A Guide To Classic Car Transport

If you’re planning to relocate, you’ll need — and want — to take your classic car with you. It isn’t always a great idea to drive classic cars hundreds of miles for a long-distance move, which is why so many car buffs opt to hire a classic car transport company.

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Is your car old enough to order a beer? Or maybe it’s ancient enough to remember the heyday of Route 66? Regardless of its make or model, a classic car has plenty of stories to tell.

As a classic car owner, you know that your ride is more than just a car — it’s a lifestyle and a state of mind.

Of course, you don’t want to hire just any vehicle transport company. Classic cars are a big investment —and sometimes they’re downright irreplaceable.

If you’re looking for classic car transport options, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll give you tips for preparing a classic car for shipping, the average cost of classic auto transport, and factors to consider before transporting your classic car.

Reasons for classic car transport

Classic cars are more fragile than modern cars, so transporting a classic car can feel like a big decision.

You might need a car shipping service if:

  • You’re moving to a new home across the country or in another state
  • You signed up for a car show or exhibition
  • You’re selling your car to a buyer who lives far away
  • You want to send your car to a specialist for repairs or restoration
  • You need to store your car in a different climate during harsh winters or summers

Of course, it’s good to weigh your options before transporting a classic car. In the next section, we’ll look at the different types of classic auto transport services.


Need to transport your classic car safely to your new home? Check out these best car shipping companies that get the job done right.  

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Types of classic car transport

Vintage motorcycle or exotic car transport isn’t just about getting from point A to point B. The car’s age, rarity, and value mean you need a 100% scratch-proof delivery. Hiring professional classic car transport companies gives you more peace of mind when shipping a vintage sports car or other antique vehicle.

You have a few options for transporting your most prized possession:

  • Enclosed transport: This is a premium option, but classic car enthusiasts prefer it for a reason. Enclosed trailers offer enclosed space that shields your car from bad weather, road debris, and folks with sticky fingers. Enclosed transport keeps vintage vehicles secure, but it’s the most expensive option, so it isn’t a fit for everyone.
  • Open transport: Open transport is a more economical option, but it does put your car at some risk of damage. An open carrier moves your vehicle on a truck with multiple vehicles, which is why it’s more affordable. Insurance could help cover the costs of, say, a rock hitting your windshield, but the hassle is a possibility with open transport. The upside to open transport is it’s more prevalent, so you’ll have an easier time finding a classic car transport company that offers it.
  • Door-to-door transport: Want direct transportation? Door-to-door service is your best bet. This is when the auto transport company picks up and delivers your classic vehicle from your home to any other specified location. It really cuts down on the need to drive to specific pickup or drop-off points, which saves a lot of time. The downside is that you’ll pay more for the convenience and you don’t have as much say as to the exact pickup date.
  • Terminal-to-terminal transport: Terminal-to-terminal is when the car hauler transports your car to a designated pickup and delivery location. This is cheaper than door-to-door, but you’re responsible for transporting the car to and from the terminal.

Preparing to transport your classic car

Ready to move your classic car? Follow these tips to effectively prep your vintage car for shipping:

  • Thoroughly clean your vehicle. Get rid of trash, loose items, and personal belongings. This prevents items from moving around and causing damage during transit.
  • Take pictures. Photos are great evidence if you suspect a shipper scratched your windshield or dinged your car. Wash your car, then take photos so you get a clear image of the car’s exterior.
  • Give the car a tuneup. Is your car leaking any fluids? Fix that now before transport. Double-check that the battery is securely mounted (you don’t want it rattling around in transit) and your tires are properly inflated.
  • Fill it up only a little bit. A full tank of gas only adds unnecessary weight. Plus, it can’t hurt to reduce the amount of flammable liquid in your car during transport.
  • Chat with your shipper. Classic cars all have their quirks. If you’ve got to jiggle the stick shift to get your vehicle going, tell the truck driver. The added context makes it less likely that the transporter will accidentally damage your car.
  • Get a copy of the bill of lading. The bill of lading (BOL) is basically a receipt. It’s the agreement between you and the transporter and it details the car’s condition when the transporter picked it up. When they drop off the car, you’ll inspect the car and note any damages on the BOL before signing it.

The cost to transport a classic car

Companies like AmeriFreight say it costs between $450 – $2,000 to transport a regular car, but the cost is higher for classic cars because the shipper has to take more precautions.

According to Sherpa Auto Transport, classic car transport costs range from $0.48 to $2.75 per mile.

Generally, car shipping companies will give you a cheaper per-mile rate for long-distance drives. For example, you might pay $1.50 per mile for a 500-mile trip ($750) but pay just $0.60 per mile for a 1,500-mile trip ($900).

As you can see, the costs of transporting a classic car range quite a bit. Several factors influence the cost of classic car shipping, including:

  • Transport method: You’ll pay more for enclosed shipping than open shipping. Ditto goes for choosing door-to-door delivery over terminal-to-terminal delivery.
  • Distance: Most vehicle shipping companies charge by the mile, so the longer the trip, the more you’ll usually pay.
  • Vehicle size and weight: Larger, heavier cars are generally more expensive because they take up more space on the carrier.
  • Route: Common routes between major cities are sometimes cheaper because of the frequency of transport. If you’re moving to a remote, less-traveled area, you’ll probably pay more transport fees.
  • Insurance: Most auto shippers include basic insurance, but that isn’t enough for classic cars. You might want to consider buying additional coverage, which increases shipping costs.
  • Expedited service: Need your car moved in a hurry? That’s fine, but the transport carrier will charge you extra because it makes the shipping process more complicated.

Factors to consider before hiring a classic car transport company

You’re shipping a cherished possession, so you need to find an all-star car transport company for the job.

Consider these factors to hire the best car shipping company:

  • Online presence: Any reputable car shipment company will have an online presence. At minimum, they need a website, address, and phone number.
  • Reviews: Always do your due diligence. Look for online reviews and feedback on sites like Google or Yelp to view the carrier’s track record. They should be able to deliver cars on time with as little damage as possible. It’s also good to look at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) —any reliable carrier will have a presence there.
  • Certifications: All U.S. car shippers should have a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number. Being a member of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates a shipper’s commitment to quality and years of experience in the industry.
  • Services: Not all shippers offer enclosed car transport or door-to-door delivery. Decide how you want to ship your car, then look for a quality car shipper that ticks all of the boxes. This way, you get the exact service you need without compromise.
  • Insurance coverage: Verify that the shipper includes insurance on every vehicle. If you’re trying to choose between two shippers, check out their insurance policies. One might offer more coverage than the other, which is an easy way to save money while protecting your vehicle.
  • Compare multiple transport quotes: You’re in the driver’s seat here (pun intended). Antique car transport isn’t cheap, so don’t be afraid to compare quotes from multiple classic car shipping companies before choosing your favorite. You shouldn’t necessarily go with the cheapest shipping option, but gathering multiple quotes will help you find the best auto transport option for the money. When in doubt, get at least three car shipping quotes.

FAQs about classic car transport

What is the difference between enclosed and open car transport?

Open trailers expose your car to the elements, while enclosed carriers completely protect your car. The downside is that enclosed auto shipping is more expensive, which is why many car owners choose open transport instead.

What is the best way to transport a classic car?

The best way to transport a classic car is through enclosed auto transport with door-to-door service. This offers the greatest degree of protection from weather, damage, and theft. Door-to-door service also saves you time by picking up and dropping off the vehicle at an address of your choosing.

While these are the best classic car transport services, keep in mind that they’re the most expensive, too.

Do I need to buy insurance to ship my classic car?

You might need to buy insurance to ship your classic car. First, check the insurance policy provided by your car carrier. They often include this in the price of service. But if the policy doesn’t give you enough coverage, consider buying more coverage, either through the shipper or through your car insurance company.

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