Finally – Fall Car Show Season

pedal car carlisle

Here we are again; it is time for two of the biggest and best fall events on the east coast. Fall Carlisle – “a collector car swap meet, car corral, and auction” – is held October 1-5, at 150 acre Carlisle, Pennsylvania fairgrounds and is celebrating its 40th year. AAG has been the official appraiser for the last 25 of those years.  With over 8,000 vendor spaces and 2,000 cars in the car corral, you have plenty of opportunity to haggle with the seller and get your best price. The AACA’s Regional Fall Meet at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania is October 8-11 and has been around since 1955 and is a great place to locate all things car related. There are 9,000 flea market spaces, with 3,300 vendors and 1,100 car coral spaces with 200 to be sold the week of the Fall Meet.

Carlisle has an auction on Friday & Saturday of the show and plans to see over 300 cars cross the auction block. This event has produced good cars at great prices and could be another great opportunity to find the car you want.  Average sale is about $15,000 per auto offered. There is always something in everyone’s price range at this auction. Here is your chance to buy and sell. All Fall Auction consignments are free unless sold.

Hershey’s AACA Meet is considered one of the largest antique auto shows and flea markets in the United States. I have been attending the event for 25 years and rarely get to see the entire show during the 4-day event.  All spaces are hosted by AACA members and true to tradition, only vehicles and parts for autos 25 years or older may be sold. Show field conditions have improved greatly over the years and there is no longer any worry about a mud-fest when the weather doesn’t cooperate.  In fact, last year the sun came out just in time for the Saturday morning car judging event.

Stop by and see us at both shows this fall. We will be on the Midway once again at Fall Carlisle and just inside the Green Field in spaces GAI 11-13 as you enter from the car corral at Hershey. As always, we provide on-site pre-purchase inspections and appraisals upon request. We look forward to seeing you and the great deals you will find at the show.

Happy Motoring,

Larry Batton

1970 Chevelle Super Sports

70 Chevelle SS 396

The restyled 1970 Chevelle offered the Super Sport as an option package for hardtops and convertibles. There were 49,862 SS 396 Chevelles produced in 1970 and they sold for the amazing price of $3,439 for the coupe and $3,639 for the convertible. The SS 396 option package came with a 350-bhp 402-cid V-8, power front disc brakes, the F41 heavy duty suspension package, Polyglas F70x14s. The SS 396 models also had a hood with a large bulge in the rear center. Hood stripes were an extra cost option with this hood. There was also a “Cowl Induction” option available. It had “Cowl Induction” emblems on either side of the bulge and a door on the top of the bulge that would open automatically when the engine needed extra air. The “Cowl Induction” option was not standard on any SS but was always an extra cost item. The “Cowl Induction” option came with hood stripes. You could, however, delete the “Cowl Induction” stripes at no cost. You could get the stripes without the “Cowl Induction” option (at additional cost). All of the ’70-’72 SS cars came with hood pins, except for some of the early ’70 models (those built around April of 1970 or earlier) that were not ordered with Cowl Induction. The ’70 SS came with the same wheels used on the ’69s. Contrary to popular opinion, the tachometer/gauge package was never a standard part of the SS package but was an extra cost option.

In 1970, there were two different SS packages available for the Chevelle. One was the “Z25” SS 396 and the other was the “Z15” SS 454. There were only two engine choices for the SS 396: the 350(L34) and 375 (L78) HP “Cowl Induction” version. It was a very confusing year for 396 buyers. The 396 engines now actually displaced 402 cubic inches, but were still called a “396” when installed in an SS. Sometime in late 1969, the 396 engine received a 0.030-inch larger bore and actually displaced 402 cubic inches. When the 350hp (L34) and 375hp (L78) engines were used with the RPO Z15 option, all emblems, stickers, etc. still said “396.”A very limited number of SS Chevelles with the 375 HP 396’s and the “L89” aluminum heads were produced in 1970.

The 396 big blocks (from ’68-’70) came with either the TH-400 automatic, or a Muncie 3 or 4 speed. It was also possible to get a ’68 SS 396 with a 2-speed “PowerGlide” automatic. “Big-blocks” came standard with a 12-bolt rear axle. Positraction was never standard equipment on the SS, but was always an option. The only exception was that if you ordered the 4.10 (or higher) rear axle ratio option, Positraction was mandatory.

The only way to truly document a 1970 Chevelle as having the SS 396 or SS 454 option is with some sort of paperwork showing the option itself or the engine suffix code and the car’s VIN. Examples would be the build sheet or warranty card protect-o-plate showing a 396 or 454 engine suffix.

The 1970 SS Chevelle 396 was a beast on the highway.  It was a shining example of an era of skyrocketing horsepower ratings when it seemed like the sky was the limit.             ~Submitted by AAG Certified Agent Scott Santomo

What’s Trending with Chevelle Values?

SS 396/350 Coupes—up 2%

SS 396/375 Coupes—up 3%

SS 396/350 Convertibles—up 3%

SS 396/375 Convertibles—up 4%

SS 454 Coupes—up 3%

SS 454 Convertibles— up 3%

 

 

America’s Pony Car Turns 50

Cropped 65 Mustang

America’s favorite pony car and automotive icon turned 50 this year.  The Ford Mustang has been an important part of the motoring world since 1964.

From the beginning, it set the standard for affordable, fun cars.  It offered extensive options and packages, including various appearances and performance levels.  You could order a weekend cruising convertible or an evening stoplight dragster directly from the factory.  Ford has continued this tradition through today with the Boss 302, GT500, and Cobra models, as well as base models with hardtops, glass tops, and convertible tops.

Many automotive enthusiasts have owned or have wanted to own a Mustang.  Those who have owned one all have a story to tell about how they got it or about an experience they have had with their pony car.  Such a favorite car is always hard to part with.

I purchased my first Mustang in 1998 when I was working at an auto shop in Roseville, California.  There was a small car dealership on the corner of the street where my shop was located.  I drove past that lot twice every day.  There was the usual menagerie of affordable cars for sale on the lot that came and went.

Then one Monday, there appeared a 1993 Mustang LX notchback with the 5.0 V-8 engine and five-speed transmission.  It was formerly a California Highway Patrol car that had been repainted and freshened up with aftermarket wheels.  It took about two weeks of driving past that car before I couldn’t help but stop and peer in the window.  To me, it was beautiful.

The salesperson told me how much it cost and explained that I could not drive the car unless I was planning to buy it.  That added an element of mystique that made the car even more desirable.  I caved in and borrowed money for the down payment, traded in my thrifty and economical Honda Accord hatchback, and drove off the lot with my dream car.  That planted the seed.  Since then, I have owned and loved many other Mustangs from all generations.

Kudos to the Ford Motor Company for continuing to improve our favorite pony car.  It has remained a steadfast collectible car, as well as a practical and reliable daily driver.  The Mustang continues to raise the bar for other auto manufacturers in terms of quality, excitement, and innovation.

So a hearty Happy Birthday on the
50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang!
~Submitted by Brandon McCullough, Livermore, CA

What’s Trending with Mustang Values?

  • 1964’s – up 3%
  • 1966’s – up 2%
  • 1967’s – up 2%
  • 1970’s – up 3%
  • 1972’s – up 3%
  • 2007’s – up 2%

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

53 Corvette

At some time in 1952, GM President, Harlow Curtice and the General Manager, Thomas Keating met with Harley Earl head of the company’s Art & Color Section, which was responsible for the design of all new GM products.  The purpose was to view a mock up of a project that Earl and a few trusted members of his team had been working on in secret.  Earl felt this car would stimulate Chevrolet sales and add glamour and prestige to what was a fairly unexciting range of family cars.

When Earl raised the curtain he revealed a sleek, low-slung, two seat sports car, something that no other American volume producer had in their line-up.  Both Curtice and Keating were impressed with the car and Earl’s enthusiasm for the project.  Construction of a prototype for display at the company’s 1953 Autorama show was started immediately but the final production depended very much on the car’s reception at those shows.

The first Motorama show of 1953 took place in New York City in January and the Corvette was a runaway success.  As the show progressed to other venues across the country, Chevrolet was bombarded with enquiries about the sports car.   Everybody wanted to know when it would be available and how much it would cost.  GM wasted no time in putting the car into production.  With the new innovative fiberglass body and devotion to sports car ideals, Chevrolet’s great sports car experiment was about to begin.  Anticipating low production numbers for the first year, Chevrolet used it’s tried and proven 235 CU inline six cylinder engine. It was coupled with the stock Chevrolet Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission.  By years end 300 Corvettes were built.

As planned, production for 1954 models moved to a renovated St. Louis facility and began in December 1953.  As 1954 drew to a close, the Corvette was in big trouble.  In all, 3640 Corvettes had been built for 1954 and half were still unsold when the 1955 model was ready.

The 1955 model introduced the V-8 engine and other exterior paint colors but unfortunately only 700 cars were ordered.

It looked like the end of the road for the Chevrolet Corvette but an unexpected savior appeared to keep the Corvette alive!  The Ford Thunderbird!  Chevrolet was not to be defeated by its primary competitor and decided to keep the Corvette in production to deny Ford that particular segment of the market. And as they say, “the rest is history”.

   ~submitted by Tommy Mallory, AAG Agent, Ashland Missouri

What’s trending with Corvette values?

1953’s are up 3 %

1956’s are up 2%

1959’s are up 1%

1966’s are up 2%

1969’s are up 5%

 

 

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

56 MB 300 SL

Ask a classic car expert to name the five most collectible automobiles ever built and chances are very good that the 1954-1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing is on the list. Instantly recognizable by its upward swinging doors, the Gullwing was a stunning accomplishment at the time, with the prototype of this motoring icon being tested less than six years after the devastation of WWII left the Mercedes factories in ruins. Borrowing liberally from existing Mercedes models, the early racing versions of the 300SL achieved great success on the track, including an improbable 1-2 finish upon their first attempt at the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race, in 1952, with other successes at the Nürburgring and La Carrera Panamericana, the treacherous Mexican road race.

The coupe’s defining characteristic, its hinged-at-the-roof doors, were actually necessitated by the use of an extremely rigid space frame chassis, a first, which had unusually high sides and precluded horizontally opening doors. The unusually wide door sills of the 300SL also bear witness to this construction.  Another unique feature of the car was the mounting of the dry sump engine at an angle 50 degrees from vertical.  This allowed the 300SL to have an extremely low hood profile, essential for the aerodynamic efficiency required to be competitive against its more powerful competition from Jaguar and Ferrari.

The street version of the 300SL bowed in 1954 at the behest of Mercedes’ U.S. importer, the irrepressible Max Hoffman, who claimed he could sell 1,000 if they were built.  In fact, over the Gullwing’s four year run, approximately 1,100 were made to U.S. specification, confirming Hoffman’s confidence. With only 1,402 made, the 300SL coupe is a rare car, but in fact the rarest of the Gullwings are the 29 built in 1955 & 1956 which were ordered with bodies made entirely of aluminum alloy. The alloy option package also included revised camshafts, a special rear end ratio, highly desirable Rudge wheels, and plastic side and rear windows for further weight savings; all this for the not unsubstantial premium of $1,307 above the nearly $7,000 base price of a ‘standard’ 300SL.

In collecting circles, the Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing ticks all the boxes: revolutionary yet timeless design, great performance, and possibly the most important determinants of current collectability — it was rare, expensive and special when new. And so it is today. With  prices  for  good  to  great  Gullwings now ranging  from  $1,000,000  to  over $2,000,000, the market has spoken on this blue-chip collectible.     ~submitted by Michael Leven, AAG Agent, Turlock, California

Why do Collectors Favor the 1957 Bel Air over the 1957 Fairlane?

57 Ford Fairlane

Back in 1957, I was a high school freshman, not quite old enough to have my driver’s license.  Even though I could not legally drive, I was already a certified car nut.  The fall introduction of the new cars was a big deal.  When I first laid my eyes on the new 1957 Ford, my initial reaction was “Wow”!   It was love at first sight.

1957 was the year when most American cars, except for Chevy and Pontiac, were  dramatically longer, wider, and lower than their 1956 predecessors.   In the case of Ford, the new Fairlane series was five inches lower, had a two-and-one-half inch longer wheel base and measured more than nine inches longer overall compared to 1956 models.   The Custom and Custom 300 were three inches longer overall and had a one half-inch longer wheel base. The difference in dimensions and style is a good example of creating a clear distinction between the lower and higher priced models in the same brand (Ford).

One way to make the 1957 models looks was to change from fifteen inches diameter wheel rims to fourteen inches.  Another unique feature on all Ford Motor Company models for 1957 was a rear opening hood.  And 1957 was the year Ford introduced the mini-fin on all models including the Thunderbird.   These fins enhanced the side look of the Fairlane 500 series, especially when in a two-tone color combination.  The lines and
color flowed in a symmetrical ideal of great “Art Form.”

About ten years later in 1967, I had the distinction of owning two different 1957 Fords.  The first was a beat up Ranch wagon with the 223 cubic inch 6-cylinder engine with a three-speed manual column shift.  The car had lots of cargo room, comfortable vinyl bench seats, and rode well.  Also during this time span, I bought a low mileage 272 cubic inch V8 Custom 300 four-door sedan with the two-tone blue and white color combination. This was a solid middle class sedan that had reasonable pickup and passing power and, despite not having power steering, handled well.

To me and others, one of the mysteries in the collector car hobby is why the 1957 Chevy Bel Air’s are much more sought after than 1957 Fords.  The average values of each brand tell the story of this demand. While both 2 door hardtop models sold for within $200 of each other as new models, today the Bel Air sells for over twice as much as a Fairlane in comparable condition. The question remains: Why do collectors favor the Bel Air over the Fairlane?

~Submitted by Patrick Costello, AAG Certified Agent, Green Bay, Wisconsin

We’d like to hear from you!  Tell us which of these 1957 models you prefer – the Bel Air or the Fairlane and why.

Spring Buying & Selling Season Begins

Here we are again. It’s starting to feel like spring in many parts of the country and collector cars and trucks that have been in storage all winter will soon be hitting the road. Sellers get their cars ready to show. Buyers begin to get serious in their search for a new ride.  Here at the Auto Appraisal Group, we see a growing interest as demand for our independent prepurchase inspection service increases nationwide.

Buyer Beware! One of the more blatant developments in recent years is the high percentage of car ads that appear to have been “photo-shopped”.  There has always been a desire to present a car in its best light but the use of computer programs to enhance the appearance of vehicles in ads is widespread. Our agents take dozens of photos during their inspection but when compared to the photos presented in the ad, some have questioned if it is the same vehicle.

As you read the vehicle’s advertisement look for descriptive words as clues to the overall condition of the vehicle.  Terms like excellent, new, best one known to exist, frame-off restoration, and numbers matching all imply a vehicle worthy of a top asking price.  But what is it really worth?  Ask for documentation of these descriptions to pre-qualify vehicles during your initial inquiry. Can they answer questions about who, what, when & where? Correctness and originality are still the most highly sought-after properties in vehicles and may prove to be the best investments over time. Cars that have been properly restored can be a good value because the labor has already been paid for.

Where do you find the best cars?  Look within your local car clubs first.  Are you a mechanic or do you know of a good one in your area?  Be sure you know who your mechanic will be before you buy an old car. What’s the best thing you can do before you close the deal?  Let us assist you with a pre-purchase inspection.  You may talk with our certified agent before and after the inspection so he can address your concerns and answer your questions. After you have reviewed the condition report and photos taken during the inspection, you then talk with us about the market value based upon the current classic and collector car market. We can help you buy or walk away with confidence that you’ve made the best decision.  We look forward to assisting you with all your prepurchase inspection needs.

Happy Motoring!  Larry Batton 1963 Austin Healey 3000 MkII

1937 Cord Model 812

Tan Cord

The 1936 Cord 810 and the 1937 Cord 812 were in the second generation of Cords produced by the Auburn Automobile Company. Those Cords were the first to have unibody construction, hide-away headlights, concealed door hinges, taillights built into the car instead of being bolted on separately, no running boards, and the hood opened like an alligator mouth instead of a two-piece hood that folded over. Those Cords were also powered by a Lycoming flat aluminum head V-8 with 125 horsepower or 175 horsepower with the supercharger, which far exceeded Ford’s flathead V-8 with 60 horsepower during the same period. If you could see exposed exhaust coming from under the hood, it was a supercharged engine; if not, it was the basic engine. The Cord was priced at twice the price of a Cadillac or Lincoln.

In 1935, automobile manufacturers had to produce 100 cars of a given model in order for it to be eligible to be displayed at the New York auto show at the end of the year. The first 100 Cords were hand-made to make this objective. It was hoped they would save the Auburn Automobile Company during the great depression, but their quality suffered from this rush to market. New owners experienced many problems with the cars, and local service station mechanics did not want to work on them. Cadillac, Lincoln, and Packard dealers were flooded with used Cords on their car lots, and the Cords soon became worth close to nothing before World War II.

The Auburn Automobile Company produced cars from 1900 to 1937, 1964, and 1967 to 1981. The name was changed to Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Company in 1938. The first generation of Cords was produced in 1929-1932, when E. L. Cord was in control of the company, and the car was named after him. The price of the Cord was set in the range between the Auburn brand and the Duesenberg brand. About 5,000 of these first generation autos were manufactured. These cars have a very long aluminum hood due to the front wheel drive, and the hoods brought a premium in salvage values during World War II.

About 2000 second generation Cords were produced in 1936 and 1937, and the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg (http://www.acdclub.org/) club estimates that about 1,000 still exist today. The Cord was available in a 4-door sedan Westchester, a longer 4-door sedan Beverly, a one-seat Sportsman convertible, and a two-seat phaeton convertible. The third generation of Cords were produced in 1964, which is referred to as the Glenn Pray Cord because he bought the company in 1960 and moved it from Auburn, Indiana, to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
~Submitted by Joe Smith, AAG Certified Agent, Sand Springs, OK

National Corvette Museum Sinkhole

sinkhole 2

“Life really is stranger than fiction” is a frequent statement heard from our founder and president Larry Batton.  Who could have ever imagined that the earth would swallow up some of the most significant Corvettes at the museum while most of us were asleep.  The recovery process has been an engineering marvel in itself.  Auto Appraisal Group is honored to have been chosen by the museum to assist with auto appraisals on each of the vehicles.  The museum has extensive historical documentation on these Corvettes  which will be utilized during our evaluations. Then we’ll continue to watch as the museum and GM work together to bring these cars back to life.

Check out this mini documentary by GM about the sinkhole.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q57YHiSt2I