Buying your fantasy car doesn't have to be just a dream. People achieve their own auto nirvana every day, often with a lot less cash than you might think. So what does it take to actually own a car that turns heads ands lights up your face with a smile every time you rev it up?
We talked to three auto experts who regularly buy, sell, and work on drool-worthy cars to find out. Buying a dream car requires patience, planning, and, preferably, cold-hard cash. Our experts couldn't stress how important it is to be an educated buyer.
Richard Rawlings stars in Discovery Channel's 'Fast N' Loud,' a show in which he and his colleagues scour Texas for undervalued cars, restore them, and then flip them for a profit. His conquests include everything from a rusty old Ford Galaxie to a Ferrari F40. He says there's no shortage of dream cars just waiting for a good home. But he doesn't necessarily recommend following his buy-and-fix method for most people.
Mike Sarcona owns and operates Classic Cars West, a boutique vintage dealership in the San Francisco Bay Area. His current inventory includes a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, a 2008 Aston Martin Vantage, and a fully restored 1966 Ford Mustang Fastback.
We also spoke with Laura Fisher of Experience Auto Group, which has Maserati and Ferrari showrooms in New York and New Jersey.
No matter your budget or taste in vehicles, you should follow these seven steps to make sure your car dream doesn't turn into a nightmare.
Cash is king.
So they can make some extra money, dealers prefer to handle the financing of any brand-spanking new car. But cash is king when it comes to buying used cars, regardless of the price range and especially when buying from individuals. "I was taught a long time ago that you could buy $10,000 cars for $5,000 all day long if you have cash," says Rawlings. "Sellers deal with a lot of people who are tire kickers or say that they have to talk to wives first. I guarantee that you'll save a lot of money if you have the cash in your pocket."
If you don't have cash on hand, you can go to several reputable lenders – JJ Best and Woodside Credit, among others – that will finance older cars after a cursory inspection. Collectible dealerships can help in the process even on vehicles that are 50 or more years old.
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