How much time do I expect to spend on maintaining my car, 2) What is my level of expertise in maintaining a car, 3) Are there mechanics in the area that can service my car? 4) What is my budget for upkeep. You may be able to rebuild engines from scratch, but do you want to? 

Different cars require different levels of expertise and have different costs of maintenance. DeLoreans, the car made famous by the “Back to the Future” movies, for example are well known to be very expensive and time intensive to maintain. If you don’t have the expertise to service a car, then you should make sure there are local mechanics that will be able to help you. Remember that cars need to be turned on regularly.  This is to not to incur damage to their wheels, engines, and electronics.

The top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, arranging for maintenance and storage, and more.

6. Arrange for storage

Thinking about where you are going to store your cars should not be an afterthought. Leaving cars outside to brave the elements is a quick way for them to degrade. You also don’t want them spread out across different sites. Ideally you would have a specialized garage on your house’s property.  If that is not possible, you at least want the cars to be close enough that you don’t have to drive a long way just to get to them. Other storage considerations to think of are security, climate control, good lighting, storage and the ability to expand. Remember that spare parts also can take up a lot of space. (You probably don’t want to store spare engines in your bedroom closet.)

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If you are building a custom garage, one tip collectors give is to build it with high ceilings. Collections frequently grow larger than anticipated, and if you run out of floor space, you can always install hydraulic lifts.

How to buy and arrange maintenance and storage for a classic car collection: Delorean Shop. Courtesy Photo.

7. Make your research part of the fun

Doing research is key and should be one of the more enjoyable aspects of collecting. During this process you can also start collecting books, posters, pictures, and memorabilia associated with the theme of your collection. This is a fun, and rather more affordable method to deepen the collection and a great way to decorate a garage to boot.

8. Remember, provenance is everything

This research will also help you ensure that you are buying original cars with original parts. While real estate agents might repeat the mantra “location, location, location,” car collectors repeat “provenance, provenance, provenance.” When buying a car, it is critical you understand the history of the car, its maintenance records, and its ownership history. Also, the reputation of those owners.

9. Identify and work with a good mechanic

10. Get your partner on board

Lastly, one consistent piece of advice that collectors seem to share is that besides a good mechanic you need to have one more person on board: your partner. Car collecting can be a serious endeavor. It not only ties up family capital, but maybe more importantly your attention and time. Your partner doesn’t need to share your passion but should at least tolerate it!

The top 10 secrets of how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, arranging for maintenance and storage, and more.

If you are looking for further inspiration, whether it is from the Sultan of Brunei’s 7000+ car collection or Jerry Seinfeld’s Upper West Side private garage, this is a list of the 25 most expensive car collections in the world.

the 10 secrets of a truly valuable classic car collection

That’s our overview of the top 10 secrets and wise steps to take when you’re considering how to build a truly valuable classic car collection, including what to buy, maintenance, storage and more. Good luck and have fun out there!

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Newsletter hereAnd see luxury in a new light.

This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

A fan of remote nature travel, Tomas White enjoys the dichotomy of the good life in harsh settings, whether it is scuba diving off a decommissioned deep-sea oil platform in the Celebes Sea or reading a good book in a remote desert resort in Utah. He likes to keep his possessions to a minimum, and is thus a huge fan of the power of technology and is very particular about finding well-designed items that are built to last. Tomas majored in English at Harvard, and is making a career in IT. He lives in Chicago with his wife and 4-year-old son.

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