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For many collectors, car collecting is more than just a hobby. It’s a passion for cars and their historical preservation that often turns into far more than a fun pastime, while for others, it can also become a lucrative moneymaker. But whether you’re a serious collector or just looking to pick up some cool cars to tinker with, it can be an exciting endeavor.

There are many different types of car collecting, from antique to classic and modern. Although there are no rules when it comes to collecting, most collectors – at least over time – tend to develop a focus, whether it’s a time period, type or types of cars, or a specific marque.

David Disiere, for example, originally collected a range of antique and classic cars before selling off two-thirds of his 60-plus car collection to focus on European sports cars and pre and post-WWII cars. Over the course of six years of car collecting, he discovered that classic cars with historical automotive pedigree were what he really wanted to pursue.

So even if you’re new to car collecting, and even if you’re not entirely sure what kind of collection you ultimately want to amass, it’s something you can figure out as you go along. With that said, there are certainly some things to keep in mind as you get started.

  1. Consider What Kind of Collector You Want To Be

There are a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to collecting, but here are some of the basics to think about:

  • The types of cars that interest you. Are you into modern cars or vintage? A specific era? Do you have a preferred style? A preferred marque or set of marques?
  • The money factor. What can you afford? You might love the latest Lamborghini, but an old Cadillac might be a more realistic investment amount depending on your resources.
  • Another thing to consider is use. Do you plan to drive the cars or keep them strictly as showpieces? Mileage does play a part in the value of a collectible car, so it’s important to keep this in mind when you are buying cars.
  • Is the history of a vehicle important to you? It goes without saying that every car has a story, but some are more interesting – or more famous – than others. The history of a particular vehicle can not only increase its value in monetary dollars, but also its value to the individual collector.
  1. Everyone Remembers Their First

You’ll never forget your first classic car purchase, so make sure it’s a good one. There are two ways to go about choosing your first car: you can seek out your dream car, researching and waiting for the right one to come along, or you can look for a gem within the types of cars that interest you. It all comes down to market availability, time and desire. Some say that the first car you purchase defines your collection, but really, as long as it’s a car that you truly love, you can’t go wrong.

  1. Car Value Is Changeable

Just like other commodities, car value is not static. Market value can be determined by many things, including economic downturns or upswings, and of course supply and demand, which can sometimes create price bubbles around specific models. Like all commodities, it pays to watch the market closely to buy and sell at the right times. It also pays to think about potential future value of cars. Many American classics have high value today, especially in the United States, which is driven largely by the nostalgia of the purchasers. What cars – American or foreign made – might be those nostalgic collector cars of the future? Also keep in mind two other things: condition and rarity. The rarer a car is, the more valuable, and the better condition, the bigger the bucks.

  1. Maintenance Is Key

It’s key to maintaining the value of your collection, and it’s a key aspect to incorporate when determining the cost of purchasing a classic car. Depending on the condition, you might only need to spend a few hundred a year on maintenance, whereas other cars may require thousands or tens of thousands just to restore, much less maintain. These costs need to be factored in before you purchase a car, not afterwards. And remember, there’s no crystal ball when it comes to car maintenance. It’s very hard to know exactly how much maintenance will run on a specific car. You’ll also need somewhere to store your cars – another critical component of car collecting.

Starting a classic car collection can be most fulfilling for those who have the passion, time and money to pursue it. And you don’t have to be Jay Leno to participate. You can start small, maybe even work on the cars yourself or simply purchase for the joy of driving a car you love every now and then. Just remember that building a car collection can take a lot of work, although for the true motoring enthusiast, it’ll never feel like it.