Dreaming of a dream car? Expert tips to get you on the road in one

A selection of different coloured sports cars in a car dealership.

With the eighth longest network of roads in the world, Canada has plenty to offer for those who love to drive.

The driving experience becomes even more heightened if you are behind the wheel of a car that’s special to you. There are cars and then there are dream cars.

“A dream car is one of those raw, intangible things,” says Saqib Saeed, market development manager at Hagerty Canada, the global automotive enthusiast brand and insurance solutions provider for classic cars.

Not just a piece of metal on wheels

Classic cars, luxury cars, SUVs, off-road trucks, beaters – there is a wide selection of vehicles out there. A dream car isn’t just a hunk of metal on four wheels. It’s a very individual thing, part of your identity, shaped by your life experiences. It’s one of those possessions that connects with the individual at a deeply rooted emotional level.

Even if you have an idea of what your dream car is, it can be hard to know where to start and you’ll need a strategy to make that dream a reality.

Tips for finding your dream car

Here are a few places to start, according to Jason Campbell, general manager of the Canadian International AutoShow, an annual event where car enthusiasts go to see the full gamut of everything the car industry has to offer:

  • Go to manufacturer and dealer websites. Most detailed shopping for cars takes place online now. “Manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in helping to bring the new in-car shopping experience as close to home as possible,” says Campbell. You can assess your needs and build out a vehicle to your specifications there.
  • Check out expert opinions. Sites such as the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada scope out what car journalists have to say. This helps whittle down the choices that are out there online.
  • Visit the leaders of exotic car retailers. “If your dream car is more of a one-of-a-kind special, you’d do well to check out some of the best exotic retailers in the Canadian market,” Campbell says. Try PFAFF McLaren or Grand Touring Automobiles. Canada — Southern Ontario in particular — is one of the biggest retail markets in the world for exclusive brands such as McLaren, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini and Bugatti.
  • Explore unique collector options. Legendary Motorcar Company is a collector car retailer that has a wide selection of pre-owned classic cars, muscle cars and legendary performance vehicles. Classic car enthusiasts can also check out auction sites where hundreds of cars cross the auction floor regularly.

Meanwhile, Saeed recommends joining a car club around a “dream car” that you have set your sights on. He did this when looking for a 10-year-old Corvette and was able to get valuable information not only on what was available out there but things to watch out for. You might also come across a club member looking to sell a car you have set your sights on.

Hire a consultant for classic cars

Someone who may know more about “dream cars” than anyone is Steve Plunkett. Fleetwood Country Cruize-In, the annual three-day outdoor car show he ran until 2019 on his property in the London area, about two hours southwest of Toronto, was the largest in Canada. The show would attract 20,000 spectators, featured more than 5,000 cars on a given day and raised more than $1.75-million for area charities.

Plunkett owns 75 cars – all of them GM models and all dream cars, he says. He was influenced by the rich collection of cars his neighbours had during his youth – including a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado and a boattailed 1972 Buick Riviera. He owns many of these types of cars today, including the same years. His first was a 1963 Chevy Impala convertible.

A big tip from Plunkett for those searching for a classic dream car is to hire a third-party consultant to inspect the vehicle for you, including the ownership paperwork, so you get what you pay for.

In the end, doing your research, seeking out opinions and paying for expert advice can be worth it. When considering price, Plunkett always asks himself what it would cost to restore the car he’s looking at. A good paint job can cost as much as $10,000 to $20,000, for example.

“I often find it’s a lot less money to pay their price, or close to it, than buy a basket case and try to restore it,” he says. “It’s really worth the extra money for a better car [rather] than one that’s rusted or missing parts.”

This information and the opinions expressed in this blog are based on research and interviews with the authorities identified, conducted on behalf of Allstate Canada. They have been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as legal or insurance advice.

*Coverage for classic cars through Hagerty Canada is currently only available to residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Alberta. Conditions, limitations and exclusions apply.
Policies are underwritten by Elite Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Aviva Canada Inc.