Buying Used Classics
by Pat Goss
For all of you who want to buy an older or a collectible car, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Shiny paint may not be the answer. And to give us some pointers, we have Tony Fleming, who is an expert in all of this. Tony, we’ve got two cars here. One is this Corvette, which is a wonderful car. And, I don’t know of anything that’s wrong with it. Then we have your Mercedes, which looks wonderful, but…
TONY FLEMING: You know, it is shiny. And that really is the key: to making sure that you really get an expert to look at the car. Because if the paint wasn’t shiny, and it was a little tired looking, you’d be more suspect, would you not?
PAT: Oh, absolutely.
TONY: And I was the same way. And I feel that, not that I’m an expert, but I’ve bought somewhere around 3,000 plus of these cars, and I missed some serious spots on this car because I overlooked: it had shiny paint, it had a new interior, it had a new top. To me, it says, “wow, this is a really great car.” And it turned out not to be.
PAT: Okay. So you looked at this sitting on the ground which is an absolute no-no.
TONY: That is for sure. Everybody needs to know that everything that happens in a car, and the way it functions, really is from the bottom up. You know, you can make anything shiny. I guess they’d say, “You can shine a pig,” right? But here, the underneath of it looks good too? But then I think if you look here, and a little further, you’re going to see, it’s not as nice.
PAT: Let’s raise this up, and see what you’re talking about, here…
Alright Tony, now that we’ve got the car up in the air, show me what you saw under this car.
TONY: So here’s what I’m seeing. I’m saying, “okay, here are the nice pieces inside here, the ribs you can see, the exhaust is nice and shiny; silver paint right here.” So I say, “You know what? Shiny paint outside, nice looking underneath here…what a great car.”
PAT: Okay, but what didn’t you see?
TONY: Well, what I didn’t see was this ugliness up here. The car was on the ground, so the wheels are a little bigger than the stock ones, so it hid all of this rot that was up there. Now what we’ll have to do is completely cut all of this out, re-weld it all back in, it’s…a big job.
PAT: Okay, but it’ll be a nice car when you’re done with it.
TONY: Whoever gets the car is going to get a great car.
PAT: But the moral to all of this is, even the experts can be fooled. So if you’re a neophyte in all of this, you could really be fooled.
TONY: That’s for sure. And on top of it, you’re a retail customer…like, we can do this for a lot less than anyone else can do it, because it’s what we do every day. But if you bought this car thinking you got this great deal, and then you found this out and had to go and get it done somewhere, it could be very expensive.
PAT: Okay, thank you Tony.
And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.