• U.S.

Searching for New Thrills in Old Wheels

2 minute read
Carole Buia

Americans who are fed up with the stock market’s volatility are turning to an investment that seems to promise a smoother ride: collectible cars. According to a study by the automobile-auction company Barrett-Jackson, the billion-dollar collectible-car industry is growing at a 10% clip annually. “The baby boomers are fueling this long-term trend,” explains Craig Jackson, president of Barrett-Jackson. “They want to own the cars of their youth.” Coveted wheels include ’50s sports cars like the Corvette and muscle cars of the late ’60s and early ’70s like the Pontiac Ram Air IV GTO.

As with most investments, there is no guarantee that your vintage find will appreciate five years from now. That’s why experts recommend buying the car you’ve always wanted to drive. Hey, better to cruise in that ’59 Cadillac Eldorado today than to sit on yesterday’s Enron shares.

A few tips to help you steer clear of lemons:

–Familiarize yourself with your dream car by reading magazines, books and price guides. Attend car shows and join a car club in your area (there are more than 3,000 car clubs nationwide).

–Be sure that all interior and exterior parts are factory originals, including the engine. A new engine in an old car generally decreases the value. Also, cars that have had accident damage and been rebuilt make poor investments.

–Consider hiring an appraiser to inspect your potential purchase.

–Look for an original title, a chain of ownership and any award documentation. The more paperwork the seller has, the more valuable the auto. Check that the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the car matches the VIN on the title.

–Watch for models that had a limited production run, like the ’65-’67 AC Shelby Cobra 427, which tend to be worth more. Convertibles also command higher prices. As the saying goes, “The price goes up if the top comes down.”

You can send e-mail to Carole at cbuia25@aol.com

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