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

 

1969 Camaro RS/SS 396

The 1969 Camaro was significant for being the last of the first generation of Camaros, and the last year that a convertible was offered until 1987.  It sold in the highest numbers of those first three years (almost a quarter of a million examples), and remains the most sought after year among collectors.  To set it apart, the ‘69’s received restyled fender and quarter panels which changed the shape of the wheel openings; and to satisfy every taste, there were almost 100 options to choose from, along with 18   exterior colors  This year of Camaro is also famous for the COPO options 9560 and 9561 which introduced either an alloy or iron 427 engine under the hood.

69 Camaro

These were interesting days at Chevrolet, and all of General Motors.  The engineers were struggling with how to meet new emissions requirements in future years, which would lead to lower compression ratios on all their engines in 1971 so they could run on unleaded fuel.  New safety regulations were also presenting a challenge, and this would affect the designers as well as they started sketching the 1973 models which had to meet new impact (bumper) requirements.  GM factories were increasingly dealing with labor strife, notably at the Norwood plant where Camaros were built, culminating in lost production due to strikes for better working conditions.  This had an enormous impact on the early years of the 2nd generation Camaros and Firebirds.

The Camaro for 1969 is a popular choice for collectors both old and new.  High production means that there are many to choose from today, although stock, unmodified  examples are a bit harder to find.  The buyer has a choice of two different appearances, standard, or Rally Sport (RS) like our featured car.  Add that to the Super Sport (SS) and Z/28 models, along with the numerous drivetrain packages, long list of options, and the myriad color choices, and it   becomes possible to create a unique car to stand out from all the other Camaros you will find at the shows.  Strong aftermarket support also makes this a popular choice for restorers, as virtually every single part, including bodies, is reproduced.  But buyer beware:  SS and Z/28 clones are ubiquitous, so it is highly recommended that one employ the assistance of an expert when considering a purchase.

~Submitted by AAG Agent, Owen Griesemer, Maryland

 

1931 Cadillac Sport Phaeton

1931 CadillacThe Auto Appraisal Group will be running a series of articles about cars featured in one of our 2014 wall calendars. This month’s focus is on the 1931 Cadillac Sport Phaeton from the GM calendar. We asked AAG certified agent Tim Pawl of Detroit, Michigan, curator and past president of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club Museum & Research Center, for some comments about this noteworthy vehicle.

What was happening at Cadillac during the time of this vehicle’s production?  This was a defining time for Cadillac. In 1930 they shocked the motoring world by offering the first V16 engine. In 1931, they followed up with a new V12 engine, which complemented the already successful V8 engine, and vaulted Cadillac to the top of the luxury car market.

What is significant about this model? In 1931, there were three engines available in the Sport Phaetons: V8, V12, and V16. Since the automatic transmission would not appear for almost another decade, the high torque available at low rpm in the V16 engine meant that the driver could launch the car in third gear and never have to shift again. Combined with its resistance to stalling, the V16 engine was a new driving sensation.

Why buy the 1931 Cadillac Sport Phaeton instead of any other cars available in 1931?  With the advent of Cadillac’s Hydramatic transmission in 1941, the V8 engine became the model of choice. Until then, Packard had their ‘Twin Six’ twelve-cylinder, but the only competition Cadillac had for the V16 engine was Marmon. GM’s 1931 Cadillac remains a desirable collector car for that reason.

Why do we only use AAG Certified Agents?

Because we care about the integrity of the people we work with and the quality of the auto appraisal service that we provide. When we started AAG in 1989, there were very few auto appraisers who weren’t also dealers.  Today there are so many appraisers advertising on the internet that it’s hard to tell everyone apart. Add to that the fact that some of them have chosen business names that are very similar to ours, and the windshield gets pretty foggy.

As we’ve always said, they can copy our name, our brochures and even our inspection reports but they can never be us. We believe in what we’re doing and in the agents we work with. We know all of our agents personally and each one not only brings personal experience but has taken and passed our certification course. That’s why we welcome the opportunity for all pre purchase clients to talk with the inspecting agent before and after prepurchase inspections.  After speaking with the agent, clients then talk with our Master auto appraiser about classic car values that pertain to their inspection report.

Don’t be fooled by look-a-likes.  Call AAG @ 800-848-AUTO (2886) for all your auto appraisal and pre purchase inspection needs.

 

So Long 2013. Hello 2014.

2013 has come and gone and during the year, the collector car market saw an up-tick in classic car values over all. It’s still all about condition, originality and horsepower (aka speed). Generally speaking:

¨ High end exotics are up 15 to 20%,

¨ Early 1920s and 1930s models are up 10 to 15%.

¨ 1940s are up 9 to 12%

¨ 1950s are up 8 to 12%

¨ 1960s are up 12 to 16%

¨ 1970s are up 8 to 12% and

¨ 1980s are up 4 to 8%.

Still the best bets are convertibles, hardtop coupes, limited production models and documented cars and trucks. Buy documented autos. If you’re selling, get the paperwork together before you attempt to market your vehicle. Watch for an early jump in values in 2014 due to the supply and demand at highly publicized auctions. Restoration is still a costly process. Better to buy a restored vehicle with documentation about who, what, when and where. This helps to increase the investment potential.

2014 may be a good time to buy at auction. Auction advertising that includes the vehicle ID number ahead of the sale assists in the pre-purchase inspection and qualification process.  Some of these autos are going to be great investments in the future. For the right autos, classic car values could double in the next five years.

Remember to always buy what you like and will enjoy driving and sharing with others. Car guys and gals are some of the best people on the planet.  I know this from my 45 plus years working in the automotive field. Also, remember that demand will continue to grow and supply will become less for the best.

Hope to see you on the road.  As always, safe travels for you and yours.   Larry Batton

 

My AAG Story—“Great cars and fantastic people”

Griesemer I originally joined AAG over 20 years ago when I was looking for some part-time work that would provide extra income.  I’ve been involved in the collector car hobby most of my life (as owner, restorer and judge), and being involved in appraising collectible vehicles sounded like interesting and fun work, and so it has been.  Not only have I seen some great cars, but you meet some fantastic people along the way.

Far and away the most fascinating assignment was being involved in the auto appraisal of the Harold and Nancy LeMay collection of over 3,000 vehicles.  I took a week off from my full-time job to fly to Tacoma, Washington to work with a half dozen other agents.  What an amazing collection, and a task that only a company with the reputation and the size of the AAG could handle.

Another interesting assignment took me to a remote corner of Utah to do a pre-purchase inspection of not one, but two 1963 Z-11 Impala’s, plus one of the eleven ’62 prototypes.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to examine these rare pieces of drag racing history up close, and I learned a lot about them through my pre-inspection research and the inspection itself.

One recent assignment of note came last year in 2012, when I went to inspect two Shelbys, a 1966 GT350 and a 1967 GT500.  Not only were those two cars great, but the owner, president of a large trucking company, had a 50-60 car collection of Cobras, Shelbys, Boss 429 and Cobra Jet Mustangs, and was a personal friend of Carroll Shelby himself!  You just never know what or who  you’ll encounter on an AAG appraisal!

Submitted by: Owen Griesemer, Maryland Agent

 

Mike Jones joins AAG Group of Certified Agents

Jones CertificationAACA’s National Director, Mike Jones has considered moving into the field for some time. After the class he told us, “I was impressed with the thoroughness, volume and breadth of information included in the class binder. The fact that there were six class members of varying ages and backgrounds-all coming from a diverse geographical locale-  speaks volumes. It is undeniably clear to me that the Auto Appraisal Group is the industry leader and that they far exceed what other agencies are capable of offering.”

The four day class includes a review of AAG principals and standards, appraisal techniques, photographing and grading automobiles, prepurchase inspections and some ideas about how to successfully build your local agency.

Are you Interested in attending an AAG Certification Class in Fort Lauderdale FL in November 2013?  Submit this agency application to our office and we will be in touch to answer all your questions.