Does Low Mileage Mean Great Condition? Not Necessarily.

After appraising automobiles of all types for over 40 years, one thing has become clear; true low mileage is not an indication of good condition and roadworthiness.

Low Mileage vehicle doesn't mean good conditionAAG recently completed a prepurchase inspection assignment on an 8-year-old sports car with only 2200 miles on the odometer. At first one would think that would be a great candidate for purchase without question. Some would say it is almost as good as a brand new car. But consider this; during those 8 years the car was only driven 275 miles a year. This indicates a very low wear pattern. Automobiles develop a distinctive wear pattern. When the wear pattern is changed by a new owner, the automobile will react to the new and different wear pattern in some negative ways.

This means that you will likely see leaks from the engine or transmission. If this is a manual transmission, a clutch replacement may be needed. Any place that has a gasket may develop a leak once the vehicle is driven. While the wear and tear on the mechanical components is less because of the low mileage, the new owner should plan on replacing a number of gaskets to eliminate the loss of fluids.

When we appraise vehicles, another item of concern we see is the age of the tires. The tread may still look good, but it could have flat spots from sitting in storage. More worrisome is that it may have dry rot on the inside. Tires have date codes that will help you determine if replacement is warranted.

Letting an automobile sit and not driving it on a regular basis means areas that are normally lubricated when in operation are not receiving the benefits of those fluids. An auto is a self-lubricating piece of machinery. As with many other things, use it or lose it. Other items to consider in a low mileage vehicle include brake fluid lines and gas tanks that have become contaminated because of sitting with old gas in them. When considering the purchase of a low mileage vehicle or one that has been sitting for many months or years, check the fuel gauge. Cars should be stored with a full tank to eliminate condensation issues and ideally should be run for 30 minutes at a time every month.

Low mileage does not always equal an almost new roadworthy car. Do not buy a low mileage car and expect great mechanical condition without the expectation of some immediate mechanical maintenance and repairs. Non-use is not your friend unless special care has been taken to regularly exercise and thereby lubricate the vehicle.

Larry Batton
Happy Motoring!

Collector Car Value Trends

Collector Car Value Appraisal Financal Chart

The antique auto market is set for an increase in values of select collector cars.  The market values have been flat overall but recent shows and sales at Carlisle Ford Nationals and Carlisle Chrysler Nationals are up.  We can expect to see values at the Corvette Nationals to be up as well.

Demand for collector cars in good condition is up but the supply is down, which means increases in values.  Autos that are original or are restored to correct specifications are bringing the best values but are getting harder to find.  Look for some values to rise 4 to 8 percent by year’s end on vehicles in good to very good condition.

The most important factor affecting values is documentation. Maintenance history is good but it’s helpful to also know who owned it, who restored it, what was restored, how it was restored, when it was restored and where it was restored. Documentation can drive up the selling price by 30 to 50 % as consumer confidence increases.

Watch for the Fall Carlisle and AACA Hershey Auctions to bring good buying opportunities. And remember to always buy the car you want. Don’t settle for less.  It’s a whole lot easier to buy one then to sell one.

Happy Motoring,

Larry Batton

6 Things to Consider Before you Buy a Classic Car

  1. Documentation. Who? What? When? Where? Ask for copies of restoration receipts, maintenance records.  Who did the work? What was done? When was it done? Where was it done? Where has the car been driven? How has it been stored?  Other documents could include a copy of the build sheet from the manufacturer, window sticker or Maroney label.
  2. Ownership.  How long has the current owner had the car? Do the owners know its history or are they flipping it, trying to make a quick sale?
  3. Ask to see the title. What is the vehicle’s ID number?   Google it.  Old advertisements may still be available online. Look at both sides of the title. Is the title in the seller’s name, is it on consignment or are they floating the title? Look for words like salvaged, rebuilt, or a reissued VIN.
  4. Why is the car for sale?  How much will they take for it and why that much?
  5. Is the seller willing to have the car inspected by an independent appraiser?  If so, tell them you’d like to wait to make an offer on the car until after the inspection if it’s still what you’re looking for.  If they say OK, then move forward with the inspection.
  6. Never pay cash unless you are in a bank or safe location during the transfer of the money.

Don’t miss the Ford Nationals

Red Mustang at the Ford Nationals

Watch for record attendance at the next all-Ford Nationals in Carlisle on June 5-7.  This year we celebrate 50 years of the Ford Mustang and that includes honoring 50 years of the Shelby GT350  as well as a special GT-40 display.

As one of America’s favorite collector cars, the Mustang has seen an uptick in value as its anniversary celebration continues. The Auto Appraisal Group will host two seminars focused on value trends for the Mustang and Shelby GT350 over the past 50 years.  Come early to get a good seat and be prepared to participate in our classic car value “Fact or Fiction” fun.  Friday’s seminar is at 12 Noon and will review 50 years of Mustang values. Saturday at 1PM we will cover 50 years of Shelby values.

Don’t miss this special weekend presented by Carlisle Events, one of our country’s largest and most welcoming car show hosts.

 

Spring is Here, Buyer Beware

Prepurchase Inspection

Good news! It’s time to start getting collector cars out of storage and on the road. Or maybe you’re looking for the car of your dreams to drive, show and enjoy.

Buyer beware! Over the last few months, we have seen an increase in so-called brokers selling non-existent cars. We have been asked to inspect cars at locations that are empty lots or abandoned buildings with no car or seller in sight.

Do not send a deposit on a car that you have not seen in person or had inspected by a certified appraiser.  We also have a list of brokers and businesses that do not want to allow an inspection of whatever they are marketing.  We can only guess that they do not want us to report on the true condition of the vehicle.  Some will only allow inspections by “their inspectors”.  We recommend that no inspection means “no sale”. Additionally, you should have control over which independent appraiser you hire.  You want someone to work for you, not to help them sell the automobile.

There are only a few professional dealerships that offer any type of warranty on collector cars. Most dealers, brokers and private sellers offer their vehicles “As Is – No Warranty intended or expressed. Where is, as is. You buy it you own it”. A prepurchase inspection will and has saved our clients tens of thousands of dollars. Buying a car sight-unseen could lead to owning a money-pit. An experience no one wants.

We never tell our clients to buy or not to buy. We tell our clients what we see and document the condition of the vehicle including a test ride.  Most cars look better in a photo from 10 feet away than up-close and in person.  And most ads include some type of embellishment about condition.  After all, they’re trying to shine the best light on it.   We present the facts, with no emotional or financial involvement.

Reputable sellers expect you to want to see what you are buying before you negotiate your purchase. Be a wise consumer. Know what you are buying before you make a deal, not after. Call us for a prepurchase inspection. If you’re looking at a car at a dealership that has proven to be unwilling to allow inspections or is uncooperative when we get onsite by not being able to find keys, move other vehicles out of the way or won’t even charge a battery to allow us to test features, we will tell you before we take your order.  Our interest is your best interest.  Let us know how we can help you.

What’s up for Collector Car Values in 2015?

Well, here we are in December 2014. Another year slides by with the collector car market in an upbeat attitude. Great cars in above average condition are still desired by many auto enthusiasts worldwide.

Now it is all about condition, correctness, speed, power and documentation. That’s right, documentation. Autos being offered for sale with documentation are by far the most desirable autos out there. When buying or selling you want to know “Who restored or built it, what was done, when was it done and where was it done” This is the recurrent theme for great auto values. Documented autos are bringing 30% to 50% higher values then undocumented autos. Autos with good documentation are very hard to find. Good autos are documented by who, what, when and where. Mediocre autos have a lot of unanswered questions. This can make all the difference in value.

Always document your automobile with a professional. Keep service records and restoration receipts. Keep the old original parts and paperwork. Keep build sheets, window stickers, and sales brochures. If you need to have your auto documented, give us a call to set-up an appointment. An auto appraisal becomes part of your vehicle’s history as well as documenting its current condition and value.

I anticipate more record sales in Scottsdale in January 2015. Come to our “Value Trends Seminar” in Philadelphia at the AACA Annual Meeting on February 13th to review auction sales and identify trends for the coming year.

Happy Motoring & Merry Christmas!

Larry

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%