How to Buy Your First Collectible Muscle Car

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How to Buy Your First Collectible Muscle Car
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How to Buy Your First Collectible Muscle Car

Anyone who spent time at their local drive-in restaurant, back when those types of eating establishments were the rage, knows the allure of a true muscle car. Loud headers, screeching burnouts, and fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror were all trademark characteristics of the muscle car era. Whether you want to relive the glory days of muscle cars or just enjoy going from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds, buying your first collectible muscle car is a special experience. Nothing can dampen the joy of collectible car ownership faster than buying a vehicle that turns out to be less than advertised, or being involved in a purchase that results in a problem transaction. This guide will help first time collectible muscle car buyers avoid the pitfalls that can ruin the enjoyment of their dream purchase.

Expectations of Muscle Car Buyers

First-time muscle car buyers should understand what can be expected when they become owners of a high-performance collectible. Buyers should not assume that their purchase will result in ownership of an appreciable asset. Muscle car values can fluctuate drastically; and gasoline prices, vehicle condition, and model supply and demand are factors that can raise or lower the market value of specialty vehicles. To produce the muscle, high-performance vehicles consume gasoline at a rate significantly greater than an average passenger car. Muscle car buyers who actually drive their vehicles, and not just display them at car shows, can expect a gallon of fuel to equal no more than ten miles of driving. A 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with a 427 cu. in. engine getting 8 mpg (miles per gallon) from the stock 18 gallon fuel tank will run out of gas before traveling 150 miles. Buyers purchasing a show piece collectible muscle car will see it depreciate significantly when they begin driving anywhere other than from the car hauler to the show floor. Not all muscle cars are created equally; the 1969 Camaro with the 427 cu. in. engine will be worth significantly more if the vehicle was ordered with a COPO 9560 or COPO 9561 option as opposed to the stock 305 cu. in. engine being removed and replaced with the larger one. Camaro COPO 427 vehicles are in high demand, and a retrofitted 427 Camaro will be easier to find.

First Time Muscle Car Buyer Tips

An original 1969 Camaro COPO 427 was recently listed in 2011 on eBay for $189,000; a nice replica 427 Camaro sold on eBay for $40,000, and the average buyer would probably not be able to tell the difference between the two vehicles. Before a first-time buyer enters the collectible muscle car market, there are some important factors to consider.

Establish a Budget

Collectible cars generally command premium prices, and buyers considering a major purchase are wise to establish a budget and stick to it. Even buyers with a large amount of disposable income must decide how much is too much to pay for the vehicle of their dreams. Buyers seeking to purchase a collectible car using credit should pre-qualify for the loan; most sellers will expect prompt payment and financing delays can create potential problems with the purchase. Additionally, pre-qualifying provides the buyer with a budget that is, in their lenders opinion, affordable based on their current financial situation.

Be an Informed Buyer

Collectible muscle car buyers should become experts on the model they are shopping for. It is advisable for buyers to narrow their search to a specific model early in the purchase process. It is improbable that a buyer could learn every possible nuance of a manufacturer’s muscle car offerings. Muscle car buyers often are partial to a specific manufacturer or vehicle make, but there are unique characteristics to a Chevrolet Camaro muscle car that are far different from the performance aspects of a Chevrolet Corvette. Once a buyer has settled upon the specific make and model they hope to purchase, it is imperative they become almost an expert on that vehicle. Premium performance car buyers should understand what makes a particular vehicle stand out to a collector. Buyers should understand not only what makes their dream vehicle collectible, but how to identify the difference between a unique original and a well-done copy. A buyer may decide to purchase a vehicle that has been reborn as a muscle car to save money or because the buyer wants a drivable version of a show-quality collectible. Purchasing a duplicate is certainly acceptable if that is the buyer’s intent.

Ask an Expert

During the purchase process, should a buyer encounter an issue beyond the scope of their knowledge, he/she shouldn’t hesitate to consult an expert. If a buyer is not comfortable with the mechanical condition of the seller’s vehicle, have it inspected by an independent technician. Should the buyer not understand the documentation provided by the seller, have it evaluated by someone accustomed to producing or verifying vehicle sales documents. Buyers should expect to pay for an unbiased opinion provided by an expert. Consider it insurance against a potential disaster and pay the premium happily.

Get a Good Deal

The definition of a good used car deal is a transaction that leaves both the buyer and the seller satisfied. An even better deal is finding the exact same car at a cheaper price. Collectible muscle car buyers should take the time to study the market for the particular vehicle they would like to purchase. Asking price is not always the selling price. A good way to research vehicle pricing is to use eBay Motors. A buyer can search eBay for the performance model they hope to buy and review seller’s asking prices as well as current buyer’s bids. By selecting the option to view only completed listings, a buyer can see similar cars that went unsold, as well as the cars that did sell, and their selling price. Having a realistic reference of actual sales can help a muscle car buyer negotiate with a seller whose asking price seems a bit on the high side.

Avoid Seller Scams

Car sale scams happen often and they exist in the collectible market as well. The best way for a buyer to avoid being scammed is to not overlook the obvious. Being an informed collectible buyer is the key to avoiding misrepresentation of a vehicle. Being an informed consumer is the key to avoiding a individual with ulterior motives. If it sounds to good to be true, rest assured it is. Don’t be pressured into making a decision, as scams often succeed because the buyer did not take the time to examine all aspects of the deal. If something seems amiss, slow down and resolve any questions before proceeding with the transaction.

Understand the title, registration, and purchase reporting responsibilities of a buyer in the state where the sales transaction is being finalized. Collectible buyers often travel significant distances in search of just that right car. If crossing state lines, realize that will mean a vehicle sale may involve aspects different from what a buyer would encounter "at home." Buyers should be prepared to walk away from any deal that does not seem right. Never ignore a warning signal by becoming emotionally attached to the car before properly completing the deal. It is far better to start the buying process over on another vehicle than to continue with a questionable purchase and suffer the consequences of a deal gone bad.

Consider Purchasing Online

There are many reasons a muscle car collector should consider using the Internet to purchase their next high-performance specialty vehicle. First-time buyers can benefit from the wealth of knowledge that resides just a mouse click away. Using eBay to research and purchase a collectible muscle car can make the purchase process more efficient and more secure. Here are some compelling reasons for shopping and buying a collectible muscle car through eBay.

Review Comparable Vehicles with Ease

Buyers seeking that perfect collector car can take advantage of the ability to comparison shop purchase possibilities side-by-side. The distance between similar muscle cars offered for sale might be significant. With eBay Motors, a buyer can study the available market on their computer. When looking for equipment options and studying price variables, shopping online for a collector car can provide the buyer many advantages over the in-person shopping of similar cars at various locations. The online shopper can more quickly assess all the variables that play into making a purchase decision. Online buyers are also less likely to make a regrettable snap purchase decision based on the lack of availability within their local market.

Quickly Research Potential Purchases

Buyers considering a vehicle for purchase will often ask questions to find out something about what they may be buying. They should start by asking how many people have owned the vehicle and whether there are any known condition issues. Online buyers can contact sellers and ask about the particulars of the collectible muscle car they have listed. The seller’s Ask a Question feature of eBay Motors makes this task easy and it can be done anonymously. Use eBay Motors ’ Vehicle History feature to verify title worthiness and any accident history of the car. Buyers can ask the seller to provide documentation of the vehicle’s authenticity if it is a limited production or unique specialty car. Interchange of specific information requests can be sent electronically insuring a record of the communication is available to both the buyer and seller.

Terms and Conditions of the Sale Can be Documented

Buyers should reach an agreement with the seller on the terms and conditions of the sale prior to entering into a purchase agreement. Sellers on eBay stipulate the conditions associated with the purchase of their vehicle as a part of the vehicle listing. Collector cars command premium prices, and a buyer will want a well-documented record of the sale to establish a continuous confirmation of ownership in the event they choose to resell. Buy knowing the expectations of the seller in advance, as a buyer can negotiate any changes they deem appropriate and necessary to successfully finalizing the deal. Both parties deserve a satisfactory completion of the sales process. Eliminating and resolving any unsatisfactory stipulations for the benefit of buyer and seller ensures that each receives what they deem to be fair treatment.

Establishing a Trust Factor with the Online Seller

First time online buyers often express concern about dealing with an unknown seller. Seller reputation is a valid concern and eBay Motors has many tools to help buyers research a seller’s trustworthiness. In fact, using eBay’s seller rating tools can provide greater confidence in the seller than can be achieved through an in-person transaction. Buyers can check a seller’s eBay Feedback Scores to find out how a particular seller is rated by past buyers who have done business with them. Understanding feedback ratings will help buyers gain a perspective as to a seller’s responsiveness in rated critical performance areas. Buyers can also read feedback comments to gather additional insight into the sellers interaction with those who have made previous purchases. If a problem is indicated, ask the seller to explain. Buyers should not hesitate to ask a seller to speak personally, as buying a collectible muscle car is a major purchase that deserves a high level of confidence between the buyer and seller. A personal telephone conversation to confirm details would be appropriate for both parties. Buyers can judge sellers on the manner in which they respond to questions and inquires. Determine if the seller is courteous, and see how quickly he/she respond to inquiries and reasonable requests for information. As with any transaction, the outcome should benefit both the buyer and the seller. If a buyer feels uncomfortable in any part of the process, either resolve the issue satisfactorily or walk away.

Complete the Sale in a Safe and Secure Manner

Online collectible muscle car buyers can take advantage of eBay ’ s Buyer Protection Plan to add another degree of confidence to the purchase process. To be eligible for eBay’s Buyer Protection Plan, vehicle buyers must complete the sale on eBay Motors. By using eBay and PayPal, buyers know their funds are protected and a viable avenue of recourse exists should problems with the transaction arise.


First-time buyers considering the purchase of a collectible muscle car can achieve that dream without it turning into a nightmare. As with any worthwhile project, some effort is required. Follow good advice and consider using the tools provided by eBay to assist you through the process. The satisfaction of successfully completing the acquisition of your first classic collectible will only be matched by the thrill of punching the accelerator.

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