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Monterey’s annual Car Week festivities begin later this month as the ultimate destination for auto enthusiasts of all vehicle preferences. In addition to several classic car shows, including the illustrious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the legendary historic races at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Circuit, there are no less than 14 separate auctions at which collectors can bid. on some of automotive’s most coveted classics.

Auction houses participating in separate events include Bonhams, Gooding & Company, Mecum Auctions, RM Sotheby’s, Russo and Steele and Worldwide Auctioneers. While most attendees are experienced buyers and sellers, the events attract their share of newbies who are hesitant to get in on the action or jump into the pool without sufficient knowledge of the process. Some might be drawn into the smash more by emotion and without sufficient knowledge of what buying a classic car at auction entails.

UK-based used car website CEO James Fairclough AA cars and lifelong classic car enthusiast, cautions anyone interested in a vintage vehicle to research any model they are considering thoroughly, and give them a good inspection and proper test drive before purchasing. Perhaps most importantly, it’s wise to think ahead about the costs of owning and maintaining a collectible vehicle.

To help future collectors get started, Fairclough put together a short list for us of five classic sports cars that won’t break the bank – all of which start under $50,000. Current US price estimates are from the Valuation Database at We present them in the accompaniment slideshow.

For starters, Fairclough suggests classic car buyers check the history of a given make and model before bidding or buying. “Unlike modern cars, classic cars often don’t have a service history and some won’t have a lot of history available, so watch out for those with good histories,” he explains. “Some owners will have kept meticulous details of everything that has been done to the car under their ownership, particularly if the car has been under the same owner for a long time or has been recently restored.” Be sure to perform a title check on the car using its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to confirm ownership, any outstanding loans and to ensure it has not been previously stolen, flooded or recovered.

Additionally, those considering getting into the classic car game should consider the costs and possible pitfalls involved. Any classic car should be insured, but it’s a relatively inexpensive expense. This is because classic car policies generally limit the number of miles the vehicle can travel each year and prohibit their use as daily drivers. But be sure to research in advance the cost and availability of spare parts for the object of your choice. “Parts for many rare old beasts can be hard to come by, and the harder they are to find, the more likely they are to come with a high price tag,” Fairclough notes. In our experience, older sports cars can be extremely difficult and expensive to maintain, so proceed with caution.

However, anyone looking to fully restore a car that has fallen into disrepair and disrepair needs a serious reality check, says Fairclough. “Be prepared for unpleasant and possibly costly surprises as the work progresses. For those not too fond of a restoration project, the last thing you want is to have to undertake a major engine or transmission overhaul after a few years, so make sure the car is in good mechanical condition. before giving money. .”

If you attend an auction with the itch to bid on a blast from the past, especially if you’re a newbie, be sure to follow proper protocol. These tips come from Mitch Katz, a Monterey Car Week veteran and Founder/CEO of First Financial Servicesa provider of lease financing for exotic, vintage and luxury cars:

  • Proceed with caution. Attend an auction or two strictly as an observer, to understand first-hand how they work and how serious buyers behave.
  • Get pre-approved. At many auctions, you will need to request credentials to participate, and the auction company will likely review your financial situation. Unless you’re paying cash, get pre-approved for financing, preferably from a company that specializes in exotic and vintage cars.
  • Trace your own path. Bid on a car that has strong personal appeal, not because the crowd seems to be in love with a particular model or genre.
  • Offer within your limits. Set a maximum price limit that’s within your budget and stick to it. Make sure this covers auction house commission, taxes, title and freight.
  • Talk to staff. Auction staff members are often familiar with specific cars and auction dynamics. Let them know if you’re considering bidding on a specific model, so they can draw the auctioneer’s attention to you.
  • Be a silent observer. If you don’t bid on a vehicle, don’t become a distraction to the auctioneer and those bidding. This means the phones are off and the mouth shut.

In pictures: five vintage European sports cars that won’t break the bank.

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