Moving Your Classic

Shipping a classic car starts with choosing the right company for the job. Here are some tips to consider when you need to make a move

If you're planning a big move and want to take your collectible or classic car with you, or if you've found that perfect old car but it's across the country, then finding a good car transport company is a must.

Reputation counts.

Choose a transport company with a good reputation among other collectors. If you can't find the right company for the job, check on for state-by-state listings of auto transporters. Then ask around at car club functions and other enthusiast events about which company would best fit your needs. If you're unfamiliar with the company, check with the Better Business Bureau and also with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Check that it's the same company at both ends.

If the person you're booking with and paying is not a proper representative of the shipping company, then you should go elsewhere. More importantly, make sure the transport company owns the truck and employs the driver.

Don't make price your first priority.

There are a lot of other factors that figure in to how much it will cost you in the end. But if you're having trouble affording it, look into terminal-to-terminal, rather than door-to-door transport. The service is just as good, only you must drop off and pick up your vehicle at a freight terminal. If your dates are flexible, to help keep costs down, look into taking advantage of so-called 'snowbird' routes, such as between Boston or New York and Florida in the fall and spring, when many retirees transport vehicles to winter homes.

Don't use a moving company.

Never put your precious car in the hands of a moving company. It can be considerably more expensive that hiring a car transporter, because moving companies are required to collect expensive interstate taxes on their freight, based on weight and sometimes the value of the goods. Car transporters are not required to do this, and they are experienced moving cars, not dressers, and most car transporters understand how passionate and particular enthusiasts are about their cars.

Ask about the details, first.

For instance, will your car be transported in an open or enclosed trailer, and will a cover or protective masking be applied? And check on delivery dates. Giving the delivery date to within a two- or three-day period is considered normal.

Does the company know where its trucks are?

Go with a company that's receptive to inquiries checking the progress of the transport. Many transport companies are able to check progress by consulting a GPS-based vehicle-tracking system to see exactly where the truck with your vehicle is.

Make sure your car is insured during transport.

Some policies might not cover your car during shipping. If you don't have coverage for this, take a special policy out with your regular insurance agent. Also, if the transport company offers insurance, check if it is primary or secondary. Often, the insurance offered by these companies is only secondary to your coverage.

Get everything in writing.

Have the agent who gave the quote put everything, including the terms of the move, the conditions of the insurance, and the final cost including taxes and fees, in writing. Read the small print!

Inspect your car thoroughly upon both delivery and pickup.

When you release the car to the transport company, you'll have to fill out a report on the condition of the vehicle, indicating any existing body damage. When you take delivery, you'll need to again inspect your entire vehicle for scratches and dents. Carefully check the areas around the bumper edges, along with the lights and grille and the areas just below the front and rear bumpers. You must check carefully, because in order to be compensated for any damage during transit, you must note it on the inspection report.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.