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Northern California Classic Car Buyers Guide 

The gold rush for classic cars from California


Travel  |  Buying  |   Shipping  |   Events

Buyers descend on California in search of classic cars

When international buyers are on a hunt for classic cars to buy, chances are they look to sunny California. The rich car culture and convertible-friendly weather transformed California into a top source for classic car buyers. Some buyers also create a vacation out of it. Which helps explain why California exports more classic cars than any other state.

Yet when most arrive to the states, they don't venture outside of Los Angeles - missing out on thousands of classic cars. We're not saying that Los Angeles has nothing to offer to classic car buyers, quite the contrary. LA has become so popular with classic car buyers, that it has became difficult to find a great deal.


You find a fresh for sale listing on Craigslist, call minutes later and find out that it's already been sold. Better yet, you can arrange to buy the car, but by the time you arrive to pick it up, someone already paid more for it and collected the car. These are the stories we've heard time and time again from classic car buyers around Southern California. This is the reason why buyers are beginning to look outside of Los Angeles when searching for cars.



Why Northern California should be your source of classic cars and oldtimers from the US.

Vacationing for classics in the US is a modern getaway that many Europeans dream of, and Northern California is becoming a hot source for classics cars and oldtimers. It's the same 11-hour flight from mainland Europe as it is to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Yet not many overseas buyers take advantage of the area, or the volume of cars available for sale here.

In fact, there are more classics listed for sale on Craigslist in Northern California than in the South.   

Classic cars & oldtimers (30 years & older) for sale on Craigslist.com

Northern California

(SF Bay Area, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, Fresno, Stockton, Modesto, Redding, Visalia, Chico)

8,611 classic cars

Southern California

(Los Angeles, Orange County, Imperial Country, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura County)

7,936 classic cars

And while Northern California may sound like it's up in the mountains, it is warm and dry here throughout most of the year with temperates averaging at around 70°F (21°C). This makes NorCal a great vacation destination for the whole family to tag along on.

To help new visitors, we've created this page to guide with sources for classic cars, events to attend, and sights to see along the way.

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Travel to Northern California

Traveling  to buy a classic car gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the beauty of Northern California. From the stunning coastal roads, to the world-class national parks, North California has something for everyone in the family. 



Which Airpots To Fly Into

Northern California is accessible via direct flights from most airports in mainland Europe. International airports in Northern California include:

  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Oakland (OAK)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • Fresno (FAT)
  • Reno-Tahoe (RNO)

 We recommend starting the trip off from San Francisco, as it's the largest airport in Northern California and flights there are more frequent, and rates more affordable.


Where To Stay

Finding a place to stay in Northern California is not an issue. Hotels and motels are widely available throughout California. Then there's also Airbnb which allows home owners to rent their homes or rooms, which makes it easy for travelers to find a place to stay no matter where they are. And if you're the adventurous type, you can also camp out at a campsite at a nation park.

If you're traveling to Northern California in late August, be sure to check availability ahead of time. As it can get tight around Monterey Car Week, and other major classic car events. 


What To See


There is no shortage of beautiful sights to see during your trip to Northern California. There are stunning parks to explore, and beautiful roads to drive. 


San Francisco - The famous city of San Francisco should be on your list of cities to visit in Northern California. There are a number of sights to see in SF, including the Golden Gate Bridge & Park, the numerous museums, and Alcatraz. There are also a number of classic car dealerships located in SF and the surrounding area. The port of Oakland, the top port for classic car exports in Northern California, is also nearby.

Nearly 5 million people  live in the city and the surrounding region, making it the most populated  metropolitan areas of NorCal. 

Napa Valley & Sonoma County - Under an hour north of San Francisco, you will find two of the most famous wine counties in the United States. Both Napa Valley and Sonoma County have numerous wineries worth visiting while exploring the beautiful country side roads.

Eureka - Eureka is a coastal town with a rich historic background. It used to be a central location for the Californian lumber trade, and it is currently a historical landmark. It's a beautiful city with hundreds of Victorian homes which are worth seeing for yourself.


  • Yosemite National Park 
  • Redwood National Park
  • Big Sur
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Mount Shasta


Lake Tahoe - Lake Tahoe is a popular getaway for North California locals in all seasons. During the summer it's great to hit the beach, and in the winter it's one of the top skiing and snowboarding destinations in the US.

Monterey Bay Aquarium - One of the largest aquariums in the US is located in Monterey, south of San Francisco. It's host to over 35,000 animals. Worth a visit,. especially if you're traveling with the family.

Laguna Seca and Sonoma Raceway - Laguna Seca and Sonoma Raceway are both legendary race tracks located in Northern California. You can sign up for a track day with either one.


Roads To Drive
  • Redwood Highway
  • Skyline Drive
  • Highway 395 
  • Highway 44 
  • Highway 1 
  • 17-Mile Drive 
  • Ebbets Pass


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Buying a classic car in Northern California


Not everyone is comfortable with buying without seeing the car in person first. As a result, some international buyers create a vacation out of it. And some, if they're lucky enough, create a business out of it.

Vacationing For Classics in the US is a modern getaway that many Europeans dream of, and NorCal is becoming a hot destination.

Check out the top places to buy a car from the United States - click here to read.

Classic Car Dealerships:

Fantasy Junction - Bay Area, CA

One of Northern California's oldest and most respected names in the classic car industry. For over 35 years, Bruce Trenery and his son Spencer, have sourced some of the most desirable classic cars and race cars from around the world. Stop by their Bay Area showroom and check out some incredible cars. 


Classic Cars West - Bay Area, CA

They started as a classic car restoration shop in San Francisco, specializing in American muscle cars. Since relocating across the Bay to Oakland, their shop has turned into a dealership and a beautiful event space. There's always something interesting to be found. And if what they have under consignment doesn't tickle your fancy, they are happy to source the cars you're looking for.

Car Planet - San Francisco, CA

San Francisco's own Porsche specialists with specific focus on the 911, 356, and 912 models. There are the guys to see if you're looking for a special Porsche.


Cars Dawydiak - San Francisco, CA

Cars Dawydiak has been San Francisco's source of dream cars for over 35 years. They offer anything from locally sourced sports cars, to clean and well cared for oldtimers.


Specialty Sales Classics - Bay Area, CA

Founded in 1978, Specialty Sales Classics is a consignment shop with an impressive inventory. As of this writing, they have over 120 classic cars for sale throughout their 3 dealerships in the Bay Area. 


Canepa - Scotts Valley, CA

Canepa is a name synonymous with collector cars. It's a respected dealership, restoration shop, and race team. All founded by Bruce Canepa, who along with Bill Gates is responsible for legally importing the first Porsche 959 to the US and getting the US government to pass the Show or Display law.


San Francisco Sports Cars - San Francisco, CA

Scottsdale Sport - Burlingame, CA

West Coast Autosport - Burlingame, CA

Mohr Imports - Monterey, CA

Dodi Auto Sales - Monterey, CA

Jack L. Hunt - San Rafael, CA

Classic Cars Limited - Pleasanton, CA

American Motors Customs & Classics - San Jose, CA

Euro Classix Cars - San Carlos, CA

Highway One - Burlingame, CA

Classic Car Fusion - San Jose, CA

GT Auto Lounge - Rancho Cordova, CA

Sierra Classics & Imports - Reno, NV

Sonoma Classic Motorcars - Sonoma, CA

ET Muscle Cars - North Highlands, CA

Left Coast Classics - Sonoma, CA

Brocker's Beautys - Auburn, CA

Luxury Motorcars - Sacramento, CA

Platt Motors - Anderson, CA

Ray's Classics - San Carlos, CA

If you're a classic car dealer in Northern California and would like to be listed on this page contact us.

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How To Ship Cars From California


Classic cars and oldtimers from Northern California are shipped overseas using shipping containers. Cars are brought to loading facilities near the port of Oakland and loaded into containers. The port of Oakland is one the fastest growing ports in the US, with exports increasing by over 40% during the last 4 years. While the port of Oakland continues to grow, it has not faced the same issues with delays as the ports down South. 

Despite experiencing no delays at Oakland, the port of Oakland sees a large volume of cars exported in containers. Because of the volume, companies offer a consolidation service to major ports of the world. Consolidation saves you money on ocean shipping because it allows you to share a container with other customer's cars. So instead of booking your own 20ft or 40ft container, companies can consolidate your vehicle.

If you purchased a car in Northern California and need it shipped, you have the option of dropping off the vehicle at the loading facility near the port of Oakland, or you can have your shipping company collect the car using an enclosed or open car carrieronline shipping calculator. 

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