4 Top Tips For Buying A Used Race/Muscle Car

Looking to buy a drag race, muscle, or “pony” car – or any other type of race vehicle in the not too distant future? When it comes to race car shopping, it pays to listen to those who know before you sign on the dotted line!

With online race car shopping, your task is made easier than ever before in the past. But at the same time, you need to take caution, minimize risks, and be an overall “smart race car shopper.” Here are four top tips to help you do just that:

1. Verify The VIN Number Without Delay

A race – or any car for that matter, without a VIN number “doesn’t exist” as far as DMV and car insurance companies are concerned. When you spot a race car you’re interested in online, waste no time in locating the VIN and verifying it at

If you find the vehicle has a valid VIN and title, that may be all you need to know. But it could also turn out that the car’s previous owners and overall history turn you away from the purchase. The car may have a salvage title, for example – not all that uncommon with race cars that engage in high-speed contests! (There are ways to deal with a salvage title and  find reasonable insurance for a salvaged car. But you definitely want to be aware of this from the get go.)

2. Research Parts Availability & Cost If You Buy A “Fixer-Upper”

Another key part of your research and preparation for a race car purchase is ensuring it is in good working condition. If it’s not but you want to fix it up, then you must find out exactly which parts it needs, where they are available (check online) and how much they will cost you, and how much any mechanic services you need may cost as well.

It is possible to retrofit, upgrade, and customize your car as well. The bottom line, though, is this. The expense of repairing and/or customizing a race car can be very high (or not). It depends on the age of the car and the end-goal you have in mind. But you can’t afford to enter the task without a reliable estimate of the total expense. 

3. Comparison Shop And Be Patient

Some vehicles have a pretty stable and static price tag on them. Not race cars. Their price can vary as widely and change as rapidly as with collector’s items – which, in some ways, they are. Thus, it would be foolish to jump immediately at the first offer you spot without really knowing its market value.

Realize that muscle cars often see wide fluctuations in selling price based on short-term supply and demand. And the price may vary a lot from region to region too even for the same basic car. So shop on multiple sites across a wide geographic area and do some meticulous comparison shopping – it could save you big.

4. Know The Basic Price-affecting Features

With race cars, as with other vehicles, classics and rare finds are going to cost you more. Anything over 35 years old will begin to see a price rise with earlier years, in general; newer years will be more valuable for most cars under the 35-year mark.

Make and model certainly has a big effect as well. And anything that was limited edition and still in high demand is going to hold high value. Finally, find out if the vehicle in question has had any modification made to – as many race cars have, because that will usually lower the value.

All other things being equal, the condition of the race car and its history are going to make the biggest difference in price and performance. Ask about the body, engine, brakes, steering, transmission, undercarriage, hood, paint, trim, seats, dash, carpet, windshield -everything. 

Take extra precautions when searching for a major investment like a race car. This is going to be your “baby” and you don’t mind paying for quality. But following these top tips will help you avoid a disappointment.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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