Buying A Classic Car Out-of-State From A Private Seller

You’ve found the classic car of your dreams, but it’s in another state. Remote classic car buying has challenges that in-person transactions don’t, but they’re not too difficult to overcome.

Here’s how to buy a classic car out-of-state from a private seller.
It can feel daunting to buy a vehicle remotely. People can think of all sorts of reasons why it’s a bad idea:

What if the car is a lemon?
What if it is in worse condition than advertised?
How can I pay for the car if I’m far away?
How will this car get to me?

Each of these points is easily solved, and you can often get a much better deal with out-of-state classic vehicle purchases. Let’s get to the details.

Can I Get a Better Price by Buying Out-of-State?

Here are some factors that you might be able to take advantage of when purchasing a classic car out-of-state.

1. Population density. Classic car prices are often much lower in bigger cities like Los Angeles and New York. There are more collectors, which means more awesome classic cars.
2. Pure chance. Someone may just happen to be selling your dream car for an insane value, four states away. You don’t know why; nor do you care. You just want to jump on the deal before it’s gone.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Where is the Best Place to Buy a Classic Car?

If you’re trying to figure out where and how to buy a classic car, you have the following options:

1. Buy a classic from a classic car dealer.
2. Buy a classic vehicle from a private seller.
3. Buy from a website such as Cars and Bids or Hemmings.
4. Buy on PrivateAuto with our easy self-serve technology

You’re better off buying from a private seller. Skip the dealers (and their markups and fees) and go to the source.

Many classic car sellers choose to sell their classic car via auction format. That’s because it’s difficult for a seller to establish how much their car is worth via standard methods like a vehicle value calculator or Kelley Blue Book value. By choosing to sell via auction, sellers can see how much buyers are willing to pay.

As a buyer, you’ll pay hefty fees on other auction websites, often as much as 5% of the vehicle’s purchase price. On PrivateAuto, you’ll pay a $150 closing fee, and that’s it.

The advantages of PrivateAuto go far beyond lower prices. Other car-buying websites let you find a car and leave you to navigate the cumbersome purchase process on your own. PrivateAuto gives you a complete self-serve technology stack to handle every part of the transaction.

From instant payments to secure communications, we give you the power to drive the deal on your terms. That’s why we’re the best place to buy a used classic car online.

If you find your dream car on another website, that’s fine, too. Our DealNow feature allows you to start a deal anywhere and finish it on PrivateAuto. Just create your own personal dealroom, invite the seller, get the deal done, and send payment. It’s so easy, you’ll never want to buy a classic car any other way.

Shop classic cars for sale by owner to start your journey.

How to Buy a Classic Car Out-of-State

When buying out-of-state, you don’t even need to travel to the current owner’s location. Whether you’re buying a classic luxury car or a one-of-a-kind Porsche 911, purchase your next car out-of-state from the comfort of your home with these steps.

1. Find your dream classic car and place your bid.
2. Have your funds ready (if you need to apply for financing, you can do so right in the PrivateAuto app; when approved, your profile will show “Verified Funds” so that the seller knows you mean business).
3. Get a vehicle history report (included in the seller’s PrivateAuto listing if they’ve opted for Premium).
4. Arrange a trusted classic car inspector to act as your agent and schedule a meeting between the inspector and seller. PrivateAuto has integrated Lemon Squad into our tech stack, so you can order a vehicle inspection as a step within your PrivateAuto dealflow.
5. Order car transport. PrivateAuto has integrated with RunBuggy, so you can schedule secure vehicle shipping from within the PrivateAuto app as part of your transaction flow.
6. The inspector will perform a pre-purchase inspection and test drive the car on your behalf.
7. After the vehicle inspection turns up no issues, you and the seller sign the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto app.
8. Pay for the car. Transfer funds to the seller instantaneously via PrivateAuto Pay (works any time of day, any day of the week).
9. The seller signs the vehicle title over to you and hands it to the inspector, who will send it to you by certified mail.
10. The inspector ensures the car is loaded onto transport and shipped off to you.
11. You insure the vehicle. You can compare policies and get car insurance from your PrivateAuto dashboard, thanks to our Insurify integration. Or, you can call your insurance company and have them add the car to your existing policy.
12. You receive your car and finish the title transfer at your state’s DMV or equivalent organization. At the same time, you’ll register it in your name, get new license plates, and pay any applicable car sales tax.
13. Enjoy your classic car!

PrivateAuto brings unprecedented ease, security, and convenience to the private purchase experience, especially with out-of-state vehicles.

Do I Need an Escrow Service?

When you use PrivateAuto, we give you escrow-like control and protection. Unlike an escrow service, PrivateAuto Pay is free and instantaneous.

No more waiting for “regular business hours.”
No more forking over hundreds or thousands in escrow fees.
No more coordinating between you, the seller, and the escrow agent.

With PrivateAuto Pay, you act as your own escrow agent. Here’s how PrivateAuto Pay protects you in a PrivateAuto auction:

1. You and the seller each link your banking institution to their PrivateAuto Pay account. You fund your PrivateAuto Pay account and the funds are verified to the seller.
2. You win the auction and the PrivateAuto app takes you and the seller through a series of confirmations and asks each to sign the official bill of sale electronically.
3. The PrivateAuto app confirms to each party that the other party has signed the bill of sale. At this point, you are safe to transfer the money since the seller is bound by a legal agreement to deliver the vehicle.
4. The app prompts you to release funds and you initiate the payment.
5. The seller instantly gets confirmation that funds have appeared in their PrivateAuto Pay account. This works on nights, weekends, holidays, or anytime.
6. The seller signs over the title.

No escrow fees, no hassle, and no wasted time. It’s the ultimate way to handle a private sale.

Title and Registration

After buying the car, you'll need to finalize your ownership of it with your state's DMV or equivalent organization.

The previous owner will have signed the title over to you when you purchased the car. Now you need to finalize the title transfer with your state. At the same time you do so, you will register the car in your name.

Here are some of the most commonly required documents that a state's DMV will require:

A completed vehicle title transfer and registration application form
Proof of auto insurance
Proof of identity (driver’s license or government-issued ID card)
Bill of sale—done through the PrivateAuto mobile app with e-signatures
The original title (or a duplicate title, if the original one had gotten lost)
An odometer disclosure statement—required by some states
A highway safety inspection—required by some states
Payment for your state’s car sales tax, if applicable

Paperwork requirements will vary from state to state, but you should expect to bring the following documents:

1. Valid driver's license
2. Proof of auto insurance
3. A bill of sale
4. Completed certificate of title
5. Emissions test certificates
6. A completed registration form

In most states, you will have 30 days to register the car.

While you are registering your vehicle, you will also apply for new license plates.

Looking to sell your car? Create a listing on PrivateAuto and connect with interested buyers today!

Emissions Testing

Some states require emissions testing in order for you to register a car, while others don’t. Of the states that do require testing, many have an exemption for classic vehicles. Consult your local DMV for your state’s requirements.

How to Stay Safe When Buying a Car Out-of-State

Here are our top tips for staying safe when you buy cars out-of-state (most of these apply to local transactions as well).

1. Don’t exchange personal contact info with strangers. PrivateAuto lets you message within our app so your details stay private.
2. Don’t release funds to the seller until the following occurs:
a. The inspector confirms the condition of the car is as expected
b. The inspector confirms the odometer reading
c. The seller signs the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto app
3. Deal with trustworthy vehicle inspectors only.
4. Use PrivateAuto Pay to transfer funds so your banking info stays safe

Follow these guidelines, and your out-of-state car buying experience should be a good one.
Image highlighting Buying Car Privately by PrivateAuto

How Much Does Car Transportation Cost?

Car shipping costs can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. For long-distance hauls, expect to pay 40 to 60 cents per mile for most types of vehicles.

Rates are based on the following factors:

1. The distance between the pickup location and the delivery location
2. Vehicle type: larger vehicles usually cost more to transport
3. Whether the transport is land-only or across the ocean (for example, to Hawaii)
4. Shipping method (open-air carrier vs enclosed transport type)
5. Whether you need the shipment expedited
6. Your pickup and drop-off dates—certain dates may incur extra cost
7. The specific details of your vehicle, such as dimensions, weight, and other criteria
8. Functionality: inoperable vehicles cost more to ship

Average costs of open car shipping tend to be in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. To know how much your car will cost to ship, get a free car shipping quote from RunBuggy today!

Classic Car FAQ

Are classic cars good for daily driving?

Classic cars can be suitable for daily driving, but it depends on the specific car and its condition. Some classic cars, such as the Volkswagen Beetle and Ford Mustang, are known for their durability and can be driven daily with proper care.

Are online car auctions safe?

Do classic cars use more fuel?

What is the best classic car to invest in?

What is the rarest classic car?

How to research classic car pricing?

How much does enclosed car transport cost?

How do I know if a classic car will meet emissions standards?

If I buy a car in another state, where do I pay sales taxes?

How to report an out-of-state vehicle purchase?

Are there penalties for not reporting out-of-state purchases?

What should I ask a seller when buying a car out-of-state?

What makes a car a classic?

What is a cheap classic car?

What are the four types of classic cars?

Do classic cars retain value?

What are the pros and cons of buying a classic vehicle?