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How to Ship an Antique Car

Published by Joe Webster.

How to Ship an Antique Car

The process of shipping an antique car might not seem all that different compared to shipping mainstream cars. Still, because of their rarity and the shipper’s intention, more preparation goes into every step of the process.

The most significant difference is that antique cars aren’t shipped mainly to be used on the roads. For the most part, most of the antique cars we’ve seen being transported around the country are mainly shipped to be restored and then sold to a collector.

New Deals are now available for shipping all types vehicles using our vetted reliable shippers. Compare price estimates & Unlock up 25% off.

If you need antique car shipping services, you must leave them in the care of companies that recognize the importance of such cars. If this is your first foray into antique car shipping, follow these steps, and everything should go according to plan.


Select Your Preferred Shipping Method

Select Your Preferred Shipping Method

The first step is to determine what kind of shipping method you want for your antique car. If you’re going to transport your antique car by land, there are two options to choose from: Open Air Transport and Enclosed Transport.

Open-air transport is the most common car transport method, although this may not be the preferred choice of antique car owners. As the name suggests, the truck is attached to an open trailer that is often two tiers high, which allows the transport of several cars simultaneously. Because the trailer is open and supports multiple cars, it is more affordable compared to enclosed transport.

With Enclosed Transport, the truck is connected to a large shipping container where the cars are stored. This offers more protection because the shipping container acts as a barrier protecting the cars from the elements. Hence, this option is more costly than open-air transport.

Which shipping option should you choose? Although enclosed transport seems like the easy answer for antique cars, it depends on whether your antique car is pre- or post-restoration. If you purchased an antique car that hasn’t been restored yet, it is perfectly acceptable to use open-air transport since you will take the car in for servicing and restoration anyway. If the car has been restored, enclosed transport is the better option because you need to protect it from extreme temperatures and damage.


Get a Quote From Several Shipping Companies

Once you’ve decided on what shipping method to use, now it’s time to start looking into companies that offer this type of shipping method. Because you’re dealing with antique cars, you’re dealing with something rare and precious. As such, it’s not acceptable to jump at the first offer you see.

Take your time and shop around for quotes; after all, shipping companies offer estimates for free. You are not obligated to hire them after getting an estimate from them. As a general rule, get 3-4 quotes from different companies so you can compare and see the going market rate for such services.

Of course, several factors will affect your total estimate:

  • The shipping method. As discussed, open-air transport is cheaper than closed-air transport.
  • The total mileage. The farther the destination, the more costly it is.
  • The pickup point. You can choose to pick up your antique car at the terminal or have it delivered door-to-door.
  • The chosen month and day of shipping. Shipping costs can get more expensive during peak season.
  • LTL or FTL transport. LTL or less than truckload transport means you’ll share the same shipping container with other cars and is therefore cheaper. FTL means full truckload, which means your antique car takes up the entire shipping container.
  • Insurance coverage. Because you’re dealing with antique cars, getting insurance coverage is a must. The fee will depend on the coverage offered by the company.

When speaking to the agent regarding your estimate, ask them if the estimate is binding or not. A binding estimate means that the amount written on the estimate is the exact amount you’ll pay for in the end, barring exceptional circumstances. If the estimate is non-binding, the general estimate is just a fair guess, and the amount will likely change on the day of shipping or pickup.


Hire an Antique Car Transporter

Hire an Antique Car Transporter

Once you’ve looked over the different quotes, it’s time to choose which transporter to give your business to. Of course, transportation service is more than just about rates and fees. If they gave you a reasonable estimate but want to know more about their policies and processes, you’re more than welcome to ask questions and raise your concerns. A legitimate and reputable shipping company will answer those questions gladly. If it seems like they get defensive and vague when asked questions, this should be treated as a red flag:

In hiring an antique car transporter, here are some questions you should consider and should come up while conversing with their agent:

  • Are they fully registered and licensed?
  • How long have they been in the industry?
  • Do they have experience in shipping antique cars specifically?
  • Does their insurance cover the entire value of your vehicle?
  • Do they have facilities at your intended destination?

Aside from asking them questions, you can also go online and look for reviews about the company. You can go to third-party review sites or go to the Better Business Bureau website. The BBB website has valuable information about shipping companies. Aside from reviews, you can also check if there are complaints lodged against them. You can also check if they’re registered with the FMCSA. If they are, the agency can give you a safety report, which will tell you how many road accidents they’ve been involved with in the past.

Lastly, it’s essential to check if you’re dealing with the antique car transporter directly or if the company you’re speaking to is a car transportation broker. There’s nothing wrong with brokers - in reality, there are exceptional brokers with connections throughout the country. Experienced brokers will match you with a transport company that can ideally attend to your needs.


Book Your Shipping Date

After picking your preferred shipping company, it’s time to book your shipping date. Remember that you’ll get a higher shipping cost if you book your shipping date during peak season. Keep in mind that March to September are the busiest months for shipping companies. Also, weekends are usually more expensive than weekdays.


Prepare Your Antique Car For Transport

Prepare Your Antique Car For Transport

While waiting for shipping day, it’s important to ready your car for transport. If your antique car is not prepared correctly, you risk losing a few car parts or personal items during transport.

  • Ready your antique car’s documents
  • While some shipping companies require you to empty your gas tank, some companies will tell you it’s better to leave just enough gas for loading, unloading, and pickup. Call your shipping company and ask them about their policies on this one.
  • Remove any valuables or personal belongings inside the car.
  • Take pictures of your antique car’s condition pre-shipping so you can compare it later once you pick it up.


Oversee Your Antique Car Loading

Because most pre-restoration antique cars are not fit for driving, the crew will load the car into the trailer manually or with machinery instead of driving it into its designated spot. While this is optional because antique cars are rare and more valuable, we recommend overseeing the loading portion of your car shipping. In most cases, the company will allow you to watch the car while it is loaded into the trailer and take pictures.


Receive Your Antique Car at the Pickup Point

Receive Your Antique Car at the Pickup Point

The final step is to receive the car at the pickup point on the scheduled day. In most cases, the company will provide you with an estimated day of arrival before shipping the car. However, antique car transport is filled with unknowns, so keep in mind that the estimated day or arrival might be off by a day or two. 

In general, if the total mileage is less than 1,000 miles, you can expect your car to arrive within 2-3 days. For longer distances (more than 2,000 miles), you can expect your car to arrive in 10-14 days.

If your antique car is post-restoration and is fit enough to drive, you can pick it up from the terminal yourself and drive it the rest of the way. However, if you want the added convenience, or if your antique car is not road-worthy, most shipping companies offer door-to-door delivery for an additional fee.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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