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The Steps to Follow When Searching for Quality Classic Car Transporters

What's in this article?
  1. 1 Understand The Costs Involved
  2. 2 Decide On The Type Of Transport
  3. 3 Look For Recommendations
  4. 4 Choose Between Brokers And Fleet-Owned Companies
  5. 5 Look Beyond The Price
  6. 6 Scrutinize The Company’s Information
  7. 7 Assess Your Insurance Options
  8. 8 Look For Dedicated Classic Car Shipping
  9. 9 Ask About The Payment Structure
  10. 10 Discuss Due Dates And Locations
  11. Choose Wisely
The Steps to Follow When Searching for Quality Classic Car Transporters

Are you going to an exhibition to showcase your classic car? Or maybe you’re moving across the country and want to ensure your car gets to its destination intact.

There are many reasons to use a classic car transportation service. But there are so many classic car transportation companies that finding the right one might seem like a huge challenge. Analysis paralysis is quite common when exploring different options, especially since classic cars are expensive, so you’re under pressure to find the most suitable service provider.

To help with your search, this article will show you how to find the best classic car transport companies and choose the one that fits your needs and budget. If you’re not sure where to start, follow these tips.

1. Understand the Costs Involved

Before you start searching for collector car transport companies, you should have at least a rough idea of what to expect cost-wise. A baseline lets you plan your budget and ensure you don’t overpay for the service.

Several factors affect classic car transport costs.

  • Car type and size – Large classic cars will cost more to transport because they’re usually heavier and take up more space on a trailer.
  • Shipping distance – Most classic car transport companies charge by the mile, so shipping distance is among the main determinants of overall cost. For long-distance shipping, the rate per mile usually drops as the mileage increases.
  • Pick-up and drop-off site – When moving classic cars, you can choose between door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal classic car delivery. With the latter, you drop your car off at a designated terminal and the company transports it to the one you agree on. Door-to-door shipping is more convenient, but it costs a bit more.
  • Time of year – Summer is usually the high season of classic car transportation, so you can expect to pay extra between May and September.

There’s one more factor that deserves special attention, so let’s discuss it in more detail.


2. Decide on the Type of Transport

Classic and antique car transportation companies usually offer two types of transport – open-air and enclosed shipping.

With open-air shipping, the company will load your car onto a trailer, probably with several other cars. Car shipping trailers often have two levels so the company can maximize its efficiency by transporting multiple cars simultaneously.

Open-air transport is usually cheaper, and there’s a reason for that. It leaves your car exposed to debris flying up from the road and elements like rain and snow. Some classic cars are quite delicate, so they might get damaged in transport. That’s why you should consider whether the cost savings justify the risk.

With enclosed or covered classic car transport, your car will be transported in a closed trailer without other cars. This is a far more secure shipping method, as your car will be protected from all external risks. Of course, you’ll pay extra for such protection, especially because there are fewer enclosed trailers than open-air ones.

Despite its benefits, enclosed car transport isn’t a universally better solution. Perhaps you want to sell a classic car that wasn’t in good condition to begin with. In this case, there’s no need for extra protection, so open-air transport is a suitable way to transport your car and save money.

3. Look for Recommendations

There are plenty of classic vehicle transport services out there. But not all of them are equally good. The service quality can vary greatly, so you must shop around and compare many options to find the best one.

You can browse companies online using sources like Sports Car Market or Hemmings Motor News. You can also look at reviews, testimonials, and other resources to help you decide. However, nothing beats finding a good recommendation.

If you’re part of any classic car communities, ask around to see if anyone can recommend a transporter. Restorers, museums, and big auction companies probably have some connections, so you can ask them as well.

4. Choose Between Brokers and Fleet-Owned Companies

One of the many choices you’ll have to make when finding a car hauling service is whether you’d like to go through a middleman. If so, you can choose a car transportation broker.

A broker doesn’t own or operate the vehicles that will transport your car. Instead, they work with a company and take care of the logistics for you. This can eliminate a lot of hassle from the process and make everything more straightforward.

On the flip side, you might have less oversight regarding the status of your vehicle during transport. You likely won’t be able to contact the transporter directly, so all communication will go through the broker. This might cause some delays and bottlenecks.

Working directly with a car shipping company gives you more control over the process. The company will likely provide a more tailored service than you’d get through a broker, as they tend to apply uniform solutions to rectify any issues.

A transport company may accommodate your needs better and stay in closer touch throughout the process, giving you more peace of mind.

5. Look Beyond the Price

When comparing quotes, you might feel compelled to go with the one that costs the least. This isn’t a good idea. Collector car transport is a serious undertaking, so cutting corners might result in costly mistakes. If you don’t go with the right provider, the costs involved in damage control could far surpass the initial savings.

It’s best to find some official statistics that will give you an idea of how much classic or vintage car transport costs. You can then compare the quotes to these averages to ensure you’re not getting ripped off and minimize the risk of falling for an offer that seems too good to be true, because it probably is.

6. Scrutinize the Company’s Information

As you browse classic or antique vehicle shipping companies, make sure you’re leaving no stone unturned. Once you list potential options, it’s time to look deeper.

The company’s website will give you the standard information that you can use to disqualify some options immediately. For instance, if you need door-to-door shipping but the company only ships between terminals, you can take them out of consideration and move on.

As valuable as a website can be, it’s only a starting point when examining a company. Look at the company’s online reviews, even if you got a recommendation from someone.

A low star rating is a red flag you should use to move on from the company right away. If you see many clients having negative experiences, that doesn’t give you much confidence, and you don’t want to spend the entire shipping time worrying about your vehicle. Consider low average ratings as a major disqualifying factor.

Once you’ve short-listed your options, have a look at individual reviews. See what previous clients liked and didn’t like about the service. If there are any recurring issues, be wary of working with the provider.

You can check car transportation review sites to find more opinions and facts. Take your time, be diligent, and only consider the options that check all your boxes.


7. Assess Your Insurance Options

Your classic car is probably one of your most treasured possessions, in both the financial and sentimental sense. You want to do everything you can to ensure nothing happens to it while it’s being shipped.

You only have so much control over the process. In fact, you don’t have much control at all, so you’ll need to put a lot of trust into your car shipping company. They should justify this trust with a proper insurance policy that protects your vehicle.

Every company worth its salt has basic liability insurance at the very least. If a shipper you’re considering doesn’t, move away from them and find a more trusted company.

When you find a reliable one, ask them to send you a copy of their insurance policy. They should have no trouble doing so if there’s nothing shady going on. You can assess the policy and read the fine print to ensure there are no unwelcome surprises.

Note that some companies won’t fully cover your car’s value. Instead, they’ll just cover a significant portion of it. This is an industry standard, so you don’t need to see it as a red flag. Still, you must know if that’s the case so you can find additional insurance if needed.

8. Look For Dedicated Classic Car Shipping

Does your car transport company of choice have experience shipping classic cars? This is a crucial question to ask before making the final decision.

Transporting a classic car is quite different from regular transportation services. It requires far more care and attention to ensure your car’s chassis and bodywork remain intact and unscathed during transport. That’s why you’ll want to look for a company that has shipped cars like yours in the past.

If there’s no indication of this on the website, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask about the transporter’s experience. If they treat classic and regular cars the same, it might be best to find another option.

9. Ask About the Payment Structure

There are several ways you can pay for classic car transportation. In many cases, the shipping company will ask for a deposit, and you’ll pay the rest after your car has arrived at the destination. Sometimes, however, you might pay the entire sum after delivery.

What you should never do is make full upfront payments. If your carrier asks for one, there’s a high chance they’re trying to scam you. While it’s normal to ask for a deposit, it should be reasonable and not surpass 50% of the total cost.

By paying for the majority of the service upfront, you’re losing all your leverage. Car shipping – especially international classic car transportation – involves some risks to begin with, so you don’t need the risk of losing your money on top of it.

As for payment methods, there are no constraints here. Most companies use a combination of cash, checks, and credit cards. You can discuss your options with the carrier to find the most suitable one.

10. Discuss Due Dates and Locations

Not every company can ship from and to your desired location. One of the main things to assess is the company’s service area and delivery options. On top of choosing between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal shipping, you’ll want to ensure the car can arrive at the exact location.

For instance, the street you want the car on may be too narrow for the transporter, so you might need to find a nearby location instead. Car shipping companies are usually flexible in this regard, so you should have no trouble reaching an agreement.

Due dates are another important consideration. Usually, your carrier won’t give you a strict date but rather a time window within which you can expect the car to arrive. This is to account for external factors beyond the carrier’s control, such as weather and traffic issues.

This is another reason to find an experienced provider. They should be able to give you a more accurate estimate of the due date than someone who hasn’t transported many cars.

If you need the car to arrive by a specific deadline, highlight this when talking to the carrier. It’s best to avoid scheduling the shipment at the last minute so you have more options.

Finally, if you’re transporting a car long-distance, make sure you both agree on specific milestones. That way, you can keep track of the transport and ensure everything’s going according to plan.


Choose Wisely

As you can see, a lot goes into choosing a classic car transportation service. That’s why you need to plan this move ahead and leave yourself enough time to examine all options. Don’t rush the process, as doing so is a recipe for disaster.

Remember to take a close look at every company you’re considering. There are many reputable transporters out there, but not all of them will suit your needs. Be thorough, and you’ll maximize the chances of your car arriving at its destination safely.

If you need reliable classic car transportation services, we’re here to help. Feel free to reach out, and we’ll create a solution tailored to your needs.

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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NO. 018191NF
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FMC 22206
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Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
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