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Pre-Purchase Inspection Checklist

July 13, 2010 | Research & Identification

Contributed by: Steve Proctor

Whether you do it yourself, or hire someone else to do it, it's vitally important to thoroughly inspect that 356 of your dreams before you hand over your hard earned cash. Print out the following Pre-Purchase Check List and take it along when you do your inspection. You may want to devise a scoring method, weighing things proportionate to their importance to you.


  • Clear title?
  • Kardex or Certificate of Authenticity available?
  • Folder of records / receipts / maintenance?


  • Straightness of body (sight down sides)
  • Evenness of all door / panel gaps
  • Paint condition?
  • Evidence of repairs
  • Operation/fit of top and side curtains
  • Fit of top boot/tonneau
  • Condition / originality of wheels/hubcaps/tires (date stamp / manufacturer)
  • Presence and correctness of deco trim
  • Smoothness, detail of lower rocker panels
  • Smoothness, detail of wheel well arches
  • Reflectors in place
  • Type of bumpers/overriders/guards (correct?)
  • Apply "bondo-meter" to known rust areas, other areas around car


  • Steering wheel / horn ring correct?
  • Horn operational
  • Headlight flasher ("horn ring")
  • Operation / appearance of headlights, turnsignals, taillights
  • Operation / appearance of windshield wipers
  • Appearance of Seat bases
  • Operation of drivers' seat adjustment (fore and aft)
  • Operation of passenger seat adjustment (fore and aft)
  • Appearance of underdash (overspray / wiring)
  • Appearance of Thresholds (lift rubber covers)
  • Appearance of Upholstery/seats
  • Appearance of Floor (Lift Rubber Mats)
  • Appearance of doors and door wells
  • Appearance of door undersides - rust?
  • Condition of "rolled edge" @ front of door opening
  • Sound of door closing


  • Presence/appearance of body plaque
  • Appearance of hood underside (bent?)
  • Appearance of battery floor (bottom-tire out)
  • Appearance of battery floor (sides)
  • Appearance of battery and holddowns/cover
  • Presence / appearance of tool kit
  • Presence / appearance of jack and handle
  • Presence / appearance of spare tire (date stamp / manufacturer)
  • Appearance of matching number at hood hinge
  • Appearance of steering box
  • Appearance of wiring
  • Appearance of gas tank, sending unit, cap (date stamp)


  • Appearance of matching number at deck lid
  • Correct engine for car?
  • Engine number (jos__________________)
  • Kind of carbs (correct?)
  • Kind of distributor (correct?)
  • Condition of oil on dipstick
  • Condition of engine wiring
  • General condition (other)
  • Type of muffler


  • Appearance of battery floor (probe)
  • Appearance of closing panels (front) (probe)
  • Appearance of frame struts (probe)
  • Appearance of fender braces (probe)
  • Appearance of closing panels (rear) (probe)
  • Appearance of longitudinals and jackspurs (probe)
  • Appearance / operation of suspension & shocks
  • Appearance of rocker panels (bondo ?)
  • Appearance/Operation of heater boxes
  • Presence of oil leaks
  • Correct transmission for car?


  • Oil /generator lights operational at key turn?
  • High beam light operational?
  • Turn signal indications correct? Auto-cancel?
  • Startup Oil Smoke?
  • Steering free play?
  • Engine smooth, quiet, powerful
  • Transmission smooth, quiet, adjusted properly
  • Excess slop in linkage?
  • Speedster gears? (tach / speedo relationship)
  • Tachometer smooth, accurate (Note redline, lag)
  • Speedometer/odometer
  • Oil Temp Guage
  • Gas Guage
  • Heater