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How to Finance a Classic Car

The only problem is coming up with the cash to buy it. Classic cars can be expensive, often selling for tens of thousands or more, depending on the make, model, and condition. Don’t give up hope just yet. With some creativity and persistence, you can find a way to finance your four-wheeled dream machine. From online lending marketplaces to personal loans, collector car financing, and even crowdfunding, there are more options now than ever to help make your classic car a reality. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best ways to get a loan for a classic car so you can get behind the wheel of that vintage vehicle you’ve always wanted. The open road awaits!

Why Classic Cars Require Special Financing

Classic cars require special financing because they are considered high-risk, specialty vehicles by most lenders.

Banks and credit unions typically only loan money on vehicles under 10 years old since the vehicle's value can be more accurately determined. The older a vehicle gets, the harder it is to assess its current market value and future depreciation, especially for unique classics. This uncertainty means a higher chance of the lender losing money if you default on the loan.

To get approved for classic car financing, you’ll need an excellent credit score, a low debt-to-income ratio, and possibly a large down payment, typically at least 20-30% of the vehicle's value. The lender may also require a personal guarantee, like your home, as collateral.

Shopping around at different lenders

Searching at credit unions, classic-focused lenders, and crowd-funding sites in addition to traditional banks can uncover more options. Some lenders may have lower rates or down payment requirements for classics, especially if you have a solid financial history.

Considering alternative financing

If you’re still struggling to find a reasonable classic car loan, you might explore other avenues like:

  • Crowdfunding - Websites allow individuals to invest in other people's classic car purchases. Rates can be lower, but you lose privacy.
  • HELOC - Using the equity in your home through a home equity line of credit. Rates are often lower, but your home is at risk if you default.
  • Personal loans - Unsecured loans have higher rates but don't require collateral. Only borrow what you can afford to pay back.
  • Savings - Save and pay in cash. You'll avoid paying interest charges, but saving enough for a classic may take years.

With persistence and an open mind, you can find a financing solution to put you behind the wheel of your dream classic. The extra effort will be worth it once you're cruising down the road in your new vintage set of wheels.

Options for Fast Cash: Selling Your Current Vehicle

Selling in a dealership is one of the fastest ways to get cash for your classic car. If you have a paid or nearly paid-off vehicle, selling it can generate funds for your classic car purchase.

Trade It In

Trading in your current vehicle at a dealership is convenient but may net you less money than a private sale. Dealers must make a profit and typically offer trade-in values below market value. However, trading in saves you the hassle of selling the car yourself.

Sell It Privately

Selling your car privately on Autotrader, eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace typically results in a higher selling price. Here are some tips for a successful private sale:

  • Price it fairly by checking vehicle valuation guides like Kelley Blue Book. Price it on the higher end of the “private party” range.
  • Advertise it widely on multiple sites. Include lots of photos and details about service records and new parts.
  • Let interested buyers test-drive it. Have a friend with you and take a copy of the buyer’s license.
  • Be willing to negotiate to get the best deal. You have more room to come down from your asking price than a dealer.
  • Handle paperwork properly. Ensure the title is clean and provide an official bill of sale as proof of the transaction details.
  • Be safe. Meet prospective buyers in a public place and accept payment in person rather than sending or receiving funds electronically.

Selling your daily driver is an easy way to generate cash for your classic car dream. With the right approach, you can maximize your return and turn your current vehicle into your next vehicle. The effort will be well worth it once you're behind the wheel of your vintage beauty!

Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer Lending for Classic Cars

Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending are popular ways to raise money for a classic car. With crowdfunding, you pitch your need for funds to many people, typically on a website like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Supporters donate money in exchange for rewards like merchandise, experiences, or simply the feeling of helping someone's dream come true.

Peer-to-peer lending connects individuals looking to borrow money with people willing to lend money for a return. Websites like LendingClub and Prosper allow you to take out a personal loan for your classic car at lower interest rates than a traditional bank. Individual lenders review loan listings on the site and have the opportunity to fund part of the loan.

To launch a successful crowdfunding or peer-to-peer lending campaign for a classic car:

  • Share details about the vehicle you want to purchase, including photos or video. Help people connect with your dream car!
  • Explain how the funds will be used and provide a detailed budget. Be transparent about any fees or interest charges involved. Backers will want to know their money is being well spent.
  • Offer meaningful rewards and incentives at various funding levels. For a classic car, rewards could include rides in the finished vehicle, your eternal gratitude, or merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, or model cars.
  • Promote your campaign on social media, email, and to any car enthusiast groups you're a part of. Build excitement and momentum to hit your funding goal.
  • Once funded, regularly update your backers on your progress in purchasing and restoring the vehicle. Share photos and milestones to keep people engaged.
  • Deliver any rewards and incentives you promised to your funders. Their support made your dream possible, so follow through to build goodwill and connections within the community.

Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending are innovative ways to make your goal of owning a classic car a reality. With some work promoting your campaign and fostering a personal connection with funders, you'll be cruising in your dream vehicle in no time!

Traditional Loans for Classic Cars: What the Banks Will Require

Financing a classic car typically requires a traditional auto loan, which means you’ll need to provide information to show the bank you’re a dependable borrower. Here are the key things banks will evaluate for a classic car loan:

Down Payment

Most lenders require a sizable down payment for a classic car, often 25-50% of the vehicle’s value. The more you can put down, the better your interest rate and loan terms will be. If possible, aim for at least 30-40% down.

Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the most important factors in qualifying for an auto loan. Most lenders require a score of at least 650-700 to consider you for a classic car loan. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate. Check your credit reports and scores before you start shopping for a loan.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio compares your monthly debt payments to your monthly income. Most lenders like to see a ratio of 36%, meaning your payments are less than 36% of your income. The lower your ratio, the more likely you’ll qualify for a good loan.


The vehicle you want to purchase acts as collateral for the loan. The lender will require an appraisal to determine the market value of the classic car. They will only lend up to a percentage of that value, often 50-70%. The car can be repossessed if you default on the loan.

Proof of Insurance

You must provide proof of insurance for the classic car before the lender finalizes the loan. Expect to get agreed-value insurance to properly cover the car in case of an accident or other incident. The insurance must remain in effect for the entire term of the loan.

With these key requirements, you’ll increase your chances of getting approved for financing to purchase your dream classic ride. Do your research, check with multiple lenders, and be ready to negotiate the best overall loan for your needs.

Tapping Into Your Home Equity or Retirement Savings

Tapping into your home equity or retirement savings are two other options for financing a classic car. These methods allow you to access much money you already own. However, there are risks to consider with both options.

Using a home equity loan or line of credit lets you borrow against the equity in your home. Equity is the difference between your home's market value and the amount you still owe on the mortgage. Your home secures the loan, so paying attention to repay it could result in foreclosure. Interest rates are often lower than unsecured loans, but you need enough equity built up to qualify, and fees apply.

Borrowing from your 401(k) or IRA is another possibility. You can take a loan of up to $50,000 or 50% of your vested balance, whichever is less. Interest rates are reasonable since you're borrowing from yourself, and there are typically minimal fees. However, if you leave your job or default on the loan, it becomes a withdrawal, and taxes and penalties may apply. You're also losing the potential for that money to grow tax-advantaged in your retirement account.

Other Considerations

These options put your home or financial security at risk if not repaid. So, you need to go in with a realistic plan for repaying the loan. Exploring other options like traditional financing, peer-to-peer lending, and crowdfunding is also a good idea, which doesn't jeopardize your assets. If home equity or retirement funds are your only viable path to buying your dream classic car, proceed cautiously and seek professional guidance to ensure you fully understand the obligations and risks.

While using home equity or retirement savings to buy a classic car can be tempting, there are better options to consider first that don't jeopardize your financial security. Make sure you explore all avenues and go in with realistic expectations about your ability to repay before tapping into these sources. Avoid taking on more debt than you can handle when in doubt. Patience and financial prudence will serve you well in achieving your goal of owning a classic car.


If you have decided to take the plunge and invest in a classic car. Congratulations, you're about to own a piece of automotive history. Now comes securing financing so you can get behind the wheel of your dream vehicle. With some research and patience, you'll find a lender and loan that fits your needs. Stay within budget, shop around at different banks and credit unions, and check your credit score and report for errors before applying. Once approved, you'll be cruising down the road in style. A classic car can be a rewarding hobby and investment.

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