Last post on Dec 11, 2012 at 7:27 AM
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Ford Thunderbird, Car Buying, Coupe
#1 of 63 Classic car inspection?
Feb 08, 2010 (2:22 pm)
I've been looking around for a '62 Ford Thunderbird, however the only one that I've found so far that matched my criteria and price point is in a different state. The vehicle looks clean from the photos and description, but I'm a little weary of buying a classic car w/o seeing it personally.
I've heard of some companies that do special classic car inspections (AiM Mobile Inspections, etc.) and I was wondering if anyone had ever used them or a similar service before. The price is reasonable, especially considering the amount I'll have to invest in the car itself.
Just wondering if anyone had used these guys (or similar) before and had any feedback. Thanks!
#2 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [rvalverde]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Feb 08, 2010 (7:11 pm)
Very good idea to have the car inspected.
Personally I am biased somewhat against "nationwide" appraisal services, because a) all they do is broker out the appraisal to someone they have never met and b) they pay the agent far less than they charge you, thereby not encouraging the agent to do a very good job.
I do this service locally for northern California, and I wouldn't work for the peanuts they pay inspection agents. I don't feel I could be thorough enough.
HOWEVER, it's probably better than nothing at all, if that's the best you can get.
A good source for inspectors would be Hemmings Motor News (www.hemmings.com). Look under Services Offered. The location of the appraisers is shown at the end of their ads, with a state code, like FLA or CA.
Be sure to ask the inspector what he's going to do for you and whether he uses "narrative reports" or "checklist reports". I would not personally pay for a checklist report--I think they are nearly useless.
Fees will vary, but I'd guess that between $175 and $400 should cover all travel, gas, inspection time, and time to send you photos (at least 40 of them) and a written report by e-mail. Also this fee should include some phone time.
Under no circumstances would I let a dealer or other "biased" party inspect the car. The inspector should have no ties to the seller.
#3 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [rvalverde]
Feb 08, 2010 (9:21 pm)
You might also consider contacting the local chapter of the VTCI (Vintage Thunderbird Club International). You might be able to track down a regional judge that specializes in '62 T-Birds. Natually, you'd have to pay them, but who better to do the inspection? Of course, you run the risk that the seller and the VTCI rep are fellow club members and are friends. Whoever you hire, make sure you make arrangements to get the car to a lift so the undercarriage can be inspected.
#4 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [parm]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Feb 08, 2010 (9:36 pm)
I'd certainly consult club members about authenticity but never about value---they tend to overvalue the cars because they are not impartial.
#5 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [Mr_Shiftright]
Feb 08, 2010 (9:57 pm)
I would agree with that. I thought he was looking for inspection ideas only.
#6 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [parm]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Feb 09, 2010 (8:49 am)
Well invariably if someone is inspecting the car he is going to be asked about the value, and this is where a club member can get you into trouble. He has a vested interest, a bin full of spare parts, buddies in the business, and you have none of that. So his idea of value could be radically different than the "real world". The real value of a club member's car is when HE tries to sell his.
To be fair, now and then a club member can be realistic, but usually only after his higher prices have been ignored
#7 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [Mr_Shiftright]
Feb 10, 2010 (11:02 am)
I agree with you for the 'nationwide' services. I was actually considering AiM Mobile Inspections because I believe they are the only (or one of the few) who actually don't broker out the inspections-- they have inspectors all around the nation, so I think that prevents you from overpaying/paying a middle man. They do a combination of checklist + narratives regarding test drives, etc.
I definitely don't want the dealer to inspect the car that would be absurd (especially if I was paying for it). I feel like no matter what going with the 3rd (mutual) party inspection is going to be the way to go.
#8 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [rvalverde]
Feb 15, 2010 (11:01 am)
Very timely thread creation rvalverde....I was just trolling around looking for the same advice, and was about to start my own thread!
Specifically, does anyone have any opinion of or experience with the following national firms that I've found:
• Alliance Inspection Management (AIM)
• Auto Appraisal Group (AAG)
• Automobile Inspections LLC
In the research that I've done so far, I've found AIM Mobile Inspections to be the least expensive for classic car inspections ($179), however I thought that the sample report on their website was not that good. Came across as a total checklist report, with very little narrative.
AAG is a bit more expensive, at $350 plus potentially $0.60 per mile if applicable. Unfortunatley, they do not offer a sample report on their site, however personally I liked the description of what they offered per their completed report. Additionally, their final report actually offers an appraisal, which is nice. I think that charging an extra $50 for a 'Value Certificate' if you purchase the car being inspected is a bit of 'nickel and diming', but it's a nice option nonetheless.
Automobile Inspections LLC also offers inspection services, which are categorized into 4 groups based on the car being inspected (Classic post-war cars would be inspected using the Blue Report, for example). Their service starts at $379, plus $1 per mile outside 25 miles from their nearest office. They, like AAG, offer an appraisal add-on of sorts that they call an 'Opinion of Value' for $25. If you want it on paper, it's $50. Their website only offered a picture of a hardcopy sample report fanned across a table (poor presentation to potential customers if you ask me), but from what I could see of it it looked like a lot of checklists as well, though maybe I'm wrong.
Anyway, any users of these guys out there that can chime in????
#9 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [diorije]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Feb 15, 2010 (11:44 am)
I think your best bet is to scan the appraisers list in Hemmings Motor News, and talk to a real person who is also the one who is going to look at the car.
There's a big advantage to chatting with the inspector WHILE he's looking at the car, for instance, and also have a phone conference after you've received the report, so that you can ask more questions.
I agree, checklist reports are a waste of time and money.
#10 of 63 Re: Classic car inspection? [diorije]
Feb 17, 2010 (11:11 am)
Hey thanks for doing some research diorije,
AAG sounds interesting, I wish they had an example of their reports. I don't really see the point of a "Value Certificate" either (unless it comes with some kind of warranty.
So far I'm still liking AiM Mobile Inspections just because I actually know what I'm getting (example reports) and it has a low cost. I think you're right though there could be more narrative but I think I heard somewhere that you can speak on the phone with the inspector which would definitely be worthwhile...