Should You Buy an Antique or Classic Boat?

Pros and Cons of Buying an Antique/Classic Boat

Antique and classic boats have a unique look to them, so they're an attractive target for some collectors and boating enthusiasts. But before you consider buying one of these older vessels, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons.

The Appeal of an Antique Boat

Let's start by looking at some of the reasons why people seek out antique boats in the first place.

  • Inexpensiveness. Some people seek out antique boats for the same reason they search for used boats: they can be inexpensive. If there's a vintage boat that's been kept in perfect condition, complete with all its original parts, you can expect it to be much more expensive than a comparable new boat. But most vintage and antique boats are in measurably worse shape. They may be missing certain components, they may have sustained damage or degradation, and they may not even be operational. If you find one of these boats in bad condition, you can pick them up for cheap.
  • The aesthetic appeal. Styles change with the times, for a variety of reasons, including both practical and subjective ones. If you simply love the aesthetic appeal of older boats, you may not be able to find the style you want with newer selections. In other words, some people like antique boats just because of how they look.
  • Nostalgia. Older boating enthusiasts are typically more likely to hunt down antique or classic boats because of nostalgia. They have fond memories of times associated with these vessels, whether they spent lots of time on the water back then or just remember what the aesthetics of the age were like.
  • Restoration potential. Some collectors want to purchase antique boats so they can restore them to better condition. The practice of restoring is a peaceful, fun hobby for millions of people. If you find restoration to be too expensive or time-consuming, purchasing an antique boat probably isn't for you.
  • Boat shows. If you had an antique boat, wouldn't you want to show it off? While usually not a primary reason for purchasing, some people reinforce their decision when they remember the possibilities of showing this boat at a boat show.
  • Conversations. Your antique vessel is going to stand out, so it makes for an excellent conversation starter. If you're hoping to meet new people and build new friendships around the hobby of boating, a vintage boat could help you in some ways.
  • Potential return. Many people collect vintage or antique objects because they hope to see a substantial return on their initial investment. If you have even a small collection of vintage comic books in pristine condition, you're sitting on untold riches – and the value of your collection is only going to increase over time. For the most part, the same principle applies here, though there are some caveats, which we’ll cover in the downsides section.
  • The collection factor. Wealthy boating enthusiasts have no problem spending money on several vessels simultaneously. They're interested in antique boats because they want to build a collection.

Downsides of Buying an Antique Boat

Now let's take a look at some of the downsides.

  • Lower reliability. As you might imagine, antique boats come with a lower level of performance reliability when compared to their newer counterparts. Boats are complex machines with many moving parts, and those parts can degrade over time. Even if you do proactive work to keep your vessel in the best possible condition, there's only so much you can do to resist the natural aging process.
  • Pricing discrepancies. It's hard to understand the fair value of an antique boat. Certain resources, like the Hagerty guide, can provide some initial guidance, but there are too many variables to consider when pricing this type of boat to arrive at a universally accepted conclusion. It's possible to find amazing deals, but it's also possible to pay far too much for an old hunk of junk.
  • Restoration costs. Restoration is a fun activity, but it could also be an expensive one. Antique components can be hard to find and very expensive, and if you hire other people to do some of your restoration work for you, you'll pay even more. It could cost tens of thousands to restore your boat to better condition.
  • Part availability. Some parts may no longer be available. Tracking down the perfect components for restoring your vessel can be an exhausting process, and not necessarily a fruitful one.
  • Higher maintenance costs. For somewhat obvious reasons, antique boats have much higher maintenance costs than their newer counterparts. You’ll spend more money every year you own this vessel, ultimately increasing the total costs of this acquisition.
  • Low return on investment (ROI). It’s estimated that vintage boats increase in value, on average, by 3 percent each year. That’s better than nothing, but it pales in comparison to the performance of other investments – and it can quickly be eclipsed by the costs of maintenance and restoration. If your primary goal is to make a profit on your antique boat restoration, you should probably reconsider moving forward.

How to Find Antique Boats for Sale

So how do you find antique boats for sale? One option is to scout for individuals selling their own vintage and antique boats. Public websites, classified ads, and even local conversations can help you find these people. You can also choose to find vintage or antique boats through a specialised broker.

No matter what, it's important to do your due diligence when making a purchase. Do research with various pricing guides to make sure you're paying a fair rate, inspect the vessel closely, and make sure you test it before finalising the transaction.

Are you searching for a vintage or antique boat to add to your collection? Or are you just looking for a used boat that can help you save a few bucks? Either way, we’ve got you covered. Search through all our new and used vessels for sale today!

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