Being a vintage car owner is, for many, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It represents the chance to own that fantasy car that takes you back to a unique era of automotive design and performance. However, owning an antique car isn’t as straightforward as simply picking up a brand new model at your local dealership. Here’s a vintage car ownership checklist that will help you get the most enjoyment out of your classic:
1. Specialty Plates: Know Your Options and Limits
Many states offer specialty plates and registration for vintage cars, but the process varies depending on where you live. Some states restrict the use of your vehicle to parades and special events, while others offer discounts for vintage vehicle plate holders.
If possible, look for a DMV that will allow you to run a plate from the year your vehicle was built or that will issue you a “year of manufacture” plate to commemorate that date, adding further flavor to your vehicle’s appearance.
Unlike a new car with a fixed MSRP value, when insuring a vintage car, you should look into getting the car professionally evaluated. Make sure you find an insurance agent that is familiar with the classic car market. You should always get an agreed-upon value written into your specific insurance agreement. Ideally, you should find a specialty insurance company that deals specifically with collector cars to safeguard your best interests.
Lastly, if you drive your vehicle every day or use it to commute to work, you may not qualify for a collector car policy. Make sure to verify any usage restrictions that might apply to your vehicle with your insurance agency.
3. Be Prepared to Chase Down Parts
Many vintage car parts can be found by walking into your local NAPA store and asking for help at the counter with your car maintenance checklist, but there will always be specialty parts that are difficult to track down. This is especially true of model-specific interior/exterior trims or mechanical specifications unique to your vehicle. Be prepared to scour the Internet or spend time at swap meets seeking out your vintage car’s most rare or sought-after components.
4. Joining AAA Is No Longer Optional
No matter how reliable your vintage car may be the day you buy it, remember that time claims all things. Antique cars just aren’t as reliable as modern models, so you should expect to deal with the occasional breakdown during the course of your ownership. Joining AAA or a similar roadside assistance program that offers flatbed towing for your classic car will prevent you from getting stranded during a relaxing Sunday drive.
5. Welcome to the Club
Joining a vintage car club, especially one that’s focused on your make and model, can make it that much easier to track down the pieces you need to check off your car maintenance checklist. It also offers you the chance to share in the fellowship and enthusiasm of a group of like-minded classic car collectors, making it a worthwhile investment that will help you maximize the fun — and minimize the headaches — that can come with vintage car ownership.
Being a vintage car owner is no small task, and keeping up with maintenance and insurance can prove burdensome without the proper resources in place. Following this car ownership checklist will help you to prevent your pride and joy from becoming just another jalopy off the road.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on classic car ownership, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.