Managing expectations is the biggest, most important part of our business, and it's important that you enter your collector vehicle purchase with your eyes wide open. With that in mind, we've prepared this primer about what to expect from your purchase and old cars in general so there are no misunderstandings down the line. Having open lines of communication is critical and we work very hard to make sure you're getting the car you expect when you buy from Harwood Motors.
The first thing you should realize is that your new collector vehicle is not a new car. We often take for granted how amazing our modern vehicles truly are; they start instantly in sub-zero temperatures, they idle perfectly in any conditions, and given even a modicum of maintenance they don't stumble, hiccup, or cough. They don't need to be "tuned up," they rarely have flat tires, and there are levels of comfort and convenience that were unthinkable even as recently as the 1990s. Galvanized sheetmetal has all but eliminated major rust-through of body panels, and it's not unusual for modern cars to run hundreds of thousands of miles with nothing more than gas and oil.
However, you are buying a car that was built decades ago and has passed through many different owners and lived a life in varied climates. The first few owners probably didn't even realize they owned a collector vehicle—it was just a regular daily driver to them!
If your new collector car uses a carburetor, you may need to spend time figuring out the best way to start it that's unique to that particular car. It may not always start on the first try like a modern car, and with today's fuels, it's possible that after sitting for a while the car will need a lot of cranking just to prime the carburetor. It might not idle perfectly when you first start it or when it's cold outside. You will periodically need to clean and replace spark plugs, and if it has a points-style distributor, the old-fashioned tune-up will be a part of your life. These are all aspects of owning an old car, and if you adjust your expectations now you won't be disappointed when it doesn't behave the way your modern car does. There's a reason why people believe old cars have "personality."
No vintage car is perfect, not even the most expensively and exquisitely restored Pebble Beach competitor, and expecting perfection from any car that is decades old is unreasonable. Yes, it is approachable at very high levels by spending huge sums of money, but a vast majority of the cars in this hobby, even the very nicest ones, will have multiple flaws and defects in various aspects of the vehicle. You should determine which flaws are acceptable to you personally and which are not. A few chips and scratches in the paint? A grimy undercarriage? Upholstery that's stretched or faded? Some surface rust on the undercarriage? Certainly price is a factor, but unless you're paying a substantial premium for perfection, you should not expect it and we will NEVER tell you that any of our cars is perfect because they're not. "Nice" is a subjective term, making all the more important that you weigh your expectations against what is realistically possible in a given car at a given price. While we take pride in presenting our inventory honestly and accurately, we strongly recommend a personal inspection of all the cars in our inventory, and welcome professional inspectors and appraisers who will do it on your behalf.
It's also likely that not everything will be fully operational in an old car and we will tell you about the inoperable items we know about. You should probably expect things like radios and clocks to be troublesome in any car more than about 30 years old. There are several reasons for this: One, these parts were intended for regular use, and automotive clocks in particular suffer when cars are left in storage for extended periods of time. Two, they are made from technology that involves springs, gears, vacuum tubes, resistors, inferior metallurgy, and other pieces that were never designed to function for decades. And three, it's quite likely that they were neglected during the course of a restoration because parts were not available or the cost of repairs was too great or the required expertise could not be found. For all of these reasons, you should anticipate that a few little things in your new old car may not work properly and you are not alone in that regard.
You should also expect that the actual mileage on any old car is unknown. Where we can verify the miles shown, we will tell you, but in most cases it is wise to assume that any old car has had its share of broken speedometer cables, replaced head units, rollovers, resets, and other situations that make it impossible to say with any certainty what the actual mileage may be.
First of all, thank you for trusting us and for purchasing your new collector vehicle from us. We work very hard to earn your trust and present cars honestly and fairly. And like the old cars themselves, the buying process for a collector car might be a little different than you're accustomed to.
Most importantly, your money is safe with us. We understand that sending thousands of dollars to someone you have never met can be a daunting decision, and we take that very seriously. We are a licensed, accredited, insured automobile dealership subject to the laws of the State of Ohio. In addition, this business exists only by the good graces of our reputation, which is why we put our name on the front door. With Harwood Motors, you will always get the car you contracted to purchase.
While it is conceivable that you could drive in with a trailer and take your new old car home with you that same day, it doesn't happen very often. The title transfer process often takes several days, and in the case of vehicles that we are marketing on behalf of their owners, it is not possible to do the title work while you wait. We will happily work hard to accommodate your needs and desires, but one area in which we are absolutely inflexible is that cars and titles do not leave without payment in full. Should you provide payment in full on the spot, we will typically let you take the car and we will send you the ownership documents as soon as possible.
If you prefer to have your vehicle delivered, we work exclusively with Thomas Sunday Auto Transport to provide first-class enclosed shipping anywhere in the US. Shipping times depend on the destination, but it is not unusual for it to take 2-3 weeks to schedule the pickup and delivery of your car. Sometimes we get lucky and a truck is nearby for pickup, but that is rare. We provide this as a convenience, but we do not have any ability to speed up or alter the process. It is an inexact science and will require some patience.
We are also happy to work with the shipper of your choice, should you wish to arrange your own transportation. We will meet them at their convenience to ensure that your car is shipped in a timely manner and we will supervise the loading process to make sure the car is safely and properly stowed.
We cannot, of course, be responsible for any shipping company's timeline or procedures, and all arrangements are between the buyer and the shipping company.
Harwood Motors collects a $150 documentation fee with every vehicle purchase. This fee covers things like title work, sending the title and other documents to you, notary fees, state processing fees, and all the other little expenses that are part of buying a car. If you've ever spent time at the DMV, you know how complex it can get, and that's especially true with old cars and their ancient titles. This fee merely helps us cover the cost of the massive amounts of time required to get you a title that you can use to register your new old car in your home state.
Finally, you should expect to have a lot of fun in your new old car. If there's anything we can do to help you achieve that dream, please let us know. There's just nothing like the feeling of driving an old car down your favorite road, and sharing it with friends is the best reward of all.