My Car Quest

April 13, 2024

Fifteen Reasons Why We Buy a Used Car (Classic Car)

by Mike Gulett –

We have different reasons why we like certain car makes and models. We like some cars in a way that we want to own one and we like other cars in a way that we admire the art, the engineering, the shape or maybe the color but have no desire to own one. For me most pre-war cars fit this category.

We have many common reasons why we desire certain car models and these models are likely to be more valuable than other similar cars. We also may want to use this special car as a daily driver.

What drives these desires? It could be a personal connection from childhood or something we saw in a movie or some other random event. It can be the result of an influence from someone close to us or someone we respect.

We may have different cars for different purposes: driving, racing, showing, participating in a special drive such as the Mille Miglia or as an investment – maybe.

There are many motivations for buying a specific car. Below is a list of all that come to mind.

Some of these reasons also explain why certain collector cars are more valuable than others.

1) Looks – design style.

Lamborghini Miura

Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful car designs – The Lamborghini Miura

2) Race heritage of the model.

1966 Shelby GT350

1966 Shelby GT350; Shelby – Need I Say More?

3) In period race history of the specific car, especially if it won a famous race and was driven by a famous race driver.

1965 Ferrari 250 LM

This 1965 Ferrari 250 LM is the last Ferrari to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans

4) Technology innovation, especially a feature that is an important “first” in the automotive world.

Porsche 959

Technology innovation on wheels – Porsche 959

5) Performance – related to technology but is measured by speed either in a straight line or on a road race track.

McLaren F1

McLaren F1 – considered by many to be the greatest super car

6) Ownership of the specific car by a famous person, especially a race car driver or the manufacturer (like Carroll Shelby or Enzo Ferrari).

Lamborghini Islero

Lamborghini Islero – Ferruccio Lamborghini‘s Personal Car

7) The desire to drive a really cool car on a daily basis motivates some of us. If you live in the car capital of the world, Los Angeles, you will come across plenty of used cars Los Angeles. Deciding which one you want can be a challenge but looking can be fun too.


Modern Ferrari Models – photo by Richard Bartholomew

8) Special history of a specific car.

Clark Gable's Mercedes

Clark Gable’s Mercedes – his daily driver when he died, now owned by Bruce Meyer

9) Unique features of this model.

Toyota 2000GT

The first Japanese super car – Toyota 2000GT

10) Unique features of this specific car such as options, color, – one of one is the best – American car lovers seem to like a one of one because most American cars had such large production numbers that anything that will distinguish one car from another is good even something as prosaic as color combination.

Lamborghini Miura Roadster

The Only Factory Made Lamborghini Miura Roadster – a true one of one

11) Condition – original is highly valued, restored is often necessary, sympathetically restored is good; some original parts left like the interior, original body panels; crash damage or no crash damage; high quality restoration done to original specifications using original parts, especially if it is restored by a well respected marque specialists.

Hudson Hornet Interior

Original Hudson Hornet Interior – This Is Real Patina!

12) The people who designed or made the car: such as a Giugiaro, Zagatto, Bertone, Pinifarnia design or anything made by Shelby, Ferrari or Bizzarrini and certain others.

Iso Grifo

Iso Grifo: designed by Giugiaro of Bertone, chassis by Bizzarrini and made by Renzo Rivolta of Iso

13) An individuals personal experience with the specific car or the model; it was like one Dad drove etc…This is personal and this feature alone will not effect the value of this model except to the person with the personal experience.

1964 Buick Riviera

Buick Riviera – I had a 1965 Buick Riviera slot car when I was a kid

14) Something else that cannot be explained. There is sometimes an irrationality in the desire to own a certain collector car.

Spohn Convertible

How does one explain why the Spohn Convertible is sought after by some collectors?

15) Add rarity to the mix of one or more of the attributes above and you have a perfect storm creating a valuable, or soon to be valuable, collector car. Rarity alone, however, does not guarantee desirability or value.

Steve McQueen's Porsche 911S that he drove in the movie "Le Mans"

Steve McQueen’s Porsche 911S that he drove in the movie “Le Mans” – very rare and valuable

Let us know what you think in the Comments.



Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada

Unless otherwise indicated all photos by Mike Gulett.

Fifteen Reasons Why We Buy a Used Car (Classic Car)
Article Name
Fifteen Reasons Why We Buy a Used Car (Classic Car)
We may have different cars for different purposes: driving, racing, showing, participating in a special drive such as the Mille Miglia or as an investment - maybe.


  1. imwithstoopid says

    Good choices and reasons, but you said no pre-war in your introduction, why? Did you mean they would not qualify or you choose not to include them to simply not befuddle the choices and just talk about post-war?
    My personal choices ( just for fun, are Dino246gts, Lotus Elan, the Miura, and the Rivera in that order.
    Not mentioning Mr. Simson’s retros, any and all.

    • I wrote, “…we like other cars in a way that we admire the art, the engineering, the shape or maybe the color but have no desire to own one. For me most pre-war cars fit this category.”

      I meant that I admire pre-war cars but have no desire to own one.

      • imwithstoopid says

        But surely you must have some that you find desirable.
        There were some very beautiful vehicles around especially starting from the designer years starting with the early thirties,
        Perhaps you could come up with another article, perhaps calling “If there were only prewar cars I might want these? Snicker.

        • I do like some pre-war cars like, Delage, Delahaye and the Cord 812 Phaeton (photo attached). But when I think of the maintenance and worse a restoration it makes me shudder.

  2. Richard Bartholomew says

    I’m thinking the farther you go back the worse the technology is and one might love a cars looks and or history but upon owning it might end up hating it’s reliability or some discovered quirk that they didn’t expect. Perhaps the trick is to buy a car that’s a year old so you don’t have the depreciation and pick one that will become a collectors item. Be careful if you store it though because you don’t want to end up like that 1957 Plymouth that they put in a time capsule in Detroit and found out it leaked water into the vault and ruined the car.

  3. wallace wyss says

    You left out as a reason The Car As Calling Card. Or conversation starter. One time I was parked in an Iso Grifo in Malibu and a beautiful lady came up to me and said :’I don’t know what it is, but I like it.” Around show biz communities, I find an unusual car is used just for that reason, as a foot in the door to a longer conversation. The more odd the car, the better the car serves that purpose…

    • Wally,

      You are absolutely correct! I have had this experience many times with the Bizzarrini GT 5300, Iso Grifo, Lamborghini Espada, AC Cobra and others.

      However, I did not acquire these cars for that purpose – it was a pleasant side benefit.

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