When shipping your sports car over long distances, there are two main options for transport – using an open carrier or enclosed carrier Comparing Open and Enclosed Transportation.

Both methods have their pros and cons, so it’s important to understand the key differences before selecting which type is best suited for your vehicle transportation needs.

What is an Open Carrier?

An open carrier, sometimes called an open transporter, is a type of vehicle used for transporting other vehicles that has an uncovered flatbed platform. Sports cars being shipped are simply secured to the flatbed using tie-down straps or other restraints without any enclosure around them. This leaves the vehicle fully exposed to the elements like wind, rain, dust, etc. during transit.

Some of the main benefits of using an open carrier include:

  • Generally lower shipping costs compared to enclosed transportation
  • Faster loading/unloading times since there is no container or enclosure to open
  • Easier for the transport driver to monitor the vehicle and restraints throughout the trip

However, open transport also presents some potential downsides:

  • Greater risk of dirt, dust and other debris contaminating or damaging the vehicle during travel
  • Higher probability of paint damage or scratches from road debris kicking up
  • Exposure to weather like rain could cause interior water damage or rusting
  • Less secure since the vehicle is not fully enclosed and could possibly be accessed during stops

What is an Enclosed Carrier?

With enclosed transport, the vehicle sits inside a sealed container or enclosed structure for the duration of the move. Some common enclosed carrier types include enclosed auto transports, enclosed car haulers and enclosed trailers. The vehicle shipment process involves driving or winching the car into the enclosed space, securely fastening it inside, then sealing the container before traveling.

The primary advantages of enclosed transport include:

  • Provides maximum protection from external elements like weather, dust, debris impacts
  • Offers superior security since the vehicle is locked inside a sealed enclosure the whole trip
  • Less risk of paint damage, scratches or interior water damage compared to open transport

However, there are also some drawbacks of enclosed carriers:

  • Generally more expensive than open transport due to the extra infrastructure needs
  • Longer loading/unloading times since the container must be opened and closed
  • Slightly less accessibility for the driver to periodically check on the vehicle and restraints

Head-to-Head Comparison – Comparing Open and Enclosed Transportation

To summarize the differences between these two transportation styles, the following table outlines some of the key factors to consider when deciding between open or enclosed transport:


  Open Carrier Enclosed Carrier
Cost Generally lower shipping rates Higher rates due to extra equipment needs
Transit Time Potentially faster loading/unloading Slower loading/unloading through container
Vehicle Security Less secure since open to potential access Locked inside sealed container for maximum security
Weather Protection Less protected from elements like rain or dust Fully enclosed safe from external weather factors
Potential Damage Risks Higher risk of paint chips or scratches from debris Less risk of exterior or interior damage during travel

Which is Best for Shipping Sports Cars?

When it comes to transporting high-value vehicles like sports cars, enclosed shipping is usually recommended over open transport. Since open carriers leave the vehicle fully exposed throughout transit, certain types ofdamage are more likely from weather, airborne debris or accidental contact. For expensive sports cars with delicate or unique paint jobs, enclosed transport offers the best protection.

Enclosed transport also provides superior security. Given the investment involved in sports cars, enclosed shipping helps assure the vehicle can’t be accessed during stops. This is especially important for transports over long distances or multiple days. While enclosed carriers are more expensive, the cost is often justified for high-end vehicles where appearance and condition matter greatly.

In most situations, the peace of mind from full protection outweighs any minor time or cost advantages of open transport for sports cars. Of course, shorter regional trips present less exposure risk and open carriers could work. But for long-haul shipments, enclosed transport is usually the safest and lowest-stress option for protecting a valuable sports car during transit.

Comparing Open and Enclosed Transportation – Parting Words:

Open carriers are generally simpler and lower-cost but offer less protection from elements. Enclosed transport encapsulates the vehicle in a protective container at a higher rate, yet provides maximum security and damage prevention suitible for delicate vehicles such as sports cars during long-distance shipping trips. Carefully considering factors like travel distance, vehicle value and risk tolerance assists in selecting the choice that safely delivers the sports car to its destination.