An In-Depth Guide to Classic Car Transportation – Costs, Shipping Techniques, and More

An In-Depth Guide to Classic Car Transportation – Costs, Shipping Techniques, and More

Your classic car is more than a link to the golden age of automobile manufacturing. It’s a collector’s item. A valuable vintage car that is an operating example of a bygone era of vehicles. If you’re like many classic or antique car collectors, your vehicle is your pride and joy. That means you’ll do anything you can to preserve and protect it.

Only now, you face a challenge.

You need to ship your classic car to a new location. Perhaps you’re moving and don’t want the car to incur the wear and tear that comes with a long-distance drive. Or maybe you’re preparing for an antique vehicle show and want the car to arrive at its destination in tip-top condition. Whatever the case may be, you need to use classic car transportation services to ensure your car arrives at its destination safely.

Perhaps you haven’t used an antique vehicle shipping service before. If that’s the case, you need to understand what these services provide and what you can expect when working with classic car transportation companies. In this in-depth guide, we’ll cover the key aspects of classic car transport services.

Methods of Transportation and Delivery Options

Most antique car transportation companies offer a choice between two methods of transportation.

  1. Open trailer
  2. Enclosed trailer

With an open trailer service, your vehicle is loaded onto a flatbed trailer along with several others. The carrier then transports all of the vehicles together, typically to a terminal where you pick the vehicle up. Open transportation is cost-effective and easier to schedule due to its popularity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer much protection for your vehicle because your classic car is exposed to the elements.

Enclosed trailers provide much-needed protection because they have walls and a roof. That means muck, moisture, and debris can’t affect your car’s bodywork or paint. The extra protection comes at a higher cost, and you may find it tougher to find a carrier that offers enclosed services.

The transportation method you choose also affects your delivery. Again, vintage car transport companies offer two delivery options.

  1. Terminal-to-Terminal
  2. Door-to-Door

A terminal-to-terminal service involves you dropping your classic car off at one of the carrier’s facilities. The transportation company then loads the car onto a trailer and ships it to the terminal that is closest to your pick-up location. You have to go to the terminal to collect your car. Terminal-to-terminal services are typically paired with open trailer transportation, though it’s possible to find an enclosed trailer with this delivery option.

Door-to-door services come at a premium due to the personalized service you receive. The carrier arrives at your designated pick-up point to collect your vehicle. After loading it, usually into an enclosed trailer, they transport it to your specified drop-off point. Think of this as the “white glove” service of the classic vehicle transport world. Door-to-door delivery is more convenient for you. But it costs more, and may limit the carrier to only using an enclosed trailer, as a flatbed might be too large to reach some locations.

Methods of Transportation and Delivery Options

Though collector car transport companies often have set per-mile costs for the delivery, several factors affect the final classic car transport cost you pay.

Factor No. 1 – Time of Year

The season can affect your quote in several ways. First, demand plays a role. Many people prefer to ship their cars during spring or summer because the roads are safer and there’s less risk of weather affecting the shipping process. The increased demand that results from this preference may cause some classic car transport carriers to increase their costs, meaning you could get a better price if you wait until fall or winter.

Conversely, some carriers charge more for shipping during fall or winter due to having to deal with more difficult driving conditions. Icy roads, fog, and rain all create hazards for the shipping company to consider. You need to understand the areas the carrier will drive through and how the climate in each area may create risk in the journey. More risk often leads to higher prices.

Factor No. 2 – Shipping Distance

Naturally, you can expect to pay more in total for a 1,000-mile journey than you would for a 100-mile one. However, your per-mile rate may vary depending on the shipping distance. Many classic cars transport companies charge a higher per-mile rate for short journeys than they do for long-distance ones. For example, you may face a per-mile price of $3 for a 100-mile journey, with that price dropping closer to $1 for journeys over 1,000 miles.

It’s a good idea to collect several auto transport bids from carriers to get an idea of what you should be paying per mile.

Factor No. 3 – Your Vehicle’s Size and Weight

Smaller classic cars take less space on a vehicle’s trailer, allowing the carrier to transport more vehicles at once. That’s good news for your costs because the carrier usually charges less for small vehicles than they do for larger ones.

Weight also plays a role. Heavier vehicles cost more to ship because they increase the transportation company’s fuel costs.

Factor No. 4 – Shipping Method

As mentioned earlier, enclosed shipping tends to cost more than open shipping. You’ll also pay more for door-to-door service than you will for terminal-to-terminal. Expect to pay between 50% and 100% more for door-to-door enclosed shipping than you’d pay for terminal-to-terminal open shipping.

Factor No. 5 – Vehicle Operability

Assuming your classic car is drivable, you don’t have to worry about additional costs in that regard. Inoperable vehicles require classic car transportation services to use special equipment to load your vehicle onto a trailer. Loading an inoperable car is also a more labor-intensive process that may involve hooking your vehicle up to a crane and using harnesses to ensure it’s secured. This extra effort creates a labor cost that you’ll see in your quote.

Shipping Times

The time required to transport your vehicle depends on several factors, including traffic, weather conditions, and the transportation method you select. Assuming none of these factors cause substantial delays, you can expect the following times based on the distance your vehicle is shipped.

  • 500 Miles – Two Days
  • 500-1,000 Miles – Four Days
  • 1,000-1,500 Miles – Six Days
  • 1,500-2,000 Miles – Eight Days
  • 2,000-2,500 Miles – 10 Days
  • 2,500 Miles or More – At least 11 Days

Note that terminal-to-terminal shipping may take longer, especially if your classic car has to sit in storage for a few days before the carrier transports it.

Protecting Your Classic Car

All reputable classic car transportation services have liability insurance that covers damage that occurs up to a certain amount. You can check that the carrier has this insurance in several ways. Requesting copies of insurance policy documents is the most obvious. You can also use the Company Snapshot database created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to check the company’s current insurance coverage.

You may find that a carrier’s insurance policy doesn’t cover your vehicle’s full value. As such, you may not be able to make a sufficient claim if your vehicle is damaged beyond repair during shipping. To protect yourself against financial loss, consider taking out a classic car transportation policy with a specialized insurer. These policies cover your vehicle for the limited time it’s being shipped, ensuring you have full coverage.

Preparing Your Classic Car for Shipping

Few classic car transportation services handle vehicle preparation on your behalf. They may send an inspector to confirm your vintage car’s condition before they ship it. You may receive preparation instructions that help you get the car ready for transportation. You’re likely going to be responsible for ensuring the vehicle is in an appropriate state for shipping.

Do all of the following to ensure that’s the case.

  • Conduct routine maintenance checks on your vehicle, such as checking that the brakes work and confirming there are no leaks. Carriers often drive your classic car onto the trailers they use to ship the vehicle, which means confirming your car is operable ensures they don’t waste money using special equipment to load the vehicle. Checking for leaks and informing the carrier if you find any ensures you’re not liable if a leak from your vehicle affects another car or the carrier’s equipment.
  • Clean your classic car inside and out before running a full inspection of it. Take time-stamped photographs of the bodywork and interior condition. Document any scuffs or marks you find. Make copies of your photographs to hand to your carrier. This ensures you have evidence to present if you need to make an insurance claim for any damage that occurs during shipping.
  • Remove all of your personal belongings, accessories, and loose items from your vintage car. Loose items may roll around and can cause damage during the shipping process. Furthermore, personal items aren’t usually covered by a carrier’s liability insurance.
  • Avoid filling your vehicle’s gas tank because doing so adds weight, which increases your costs. Instead, fill the tank to about 25% so the carrier has enough fuel to drive your car onto the trailer.

Finding a Reliable Vintage Car Transport Service

Knowing what a classic car transport service entails is one thing. Finding a reliable carrier that offers quality is another. The following steps are crucial when searching for a provider you can trust to take care of your vintage vehicle.

Always Check Classic Car Transport Reviews

The reviews a company receives give you a window into the true quality of its service. Reviews offer third-party opinions on the service that are free of bias because they come from previous customers. If one of these customers was unhappy with the service they received, they’re going to tell you about it. Similarly, happy customers will give honest accounts of what to expect, because they’re not incentivized to lie in their reviews.

Check Google Reviews and social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to find reviews about the carrier you’re considering.

Confirm Responsiveness

Your classic car may be in the hands of your carrier for several days. They might even have it for over a week if you need to ship the vehicle a long distance. Communication is critical for you to ensure your pride and joy is in good shape.

You can get an idea of the quality of a company’s customer service by reading reviews. Pay attention to how the company speaks to you before you purchase its services. If they’re quick to respond to your questions and are transparent in their answers, you can usually trust the business to carry that responsiveness forward when they have your classic car. Companies that avoid questions or take a long time to respond often provide poor customer service once you hire their services.

Focus on More Than the Cost

As tempting as it may be to go with the cheapest classic car transportation services, you have more than cost to consider when making your choice. Does the carrier offer the type of transport service you want? How responsive has the company been to your questions? What do the reviews say? All these questions are crucial to answer before you hire a carrier.

Making your choice based solely on price may result in receiving unsatisfactory service. Always conduct further research, and be wary of any carrier that significantly undercuts its competition.Classic Car Shipping Cost

Your Ideal Classic Car Transportation Services

Understanding what antique vehicle shipping entails ensures you know what to expect when you engage with classic car transportation companies. Knowing how to prepare your vehicle for shipping and how to protect it with appropriate insurance means you gain peace of mind while your car is in somebody else’s hands.

The information provided in this article gives you the knowledge you need to find the right classic vehicle transport service. If you have any questions about the topics covered in the article or wish to get a quote for shipping your vintage vehicle, Ship Vehicles is here to help. Give us a call at (888) 231-0113 or get in touch via our website and we’ll do our best to answer all your questions.