Information on Import of Classic Cars
Have a question about import of classic cars from an overseas market? Look here first.
Buying a Classic Car from a Private Seller
Buying classic cars from private sellers is a popular activity. For most shoppers, it’s their first place to look for a good deal. As with any buying and selling activity, dealing with a private seller assumes you understand what to expect.
Advantages of Buying from a Private Seller
There are many advantages to buying from a private seller. First of all, private sellers, unlike dealerships, don’t have the overhead and facilities costs of a business. Their principal motive is getting a fair price for their car rather than earning a profit. Additionally, private sellers won’t be interested in selling you any extras, such as extended warranties, maintenance contracts, or other add-ons. The upshot is that any given car is purchased most cheaply directly from a private seller.
Purchases from private sellers are generally exempt from local sales taxes.
Most private sellers are enthusiasts just like you and are intimately knowledgeable about their cars. They usually can answer even the most detailed questions. This is especially important for classic cars, where many decades of history may be important to consider. Most private sellers aren’t professional negotiators so buyers tend to feel more confident in their ability to strike a fair deal.
Most private sellers are quite happy to allow you to test drive their vehicle or to have an inspector test it on your behalf. The vehicle won’t be parked inside a showroom or on a crowded lot, so access should be easy.
Disadvantages of Buying from a Private Seller
There are some downsides to consider when buying from a private seller, however. Because the seller isn’t a business, don’t expect help with services you may need to take ownership of the vehicle.
Two reasonable adults can disagree widely over the condition of a classic or collector car that is many decades old. It’s up to you to rely on your own research. What the seller thinks is in excellent condition may not meet your definition of the term, or vice-versa. If you are unsure of your ability to thoroughly evaluate the vehicle we suggest you hire a third-party inspection service.
Private seller transactions aren’t regulated. You are accepting the vehicle on an “as is” basis without a warranty or even protection from “lemon laws” or other consumer protection legislation. Once you pay for it, it’s yours!
The Certificate of Title
Buying a classic car from a private seller involves minimal paperwork. It’s important that the seller’s documentation be in good order and demonstrates the seller’s right to sell you the vehicle. This is the purpose of the title certificate. Be sure the title correctly displays the seller’s name and the vehicle’s VIN. If the vehicle’s model year is earlier than 1981, the serial number should be displayed.
Also important to note is that the title should not display any designations indicating that the vehicle has had a troubled past. Such designations include words such as “salvage” or “rebuilt.” These designations indicate that the vehicle was once deemed ineligible to drive on public roads in the state where it was titled. If the vehicle does have a salvage title, be aware that you may have considerable trouble getting it registered and insured for street use.
The Bill of Sale
You should memorialize the sale with a simple document called a bill of sale. The bill of sale need not be complicated. It shows the date of sale, names of each party, a brief description of the car, the price paid, and the form of payment. It needs to be signed by both parties. A bill of sale is especially important for cash sales, as it serves as your proof that you actually purchased the car.
Once the sale is done, congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a classic vehicle.
How to Evaluate a Classic Car's Condition
Whether you’re buying or selling, evaluating a classic car’s condition is important to the process.
Don’t know where you should start? Our guide suggests you evaluate a few different important areas. If you still don’t think you know enough to properly evaluate a car’s condition, you might want to hire an inspector to do the job for you. Keep in mind that we’re talking here about the condition of regular cars.
Just as with late-model pre-owned vehicles, mechanical condition is a big deal, but at a whole different level. A good place to start is whether the car is in safe driving condition. If it isn’t, then the question is whether the car is either restorable or a parts car.
A classic in good running condition with the original drivetrain (i.e., engine, transmission and rear end) is favorable. It’s less favorable if one or more of the three are replaced. If they are replaced, note whether the components have been replaced with original factory parts, factory replacement parts from a third party, or with components made for a different vehicle altogether. Note that an engine that has been rebuilt using original factory (also known as OEM) parts to original factory specifications should be considered an original engine.
Beyond the drivetrain, many components are meant to be replaced periodically, so consider the presence of replacement parts as a good thing. After all, each replacement part (that doesn’t itself require replacement) is just one less part for the new owner to buy. As with the major drivetrain components, OEM replacement parts are often preferable to non-OEM.
Check the operation of all factory-equipped option. Examples include air conditioning, turbo charger, power assists, convertible tops, radio, and so on. Having all the factory-equipped options working enhances a car’s condition.
Check for leaks anywhere fluids are present. Head gaskets, the rear main seal, the power steering system, brake lines, the water pump, radiator, all hoses, transmission, fuel system and gas tank—each tells its own story, and any leaks, even if they are minor, carry a potential cost. The fewer there are, the better the condition. For most classics, some minor leaks are expected.
Any blue smoke coming out the tailpipe could indicate an internal leak that is expensive to repair. Blue smoke often indicates serious problems with pistons, valves or perhaps even the engine block itself. If it’s coming from a relatively recent classic car, such as a muscle car or a vehicle of that era, it can be a significant issue.
Assessing the quality of a classic car’s exterior can depend on how original the body panels, bumpers, grille, badging, lights and other components are. An “all original” classic is viewed more favorably than one that is “fully restored.” Vehicles with their original exterior components intact generally indicate proper sheltering, a mild climate, regular maintenance, or a combination of the three.
Qualities that define an exterior in good condition include properly aligned body panels, matching chrome trim that’s not pitted, and body panels free of filler, dents or dings. The side mirror(s) should be secure. All badges and ornamentation should be original and free of bubbling paint in their immediate vicinity.
Speaking of paint, its evaluation is rather subjective. Some people insist on the OEM color, while others love custom paint. Either way, thin spots, scratches, peeling, drips or heavy oxidation can detract from the condition.
The biggest showstopper, of course, is rust. Minor surface rust on the undercarriage is inevitable, but any deep rust on body panels means that the affected panels will need to be replaced
Whether original or restored, the closer to “like new” condition, the better. Scuffs happen, so don’t worry about reasonable wear and tear. Conditions that make a difference in terms of a car’s overall condition include rips in the upholstery or headliner; thin, torn or worn carpeting, and a cracked or misaligned dash. As far as knobs, buttons and switches go, if it’s inside the car, it should be operable, mechanically and electrically. Windows, heater, air conditioning, interior lights, power seats, radio should all operate.
One of the more bedeviling trouble spots in classic cars involves the electrical system. The older the car, the less likely electrical problems are an issue, since there are few components and wiring is straightforward. Test the horn, lights, turn signals, fan, radio and dashboard gauges. The starter motor should turn the engine over easily and without hesitation. Check for frayed or exposed wires.
Evaluating a car’s condition is often done for purposes of buying or selling, so an evaluation of the vehicle’s paperwork should be part of the process. Are all the car’s service records since new available? That’s a big plus if they document a timely and professional maintenance history. Does the vehicle have a clean and clear title? A good title won’t add value, but the lack of one can certainly detract value.
Overall, even if a classic car is showing wear, it can still be considered in good condition if everything works, if the drivetrain is original and if there are no major cosmetic issues inside or out (and few minor ones). Such a vehicle is safe to drive, looks good, and should last a while before the new owner (whether that’s you or someone else) would have to effect repairs.
Import of Classic Cars into Singapore
With the Singapore dollar high and bargains to be found around the world, it's no surprise many Singaporeans are attempting to import classic cars from overseas market having Right Hand Drive cars. Most Singapore classic car buyers usually source their classic cars from Carsales AU or Classic Cars UK.
The procedure to import classic cars into Singapore is similar to the import process for any normal cars as laid out on another page. And if you are still worried about the paperwork and hassle behind the importation process, you can engage our company to import the car for you. We arrange the export, customs clearance, LTA homologation, motor insurance, and vehicle registration on your behalf so that you can concentrate on your work while waiting for the arrival of your classic ride.