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Classic Car Shipping

Classic car shipping is a delicate process which must take many protective factors into account.

Classic cars are often disassembled for overseas shipping. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Classic cars are often disassembled for overseas shipping.

Classic Car Shipping

The logistics of classic car shipping are extremely important for the owners of antique, custom, classic and special cars. Choosing the wrong method of shipping a classic car could result in damage that is expensive or even impossible to fix.

Owners who need to move a classic car just a short distance can consider driving the car if it is operable, or they can have it towed if it is either inoperable or if the owner would prefer not to put the car in any path of potential harm. Towing the car, which also can be done for longer distance shipping, can be accomplished using a flatbed tow truck service. In this case, owners are cautioned to ensure that the car is completely protected with a car cover to prevent scratches, dents or other marring by rocks and debris on the road.

Long-Distance Car Shipping

There are other solutions for classic car shipping, as well. Among the various services that a classic car owner can use for safe vehicle transport are trains, trucking services, and, for international shipping, boats.

The best-known way to move a car, classic or otherwise, along the east coast of the United States is to use Amtrak's Auto Train Service, which runs exclusively between Sanford, Fla. (near Orlando) and Lorton, Va. (outside of Washington, D.C.). Using that service, owners are required to travel with the car. Two other train shipping options are Autolog and AutoRail, both of which ship cars between other U.S. locations. Services like Autolog also ship cars by boat as necessary for overseas delivery.

When shipping a car into or out of the U.S., one should keep in mind that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has requirements for importing vehicles that may apply to classic cars. In addition to reviewing the Web site, one should review any applicable rules with the transport service.

Shipping via Truck

Probably the most common way to ship classic cars is by truck. A number of services provide door-to-door car transport via truck. Most offer options such as enclosed shipping, which is a highly recommended but more expensive way to protect a classic car from the elements. The options include satellite tracking and guaranteed delivery times.

Tips for Car Shipping

FedEx Auto Transport suggests a number of tips for preparing to ship a classic car using any type of service. Among the suggestions:

  • Keep the fuel tank only about one quarter full
  • Ensure that the car has a sufficient amount of anti-freeze to protect the engine
  • Remove all personal belongings from the car, or, for those items that must remain, secure them to prevent damage
  • Make sure the alarm system is turned off; and ensure that all tires are inflated to their proper air pressure levels


In addition, one should ensure there are no leaking fluids and should remove or retract antennas or any nonpermanent luggage racks.

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