Transportation and Shipping of Classic Automobiles

Submitted by Colton Riley Baker
on 01/16/18

 

So, you’re a gearhead? You’ve just managed to track down and purchase your dream car but there seems to be one small obstruction. The car you have purchased is in a different state, or maybe even country, from the one you live in. The good news is that many businesses make a quite lucrative practice out of transporting vehicles including, and sometimes specifically limited to, classics. It is a very tedious job to transport one of these fine automobiles. One must be extremely careful and use the utmost caution as to avoid any damages. The first step of the transportation process is the selection of an adequate shipping trailer or container.

Shipping a classic automobile is a very risky operation as these vehicles tend to be of higher value than others and may be more easily damaged because of the materials used in the manufacturing. Selecting a means of transportation is a very important, possibly the most important, step in the process of shipping. Due to the age and fragility of a classic automobile, there are many qualities needed in the shipping containers and trailers used that you would not usually find in containers and trailers used in transporting newer vehicles. Many of the trailers and containers used are on separate suspension apparatus than the truck being used to pull it. These kinds of trailers minimalize any vibration or jolt that are sent through the suspension of the semi-truck. Most means of shipping are also climate controlled. The temperature is regulated and kept consistent to avoid any temperature induced damages. These qualities are not necessary for the transportation of newer vehicles due to their being less fragile. In some cases, higher quality transportation trailers even have dehumidifiers built in to keep the humidity stable. This is to prevent any slight water damage that could be sustained from the excessive humidity. Insurance is also very important while transporting a vehicle just in case the worst-case scenario is realized, and a car is damaged or totally lost. With insurance, damages, or worse, can be compensated for so that the owner or buyer does not sustain a total loss. Selection of transportation containers is also a very crucial step when the vehicle is being transported overseas by ship. A normal Conex box would not be sufficient in transporting a vehicle with the same value or age as a classic. These containers, as well as the cars stored in them, should be secured as tightly as possible to avoid any kind of movement. These containers should also be climate controlled to avoid any damages to the car although many are not. There is much more risk involved in transporting a vehicle by ship due to the possibility of a container going overboard. Therefore, the use of insurance is much more important for overseas shipping than it would be if the vehicle were being shipped by land. The next step in the process of safely shipping a classic automobile is the preparation and packaging.

Preparing and packing a vehicle for shipment is a very involved process no matter whether the transportation is by land or sea. When preparing a vehicle for transportation and delivery by land, one must be sure that the means of transportation is safe and trustworthy. Many transportation companies use enclosed trailers pulled by large semi-trucks to deliver their cargo. Some of these enclosed trailers may even be double decker trailers designed to carry two and sometimes up to six vehicles at one time. When using one of these trailers there are many supplies necessary to keep the cargo stationary during the entirety of the transportation. These supplies include ratchet straps, wheel chocks and sometimes even tarps or car covers. Once loaded into the transportation trailer, each vehicle must be a safe distance from the next to prevent a collision of any nature. Once this is done, the straps and chocks are applied. These minimalize any movement of the vehicles while being shipped. Some companies will use car covers or tarps in order to cover their vehicles and prevent any dust or other foreign materials from sticking to the antique paint or upholstery. While these means of packaging and preparation are crucial to the safety of the cargo they are not, surprisingly, the most important step of the process as the most important step is selecting means of transportation as explained in the previous paragraph.

The last step, a surprisingly important one, is the delivery of the cargo. Many think of delivery as the simple process of backing the car out of the trailer and into the owner’s driveway. Due to the age and value of an antique car, delivery of a classic is very similar to the delivery of a limited run supercar. The staff present must be very well trained in shipment, handling and delivery of automobiles. One must be very cautious while backing out of the transport trailer as not to miss the ramps or scrub the sides of the trailer, especially when it is a double decker trailer. Some double decker trailers also have hydraulic lift gates that are used to raise and lower a car into and out of the storage area. The men in charge of delivering the vehicle must be very careful when operating these lift gates. The movements cannot be too abrupt as it could cause the car to move on the lift gate which could lead to possible damages. The delivery company must also make sure that they are the ones doing the unloading and will not let the car’s owner or buyer to assist in the process as there is high risk for accidents.

As you may now see, the transportation and shipment of a classic automobile is a highly risky and very tedious process. Many people rely on transportation of this manner as they often purchase antique automobiles through programs such as Mecum Auctions and Hemmings Motor News. Most of these sales take place in separate states from where the buyer resides therefor calling for long distance shipment. Even if the sale takes place in the same state as the buyer’s residence, due to the cars being of such high value and old age, they still require shipment. This is where the professional companies step in and supply this service. As the appreciation of antique automobiles becomes more widespread the demand begins to spike. This is bringing the major transportation companies more business which is why they can make such a lucrative practice out of this. Hopefully more and more people will begin to collect classics and bring more business opportunities to transportation companies.

Submitted by Colton Riley Baker
on 01/16/18

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