What are the pros and cons of buying a classic car?

Determining your reasons for buying a classic car can help you decide if owning one is worth it. Which of these pros of buying a classic car are most important to you?

  • A fun project: Classic cars can be fun to own and drive. And if you know your way around cars, or want to learn, restoring and maintaining a classic can be a fulfilling way to spend your time. Many classics are fairly easy to work on, and you can likely find the information you need to learn online or from classic car enthusiasts.
  • Nostalgia: Classic cars take you back to a different time. Whether it's the vehicle's style or the memories it elicits from days gone by, classic cars often provide a sense of nostalgia, and you'll be able to connect with other classic car owners at events.
  • Value: Unlike modern-day vehicles that start depreciating as soon as you drive them home, classic cars often increase in value over time if you take good care of them.

Before you rush out to buy one, consider these cons to buying a classic car:

  • Cost: Classic cars may cost more than modern vehicles, and you'll likely drive it less due to its age.
  • Repairs and parts: Because they're old, classic cars may need to be inspected and repaired more often. If your classic is particularly rare, you might have difficulty finding the parts you need. If you're not prepared to maintain the vehicle yourself, you'll need to find a mechanic who can.
  • Convenience: Features like navigation systems, Bluetooth hook-ups, and entertainment systems aren't available on classic cars. Classic cars also aren't as environmentally friendly as newer models. They produce higher emissions and emit more pollutants into the air.
  • Safety: Compared to modern cars, classic cars lack many features that help keep you and your family safe on the road today. The U.S. government didn't set vehicle safety standards until the late 1960s. Many safety features such as airbags, electronic stability control, and the LATCH child safety seat system didn't become mandatory until the 1990s or later.

If you want to try it out before you become a collector, consider renting a classic car.

Are classic cars a good investment?

The value of classic cars fluctuates, but they can appreciate over time rather than depreciate like a modern car does. Classic car appreciation depends on multiple factors, including the purchase price, the condition of the vehicle, the model's rarity, your restoration and maintenance costs, and how much you can sell it for.

Even if you purchase a model that significantly increases in value after you buy it, you may still put more money into it with repairs and maintenance costs. But if you're buying a classic car for enjoyment and not because you want to turn a profit, it may be worth your money, regardless of its future value.

You should also decide upfront if you'll be driving your classic car daily or keeping it as a collectible that you'll only drive on occasion. A collectible may be less likely to depreciate over time if it gets less use. And your classic car insurance options for a collectible can be more affordable and comprehensive than for a daily-use classic — any car driven daily will require a standard auto insurance policy.

Learn more about buying a classic car.