Lipstick on a pig

Prepurchase inspection by Auto Appraisal Groupphoto credit style.com

A dressed up pig with lipstick is a pig dressed up with lipstick.  Put lipstick on a pig and it’s still a pig. We are often asked to inspect pigs that have been dressed up by their sellers in hopes that buyers will think they are buying a race horse, but they are still pigs. We understand that sellers are trying to sell their pig while buyers are trying to buy a race horse.  When we are hired as an independent inspector, we will not tell our clients that a pig is a horse.

Of course we are talking about cars and our role as an objective inspector when we perform prepurchase inspections.  On the rare occasion that a seller does not want an independent inspector to take a look at their stock before a buyer commits to a purchase, then perhaps they don’t want you to know about the dressed up pig.

Fortunately, most sellers are open to allowing an inspection. Every car stands on its merits. We document exactly what we see and call them as we see them.  For many years, resellers have used Auto Appraisal Group’s services when they buy autos to resell. Many more buyers use our service to help them decide which of the many vehicles available is the one that best meets their needs. Don’t let your dream car turn out to be a nightmare. Protect yourself. Our service saves our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. It also helps collectors to find the right automobile for them. Be a wise consumer. Know what you are buying before you buy it.

Harold LeMay Collection Featured on Fox Business Series

1929PierceArrowModel125Touring

Larry was recently interviewed for an episode of a Fox Business News Series entitled “Strange Inheritance” while at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The show can be seen Tuesday night, January 27th at 9PM. This episode, which features the LeMay Auto Collection of over 3000 Cars, will include some details about AAG’s appraisal of the automobiles for the estate. The project took 6 months to complete and utilized the skills and manpower of AAG’s agents from across the country.  Harold LeMay was a true collector and it was an honor to help his family inventory and identify his vast collection of automobiles.  We hope that you will have a chance to check out the show. The photo is of a 1929 Pierce Arrow Model 125 Touring car from the collection.  http://www.strangeinheritance.com/

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

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.