Whether or not you're a collector, purchasing a classic car can be a worthwhile investment. Unlike modern cars, classic cars increase in value over time. However, because of their age, classic cars might not qualify for a traditional auto loan; instead, you’ll need a classic car loan. Although it may take more time and effort, finding a classic car lender that specifically offers financing for classic vehicles is crucial. These lenders understand the nuances of the classic car market and can give you better loan terms to suit your needs.


How Does a Classic Car Loan Work?

A classic car loan is a financing option car enthusiasts may consider to purchase a vintage, classic or exotic car. A specialized loan is needed because traditional auto loan lenders often don’t approve applications for classic car loans, given the vehicle’s age.

Lenders specializing in auto loans for classic cars have a better understanding of the market. They know that you're buying more than a used car — and, contrary to modern vehicles, class cars are likely to increase in value over time rather than devaluate. These lenders are also aware that classic cars often cost more than modern vehicles and, as such, may offer higher loan amounts and longer loan terms. For example, Woodside Credit's classic car loan goes up to $1,000,000 and may be payable for up to 180 months.

Some lenders require an appraisal of your car (or at least a physical verification of whether the engine starts) as part of the loan application process. As with all lenders, you'll have to pay interest on your loan, but most lenders don't have added fees like prepayment penalties. To qualify for classic car loans, you must have a good credit score (the higher it is, the lower your APR), an acceptable debt-to-income ratio and a 10%–20% down payment.

Given all these factors, finding a reputable specialty lender is worth the extra time and effort. Searching online can help you find one, but using your network is also an efficient way to get information. Friends at car shows or those who have also purchased older cars can be excellent sources for classic car lenders.

What’s Considered a Classic Car?

There's no single definition of what a classic car is — even between specialty lenders, there are differences in what qualifies as a classic car. However, some common factors are typically associated with classic cars, including age and year manufactured, value and demand, rarity and popularity and condition and upkeep.


Six Steps to Get an Auto Loan for a Classic Car


Evaluate your credit score and history

Your credit score dictates how likely your classic car loan application is to be approved. Having a poor credit score may make it more challenging to secure financing. Collector Car Lending considers borrowers with credit scores of 600, but if yours falls below that, you might need a co-applicant to qualify.

Most lenders with auto loans for classic cars require excellent credit standing. The higher your credit score is, the more competitive your APR becomes. If your credit standing isn't ideal, it might be wise to improve your credit score before pursuing a loan application.


Save up for a down payment

The rule of thumb is the higher your down payment, the less you'll have to borrow. A higher down payment could help you in the long run because it also makes your monthly payments more affordable or allows you to get a shorter loan term and pay less interest.

Specialty lenders typically require a down payment between 10% and 20% of the vehicle’s cost. For example, if the car you want costs $300,000, you’ll need $30,000–$60,000 ready before qualifying for a loan.


Research classic car loan lenders

Although they're less common than traditional auto loan lenders, there's no shortage of classic car loan lenders. An online search alone can result in multiple names.

Some renowned classic car lenders are J.J. Best Banc and Woodside Credit. You may also find credit unions that offer auto loans for classic cars, such as Dupage. However, remember that you must become a member before financing your dream car.

That said, it's best to do your due diligence before choosing where to get financing. If you have connections to individuals who participate in car shows or friends with classic cars who successfully financed or refinanced their auto loan, ask them about their experience with their lender. They can provide information beyond what you can find on lender websites.


Look for a specialized car insurer

Some lenders will require you to present proof of insurance as part of your eligibility requirements. In the same way that you're better off financing your car through a specialty lender, you'll also be better off purchasing classic car insurance instead of a standard policy.

Classic car insurance typically includes liability, comprehensive and collision coverages, similar to a traditional auto insurance plan. However, it also provides additional protection or has unique clauses that apply specifically to classic cars. These may include the insurance value (or agreed value), usage restrictions or storage requirements.

Hagerty Insurance is one of the best-known classic car insurance providers and often partners with specialty lenders. However, insurers like Allstate and Progressive also offer classic car insurance.


Compare classic car loan offers

Every classic car loan lender has something different to offer, so it's best to compare offers from multiple providers before committing to one.

APR is something to consider when choosing a lender, but it shouldn't be the only factor affecting your decision. Look into available loan terms, too — some lenders offer up to 15 years, but be sure to consider how this changes your APR. Other factors to consider include how lenders define classic cars, what their credit score and down payment requirements are and what additional fees they charge.


Finalize the car loan

After reviewing your loan offers, give yourself a day or two before making your final choice. After this, you'll have to complete your application and submit the requirements to your lender.

Remember, classic loan lenders may have additional steps in their application process than traditional lenders — such as a vehicle inspection — to ensure that the car you want to purchase is in good working condition.

Other Classic Car Financing Options

You may get a better deal by getting an auto loan for classic cars, but it's essential to know that this isn’t your only financing option. Instead of an auto loan, you may want to consider these alternatives:

  • Personal loan: A personal loan may be a good option if you have a good credit standing since it results in competitive rates. You'll also have your pick between a secured or an unsecured loan. The latter means putting up an asset as collateral, which could result in a higher loan amount. However, if you default on your loan, your lender can seize your collateral.

    Personal loan lenders have few restrictions for funds usage, so if your application is approved, you can use the money to purchase a classic car.

  • Home equity loan: Borrowing against your house's equity may allow you to borrow more than a traditional auto or personal loan. However, it assumes that your home equity is sizeable. Home equity loans are similar to secured personal loans, wherein your house becomes collateral. So if you can't pay your loan, you'll risk losing your home.

If neither appeals to you, consider leasing a classic car instead of taking out a loan. When the lease expires, you can roll it over to a new one or buy the vehicle outright.

FAQ About Classic Car Loans

Your search for a classic car loan doesn't have to be overwhelming. To learn more about the requirements, steps and your other options, read the answers to frequently asked questions about auto loans for classic cars.

Lenders have varying maximum loan amounts. For example, you can only borrow up to $100,000 from Lightstream, while Dupage Credit Union offers up to $150,000.

For higher loans, try Woodside Credit or J.J. Best Banc. These offer a maximum of $1,000,000 and $2,000,000, respectively.

Classic car loans are typically longer than traditional auto loans. Most lenders offer terms of up to 84 months (7 years). However, Woodside has classic car loans for as long as 180 months (15 years).

Purchasing a classic car can be a worthwhile investment. Unlike modern cars, they increase in value over time. However, many reasons people purchase classic cars aren't financial, like nostalgia. Others experience a sense of anticipation before driving their classic car, especially when they only drive their vehicle on weekends or special occasions.

Interest rates vary between classic car lenders, making comparing offers an essential step. Lightstream offers an APR as low as 5.99%, assuming you have excellent credit standing and signed up for autopay. Star One Credit Union's range is from 4.69% to 8.69%, while Dupage can be as low as 4.25%.

Several factors affect your APR, such as your credit standing, loan amount and repayment terms.

Learn More About Auto Loans and Insurance


About Christopher Boston

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Christopher (Croix) Boston was the Head of Loans content at MoneyGeek, with over five years of experience researching higher education, mortgage and personal loans.

Boston has a bachelor's degree from the Seattle Pacific University. They pride themselves in using their skills and experience to create quality content that helps people save and spend efficiently.


The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the rates mentioned may have changed. We recommend visiting the lender's website for the most up-to-date information available.

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