Tips to Shipping Classic Cars


Cratex Group put together an article providing advice on shipping automobiles overseas a few months ago. While much of that article also applies to the one before you today, there are differences when it comes to cars of the classic/vintage variety. Last week the International Auto Show graced the Vancouver Convention Centre near one of the ports where our industrial packing and crating company has been known to service clients. One walk over to Hagerty’s Classic Alley evidenced the reason extra special care needs to be taken when shipping a vintage vehicle overseas. The ’51 Mercury pictured above was the star of the show – can you imagine shipping such a beauty on a long ocean voyage without ensuring that it is protected from bumper to bumper?

In the spirit of protecting these four wheeled treasures we have compiled a list of tips for those of you shipping classic cars overseas for business or for a personal collection.

5 Tips to Shipping Classic Cars Overseas

1. Will it Pass Emissions Testing at its Destination?

Classic cars present a unique challenge when it comes to emissions testing. When shipping new cars overseas regulatory boards (at the destination) are well aware of the state of the vehicles as modern automobiles have met standardized guidelines. However the vintage vehicle/s you are shipping could date from the 1920’s (Ford Model T) to the 50’s (the Mercury above) and beyond, with engines and other parts that either date from the same period or have been restored using a mish-mash of components that may leave a vehicle a mutt of sorts. Your automobile/s need to be thoroughly inspected before shipping to ensure that they not only pass local emissions tests but that of its final destination as well.

2. Clean it Thoroughly – Inside and Out – Before Shipping

A lot can happen in transport overseas. While your vintage vehicle/s may be well braced for the journey the ocean is a fickle beast that can throw curve balls at vessels, shifting cargo (your classic car/s!) more than anticipated. Be sure to inspect each car’s interior just before shipping to ensure that there is nothing loose than can be sent scurrying across the insides. When it comes to classic cars the slightest leather tear or candy coated paint chip will turn the recipient off faster than an AM dial. On the other side, the outside, you’ll want that squeaky clean too, but not just for aesthetics (which is a plus for the receiver). You want to protect the vehicle’s exterior surface from any elements that have inconspicuously landed on the hull – molecules that could slowly degrade the paint job.

3. Salt Air Concerns

Classic car curators, collectors, sellers, and enthusiasts know that salt water kissed air is bad for the long term health of the vehicle. Modern cars come with factory grade rust-proof coating but vintage vehicles from decades prior do not inherently have the same. While the salt air exposure is quite limited during long overseas transport it is of concern nonetheless. This is especially true if there are any delays during shipping or at the port where a variety of contingencies can prevent the vehicle from being immediately delivered to the recipient (e.g. additional customs inspections, port worker strikes, etc…). Have your classics treated with rust proof coating before shipping overseas. Prepare for the worst and you’ll get the best in return.

4. Use a Custom Fitted Cover for Each

Provide that extra layer of protection for the classic car cargo by ensuring that each has a custom fitted cover, made by specialists that provide a fabric that will not harm the paint job in any way.

5. Use a Professional Packing & Crating Company Experienced in Shipping Classic Cars

This logical conclusion is nothing short of inevitable. Classic cars simply require more care than their newer counterparts and the emotional/sentimental attachments held by both the sender and receiver cannot be measured. The only way to go when it comes to preparing your vintage beauties for overseas transport is to secure the services of an industrial level packing and crating company near the port from where your car/s are departing. If that port is within the Greater Vancouver area then Cratex Group is your classic car protector. Contact us today.