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.
Understand maintenance costs and ask for records.
"The more expensive the car, the more important the service records are," says Sarcona. You should beware of sellers who aren't forthcoming with maintenance histories. Cars that look and run well can have very expensive maintenance costs just around the corner. For example, you can score a Ferrari for less than $30,000, but it might be on the cusp of needing a $5,000 timing belt replacement since these vehicles require a new one every 7,000 miles or four years.
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