Question of the Week: Tell us how you got the deal

Buying cars is an art which requires knowledge, patience, and preparation. In addition to that, finding a deal takes something even extra on top of all that. We want to know how you find deals when you are shopping.

It could be a location—either physical or digital—that just has the right things at the right price, or maybe you have a negotiation tactic that just never fails. The tactics might depend on the just what you are buying. Project car? Might not be a whole lot of room on the seller’s side. A good driver or finished restoration might be a different story.

We know a lot of our readers have years of experience when it comes to finding the cars they love, so we want you to leave a few tips in the comments below to help those who are just getting into the hobby.

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Know what you are prepared to handle. I got a great deal on my Mustang because the transmission was shot and it would only go in reverse --this eliminated a lot of competition for the sale. My offer factored in the rebuild and I had the cash immediately. Don’t buy something that needs more repairs than you are able to do/afford in a reasonable timeframe for you.

You save yourself a lot of time if you don’t trust online ads with suspect photos or descriptions. If it sounds like a great deal, has 5000 views (and 500 views is alot for your area) there is probably something going on.

Do your research so you know the quirks of the make/model as well as the general market. If you are reading this you have access to all the Hagerty valuation tools…

Be willing to pass on multiple vehicles before finding the right one.


Sometimes you still stumble on an incredible deal and need to be ready and willing to do the deal. I found my 69 Grand Prix in 2014 listed on Craigslist for $5,000 which was way under market for the condition at the time. The owner was savvy and had a clean title but priced it to sell because of hitting hard times.

Having the extra funds sitting aside for the random good deal that pops up is the key in my opinion.


I’ve never been lucky with it personally, but I do have a few tips from others and also from my hard knocks experience.

1st. If you dont see something you like local, feel free to expand the area of your search.

  1. Ask to see the title, at least in Indiana, the details of the previous sale are on the back.

  2. Bargain, bargain, and bargain. I cant say it enough. Walk away if the deal isn’t how you like it. If you’re patient. A better ride and deal may present itself


As a young boy, my Father and neighbor worked together on their automotive projects. I remember big black Chevys and Fords with the occasional lawnmower. After the death of both my Father and neighbor, I kept in contact with my neighbor’s Son. He had acquired his Fathers 1953 Pontiac and kept it in storage until just this past September. He had lost interest in it, and knew I not only collected and restored vintage cars, but also would give it the respect it deserved and maintain its current provenance. He called, I visited, and bought the car! An unrestored 1953 Pontiac Chieftain, 60k mi, complete and working. How lucky to keep the tradition of our Fathers alive.


I’ve been lucky on most my buys. I have a 1979 motorcycle that was offered at a reasonable price because the owner knew I would take care of it. My car is a different matter, 1977 450SL I saw online. I did all I could online as far as the VIN and photos, but took the chance and flew 700 miles to drive the car home from one of these small used car only dealers. He didn’t have anything else like it on the lot, and the price was low because of that and a lack of records. I took the chance and now have it parked in the garage, driving it on nice days because it’s fun to drive. MBUSA was able to confirm that the only big recall was done, so I’m just going to slowly get it back to good, dependable running condition.

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I know CarFax isnt the end-all, be-all of reports, but I bought a vehicle recently that was an unintentional odometer rollback - the guy was given the vehicle by a relative…the relative replaced the dashboard when it stopped working and forgot to roll the new one forward. he said he didn’t feel like pulling the dash back apart.
long story short, the car had a extra 100k miles so the price went well down…

I attended the Woodward Dream cruise last summer near my home and saw a restored first generation Bronco and fell in love with it. I used many online tools to look for one and even drove over to a friends restoration shop in Windsor, ON. He provided some guidance on what to look for and ultimately I found one on Facebook marketplace in Indiana and bought it around Thanksgiving. It was a 4-hour drive to pick it up and another 5-hours trailering it home. It was actually a fun field trip and was happy to bring the Bronc home to where she first started some 40+ years ago.

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The best tip I can add is that knowing the market and what you want really helps get a deal, but the real key is right time, right place. I bought my 59 Alfa Spider after seeing it pop up on Craigslist off n on for over a year. Car was a mess but I knew the potential and wrote a sympathetic email to the owner and he responded. Drove down with cash and a trailer, talked for over an hour before even talking price. Older gentleman and he really didnt like all the responses, dealing with knuckleheads and their questions. So knew if I didnt close it then, it was never going to happen. Finally made a realistic offer, told him I had cash now and that was it. Loaded it up and drove away. Bought several cars that way, cash talks as they say and seeing a stack of it live often makes the difference between saving hundreds and thousands. The hunt is the fun part, but reality is if youre buying a project its years to accomplish and sort it before driving. So if flipping, know youre battles, know your resources and know yourself and the time its going to take to cross the finish line.Cheers

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Easy for me.I have a 1970 AMC .AMX ,Loaded ,black shadow hood,leather interior,go package,handling package ,390- 325 HP. Four speed, arm rest ,AM/ FM RADIO ,F 70 14 RAISED LETTER TIRES All in Big Bad Blue with 19,500 original miles and paid just over $4000,
Bought it new and stored while kids were growing up. Had a empty stall in grandmothers garage.

I just lucked out. No research, no planning, no forethought, just bought the car that I thought had the sexiest display of testosterone that I could afford. I was 24 years old and paid 2,650.00 for a used sport car that will now bring me, at age 77, between 175,000 -$ 200.000. I had no idea that it would become highly desirable. Just kept it shiny, solid and running. I’m not a collector, more like a keeper or maintainer.

1963 Porsche 356B Cabriolet


I bought my 1967 Toyota FJ40 RH Drive from a friend of mine. We were on a walk in the winter and I told my wife that an old FJ40 was on my bucket list. She said, “How about that one?” and pointed to the FJ in

front of us parked under a tree for years. We bought it from the friend who owned it and “fixed it up” and drove it for years on our property. Finally we embarked on a 2 year frame up restoration with another (award winning) childhood friend who restores Hot Rods. The FJ is priceless because my kids learned to drive on it and its been a part of our friends and family for 20+ years.


Well, there is certainly a lot that goes into preparation, checking sites for historical sales, looking at the inventory available and valuation tools. Which reminds me why doesn’t Hagarty’s valuation tool list Mini and MINI Coopers?

Anyway I was in the market for a 2006-2008 MINI R52 with an automatic for my wife and was having no luck after 6 months of shopping. The cars I was encountering we’re pretty beat and the prices were way out of line. We already have 2 MINIs and people were telling me all sorts of untruths and I was even called a BOOMER when one kid didn’t want to budge at all on his asking price.

We earlier this month I decided to look at an updated R57. They went to the N18 engine for the 2011 model year and I didn’t want an N14. We found one locally from the second owner that was being listed for book retail. We took a look and while mechanically real solid, there were a few cosmetic blemishes, no service records and the owner, while admitting the oil hadn’t been touched in 15 months, had put few miles on it and was motivated to sell.

Bottom line, we negotiated almost 30% off the asking price. To my chagrin I also found out that the car had been remapped by the first owner and is a freaking little rocket.

Don’t ever buy without physically looking at the vehicle. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the seller is dishonest; but his condition assessment may be different than yours. If you are unable to look at it or don’t have someone who knows do it for you, don’t push the “buy” button on your computer.

Plan on spending extra no matter how “perfect” the car is.

Know if your buy is a “keeper” or a car you intend to "flip". Many buyers pay too much because in their mind it’s a “keeper”; but then (for whatever reason) they decide to sell and find that they paid all of the money and there isn’t another buyer willing to pay more.

*Recognize that there are a lot buyers who will spend $10K but fewer and fewer buyers as the price increases above $10K.

Buy a car you really like (the right color drivetrain, etc.) as it costs much more to change it to your preferences and you won’t EVER recoup those monies.


In 1990, purchased a decent 1969 AMX with a four bolt 350 Chev and a blower hooked to a Turbo 400 for $2500 Cdn. from a local wholesaler who didn’t want it. That was a very quick car!! Had some fun, and sold it for a profit.

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Some years ago I was the manager of a VW-Porsche dealership and I took a phone call one evening just before closing. A woman had an old car she needed to get rid “right now” as she was being sent overseas. I"It didn’t run but she had the title. I drove out to the house and she was there with a moving truck loaded and idling. I’d taken my race car trailer “just in case” it was something I wanted, There under a tarp sat a forlorn '59 Porsche 356 1600 coupe. The engine was in pieces in the back seat and zero rust anywhere.
“How much do you want for it?” I asked, Well, I just paid $85.00 to get the title from the credit union. So give me the $85.00 and here’s the title as I need to leave." I checked their ID, gave them the $$. I kept the car for myself, got the engine back together later. The hood latch was broken and after I got it opened, there, under the hood was a massive amount of German tools, owners manual, full original tool kit and factory shop manuals.


I saw an amazing example of my first car in high school in a dealership’s lobby on display. 1982 Datsun 280zx. Black with alloy wheels and tan leather interior. 5-speed. The entire car was original and even the dash wasn’t cracked! 74k miles. I asked about it and the salesman couldn’t really answer much about the car because it predated him. I asked if I could test drive it and knew I was going to buy it after 10 seconds on the road. The dealership owner owned the car and knew all the records as it had been serviced there for a decade. I asked what he wanted for it and he wasn’t sure he wanted to sell it. He asked if I could buy the car that day and I said Yes. He offered a fair price, I countered with that price out the door and we shook hands. Fastest negotiation ever - 5 seconds! On my way home, one person offered to buy it and I got a “Nice car!” from a girl at the stop light. I knew this buy was right!

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**I was walking my dogs into an upper scale neighborhood 5 blocks from my house when I saw this old car parked on the street with 4 flat tires and expired plates back to 2008. After looking closer I saw it was an old Mercedes sedan. Further inspection led me to believe it was a 500SEL and the L was broken off. I asked the lady that owned it and she said it was a 500SE. Not knowing anything about it I went home and finally found the car in NADA with a low of $8000 and High $16000. The car is a W126 Mercedes sedan 500SE, European version. She said she would like to get $500 for it so I okay. I had some tires at home that I had put on the wheels and while I was at it I tried to see if it would turnover. Not only did it turnover but it started immediately and I drove it home. Body is excellent and interior was cloth which had disintegrated from moisture. I bought a donor car and am still working on the interior. Found out she had the transmission and engine rebuilt which only has 40K on it. The car has 207K. Hopefully it will be on the road this summer. 2020-02-25T08:00:00Z


Always be looking online or when driving down the road and be ready to go that day with cash in hand and also ready to do work on the car that others have decided is not worth their time or beyond their skill level. I just picked up a 3rd gen 4Runner Limited with 100k miles for $1500 in my town that needed some frame welding in a few spots. After putting in some time and getting it through inspection, it’s now my daily driver. Not as much of a classic as some other cars here, but if I wanted to flip it, I could make a few thousand on it at least.