In the market for a classic car restoration? When you have a car that is considered a classic, you may want to take it to a body shop to have it professionally restored. The process involves more than just a new paint job, and implies that it is being put back in its authentic condition, just as it was when it was new on the showroom floor. Not all body shops are equipped to handle a true restoration.
What is Classic Car Restoration?
A classic car is defined by the Classic Car Club of America as a vehicle between 30 and 49 years, while one between 50 and 99 years is considered a pre-antique and cars 100 years and older, an antique. Not all older cars meet the definition of “classic car.” The crucial thing with classics is that they represented “fine or unusual motorcars” distinguished by “fine design, high engineering standards, and superior workmanship.” Often costly at the time, they often have other distinguishing characteristics, based on their engine displacement, custom coach work, and luxury accessories. Other car organizations have different criteria, while some states consider it a classic after 20 or 25 years for licensing purposes.
Is Restoration Really what you Want or Need?
Restoration means that the body shop might need to tear the car apart to examine the condition of the components and either refurbish it with original parts or find reproduction parts and install them in an authentic way. If the car is updated or re-created to look like a fancy limited edition model, the work is not considered a restoration. Typically, the reason that people undertake a restoration is to create something of value for sale or to enter in car show.
Not every car is a good subject for restoration. The fact is, many old cars are just that – old cars. You may want to refurbish one and have it repainted for your son, but the car might not be considered a classic. When you are looking for a shop to work on an old car, you must be clear in your goals in order to select the right shop. Anytime your pay money to have work done, you want the shop to do an excellent job for you. However, your standards for repainting an older car that you love are different than if you have a car that meets the definition of classic and that you intend to use as a classic car. Having a 1947 Chevy is not the same as having a 1947 Cadillac 90 series.
Can your Body Shop Handle Classic Restoration?
Many body shops boast that they do custom work on classic cars. If you have a car that is a true classic, your standards should be higher to make sure that you have a finished product that is show worthy or able to command a higher price. You need to ask some questions of the shop. Specifically, you need to know:
What do they consider a classic car?
What have they restored?
What assurance do they offer that the parts they use are genuine?
If you have found a good shop with a track record of making older cars serviceable and attractive, you may have a great place to take your older car that you will love, but unless the shop has had experience restoring your Alfa Romeo or your 335 BMW, you might need to find a shop that specializes in the type of classic car restoration you need.
Jillynn Stevens is a writer and researcher. She is the Director of Digital Content Marketing for Be Locally SEO where she enjoys helping clients expand and improve their businesses through articles, blogs, website content and more.
How can one find the best auto insurance for a classic car? Is it even possible to find cheap antique car insurance? Classics cars can be well worth the sometimes pricey cost of upkeep and storage – there is no need to have to pay more for insurance coverage than necessary. Read on to learn some of the things that you should know before you purchase a classic car auto insurance policy.
Who hasn’t turned their head while driving down the road to get a better look at a classic or collectible car? We’re enamored with the lines of the car as well as its pristine condition. But the detailed attention in maintaining a classic car’s flawless appearance and operation is not only to draw admiring looks, it is also necessary in order to keep up the market value of the car. For this reason, along with others, specialized classic auto insurance policies were developed to meet the needs of classic and collectible car owners.
Another reason (a very important reason), for insuring your vehicle as a classic or collectible is the greatly reduced cost of classic car insurance relative to standard auto insurance. Standard auto insurance can cost as much as 200%-300% more than classic auto insurance. So, what is the biggest factor that causes such a great disparity in price between classic auto insurance and standard car insurance? Generally, collector vehicles are driven on a limited basis (the garage is where they are usually found). As a result, the risk of accident and loss to collector vehicles is considerably lower than the risk involved in vehicles that are regularly driven.
DOES YOUR VEHICLE QUALIFY?
The following is a list of classifications for collectible cars.
Antique cars – 25 years or older
Custom cars – 1949 to present
Classic cars – 20-24 years old
Collectible cars – 15-19 years old
Exotic cars – less than 15
Street rods – Pre-1949
This is the standard listing for those cars that are considered eligible for classic car auto insurance, but certain cars may be accepted at the discretion of the insurer. Sometimes, classic car insurers will customize an insurance policy for a particular vehicle.
WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS ASSOCIATED WITH COLLECTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE?
To keep collector auto insurance rates low, certain usage limitations are placed on the insured vehicle.
Cannot be used for everyday use. This rules out using it to drive to work, run errands, or go out for that bite to eat. Under a classic car insurance policy, car usage should be limited to driving to and from car shows and the occasional parade.
Cannot be driven more than 2,500 miles per year. 2,500 is a fairly standard number among insurance companies that offer classic coverage, but there are some insurance companies that have mileage plans that allow up to 5,000 or 6,000 miles per year. This increased mileage limit was put in place to accommodate those drivers who like to take their cars to distant car shows. Of course the premiums are greater.
Must be kept in a locked garage. A locked enclosed trailer will also do, but a carport will not meet the grade even if you live in a gated community with a security guard. (The weather is also an enemy of the classic car). Some policies might stipulate that a car cannot be left unattended in a parking lot. This means leaving your car in a motel or hotel parking lot might present a problem.
WHAT CONSIDERATIONS SHOULD BE KEPT IN MIND WHEN CHOOSING CLASSIC AUTO INSURANCE?
Does the company offer Agreed Value Coverage or Stated Value Coverage?
Agreed value lets the classic car owner and the insurance agent set a value for the auto that does not necessarily reflect the market value for that car. Usually, the insurance agent will have to do a thorough inspection of the car both inside and out and will require photos of the vehicle.
What are the usage and mileage restrictions?
Find the policy that best suits your plans for using the car. Why pay for a plan that covers mileage for 5,000 when you know that you won’t even come close to using the 2,000 miles available in a cheaper policy.
Can you choose your own repair shop?
The Mom and Pop shop down the road might do a good job on your regular car and offer the lowest repair bid in town, but do you really want them working on your classic “baby”?
What company underwrites the policy and what is the rating for that company?
You want to be sure that the underwriter has a good track record and is going to be able to fulfill all of their obligations even if for some reason there is a larger than normal influx of insurance claims.
Are there any discount programs available?
A good insurance company should always inform you of any discounts that are available to you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Does your insurance offer insurance for classic or modified cars that are under construction?
Some companies will monitor the progress that is being made on your vehicle while it is in the garage for repairs and modifications and allow you to adjust the value of the car as the project continues. Also, this type of insurance covers damages to your auto in case of a catastrophic occurrence such as a fire, or the hydraulic lift fails, or the tool cart falls on your car (with a little imagination the possibilities are endless.)
WHY CAN’T I JUST ADD MY COLLECTOR CAR TO THE FAMILY AUTO INSURANCE POLICY?
You can, but it could be a costly mistake. If repairs are needed you may be forced to accept the lowest repair bid, or if the car is badly damaged, the insurance company could opt to have it totaled. And although a discount is usually given for cars combined under one policy, that discount still may not provide the savings available if the car was insured under a classic auto insurance policy.
Finally, make sure your insurance company has a good understanding of classic cars. In the event that your car is totaled, you want to be able to work with a knowledgeable representative and receive the full value for your car.
When it comes to vehicles, classic cars are absolutely at the top of the pyramid, with their amazing features setting them far apart from the rest of the crowd. Unfortunately, as is typical for anything that attracts attention, classic cars tend to attract a decent share of thieves and vandals. Additionally, because classic cars are rare and tend to be expensive, many large “major player” insurance companies and agents will not even offer insurance for them. But just because it can be mildly difficult to find the right kind of insurance for your classic car, that does not mean that you can simply drive around without any insurance. Many states require that your vehicle be insured, and you can face serious fines if you are caught driving without adequate insurance coverage.
Finding the right kind of insurance for your classic car is going to take a little bit of time, and a lot of research. Even more research will be involved if you are set out to find the cheapest available antique and classic car insurance available. There are car insurance companies out there which specialize in insurance options for antique and classic cars. Additionally, there are large automobile insurance companies which offer specialized insurance including antique and classic car insurance, but you will have to do a decent bit of searching in order to find them. A good place to start is with insurance companies like Hagerty, Leland west and Norwich Union which all specialize in antique and classic car insurance. It is important that you weigh a lot of different options, because the costs associated with antique and classic car insurance can vary wildly depending on which automobile insurance provider you go with. It is also important that you determine what each insurance company will value your classic car at, in order to make sure that you are going to be insured for the full value of your car. Traditional car insurance values the car at the cost to replace it, minus any depreciation that it has experienced. This is what sets antique and classic car insurance apart from traditional car insurance. With antique and classic car insurance, the value of your vehicle is typically an agreement made between you and the insurance provider. This way, you will not lose a serious investment in the event that your vehicle is ever totaled in an accident, or stolen and never recovered.
The absolute best option for you to pursue when it comes to automobile insurance for your classic car is called an agreed value policy. Before this type of policy is purchased, you are required to sit down with an agent with the insurance company in order to come to a concrete agreement for the value of your vehicle. If your vehicle is ever totaled or lost, this is the amount that will be paid by the insurance company. This is also the point where you will receive a quote for the monthly payment. Another thing that sets antique and classic car insurance apart from traditional car insurance is the fact that antique and classic car insurance premiums are typically significantly smaller than what you will pay for traditional car insurance. However, not just anyone can acquire antique and classic car insurance, so before applying you should make sure you qualify for all of the following criteria:
o Many antique and classic car insurance policies require that you meet a specific age limit. This is to insure that the driver(s) on the policy have adequate driving experience and are not in jeopardy of causing an accident. This makes it difficult for young and new drivers to acquire automobile insurance, even if they are driving an antique or classic vehicle.
o Many antique and classic car insurance policies have also imposed a minimum age limit for your vehicle, in order to determine whether or not it can be considered an antique car. The typical limit is fifteen years old, so if your vehicle is less than fifteen years old you may have difficulty securing antique car insurance for it.
o In order to qualify for classic car insurance, there are certain limits on how your classic car can be used. For example, you must have a garage or some other form of protective storage to park the vehicle in. Additionally, you cannot use your classic car for any business purposes. Finally, there is a limit on the number of miles that you can put on your vehicle every month or year. If you go over the mileage limit you can but your vehicle in danger of losing its protective insurance. Because of the imposed mileage limit, you must also be able to prove that you have another vehicle which is used for normal driving.
Antique and classic car insurance is by far the best option if the vehicle that you are driving can be considered a collectible. This form of insurance is designed to protect cars that appreciate in value over time rather than depreciating. Most insurance companies will allow you to insure your classic car traditionally if you cannot find adequate antique car insurance, but you should expect to pay more in monthly premiums, and to receive significantly less in a pay out settlement if your vehicle is ever totaled. What this means is that if you are driving an antique or classic car, and specialized insurance is available to you on a local level, you should absolutely take the offer in order to protect your vehicle inexpensively without losing out on the serious investment that went into your prized possession.
Classic car owners, including those with muscle cars, street rods, hot rods, antiques and vintage trucks, are facing uncertain times as car thefts are on the rise, and actions from thieves are becoming more bold and brazen.
I recently came across a story written by a man who owned a Daytona Blue 1963 Corvette Coupe with all matching numbers. The all-original classic sport car had an immaculate dark blue interior where only the carpet had ever been replaced. The 327 engine was said to produce a rhythmic loping that not only brought a smile to your face, but got you day dreaming of having this beauty parked in your own garage. Then disaster strikes and you’re snapped out of your dream and into his nightmare!
The owner of this beautiful piece of American history took his prized car to what he called a small “backwoods” show that a friend and he decided to go to in the spur of the moment. As owner Jacob Morgan, of Bakersfield, CA described, “The event was an annual but rather unofficial gathering of classic car buffs and I was thrilled to bring my car down. Unfortunately, the part of Florida that the event was being held was extremely dry due to drought. About three or four hours after arriving, a man who owned a red GTO (I could not tell you the year because frankly I did not care afterward) decided to start up his ride for the spectators. It was just one backfire but it was enough to start the dry grass ablaze–and guess where my Corvette was parked?
Nearly thirty classic cars were consumed by the blaze started by that backfiring GTO and my Corvette was one of them. Of course I had the car properly insured but they just aren’t making 1963 Corvettes any longer and the only one I could find that was similar cost $10,000 more than my policy’s payoff. I guess if there is a moral to my sad tale, it is to avoid backwoods car shows at all costs because they are unregulated, disorganized, and very dangerous to classic cars like my beloved 1963 Corvette Coupe.”
This may not be your traditional way of losing your prized classic car, muscle car, street rod, antique car, vintage truck or other collectible old vehicle, but it does drive home the point that we need to exercise care in even the most innocent surroundings like a car show! Freak accidents like Mr. Morgan experienced can and do account for many losses to enthusiasts – not just theft or vandalism.
Sadly though, theft isn’t a rare thing and the methods are becoming more bizarre. Guy Algar and I have had pieces stolen off one of our own vehicles that we were towing back to our shop while we stopped for a quick bite to eat! We’ve had a good number of hubcaps taken over the years. And, we actually had the brake lights ripped off of our car hauler while we were in a parts store one day picking up parts for a customer! We’ve had one customer tell us the story where he had taken his wife out to dinner and had carefully parked his 1969 Corvette at a local restaurant, under a big bright light, and in what appeared to be a “safe” area, only to come out 45 minutes to an hour later to find all his emblems and trim taken right off the car! Thieves have been known to take the entire car hauler (with the classic sitting on top) right off the tow vehicle’s hitch ball and transfer the hauler to their own tow vehicle when people are on the road, at a car show, or some other type of event. These are bold moves by people who do not fear the consequences.
Other thefts that have been reported around the country have included:
Dr. Phil just had his ’57 Chevy Belair convertible stolen from the Burbank repair shop he had brought it to for repairs.
A 1937 Buick, valued at over $100,000 was taken from a gated community parking garage in Fort Worth, Texas.
Tom of New Mexico reported the theft of two of his collector cars to Hemming. Tom owns about half a dozen collector cars altogether, and to store them all, he rented out a storage unit. Unfortunately, when he went to check on them recently, for the first time in about six months, he found that two were missing – a 1957 two-door Chevrolet Belair and a 1967 Mercury Cougar GT.
There was also a report of a man from Jefferson City, Missouri, who actually recovered his own stolen car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro that had been stolen 16 years before, after seeing it in a Google search!
In a Los Angeles suburb, a woman came home to a garage empty of her prized 1957 Chevy Bel-Air which had been valued at more than $150,000. The beautiful convertible had been featured in several magazines and TV shows and won dozens of awards at car shows around the country. A neighbor’s surveillance camera caught the actions of the thieves and revealed that the Bel-Air was pushed down the street by a pickup truck which had pulled into her driveway just minutes after she had left. The thieves likely loaded it onto an awaiting trailer. It’s thought that the thieves spotting the car at one of the car shows, followed it home afterwards, then waited for the opportunity to steal it.
A Seattle collector was the victim of a targeted “smash-and grab” from the warehouse where he kept his cars. The thieves apparently ransacked the building and drove off with a 396/425 four-speed 1965 Corvette Stingray; and a 20,000-mile 396/four-speed 1970 Chevelle SS.
A 1959 Chevrolet Impala was stolen during a Cruise Night. The owner got good news-bad news when the police tracked down because while they did recover the classic car, he had put in a claim for the theft with his insurance policy after the theft many months before, so the car went to the insurance company rather than being returned to him. Apparently detectives recovered the Impala from a chop shop nearly eight months after it was stolen, repainted and modified.
Hemmings News also reported of a reader whose 1970 Ford Maverick was stolen from his home in Missouri. The car was found and returned, but the investigation apparently revealed that the thief had been watching the owner for 2 years, with the intention of stealing it and using it to race with. Chilling thing to find out.
A 1979 Buick Electra 225 Limited Edition was stolen out of a grocery store parking lot in suburban Detroit with the thief escaping with an urn inside the trunk that contained the remains of the owner’s stepfather!
After saving for over 40 years, a man from Virginia bought the car of his dreams, a 1962 Dodge Lancer. Buying his dream car, he began his restoration project, which was about 60 percent complete when he relocated to Texas. Without a garage to keep it in after his move, he stored it in a 24-foot enclosed trailer along with a 1971 Dodge Colt he planned to turn into a race car, and kept the trailer parked at a storage lot. At the end of July, the trailer and everything in it disappeared.
The last story actually has a happy ending because it was recovered due to alert shop owners being suspicious of person wanting to unload a Lancer for only $1,500 including the many boxes of parts. After some research, the owner was reunited with his car. Guy and I have been approached on numerous occasions by people wanting to sell their vehicles. Some have hardship stories and the callers are willing to unload the car for a real bargain. We’ve always walked from these offers, primarily because we’re not in the business of buying and selling cars (we’re not dealers or re-sellers), but also because we’re cautious of a “too-good-to-be-true” price. One call in particular did make us very suspicious, as the woman caller insisted that the sale had to be completed by Monday (she called our shop over the weekend) and the price was extremely low for a rather rare model Mustang. Alert shop owners can be instrumental in aiding in the recovery of stolen classic cars.
But not all stories have a happy ending like this. Classic cars, muscle cars and antiques can make their way to chop shops, end up damaged and abandoned, and even being re-sold on Internet sites such as eBay and Craigslist!
Just yesterday, I reported on a 1954 Chevy Pickup truck which was stolen from a woman’s driveway in Oklahoma City. (Ironically this article was already written and scheduled for release today when the news hit. I’ve added her case because, unfortunately, it emphasizes how common thefts have become.) She wisely reached out to the Hemmings community of enthusiasts for help. Hemmings.com has a huge following, referred to as “Hemmings Nation”, and appealing for help to a community of enthusiasts like this can be instrumental in helping to give vital information to police and authorities who can help track and recover a stolen classic car. We applaud the work that Hemmings does.
And, the methods that thieves are using, as you can see, are as varied as the types of vehicles! Even seemingly innocent little car shows and gatherings are places you need to exercise a little caution and care. As I reported in a July article, carjackings involving classic cars are even becoming more commonplace.
Surprisingly, in some cases, the Internet has been helpful in aiding in the recovery of classic cars and muscle cars. There have been numerous stories, much like the Camaro owner above, and a man who found his 1949 Ford through a listing on Craigslist (the two men responsible were arrested and charged with disassembling a vehicle after the owner positively identified it as his) where owners have been able to locate their cars in Internet searches.
For those not so fortunate, insurance is the only consolation. We highly recommend classic car or “collector” car insurance. There are a number of companies that provide this specialized insurance, and it is generally well worth the cost. Classic Car News provided an article, Purchasing Classic Car Insurance, containing a list of companies along with links to contact them. I also recommend Hagerty Insurance’s publication, Deterring Collector Car Theft, which has tips on theft prevention.
In addition to the quick-strip thefts, thieves usually always alter, remove or forge VIN numbers, which make identification of the car or truck more difficult. Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) are serial numbers for vehicles that are used to differentiate similar makes and models. Much like social security numbers, every vehicle has a different VIN. VIN plates are usually located on the dashboard on newer cars, but are often found in the door jams of older models. VIN plates can be switched with another vehicle for a fast coverup.
The point here is to be aware of your surroundings, including where you park your car. Don’t take it for granted that just because you’re at an event with fellow enthusiasts that something bad can’t happen. Take preventive action by securing your old car or truck. Guy Algar suggests, “Don’t forget to take precautions even at home. You may feel safe parking your ride in ‘the safety’ of your two car garage, but remember, even if you don’t have windows where people can peer in and spot your valued car, thieves can also follow you home from work, a cruise, or even the grocery store and plan a theft after surveilling your home and learning your schedule. If you have a ride that catches people’s attention, remember that it can also catch the wrong attention!”