Enclosed carriers are the best transport method for shipping classic and exotic cars because of the increased protection they provide against extreme weather and climate conditions, as well as falling rocks, mud and other debris.
You don’t want to gamble with the condition of your classic car. Extremely hot or cold weather can damage heat-sensitive materials, finishes or adhesives on these vehicles. For this reason, we recommend you choose climate-controlled enclosed vehicle transport instead of open vehicle transport when moving your classic car.
What are the best classic car transport companies?
If you have a strong sentimental attachment to or financial investment in your classic car, not just any auto transport company will do. Our top picks feature companies that offer enclosed transport and are fully licensed and bonded with the USDOT.
What to look for in a classic car transport service
When looking for a car transport service, you'll want to find a company that has experience with classic and exotic car transport. Make sure to validate the company's safety record and insurance status by looking them up on the Department of Transportation’s website. Here's what to look for:
- A history of transporting classic cars: The best enclosed car transport companies will have a long history of transporting classic cars. The last thing you want is a carrier trying to cram as many cars as possible onto one truck. A company with a track record of transporting classic cars will give you more peace of mind than a new company that's only done open-air hauling.
- Proof of insurance: A company should be able to provide proof of insurance when you ask for it. Find out what damage it'll cover and what parts you'll have to cover yourself.
- Options for door-to-door delivery service: This convenient option will save you the hassle of driving to a terminal to pick up your classic car.
- Expedited delivery options: Sometimes important dates sneak up on you, and that means you have to get your car somewhere fast. Many auto transport companies offer expedited shipping for an additional fee.
- Ability for you to communicate with the carrier: You should be able to communicate easily with the carrier.
- A reasonable enclosed auto transport quote: Expect a quote roughly similar to other quotes you've received. The quote shouldn’t be too low, or it’s probably too good to be true.
- A clear claims process: In the unlikely event that your vehicle is somehow damaged in the shipping process, you want to be able to file a claim — and fast. Your auto transport broker will be able to help you with this.
- GPS order tracking: Another great feature to look for is GPS order tracking so you can check the car's location yourself or call an agent to receive real-time updates.
Our favorite classic car transporters
To select our top picks, we looked at transporters and brokers that offer enclosed transport and straightforward tracking and have a history of transporting classic cars. All companies listed have received positive feedback from customers via online reviews and ratings.
Sherpa Auto Transport
Sherpa offers both open and enclosed shipping. We recommend its enclosed option for transporting a classic car. Sherpa's quotes are backed by a price-lock promise. You can also opt to ship your classic car door to door, which makes drop-off and pickup easier. Sherpa has a wide range of pickup and delivery locations, making it a good pick even if you live in a rural or otherwise remote location.
Sherpa’s Clean Car Guarantee means you can give your classic car a free wash within seven days of delivery. You’ll just need to give Sherpa your bill of lading and car wash receipt.
Sherpa uses a scheduling algorithm to make sure classic cars are matched to available carriers efficiently and delivered in a timely manner. Overall, Sherpa has received positive reviews from customers, and it should be a trusty option for classic car delivery.
eShip offers both open and enclosed transport, but we always recommend enclosed transport for shipping a classic car. Expedited shipping for classic cars is also available for an additional fee.
Online tracking from eShip holds drivers accountable and lets you know where your classic car is every step of the journey. This tracking feature is available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST via the website. You can also get in touch with customer service 7 days a week until 9 p.m. CST.
eShip’s Platinum Protection Plan is another good choice for your classic car. It provides $300 of gap insurance in case of damages. Alternatively, you can receive $300 in rental reimbursement if your classic car arrives more than 48 hours after the predicted time of arrival. eShip is also able to ship classic cars internationally.
Montway is a car transport broker offering a large carrier network (more than 15,000 carriers) across the United States. The company can handle individual cars and fleets and has a history of supporting classic, luxury and brand-new vehicle transports.
When you ship, you’ll have access to your driver’s contact information to stay up to date on the status of your vehicle’s journey. Montway offers fully insured auto transport with a dedicated compliance team that ensures all carriers meet required insurance standards.
Montway recommends its enclosed transport services for classic cars and can provide door-to-door service (legal and safety standards permitting). International shipping is also available for classic cars.
Budget Transporter provides enclosed transport for classic and antique vehicles. Budget uses fully insured and bonded carriers to fulfill your vehicle transport job and is authorized and bonded by FMCSA.
Budget Transporter includes a Platinum Protection Plan with its transports at no additional fee. This protection plan includes a price-lock guarantee, access to vehicle tracking, a designated service agent, free storage and up to $300 in rental car reimbursement if your vehicle delivery is delayed.
Expedited shipping is available if you need it, and Budget can also transport cars, motorcycles and boats.
uShip provides a marketplace that lets customers find transport for their vehicle. To use uShip, you simply list your transport job, compare available shipping options and select a carrier to work with.
The uShip app gives you access to tracking and real-time updates related to your vehicle’s pickup and delivery that can be sent to your mobile device via push notifications.
uShip’s cargo insurance is backed by Lloyd’s of London, and the company advertises a straightforward claims process. Its “Ship with Confidence Guarantee” gives customers up to $500 in the event of damage or loss.
Classic car transport cost
The distance your classic car needs to be shipped and its make, model, size and weight of your vehicle determine how much it costs to ship a car. The farther you are shipping your classic car, the less it will cost to ship it per mile.
The average cost to ship a classic car using an enclosed carrier typically starts at $3.40 per mile for shorter distances under 100 miles (and at $1.15 per mile for distances under 1,000 miles).
Many auto transport companies offer a cost calculator to help you determine a rough cost estimate for shipping a classic car.
Keep in mind that although enclosed auto transport typically costs 50% more than open-air shipping, it's typically worth the cost to ensure your classic car is fully protected.
How to ship a classic car
Our classic car shipping checklist below will help ensure you don’t forget anything important.
- Make sure your insurance is up to date. Carriers are liable only for damage that's their responsibility — not unforeseen events over which they have no control. Check that your insurance is up to date and covers any damage your valuable car might take.
- Request enclosed car shipping quotes from several companies. It’s important to ask several companies for quotes to help you determine the best price for shipping your classic car. Make sure you’re asking about enclosed car shipping. Shipping a classic car will never be cheap, so you should be wary of anyone who gives you a quote that seems too good to be true. It’s better to pay a bit extra to ensure your car arrives safely and on time.
- Choose a company and select a shipping date. Keep in mind that auto transporters do not have regularly scheduled dates of departure like airplanes or trains. They typically leave once their carrier has been fully reserved and filled with cars.
- Prepare your classic car to be shipped. This includes washing the car and checking with an experienced mechanic to make sure the car is travel-ready. Also, make sure to remove your valuables from the car and ensure that the car is at a quarter of a tank of gas or less. Check to make sure your antifreeze levels are adequate for the route your car will be traveling.
- Document the vehicle’s condition. Photos are especially useful to have so you have evidence of prior condition in case your car is damaged during transportation.
- Perform a vehicle inspection at the time of pick-up with the driver. You will have to fill out a bill of lading. This is the time to thoroughly inspect your car and take note of any damages. If there are any, it will be easier to file a claim if you have taken pictures of your car earlier. Do not sign off on the bill of lading unless the car is in the same shape it was when you shipped it.
Classic car transporter FAQ
- How long will it take to ship my classic car?
- You can expect around one week to about a month from the time of pickup for your classic car to be delivered to its destination. Classic cars often take one to nine days to ship. International car shipping might take longer. Especially with classic car transport, the real patience comes with waiting for the hauler to fill its truck with cars, at which point it will begin its route. This can take up to two or three weeks.
- What if my classic car is inoperable?
- If you’re transporting a non-running vehicle, look for an auto transporter that has specialty carriers, equipment, tools and expertise to load and unload your vehicle safely. For a non-running vehicle that can still roll, a winch may be necessary. If the vehicle is extremely damaged and incapable of rolling, the carrier might need a forklift to load and unload it. In either case, expect to be charged additional fees for the special equipment and extra time handling your car.
Some companies have no provisions for handling inoperable vehicles. If this is the case for the company you choose, you'll be responsible for hauling or transporting your inoperable car from its place of origin to the carrier’s designated terminal. You'll also need to make your vehicle completely ready for transport by cleaning it and having the tires aired up to stand the rigors of shipping.
- What if I want to transport multiple classic cars?
- Some classic car transport services specialize in moving fleets. These enclosed carriers feature an air-ride suspension system for a smoother journey for fleets of classic cars and other prized vehicles. They also offer real-time vehicle tracking services to ensure their carriers are on schedule for a prompt delivery. If you’re a collector of classic cars and want to transport your cars for a car show in another state, you may want to look for an enclosed auto transport company that offers volume pricing and rebate plans.
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