What to Do If You Inherit an Old Car


Inheriting an Antique

You've gone through probate, paid your taxes and now the car is legally yours. But what if you've inherited a real antique? Even well-cared for cars can show signs of age and wear, so first you have to determine if you're holding on to an out-of-tune classic or a pile of antiquated scrap.

Even if there's no chance the car will ever cruise down the open highway again, you can probably still make a profit on your inheritance. Spare parts for older autos have become a valuable commodity. However, the saying "they don't make 'em like they used to" often applies here, so you may be pleased to discover that your antique requires just a few days in the shop to run like new again.

If you're planning on restoring the car, you need to ask yourself a lot of options. Do you want to modernize the vehicle with a built-in GPS and a high-tech stereo, or would you prefer to cruise around with a box full of 8-tracks and an atlas in the trunk? Just remember that while the comforts of the modern era are great for daily drivers, serious car collectors prefer and will pay substantially more for vehicles containing all-original parts.

Regardless if you want to start by fixing up the cosmetic blemishes of your machine or rebuilding everything under the hood, it's probably going to take a while to get some of your parts. Parts are more readily available for mass-produced, still-popular older cars such as late-'50s Thunderbirds and mid-'60s Mustangs. Trying to find parts for something like a 1948 Tucker Torpedo is like doing repairs in the dark -- you'll be lucky to find something that fits, and even if you do, there's no guarantee it'll work.