How to Start a Car Collection

Collecting cars can be a rewarding pastime. In the same way that historic homes offer a glimpse into the past, vintage vehicles serve as time capsules, documenting automotive history. Car buffs collect them not only for their beauty and value, but also to preserve them for future generations.

Car collections aren’t limited to classics, though. Unique modern rides also draw attention from collectors who focus on styling, performance, and automotive innovation.

Some collectors drive their cars, while others garage them most of the time. Hands-on enthusiasts roll up their sleeves and get acquainted with the inner workings of each vehicle, while others tend to their collections from a distance.

With so many things to consider, what’s the best way to start a car collection?

Find Your Niche

Car collectors each have their own source of motivation, and collectors are as unique as the cars they collect. The first step to successful collecting is defining your niche. Are you in it for the money? Do you expect to travel with cars from your collection, sharing them at auto shows and events? Are you most interested in a single make and model? Answers to these and other preliminary questions lay the groundwork for a rewarding car collecting experience.

Do Some Research


Image via Flickr by george.buhnici

The more you learn about car collecting, the better your chances of getting what you want from the experience. Research is part of the fun, so if you don’t enjoy the process, car collecting may not be for you.

Before beginning to fill your garage, consult with experienced collectors. Their firsthand insight paints a true picture of life as a collector. Car aficionados gather worldwide, so your learning process should include attending automotive festivals and car shows, interacting with people already involved in the hobby.

Automotive auctions offer opportunities to price the types of cars you like. Studying selling prices also offers clues about the overall market. Are collectible car values rising or falling? Do you see opportunities to buy cars priced within your budget? Armed with a strong sense of collecting trends, you’re less likely to make missteps once you decide to begin buying vehicles for your collection.

Account for Storage and Maintenance

Cars are machines requiring ongoing care and maintenance. Don’t make the common mistake of overextending on a car purchase, leaving you without the resources to maintain it. Eager collectors sometimes overlook storage needs, too. As your collection grows, you’ll need room indoors to protect it. Compiling a list of anticipated expenses creates realistic expectations about the true cost of owning a car collection.

Don’t Get Too Attached 

No matter how much you covet a particular car, the time will come when it makes sense to sell it. Passionate collectors, particularly those committed to profiting from the experience, understand this. There is a difference between buying and holding on to a car you love and making prudent collecting decisions. Starting your car collection by examining your motives for collecting will help you decide how to proceed.

Whether you embrace vintage classics or cutting-edge automotive innovation, these tips can help you get started collecting cars.