December 12, 2020

Vehicle inspections in Europe, what are they and why should you want one

As the market for collectible vehicles has shifted online, it is not unheard of buying a car sight-unseen, based on the information available through photos, videos etc.

Sometimes the deal is just right (i.e. project cars, where you have to assume everything needs to be redone anyway, so condition is not a factor), in all other cases a professional inspection is the best investment you can make: it will either certify the good condition of the vehicle or it will steer you away from a costly mistake.

This particular car turned out to look good at first glance but had a lot of issues so it was deemed as a no-go

Why do I want an inspection?

When someone decides to purchase a classic or collectible vehicle, there are a number of ways to go about it. Even finding the car can happen in a multitude of ways, from stumbling upon it in real life "hey, you like cars, my uncle left me this old car you might want", to scouring the internet to find one, to experiencing a fabled barn find.

Barn finds still happen and while exciting, they can still quickly turn into nightmares

Generally speaking, buyers don't possess the technical skill to discern a good deal from a bad one. And even with the technical skills, sometimes, being "emotionally involved" about the purchase, is enough to throw off caution and make an impulsive purchase.

That is why in the last 20 years the figure of a professional inspector has emerged, to fulfill a need: while for "modern" cars there are tools such as Carfax and Autocheck (in the US at least), there is no such thing for classic and exotic automobiles, so you actually have to look at the car in person, knowing what to look for.
In a sense its akin to having a house inspected before the Bank agrees to the mortgage: they don't take any risks, why should you?

Would you buy a house solely based on the nice color outside?

How does it actually happen?

First we determine what information you are looking for: there are various ways of inspecting a vehicle: it's history, originality, restoration level, documentation etc, so we'll understand the best option and make sure we have all the preliminary questions ready.

Next we setup an appointment to go see it in person. At Coolcarman we believe that the inspection should be done by a knowledgeable inspector, in person, and that same person should be the one writing the report.
This is in opposition to inspections that are done remotely based on pictures and evidence gathering.

We normally spend an average of an hour looking, photographing and test driving the car (this can vary as inspecting a small city car is different than an exotic sports car or a big truck).

After reviewing and formatting the information we gather, you'll receive a written report about the car's condition, where every aspect gets evaluated, such as paint quality, mechanical condition, identifying numbers, suspension, brakes, undercarriage, documentation, proof of ownership and any issues we can find during the visit.

This goes hand in hand with photographic evidence, expect 60-100 high resolution pictures, and a worded evaluation based on the inspection and the test drive.

Follow up via phone or emails is also a part of the process and can lead to helping to buy and transport the car with the correct documentation for registering it, if needed.

This very good looking interior is technically all wrong (colors, materials), but the buyer liked it anyway and the restoration was otherwise well done

What to do with this information?

There are three main scenarios that can be the outcome of an inspection:

1) The car is misrepresented and is just not something you should buy. You just saved a lot of money, a headache and most of all the disappointment from something that is supposed to be a positive experience.

2) The car is not quite as represented and there are some issues. This is the category where many vehicles fall into, and it's still an attractive deal: now you have hard facts to bargain with, and get the most out of the transaction (often saving money that will offset the cost of the inspection).

3) The car is as represented and meets your expectations. You have an official confirmation of the car's condition and a documented starting point to your ownership.

Any way you look at it, there is no argument against getting an inspection!

We are based in Central Europe but our network reaches far, to include the US, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, the Baltics, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands etc.

Some of the cars and motorcycles we have inspected: