For every orphan representing an investment far beyond the reach of the average enthusiast, there are a dozen that are affordable, unique, reliable antique transportation. While an Auburn may bust your budget, many orphan makes from the same period can be had for sacks of pennies by comparison. A quick review of the current cars on offer from specialists, dealers and private individuals will quickly reveal an assortment of reasonably priced, projects and drivers.
Before setting out with your chequebook to collect that orphan, you should do a reality check. Look at your budget and ask yourself some hard questions.
How much money do you have to spend? Any old car budget should include two important categories. The first category is the purchase price. This should include not only the actual cost of buying the car from the owner, but also transporting your orphan home and registering and insuring the vehicle. Depending on your location, transportation and registration costs can be considerable. While you may be able to purchase the perfect orphan in California. You may not have the budget to transport it home if you live in New York. Also be aware that if you are transporting a vehicle across international boundaries, taxes and duties may have to be considered.
The second category is the repair budget. While you may be capable of purchasing a fixer-upper, you may not have the budget to safely prepare the car for the road. Thus the old adage, "Buy the best you can Afford." The cost of restoring any car can often exceed the original purchase price. Hiring specialist help to do repairs can be expensive. If you are planning to pay someone to do the work, you will find it more economical in the long run to buy the best car you can.
Once you have your budget calculated, immediately add 10%. Chances are you didn't include sales taxes in your calculations. In some jurisdictions, you will have to pay sales tax on a purchase, even though you bought it in another state, province or country.
Are you comfortable with purchasing a car that needs repair or perhaps full restoration? Or would you prefer something you can hop in and drive? Are you going to do the majority of repairs yourself or will you be hiring specialist help? Like most antique cars, the orphans tend to be mechanically simple. The majority are repairable with a good set of basic hand tools. Most repairs to coachwork and interiors can be tackled by the average owner. Almost everyone can learn, but not everyone wishes to learn how to repair an automobile. If this is you, it will narrow your orphan search. You can disregard those fixer-uppers and concentrate your efforts searching out older restorations or very good originals.
What are the regulations in your region? These will all affect your buying decision if you want no hassles. No sense buying a Bond Bug if you have to fight your local motor vehicle registry to get it legally registered. If you intend to drive your purchase, check the regulations in your region.
Once you have the basics covered it is time to do some homework. Not all orphans are created equal. A Singer looks like a great sports car, but you may find the lack of headroom an issue if you are a tall individual. A Hudson can give you many miles of smooth touring, but you will not get far if you cannot reach the pedals.
Some orphans are highly desirable and command higher prices. Some models and years with a marque will be very expensive while others extremely affordable. That 1932 Hupmobile coupe may have caught your eye, but the sedan may be more suitable for your budget. Buy some magazines and cruise some web sites. Go to the local car meets and get a feel for what fits your budget and your requirements.
Talk with orphan owners at every opportunity. They can be found at your local car meets and will be only to happy to bend your ear about every nuance of their car. Owners are also a great way to source parts and trouble shoot problems with cars. There is only one piece of advice you should be wary of, the value of their car. A car is only worth what someone is willing to pay no matter what the owner or magazines says.
The old car world has a niche, group, club or specialist for every marque that manufactured. These are a treasure trove of information for the first time orphan buyer. These information sources will give you a feel for the level of club support when you need advice, the parts commonly available and any servicing pitfalls. They are also great ways to build up your social network. You may find your annual holidays are taken up cruising to your orphan car's annual club meet.