Antique Boats: What to Consider Before Buying a Classic Boat

Are you interested in purchasing an antique boat to call your own? Just like classic cars, something about classic boats commands attention. But of course, if you aren’t familiar with the antique boat market, purchasing one might feel daunting. 

Can you relate? If so, you’re in the right place. As experts in the industry, our Discover Boating team is here to guide you through the antique boat-buying experience. Stay tuned to discover the pros, cons, and everything you need to know about buying antique boats.  

Why Buy an Antique Boat?

As we mentioned, classic boats have a classic charm. Even if you aren’t a nautical enthusiast, passing a perfectly restored Chris Craft, Stanley, or Elco is almost impossible without admiring its beauty. Not only do these boats evoke memories of a less complicated, relaxed way of life, but they truly are living works of art. 

Many people enjoy restoring antique boats to pristine conditions, as it fosters a sense of accomplishment. And, of course, restoring old boats is often more affordable than purchasing brand-new vessels. 

Costs of Buying (& Restoring) Classic Boats

Are you interested in purchasing an antique boat of your own? Before you do, there are a few costs to keep in mind. While it’s difficult to price antique and vintage boats, the Hagerty Guide helps collectors determine a vintage boat’s value. And, of course, you should also consider factors like the boat’s history, styling, rarity, and condition. 

When buying an antique boat, you should determine whether you want it to be fully restored or a work in progress. If you opt for the latter, expect an extensive  process to ensue. However, plenty of experts specializing in the restoration of classic and vintage boats are available to help. 

Restoration companies will typically start with woodwork and mechanics. Then, they replace the classic boat’s upholstery to match the original design. After the restoration, classic boats usually receive a coat of varnish every three years. Otherwise, maintenance costs are the same as any other boat.

Generally, a classic boat and restoration costs about $40,000. And immediately after restoration, it’s valued at $30,000. From there, the value of an antique boat increases by 3% per year. 

For comparison’s sake, you can purchase a new conventional boat for about $40,000. But once you drive it from the dealer’s lot, its value drops to $30,000. From there, the value of a new conventional boat will continue to fall to just 45% of its original after ten years. 

How to Buy Antique Boats

Now that you have a better estimate of what antique boats cost, where do you find them? As you can probably imagine, buying a classic boat isn’t as cut-and-dry as purchasing a modern vessel

If you decide you want a true classic, there are specialized brokers you can work with during the shopping process. Buying antique boats on eBay or Craigslist will lead to subpar results – trust us. 

Brokers are boating experts who intimately know the history of the vessel and its restoration attempts. Therefore, they’ll direct you toward genuine prospects – not just any old boat. 

Next, you’ll need to contact a knowledgeable surveyor specializing in evaluating boats of that period. The hardware and systems will probably be vintage when you purchase a vintage boat. Therefore, you want a surveyor to verify their proper functioning. 

Finally, you should arrange for a sea trial to test all the boat’s systems (sails, rigging, electricity, plumbing, etc.). Also, you should probably bring your surveyor or restorer along. 

Antique Boats

Are There Any Downsides to Buying an Antique Boat?

There are downsides to everything, right? And when you purchase an antique or classic boat, it’s essential to consider the post-purchase ramifications. 

Do you know where to store the boat – in the water or out? Will you opt for professional maintenance and restoration help? Do you have means of ensuring your antique boat retains its resale value? Before buying an antique boat, you’ll want the answers to all those questions. 

Regarding maintenance, it’s important to note that classic boats require more upkeep than their newer counterparts. We usually recommend setting aside at least 10% of the boat’s purchase price each year for maintenance needs. 

Finding replacements for those period-appropriate sails and hardware can be complex, and certain engine parts must be custom-cast due to rarity. 

Are Antique Boats Right for You?

While owning a classic boat is a unique experience, only you know the answer to that question. Whether an antique boat is right for you depends entirely on your lifestyle, budget, and personal preferences. 

However, if you decide to purchase an antique boat, the experts at Discover Boating are here for you. Continue browsing our boating blog to learn more about buying boats, boat brokers, boat maintenance, and more.