Whether you opt for an antique American muscle car, a 1960s Porsche or a more modern Jeep or Honda, buying a collectible car can be a good way to invest your money, but it’s never guaranteed. Fluctuating market demand and interest make any used car purchase a risky one. In order to maximize your chances of getting the best deal, it’s necessary to do some research before you hand over any cash. Take a look at the top five things potential collectors should consider when looking to buy a vintage ride:

  • A Clear Title with Accurate VIN

Make sure that the seller of any car in which you are interested actually holds the title to it in his or her name and that the VIN on it matches the number on the car itself.

The VIN can be run through a database (and you can look for the word “salvage” on the title, as well) to show whether or not the car has been in an accident, thus lowering the car’s value and price. If the seller does not have the title or says that he or she will mail it to you; or if the numbers on the car’s engine, transmission and rear axle don’t correspond to the listed VIN, keep looking!

  • Original Interior Condition
collectible car

A car with a well-maintained, original interior is obviously preferable to one with damage. Make sure that there are no rips or tears in the seats and that the dashboard, radio, emblems, mats and carpet are in good shape or that a quality car interior restoration has already occurred since having to replace these items yourself would likely increase the overall cost of the car significantly.

  • Clean Exterior Condition
collectible car

Likewise, be sure to inspect the car’s body and undercarriage for chips in the paint, dents and other damage. Pay particular attention to any rust and misalignments in panels and doors, as they could indicate previous trauma or neglect.

  • Acceptable Upkeep Costs

Research any costs that would accompany the car’s purchase such as insurance rates and parts and maintenance costs. Furthermore, if you are going to drive the car, exposing it to the open road will necessarily expose it to possible damage. You will need to consider all of these factors and decide if the time and expense of the car’s upkeep makes your investment in the car worthwhile (if you’re buying it as a hobby) and/or profitable (if you’re hoping to sell it one day).

  • Accessibility of Parts and Service
collectible car

It’s important to know a reputable mechanic and understand how easy it will (or will not) be to service any car you buy. Many collectible car are hard to work on and/or have hard to find parts. Finding someone with expertise and access to parts can help you understand the likely costs of any possible repairs in the future.