Searching Locally vs. Nationwide for a Classic Car

In searching for a classic car, is it best to search local or go nationwide? The short answer is do both!

Many classic car shoppers feel comfort and convenience when they search and buy locally. This is certainly the case when shopping for a daily driver, where selection is vast and local dealers and other sellers are plentiful. There are great reasons for focusing locally for classics, too:

Local and Nationwide Searching

By all means, if you find your dream classic car nearby, grab it! But even if you have, or are going to hold out until you do, don’t stop your search there. Continue on and take a look nationwide.

We searched locally on for 1964 to 1966 Mustang convertibles (we could have been much more specific, of course). “Locally” in this case is Chicagoland. At the time of the search, 10 such Mustangs were for sale in the area. The same nationwide search found 150 additional matches.

Bargaining Chips

If one of those 10 local finds was a close match, awesome! Read up on all its details and scrutinize the photos. Then, scroll through the remaining 150 to find any number of additional close matches elsewhere in the country. Read through each of those close matches in detail as well. 

You are looking for bargaining chips. Any information you can use to help you negotiate the best deal possible on your Chicagoland pick. This could mean cars with more features, better condition, fewer miles on the odometer, etc. at a similar or lower cost. Be sure to print out the information, save it as a Favorite or email it to yourself so you have it as reference. When it comes time to negotiate with your local seller, mention the vehicles you found from your national search. Even if you have no intention of going anywhere else, the local seller will get realistic faster if there is perceived competition.

Your Dream Car…Is on the Opposite Coast

Negotiations aside, the hunt for your dream classic is a big part of the fun of the classic car hobby. After looking through scores of Mustang convertible ads, you’ll have a good idea of the market. Set an alert using your search criteria, and when a new listing pops up (or when an existing listing lowers its price significantly), you will know it. No one would be surprised if, after time on the hunt, you find the car of your wildest dreams. And it’s several states away.

If that’s the case, call or submit a buyer inquiry! If you decide to travel to see the car, or have someone go on your behalf, do it with the intent of “bringing it home.”  Many car fanatics would rather go through the one-time inconvenience of shipping a car home in exchange for the joy of having purchased “the one.”

Fifty States, Some More Reputable Than Others

Extending our Chicagoland Mustang example a bit further, we see a great candidate located in Arizona. Hmmm…wouldn’t it be nice to have a Mustang convertible that’s never seen snow, ice, salt, and perhaps even rain? Cars from warm, sunny states are often preferred because they simply don’t have to face the harsh elements of the northern tier of states.

The bottom line, when it comes to classic cars and trucks, whether it’s a muscle car or vintage, take your search as far and wide as possible to maximize your chance of long-term happiness.


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