How to get a classic car loan

Purchasing a classic car can be a good investment since it has the potential to increase in value over the years — and an auto loan can help you fund the purchase if you can get approved.

As you begin researching classic car loans, it’s important to remember that some lenders place age restrictions on the vehicles they finance. Since classic cars are generally much older than the average vehicle purchase, they may not qualify for a traditional auto loan.

In order to secure funding through a loan — should you need it — to buy your slice of automotive history, you may have to find a lender that provides classic car loans.

What exactly is a classic car, anyway?

Age is an important part of a classic car’s identity. So in order for a vehicle to fit this definition, it needs to meet a certain age requirement.

Different organizations have different ideas about what exactly makes a car a classic.

  • The Antique Automobile Club of America, which got its start in 1935, focuses on “the preservation and enjoyment of automotive history of all types,” according to its website. This organization holds events that showcase classic cars. To qualify for inclusion, vehicles must be 25 years old or older.
  • Founded in 1952, the Classic Car Club of America is a hub for enthusiasts of timeless automobiles. For a vehicle to be considered a “CCCA Classic,” it must have been produced in limited numbers between 1915 and 1948.
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If you want to finance the purchase of one of these vehicles, you’ll need to find a lender that offers loans for classic cars. You’ll also need to make sure your vehicle qualifies as a classic car under the lender’s guidelines, which vary from lender to lender.

For example, Florida-based Collector Car Lending defines classic vehicles as those built between 1928 and 1998. Massachusetts-based lender J.J. Best Banc & Co. defines classic vehicles as those made between 1900 and 1985. There’s also Woodside Credit, a nationwide lender based in Southern California, which will consider financing collector cars that are at least 25 years old.

How can I get a classic car loan?

Ready to apply for a loan for your classic-car purchase? These tips can help you streamline the process and get the best deal for you on financing.

1. Check your credit

Take a look at your credit scores, which can affect whether you’re approved for a loan. With some lenders, you’ll need good to excellent credit if you want to apply for a classic car loan. But there’s at least one exception to this rule: Collector Car Lending advertises that it will consider borrowers with credit scores as low as 600.

2. Decide on a down payment

With some lenders, you’ll need to put down a certain amount in order to qualify for financing, so it’s important to know how much of a down payment you can afford. For example, at J.J. Best Banc & Co., a 10% to 20% down payment is usually required to qualify for a classic car.

3. Shop around for a classic car loan

Make a list of potential lenders and then shop around to compare interest rates on their car loans. A lower rate can help lower the cost of the loan.

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Here are some lenders that offer classic car loans.

  • Collector Car Lending
  • DCU Banking
  • J. Best Banc & Co.
  • LightStream (a division of SunTrust Bank)
  • Star One Credit Union
  • Woodside Credit

If your credit reports show multiple applications for a car loan within a short period of time, certain credit-scoring models will treat these applications as a single inquiry. This can help you to shop for the best interest rates without hurting your credit scores. The timeline to apply within varies, but certain scoring models will follow this rule as long as the inquiries are all made within a 14-day window, so keep this timeline in mind when applying for loans.

4. Look into specialized car insurance

Lenders that provide classic car loans may require proof of vehicle insurance before finalizing funding for your loan — and not all car insurers cover classic vehicles. This means you’ll need to look for an insurer that provides classic car coverage. Get quotes from several insurers to find the rate that’s best for you.

5. A financing alternative: Apply for a personal loan

You might be able to get a personal loan to finance your classic car purchase. Some personal loans are unsecured, meaning you don’t need to use assets or property, such as your vehicle, as collateral.

But keep in mind that unsecured loans can have higher interest rates than typical auto loans because they aren’t secured with property.

You’ll probably want to avoid riskier lines of credit, such as home equity loans, since they’re secured by your home — and if you don’t make your loan payments on time, you can risk losing your home.

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Bottom line

A classic car loan is usually different than a standard auto loan, which will affect your funding options. Plus, you may need to seek out certain lenders to finance your dream car.

If you’re unable to qualify for a classic car loan, consider saving your money to make your purchase with cash down the road. Then you won’t have to worry about financing at all.