Are you on the lookout for something a little less ordinary, something unique, with plenty of history? There’s nothing like searching out a rare classic left to rot in someone’s back yard or old barn. This may be the only way to find that certain classic car you’ve always dreamed of or find something you’ve never even heard of. So what makes this a viable option over buying something new? Read on and find out.
Not everyone wants to rock up to a car dealer and have to battle with the salesperson over a car that’s a clone of every other car on the road at the moment. Not having to deal with finance companies or the limited knowledge about the cars history with dealers is a huge relief to some, if not most people when looking for a car.
‘What you see is what you get’ is the motto for this search. Don’t expect to find everything working (if anything), parts are usually missing, and there will definitely be work that needs doing both on the body and the engine. The most exciting part is the variety of vehicles you might just find – everything from fire trucks, police cars, hearses, and ambulances to three-wheeler European micro-cars, buses, and ice-cream vans. You will definitely need to have it towed to your house or a garage – somewhere you can work on it in your own time. You will need patience to find the right car, for the amount of work required to fix it up, and waiting times on parts.
However, with that said, you could be sitting on a potential money earner if the vehicle model is highly sought after, and that you restore it to its original condition as it would have been when it came off the showroom floor. This will of course take a lot of funds, so you need to have a healthy budget set aside or slowly work on it as you have funds to hand.
The search is such a fun hobby in itself. There are many different ways of seeking out that elusive ‘barn find’. You can of course go online and look through Craigslist, Ebay, or even go onto a fantastic site I recently found called barnfinds.com (although some of the prices might be a bit steep). But the best way is to ask around and get out there. Most people who have old cars sitting in their creaky old weatherboard sheds or left out in the yard are usually older, don’t have access to the internet, and aren’t selling. It’s also no use looking in newly established residential areas (over the last 20 plus years) as there aren’t going to be any barn finds there either. So, seek out older neighborhoods with run down homes and garages, or get out to the countryside where there are big properties and many cars dotted around for the possibility of finding something.
The approach is important. Don’t go searching dressed up like an accountant or look as if you’re going to a party. You won’t be taken seriously. You will probably get dusty and dirty anyway looking in and around vehicles, so dress in a t-shirt and jeans, make it simple and down-to-earth, and pop a smile on your dial as you knock on the door. Don’t ask if their car is for sale and how much straight off the bat. Just say who you are and that their car caught your attention and you’d like to know more if they have the time. Allowing people to share their story and history with the vehicle is a great way to earn their trust, build a rapport, and spark a common interest. Tell them a bit yourself, why you’re interested in reviving an old classic, and that you haven’t had any luck finding one. They may have more than one car lying around, and most importantly spare parts to go with these cars, so get them to expand on those as well, or point to one you’re interested in, allowing you to find out more about it. They may have valuable technical knowledge about the car which is handy should you acquire the car. This could enhance your chances of purchasing a car off them if you say you’re interested and are very keen to bring new life into their beloved vehicle.
Once they see that passion and realize their car could be going to a good home, they may consider an offer or lower the price to what you have to spend. If you’re extra lucky, they may want to give it to you for free – although this is extremely rare – as rare as the car itself. Be prepared to come up with a figure – something to think about as you look around the car. Ask them first though if they have a price in mind. If they are cautious and can’t make a decision on the spot, reassure them they don’t have to make up their mind on the spot, and suggest you could come back in a few days for their answer. Remember, they have history and usually an attachment to the car, so rushing them won’t do you any favors. You may have to wait longer if they need more time, so you can wear them down with your charm and gentle persistence. If they are definite in their decision not to sell, it’s been a great learning curve, but just move on to the next one. Someone will eventually sell. You can always ask the person if they know of anyone else who may want to sell an old car, they may have connections or neighbors that have some stored away. If you have a good connection with them, they may even introduce you to other people.
Have an open mind to the type of car you may find instead of focusing on a particular model. This way, you are more likely to find something really unique. You will meet some interesting characters along the way, so embrace this stage of car searching and good luck.