Categories: Automotive

1970 Monte Carlo – The First Year

Chevrolet introduced the 1970 Monte Carlo as an answer to the restyled 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix, and to compete with the Ford Thunderbird. Both cars were based on the mid-size GM A-Body platform, and rode on the same 116 inch wheelbase as the four-door Chevelle and the El Camino. The 1970 Monte Carlo was only available as a two-door coupe, and it holds the distinction of having the longest hood ever installed on a Chevrolet! It was billed as a “personal luxury” car, or a “gentleman’s performance” car.

The standard engine was a 250 HP 2-barrel version of the ubiquitous small block 350 CID V8. It could be ordered with a 300 HP 4-barrel 350 small block, a 265 HP 2-barrel 400 CID small block V8, or a 330 HP 4-barrel 402 big block V8 that Chevrolet for some reason marketed as a 400. There was also a Monte Carlo SS version available that came with a 360 HP version of Chevrolet’s brand new big block 454 V8 engine with a stiffer suspension, front disc brakes, and some discreet badging. The SS-454 was a lively performer, with a zero to sixty time of 7.5 seconds. There were reportedly ten cars that year special ordered with the 450HP LS-6 454 engine. The small block equipped cars generally came with the Turbo-Hydramatic 350 transmission, while the big block cars typically had the heavier-duty Turbo-Hydramatic 400.

The base 1970 Monte Carlo weighed in at 3460 lbs, about 200 lbs. more than a comparably-equipped 2-door Chevelle with the shorter 112-inch wheelbase. Many Monte Carlos however, were equipped with more luxury options than the typical Chevelle, such as air conditioning (yes, in 1970, air conditioning was considered a luxury option, unlike today!), power windows, and other items that increased the vehicle weight. Fender skirts were also a popular option.

There were somewhere between 130,000 and 146,000 Monte Carlos produced in 1970, depending on what resource you reference. Only 3,823 of those had the SS-454 package, and those cars are highly sought after today by enthusiasts. The early cars (1970-1972) have an active following, with several clubs and online forums dedicated to them. Since it shared the same platform as the Chevelle, many aftermarket high-performance parts that were designed for the Chevelle will fit the Monte Carlo. Even though it was marketed primarily on the basis of luxury, it became a popular model for stock car racing. Several big names in NASCAR drove Monte Carlos, such as Bobby Allison and Neil Bonnett.

The 1970 Monte Carlo succeeded very well in its original purpose: to compete with the Pontiac Grand Prix and the Ford Thunderbird. There were more 1970 Monte Carlos sold than the Pontiac Grand Prix and the Ford Thunderbird combined! The sculpted body, long front fenders and slight “Coke Bottle” shape made it a muscular-looking, classy car, and to me it is much better looking than the Chevelle. It is one of my favorite body styles; I just wish they had made a 9/10 size version of the car!

Categories: Automotive

Classic Car Museum Guide – South Carolina

There are several classic car museums in South Carolina that cater to very different genres of the classic car enthusiast. The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum in Darlington, SC pays tribute to historic NASCAR race cars and drivers. The BMW Zentrum near Spartanburg SC features BMW vehicles from the past and gives a glimpse into the future. The Wheels Of Yesteryear Museum in Myrtle Beach showcases classic American muscle cars.

The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum started life as the Joe Weatherly Stock Car Museum in memory of the famous driver that won there in 1960 and 1963, and was killed in an accident at Riverside speedway in 1964. The museum was dedicated in May of 1965, and the name was changed following a major renovation and expansion in 2003. The museum of course features many cars with NASCAR historical significance, including the “winningest car in stock car history”, a 1956 Ford Convertible that won a total of twenty-five races that year, Richard Petty’s 1967 Plymouth that won ten races in the 1967 season, and the 1991 Lumina that Darrell Waltrip rolled eight times in one of the worst crashes in NASCAR history. The museum has a number of engines on display, including an example of the famous Chrysler Hemi that dominated many races in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There are many interactive displays, and even an impression of Dale Earnhardt’s hands in concrete. The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum is a must-see for any NASCAR fan. (843) 395 – 8821

The BMW Zentrum has a very different focus. It is a snapshot of BMW history, from the very beginning of the company to where they are today. Located beside the only BMW manufacturing plant in the United States, the museum is 20,000 square feet of historic cars and motorcycles, aircraft engines, and interactive displays. It features the BMW Isetta “Bubble Car”, BMW race cars, a James Bond movie car, a virtual plant tour in the state-of-the-art video-production theater with surround sound, and a café. You can view an example of one of the first BMW automobiles ever produced, the BMW Dixie, as well as a display of the company’s work with hydrogen fueled cars. Guided tours of the manufacturing plant are available by reservation only. (864) 989-5297

The Wheels Of Yesteryear Museum just opened in September 2009 and features over 45 fully restored automobiles from the collection of Paul Cummings. The cars are displayed on a rotating basis from his 100-plus car collection of primarily Mopar muscle cars, with a few classic GM, Ford and AMC vehicles thrown in to the mix just for fun. The museum displays examples of the famous Mopar winged cars and nostalgia drag racers, too. (843) 903 – 4774

No matter what type of classic automobiles you are interested in, South Carolina has a museum for you. Be sure to call ahead for operating hours and holiday schedules before making the trip.

Categories: Automotive

Antique Car Financing – 3 Benefits of Using a Specialty Lender

Antique cars can be good investments if you choose wisely. If restoring or driving antique cars is your hobby, you can get a return on your investment and enjoy yourself doing it! There aren’t very many other “toys” out there that can earn their keep; most hobbies require you to invest in depreciating assets (Jet skis? Pleasure boats? ATVs or other off-road vehicles? Hunting, fishing…you get the picture). Antique cars in general will hold their value at the very least, and in most cases will appreciate as time goes by, instead of depreciating in value or getting “used up”.

If you are thinking about purchasing an antique vehicle, using cash is the safest way to do it. However, an argument can be made for antique car financing when you look at the “opportunity cost” of having all that cash tied up and unavailable for other investments. You may be able to get an antique car loan and pay less interest than your money could be earning elsewhere. Most likely though, you would need to get that financing from a company that specializes in antique car loans for it to work. There are several different benefits to using a company that specializes in collector car financing.

Benefit #1 – Less time/Less hassle: You could spend a lot of time trying to find a conventional lender that will provide an antique car loan. Most normal lenders will not provide antique car financing for several different reasons. It mainly boils down to them not knowing the antique and collector vehicle market well enough to make a wise decision on how much a particular antique vehicle is worth. There are just too many variables for them to analyze, and the time they would have to spend to make an informed decision just isn’t worth the return they would get from the loan.

Benefit #2 – Lower Interest Rate: If you do find a conventional lender that is willing to give you an antique car loan, they likely will have a higher interest rate than a company that specializes in classic car finance. The conventional lender will likely quote you an interest rate that they give to the typical used vehicle buyer. They will classify your antique as just another old used vehicle, which assumes that it will be worth less in the future than it is now. Companies that specialize in classic auto financing realize that your collector vehicle will likely hold its value or increase in value, and they lower the interest rates accordingly.

Benefit #3: Longer Terms: Most used vehicle loans have terms of 3-5 years. A company that specializes in classic car finance understands that an antique car purchase is an investment, and they can offer you up to twelve year terms! That will lower your monthly payment significantly, and can allow you to purchase a much higher priced vehicle than you could with a conventional lender.

Those are the top three benefits to using a company that specializes in antique car financing. You can save a lot of time and hassle, get a better interest rate, and spread out your payments over a much longer time period. Just being able to talk to a person that understands what you are doing and why you are doing it goes a long way also. Search out lenders that specialize in antique car loans, and you will find they have a lot to offer.

To learn more about the benefits of antique car financing, visit my page on Classic Car Financing. For more details on what to expect when applying for an antique car loan, take a look at Classic Car Loans.

Categories: Automotive

1970 Pontiac Firebird Review

Pontiac’s second-generation ponycar was a little late for the party in 1970, but it was worth the wait! The 1970 Pontiac Firebird was a completely new design from the ground up, not sharing any major suspension or body components with the previous model. The car was praised by the car magazines for its bold new styling, sports-car like handling, and excellent acceleration abilities when equipped with the right engine. It had been improved immensely over the first generation cars in almost every way.

The 1970 Firebird rode on a 108″ wheelbase, the same as the new Camaro. It was only available as a two door coupe; the convertible had been dropped from the lineup, and would not return as a factory option until 24 years later. The 70 Firebird came with bucket seats, front disc brakes, and a front stabilizer bar. There were four trim levels available: the base Firebird, the Esprit, the Formula, and the Trans Am.

The base car came with a 250 CID inline six cylinder engine and a three-speed manual transmission, but a 255 horsepower Pontiac 350 V8 and an automatic transmission were available options. The Esprit came standard with the same 350 V8 and three speed manual transmission, and an optional automatic transmission was also available. It had stiffer spring rates than the base car

The 1970 Firebird Formula can be easily identified by the dual forward-facing hood scoops, and it came with a 330 horsepower Pontiac 400 V8 (NOW we’re talking!) and a three speed manual transmission. A four speed manual or an automatic transmission were available options. The Formula came with the same springs as the base car, but with heavier duty shocks, a larger diameter front stabilizer bar, and a rear stabilizer bar. It could also be special ordered with the same suspension as the Trans Am, and you could even get a Ram Air III (also called Ram Air HO) 335 HP 400 V8 in it.

The 1970 Trans Am was all about performance. It came with the Ram Air III engine above, but an optional Ram Air IV engine was available that produced 345 (370 according to some sources) horsepower. The base transmission in the Trans Am was a wide ratio Muncie four speed with a Hurst shifter. It came with 15″ wheels, larger front and rear stabilizer bars than the Formula, the stiffer springs from the Esprit, and the heavier-duty shocks from the Formula.

The 1970 Trans Am also had a shaker hood, which means that there was a rear-facing air intake scoop mounted atop the carburetor, and that scoop protruded through an opening in the hood to draw fresh, cool air into the engine. It had front and rear spoilers, and air extractors on both front fenders to allow hot air to escape from the engine compartment. The 70 Trans Am was only available in two color schemes, either white with blue stripes or blue with white stripes.

There were a total of 48,739 Pontiac Firebirds produced in 1970, including only 7,708 Formulas and 3,196 Trans Ams. The Formulas and Trans Ams were excellent performers due to the 400 cubic inch engine, with 0-60 MPH times in the six second range. When you combine the improved handling characteristics of the new platform with the power of the Pontiac 400 engine, the 1970 Pontiac Firebird was one of the best all around musclecars of the era. It is one of my favorite cars of all time.

Categories: Automotive

Antique Car Museum Guide for Tennessee

Tennessee has several antique car museums that cater to the automotive enthusiast. If you are interested in visiting a classic car museum and live in or are passing through Tennessee, these are worth taking a look at.

Lane Motor Museum, Nashville – The largest collection of European vehicles in the United States. They have over 150 vehicles on display from all parts of the world, and most of them are rarely seen in the US. They have amphibious, alternative fuel, and military vehicles, race cars, micro-cars, three-wheelers and motorcycles. Anything rare, strange, odd, or extreme can be found there! I have personally visited this one, and would love to go back and spend an entire day. If you are interested in unusual vehicles, it is a must-see if you are ever in the Nashville area. (615) 742-7445.

Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum, Sevierville – A collection of 90 American muscle cars from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, plus retired stock-car based race cars. All the cars are in showroom condition. The collection has been featured in several TV shows and car enthusiast magazines. (865) 908-0882.

Hollywood Star Cars Museum, Gatlinburg – Features 40 actual cars that were used in movie and TV productions or owned by celebrities. The movie and TV cars are shown in recreated settings from the movie or TV show that they were in. They have recently added several motorcycles to their collection. (865) 430-2200.

Smoky Mountain Car Museum, Pigeon Forge – Open since 1956, they have electric, gas, and steam powered vehicles on display. They also have historic gas pumps, vintage Burma Shave signs, and other memorabilia displayed. (865) 453-3433.

International Towing and Recovery Museum, Chattanooga – Antique tow trucks, wreckers and equipment dating from the earliest days of the automobile. (423) 267-3132

Dixie Gun Works and Old Car Museum, Union City – 36 antique vehicles displayed, along with thousands of antique mechanical devices and a number of historic firearms. (731) 885-0700.

Elvis Presley Automobile Museum at Graceland, Nashville – A collection of Elvis Presley’s personal cars, motorcycles, and motorized toys. (901) 332-3322

Bewley’s City Garage Car Museum, Greeneville – A variety of antique cars and gas station memorabilia, only open on Fridays and Saturdays. (423) 638-6971

There are bound to be other antique car museums I have missed, but this should be enough for several weekend trips! If you are visiting the Smoky Mountains, you have four different ones to choose from that are in the vicinity. Be sure to call for information on their hours of operation before making the trip.

Categories: Automotive

Classic Car Prices

Classic Car Prices Today is your one-stop shop for the most accurate and up to date guides for collector car prices. We have collected the most reliable classic car value resources available for you to check your classic car value, all in one place. For a directory, go to the Old Car Values Resource Guide.

Classic car prices like most things will fluctuate somewhat, but there will likely always be a generally upward trend over time. An antique or classic car can be viewed as an investment, unlike a new car which depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot. Even if you choose to use your classic car as an everyday driver, as long as you keep it maintained properly, it is likely to appreciate as you drive it. If you can do your own maintenance and repairs, then driving a classic car becomes a wise financial decision.

Collector car prices will depend on many factors, the first and foremost obviously being the make and model of the car. The popularity of the model certainly comes into play, as well as the rarity of the model in comparison to others. The overall production numbers are important also. That is one factor that can partially explain the prices of early Mustangs compared to the prices of early Camaros. I would venture to say that the early Mustang is similar in popularity to the early Camaro, but the average price of a 1968 Camaro is much higher than that of a 1968 Mustang in similar condition. Ford produced over 317,000 Mustangs in 1968, but Chevrolet only produced about 235,000 Camaros that year.

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The overall condition of the car is one of the most important factors in an antique cars value. However, an all-original car in good condition can be worth more than a completely restored car in excellent condition, especially if the car in question is relatively rare or has some desirable options or features.

No two classic car value guides will likely be identical in the value they place on a particular car, so it is best to check several different guides to get the best idea. And remember, an Old Car Price Guide is just that, a guide. An antique cars value boils down to what someone is willing (and able!) to pay. I have seen cars sell for double the classic car book value when there were two people that wanted the same exact car badly enough. One example was nothing special, except one guy’s wife fell in love with it for whatever reason, and another guy had one “just like it” in high school. Both those potential buyers had the means to pay an extra premium to get what they wanted, and the car seller made out like a bandit!

When it comes to classic car prices there are no hard and fast rules. A classic car value guide can give you averages and statistics, but the bottom line is that a classic car (or anything else for that matter!) is worth whatever one person is willing and able to pay for it. Take a look around at the other pages here for more detailed information on classic car prices. For a classic car value guide directory, go to the Old Car Values Resource Guide.

Categories: Automotive

Classic Car Values

Although very few people will be able to retire off of their investments in classic cars, a classic car can be a decent investment for an automotive enthusiast. Classic car values and old car values in general have climbed steadily through the years, although some vehicles appreciated more than others of course. In the early 2000’s, American muscle cars in particular really started climbing in value, although they have leveled off or even fallen in some cases over the past couple of years. Old car prices in general have remained fairly steady through the downturn in the muscle car market.

Several different factors had a role in the rapid escalation of American classic car values. The guys that were in high school during the muscle car era had gotten to the age that their children were grown and out of college, and now those guys had the means to buy the car they wanted so badly in high school or as young adults, but couldn’t afford when the cars were new. As the demand for the muscle cars of the 1960s and early 1970s went up, so did collector car values. A rising tide lifts all boats, so antique car values in general started increasing at a faster rate than before. It became a popular thing to have a restored or hot-rodded old muscle car, even for guys that weren’t all that interested in cars before.

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Another factor in the increased appreciation of collector car values has to be related to Barrett Jackson broadcasting their collector car auctions on television and the internet starting in 1997. As people started watching these superbly restored cars go across the auction block and bring tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases, the guy sitting at home watching TV with a “For Sale” sign in the window of his 1969 Camaro decided that his car must be worth more than he originally thought. And the fellow looking to buy a 1969 Camaro locally saw the same cars going across the auction block, and decided he was going to have to be willing to spend more money to get a nice car. Antique car values went up because of the perception that the cars must be worth more when people saw the prices that meticulously restored cars were bringing at collector auctions.

Classic car values for cars that have appeared in popular movies and TV shows have increased the demand, and therefore the prices, of those particular models. The movie remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds” in 2000 surely increased the demand for 1967 Mustang fastbacks that could be transformed into Shelby 500 replicas. 1977-1978 Pontiac Trans Ams, especially black ones, are certainly worth more than they would be if it weren’t for the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies. And you can’t forget the 1969 Dodge Charger that was one of the “stars” of “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV show. That show increased the popularity of the car, and created a generation full of enthusiasts that just “had” to have an orange ’69 Charger with an “01″ painted on the door!

Of course, some old car prices have not increased at all from being featured in movies and on TV. It takes a fan base that is willing and able to spend significant money on a car for old car prices to rise. Old car values only go up when there are enough people that want a particular car model. Classic car values in general will continue to rise though as the vehicles become more scarce and new people come in to the hobby.

Categories: Automotive

Old Car Values Resource Guide

There are a number of different resources you can use to help determine old car values. While none of these are the “be all, end all” authoritative resource, each of them can give you a guideline for antique car values. No two of them are likely to agree exactly on a particular car’s value, but several of them averaged together should give you a fair idea of what a given car is likely to bring at a sale. Keep in mind, these are only “guides”, and you have to accurately appraise the condition of the car you are looking at. The average person has a tendency to rate a given car higher on the scale than an expert appraiser or collector would, because the expert knows what details to look for when trying to determine old car prices.

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Here are the most popular places to go for an old car price guide:

  • NADA has officially replaced what was previously the most common old car price guide, the Manheim Gold Book. NADA offers free online lookup of individual antique car prices, or you can purchase a paper copy of a single guide to carry with you, or purchase a yearly subscription that gives you three updated paper guides per year. If there was a standard in the antique car values arena, this would be it.
  • Hemmings Motor News is definitely a well-known name in the classic car hobby, and they publish a bi-monthly Collectible Vehicle Value Guide for vehicles manufactured in 1946 or later. It is a pocket-size paper copy that is perfect for taking with you to a classic car auction, and is available individually or by annual subscription.
  • Collector Car Market Review also offers old car values online at no cost, and a bi-monthly subscription for a paper copy of their classic car price guide. They also will be offering an online version of their “Collector Car Market Review” starting in February of 2010.
  • The “Collector Car Price Guide” book is published yearly by Ron Kowalke, a prolific writer in the classic car industry. It lists over 250,000 values, and even comes with a DVD containing a section on how to rate the condition of a collector car. It is available From Krause Books:

Books for Car Collectors

  • Old Cars Weekly News and Marketplace offers several ways to get antique car values. They can provide a detailed report for a particular model for a small fee. You can get unlimited reports by becoming a member for a month or for one year. They also publish a bi-monthly old car price guide you can get by subscription. And of course, you can also subscribe to their weekly publication.
  • Hagerty’s Cars That Matter is a classic cars price guide that bases their prices on cars that have sold at auction, and provides this data through printed books, mobile access, or both. They are the leading provider of Classic Car Financing and their guide is updated three times per year. Post-war (1946 and later) vehicles only.
  • A relatively new resource is “” , which provides actual eBay auction data, average prices, details on the cars, and shows you the actual auction page with pictures. The first three searches are free, but after that you have to pay a fee. They have three day, one month, and yearly access packages with unlimited searches during the time frame you purchase.

Those are the most popular old car values resources available. All of them base their values on recent auction prices, and they each have a condition rating guide. If you are actively seeking to purchase or sell a classic car, I would highly recommend taking a look at several old car price guides to get the best idea of a reasonable price for a classic car.

Categories: Automotive

Old Car Price Guide

Old Car Price Guides can give you relatively reliable and up to date collector car values. Though none are perfect and the market is constantly fluctuating, they at least give you a basis or a starting point. It is best to look up pricing from several different old car price guides to get the best idea for collector car values. This is especially important if you are considering financing a car with a classic car loan.

In order to be able to get an accurate classic car book value, you must first know some details about the car. Of course, you need to know the year, make, and model to get started. You also will need to know what size engine the car has, and in some cases if the engine is a special high-performance version. A classic car pricing guide may go into much deeper detail than that, and it may help to know if it has a two barrel or four barrel carburetor, or possibly fuel injection instead. You will need to know specifically what transmission is in the car (3 speed, 4 speed, 5 speed manual? 2-speed or 3-speed automatic?), and in some cases it may help to know if it is a close-ratio or wide ratio (manual transmissions only). You will need to know if the car has any special trim packages or if it is a high-performance version of a regular car (is it an SS or Z28 or Trans Am or Boss or …?). Does it have air conditioning (and is it factory-installed or a dealer add-on unit?), power steering, power brakes, optional front or rear disc brakes, etc. Does it have the standard interior or the deluxe, upgraded interior? Does it have any special dealer-installed performance or convenience items?

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One major factor in classic car book value is obviously the condition of the car. An old car price guide will rate a car depending on it’s overall condition. Is it all original or has it been restored? How many miles are on the car? Before you purchase a car, you will need to take into consideration any repairs the car might need, and adjust your offer accordingly (or your asking price, if you are the seller).

In addition to a classic car pricing guide, another classic car pricing resource you should look at are the auction prices that cars have actually recently sold for. There are several websites that provide the prices that cars have brought at auction, with pictures and some details about the car that was sold. These include Barrett-Jackson, Kruse International, Mecum Auctions, eBay, and others.

One thing to remember, is that an old car price guide is just that, a guide. It gives you a starting point, an average, an educated guess. The reality is that these cars have been around the block a few times, and in the course of 40+ years, a lot can change. Each car is unique, and you have to take a lot of different factors into account when you are looking at classic car pricing. Old car price guides can give you some good information, but the bottom line is “What is the car worth to you’? If you look at all the factors above, you want the car, and you are satisfied with a certain price, that is all that really matters.

Categories: Automotive

American Classic Car Insurance

If you own and drive a muscle car or other classic, American classic car insurance is something you really need to spend some time thinking about. Owning and driving a classic car is a joy that many people (and insurance companies) do not understand. Classic car insurance companies DO understand that there is something special about driving a piece of history, and no new car can quite match the experience of driving a true classic. American muscle cars are my favorite; there is nothing quite like the thrust you get from the raw torque of the old V8s, and a four speed makes it even better!

The insurance company that carries the policy on your “everyday drivers” and your home may not be the best choice for your classic car. Many of your everyday insurance companies will insure your classic car just like it was any old used car, and charge you the same rate as if you were driving it to work every day or using it as a spare vehicle. Most classic cars are not used as “everyday drivers”, and don’t rack up the miles that your other cars do. A “normal” insurance company may be very hard to deal with in the event of a claim on your classic car, and likely will not give you nearly the compensation that is deserved.

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Companies that specialize in American classic car insurance can save you several hundred dollars each year, because they understand that you are not driving your car every day and they adjust their rates accordingly. Most folks that own classic cars are very careful with them, don’t drive them in inclement weather, and usually are more experienced drivers. They don’t take chances with their valuable “toys”, and are much less likely to have an accident. American classic car insurance companies recognize this, whereas other “normal” insurance companies don’t.

There are restrictions that come with American classic car insurance policies that you need to be aware of, though. Many classic car insurance companies have limits on how many miles you can put on your car each year; Some have different policies available for different mileage amounts. Still others have no mileage limits at all! Most require that the car be stored in a locked garage when not in use. Some classic car insurance companies do not provide insurance for drivers under 21 or possibly even 26 years of age, or require that any drivers have at least ten years behind the wheel. There are restrictions on how many automobile accidents that drivers in your household have had, and also how many traffic violations have been recorded. Some classic car insurance companies will not provide American classic car insurance for vehicles that are valued at less than a certain dollar amount.

Get quotes from several different Classic Car Insurance companies at once:

The bottom line is: shop around! There are a number of classic car insurance companies online. For the big points you need to look at, take a look at my other page on Classic Car Insurance. Before you get too far into the process, make sure you also read the page on Classic Car Insurance Quotes. Do some research, and find the insurance company and policy that suits your particular needs the best. Get classic car insurance quotes from several different classic car insurance companies, and compare to what your regular insurance company is charging. You likely will find that you can get better coverage and save money at the same time by using an American classic car insurance provider.