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Classic cars and vintage vehicles serve as a link to the past of automobile production and technology. The task of how to ship these vehicles safely is a legitimate concern. Although many of the same principles used to haul modern cars apply to the classics, there are some key differences. 

Primarily, a higher level of attention to detail is needed when shipping antique vehicles. Shipping companies have guidelines for how long it will take to move a classic car from one location to another.

They also advise customers on the best method for shipping a vintage vehicle. This write-up will address some of the frequently asked questions that people have concerning the transportation of collectible vehicles.

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Image Credit: 878598  / Pixabay

Methods of Shipping Classic Cars

Vintage car shipping methods are classified based on the following basis.

  • Mode of transportation

  • Mode of delivery

Mode of Transportation

There are two methods for shipping automobiles based on the mode of transportation. They are open-air transport and enclosed auto transport. Let us examine the difference between the two as well as the pros and cons associated with them.

Open-Air Auto Transport

This is the most common method of shipping modern-day vehicles. The cars will be arranged in a car trailer about 75 to 85 feet in length. The trailer has two levels. There are more rows of cars on the top level compared to the bottom.

This type of setup exposes the cars to rainfall, sunshine, and any external conditions. There is no overhead covering or side barriers on the trailer.


  • This transport method is the most cost-effective

  • The driver can inspect the vehicles at any time.


  • Road debris, dirt, and any other external element will come in contact with the vehicle.

Enclosed Auto Transport

This type of transport setup provides a roof and side barriers for vehicles. People who want to transport Concours vehicles and luxury cars prefer this method.


  • The enclosed structure protects the car from road debris and adverse weather conditions.

  • This transport method provides the maximum level of security for the vehicle.


  • It is harder for the driver to do routine checks on the vehicles during transportation.

  • Enclosed auto transport is more expensive.

Mode of Delivery

Terminal-to-terminal Shipping

For this shipping method, you will drive your car to an auto transport terminal, which is a storage facility, typically situated close to a metropolitan area.

The carrier company will transport your car to the destination terminal center. Statistics have shown the demand for terminal-to-terminal shipping has dropped over time.


  • If you want to drop and pick up your vehicle on specified dates and times, this method is good.

  • People can arrange for another person to pick up their car from the terminal station.

  • Terminal-to terminal shipping is relatively inexpensive. The storage fee is the main offset that affects the price of this shipping option.


  • Most terminal-to-terminal shipping companies don’t provide an enclosed space for transported vehicles.

  • There is a significant time delay associated with this transport method. Terminal-to-terminal car transport providers wait for a full batch of vehicles before transporting cars.

Door-to-door shipping

The car transport company will bring the car to your doorstep. You will complete some documents providing your information and address. The address can be a home or business address.


  • It is convenient and stress-free. You don’t have to go anywhere to get your car.

  • Door-to-door delivery is good for luxury vehicles and other expensive cars.


  • It is more expensive because the shipping company will come directly to your house.

  • You have to be available in the designated location on the delivery date.

  • If you live in a place with low-hanging trees, sloppy and muddy conditions, and residential zoning laws, you might have difficulty with door-to-door shipping.

Pricing Variables for Transporting Classic Cars

Several factors affect the cost of transporting an antique car. When you factor in these options, you can estimate how much it will cost to ship your car. Those variables include:

Shipping Distance

Most car delivery companies have a chart or calculator on their site that tells you the shipping rate from one city to another. They will tell you the estimated transit time, distance, and cost. 

The cost and delivery time rises as the required shipping distance increases. The pricing rate typically ranges from $1 to $3 per mile.

Season of the Year

During the winter, the weather and the road conditions are usually harsh. Expect the price to be higher because it’s more dangerous to drive in the icy cold conditions. 

Most Automobile transport companies lower their transport rates in the summer. However, the pricing difference between the two seasons might not be drastic. 

Shipping method

As earlier discussed, shipping methods affect the price of classic car delivery. Door-to-door delivery costs more than terminal-to-terminal delivery. Enclosed auto transport is more expensive than open-air transport.

Weight and Size of the Vehicle

Smaller classic cars are more compact and weigh less. They will consume less space on the trailer. The transport cost increases as the weight and size of the car increases. Bigger vehicles will occupy more space and increase the fuel cost for the car transporting enterprise. 

What Is the Best Method for Shipping Classic Cars?

Vintage cars, collector cars, and classic vehicles are unique and many have a high value. The best way to transport them is to cover them to protect them from theft and external conditions.

It is also optimal to get them to the exact destination you want. The best combination to transport a classic car is door-to-door transport and enclosed auto transport methods.

Can I Put Personal Belongings in My Classic Car During Shipping?

Most auto shipping companies will not allow you to put personal belongings in your car.

Even if clients have insurance on their items, transport service providers will still refuse because they don’t have the license to do it. They also don’t want heavy personal belongings to cause damage to the car.

Important Steps to Take While Preparing Your Car for Shipping

There are some things you need to check before giving your car to a shipping company. They include:

Leave Some Gas in Your Car

The vehicle shipping company will not drive your car much during the transit process. However, you should fill your gas tank to 25% of its maximum capacity.

This is necessary to allow the carrier driver to load and unload your car during shipment. It is not advisable to have a full tank. A full tank will increase the weight of your vehicle and incur more expense.

Conduct a Routine Check on the Vehicle

If you are not an expert, do this with your mechanic. Make sure that your car is in good driving condition before giving it to the shipping company. The vital things you should check are given below.

  • Make sure your tires are not flat. Inflate them to the right pressure.

  • The battery has to be charged sufficiently so that it won’t die while the car is in transit.

  • Take note of the mileage of the car before and after the shipping takes place.

  • Disable any anti-hijack system or security alarm that you might have installed in the car.

  • Check to see if there is any fluid, oil, or radiator leakage. Fill all the fluids to their right level.

Make a Spare Key for the Carrier Driver

It is best to give a spare key to the carrier driver. Keep the original copy with you. In case the driver loses the key, you will still have the original.

Clean Your Vehicle and Take Pictures of It

Wash your car before the carrier company comes to transport it. After washing, walk around the car and give it a thorough look. Check for dents, bumps, scratches, and patches of discolored paint. Take pictures of the car. 

In case there are damages to your car after delivery, you can use the pictures as evidence. Most professional car transport companies are not likely to dent or scratch your classic car during transit. They will likely give you a bill of lading to sign before transporting the vehicle.

The bill of lading indicates all the damages on the vehicle before transport. You and the driver will inspect the vehicle and take note of the damages on the car.

Both parties will sign this document and agree on the state of the collectible car. After delivery, you will sign another bill of lading to indicate there was no new damage.

Can I Track My Car During Shipping?

Yes, this is possible. Nearly every company finds a way to let their customers track their cars during shipment. Some of them will give you the driver's phone number so that you speak to them directly during transit. Other companies use GPS tracking to know the location of the vehicle along the way. 

What Are the Factors to Look Out for Before Choosing A Car Shipping Company?

Affordable cost

You should select an auto shipping company with fair prices. Don’t just go with the cheapest price. Low prices don’t always equate to best value.. 

Good Customer Service

Search for a company with a reputation for good customer service. Responsiveness is important. The company should have a good logistics team and professional drivers. You won’t want to have a driver delaying you.

Reviews and Testimonials

Take your time to research what people have to say about the shippers that you are considering. Go to online review sites and check what people have to say about the company. Client testimonials will often lead you to the right company.


Specialty vehicles demand a car transport service that specializes in the transport of collectible cars. Whether you want your car delivered across town or overseas, , there are auto transport companies ready to serve you. Just do your homework, when it comes to selecting the right one.