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Buying a Used Sports Car

Lyndon Bell
by Lyndon Bell
January 6, 2011

Perhaps no dream burns brighter for people who really enjoy driving than one day owning a sports car. The joy of piloting a responsive car along an open road on a sunny day with the top down and the wind rushing around you has a strong allure. Buying a new sports car can be a pretty pricey proposition though.

Fortunately, there are lots of nice used cars available. Thing is, the joy of driving often entails brisk cornering, hard braking, fast shifting, and lots of full throttle acceleration. In other words, sports cars often get driven harder, so when you're looking at buying a used one you need to be even more diligent about examining the car carefully before you commit to buying.

When buying from a private party, take careful note of the type of person the seller is and the kinds of things they emphasize when touting the car. While this isn't an absolute, if the seller focuses on how fast the car is, how brilliantly it handles and other performance related aspects of the car, odds are they're speaking from personal experience and took full advantage of those attributes.

This is not in and of itself a bad thing, sports cars are designed to be used this way'”as long as they are properly maintained. So check the oil and all the other fluids, tire condition, tread depth and brake condition. Make sure all the tires are the same make and model and are worn evenly. Oil should be topped up and clean, and the brake fluid should be clean as well. If all of those items look good, chances are the seller was serious about maintaining the car properly.

When you're talking sports cars, service records are very important. While it's possible to buy tires and change oil, service records can't be faked quite as easily as those items can be replaced. Another key report to get is a vehicle history report so you can learn if the car has been stolen, crashed, declared a lemon, or salvaged. The report will also tell you how many owners the car has had, if there are any outstanding recalls, and even what states it has been sold in.

On the test drive, you'll want to pay particularly close attention to the mechanicals. Does the car feel tight and responsive? Is the brake pedal nice and firm? Is there any 'play' in the steering? Anything that doesn't feel right is potentially an expensive problem. Even if everything feels great, you'll definitely want to get a professional mechanic to inspect the car.

Another thing that happens with sports cars that doesn't happen with 'regular' cars is the fan base. Every sports car you can think of has a club organized around it and a number of forums and blogs on the Internet about it. When you're considering which car to buy, cruise some of these sites to learn all you can about the one you're interested in from people who are actually living with it.

You'll find out what model years are the most reliable, what parts are likely to fail, what repairs are difficult to effect, and the best tips and tricks for fixes. You're going to need a local mechanic to inspect the car before you buy it, and if you don't have one already, the forums are also a great place to find out who's good with the car you're interested in.

A used sports car can be a great way to get a fun to drive car at a reasonable price. A good rule of thumb, particularly when dealing with cars like Porsches, is to buy the newest one you can comfortably afford. With used sports cars, the price of entry can be low, but the price of repairs can be high. In other words, you're going to pay for the car, one way or another. You'll either pay up front to get a new one, or you'll get a discount with a used one and pay the difference when things start to go wrong. By purchasing the newest one you can afford, and doing all you can to ensure you're getting a mechanically sound example, the good times will outweigh the expenses.


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