Aaron Widmar
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Starting a Car Collection: Beginner’s Tips & Considerations

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How experts recommend you start your acquisition of classic cars and luxury vehicles

Morgan Plus Four classic starting a car collection tips advice tricks beginner's
Pictured: Morgan Plus Four
Photo: The News Wheel

Every hobby has a beginning, and that includes collecting cars. If you’re considering starting a car collection, you have to begin somewhere. To help you begin your new hobby properly, consider this advice from the experts.

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Know your why

As cool as it is to have an array of fancy cars to show off, you shouldn’t start a collection simply for the prestige. Accumulating cars is a laborious, costly undertaking that shouldn’t be entered into without a clear plan and interest.

Experienced car collectors emphasize the importance of loving the automotive lifestyle if you’re going to spend so much time and money hunting down and preserving vehicles. If you do it just for the money, you’ll quickly get burnt out when the going gets tough.

Clearly knowing why you’re starting a car collection will help you determine what your objective will be.

  • What’s the goal you’re attempting to reach?
  • Will there be a particular focus of your collection?
  • How will you deem whether your efforts are successful or not?
  • How will you go about acquiring cars?
  • How will you pay for them?
  • At what point will you stop adding new items?
  • What will you do with the items once you have them?
  • Will you sell them or donate them to a museum?

Do your research

You shouldn’t go into your new hobby blind. If you don’t know the market, the product, or your resources, you’re setting yourself up for hardship — and probable failure.

You will face losses, and promising acquisitions will turn out to be money pits, but you can substantially mitigate those if you do your research before buying. Know what’s a high price and what’s a steal. Know where to look for sellers and how to negotiate. Focusing on specific brands or classifications will help you hone your knowledge and narrow your search field to one that’s manageable.

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Anticipate the cost of collecting

A successful collection can eventually pay off, but any collection — especially one involving rare, desirable automobiles — will cost you before it pays you back.

In addition to sinking a lot of money into acquiring new pieces, you’ll have to pay ongoing costs for transportation and storage. Experts point out that you’ll need somewhere to store your set, and a venue that’s nearby and suitable for year-round storage — like a climate-controlled warehouse — can be pricey.

You’ll also have to pay for regular maintenance, which is just as important for idling cars in storage as it is for a car you drive daily. Unexpected restoration costs could also arise once you inspect your recent purchase. Be prepared to fork over more money than you anticipated as unforeseen costs arise.

Having even a modest car collection that you’ve personally amassed can be satisfying and a lucrative long-term investment. Develop connections with experienced collectors by joining a local or online club and have someone mentor you as you begin your journey. You’re more likely to succeed if you’re guided by someone who’s been in your shoes before.