Buying a classic sports car – general used buyers guide

Here is a very quick classic & sportscar general buyers guide. This should be used alongside any specific checks that are highlighted in our articles or on buyers guides from forums and other publications.

1. Check every aspect of the service history of the car you are interested in buying. The more paperwork that is included the better, old invoices to back up the stamps in the service manual help to authenticate the history.

2. Check the V5 document is in the name of the person who you are buying the car from. This may seem obvious but make absolutely sure that this is the case.

3. Get a car history check, either from HPI or another online provider, you’ll need the VIN number and registration from the V5 to get the full report on whether the car has been written off, stolen or subject to any outstanding finance.

4. Verify that the VIN number shown on the V5 document matches the VIN number on the engine, bodywork and basically everywhere it is supposed to be located. You can find this out with a quick search on car forums for your specific car.

5. Check the MOT certificates agree with the mileage history shown in the service manual and invoices. Also using an existing MOT certificate number or the V5C document number you can check the full electronic MOT history via the DVLA here.

6. View the car in daylight, in the dry. Don’t be afraid to get under the car and check every corner of the wheel arches for signs of corrosion or welding repairs.

7. Check that panel gaps are uniform and consistent across the car, any discrepancies may be a result of poor crash repairs in the cars past.

8. Check all the fluid levels and colour of them too. If they are cloudy, dull and in need of a top up then this could indicate lack of regular maintenance.

9. Check that the wear to the bodywork and interior, particularly the seats/steering wheel/pedals and gearstick are consistent with the recorded mileage. If these or any other items are very worn then it may point to the car covering more miles than stated.

10. Take the car for a test drive, or at least insist the owner drive you and make sure you work through all the gears and a good part of the rev range. You should be present to hear the car start from cold, any blue smoke from the exhaust or trouble starting can then be spotted.

11. Check the tyre tread wear to make sure it is even across each tyre. Also unmatched and cheap tyres can indicate that the owner has not cared for the car.

12. It is vital to check every single switch and gadget fitted to the car, electrical faults can be expensive to investigate and fix. Make sure the lights all work too.

13. Before buying any car it is recommended that you get a specialist in that car to inspect it, the items they find can be used to negotiate a better price and give some piece of mind that you haven’t missed anything in your own checks before you hand over the full purchase amount.

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