Classic Values: Determine the Value of Your Classic Car

Classic Values: How to Determine the Value of Your Classic CarClassic car collectors know that one of the most rewarding things about collecting vintage vehicles is how these cars tend to retain their value with proper maintenance and care. More importantly, they are aware that to protect the value of their investments, it is vital to know the value of their classic car, and to document it properly with a professional appraisal.

Determining the value of a classic car is very important, but it is not always a straightforward process. Restoration work (or the lack thereof), condition, rarity, connection to famous people, and region can all have an impact on the value of your classic car. Most collectors prefer to allow a professional appraiser to prepare an appraisal report for them because vintage vehicle appraisals can be very difficult for novices in the field. Classic car appraisals require an understanding of the required procedures used to determine a fair value in this specialty marketplace.

Condition and Restoration
In the classic car market, condition plays a major role in the determination of the value of the vehicle. Restored vehicles usually command higher prices than similar unrestored vehicles, but the quality of restorations and even the origin of the restorations can create a wide variance in value. This makes a professional appraisal a must for most collectors, some of whom may restore their own vehicles, or work with famous garages and custom shops.

Faithful record keeping of all maintenance and restoration work can be a great way to document the quality of work and to ensure that materials are original or correct. Restoration records should show materials and work done as well as how often the vehicle receives basic maintenance. Furthermore, maintenance records can show that there were no accidents, and that the vehicle was not left unattended for long periods of time.

Running vehicles will always fetch higher prices than those that are non-functional. It is equally obvious that dings, scratches and other defects in the exterior of the vehicle will cause the car’s value to drop. Decals, hood ornaments, and other trim can also have an effect on the valuation of a classic car.
Comparable Pricing
Location and region can have a surprising effect on the range of classic car values in the market. Professional appraisers study fair market values of comparable vehicles within the same regional market, which may or may not include online and auction prices, depending on the availability of these services to regional buyers.

Determining Classic ValuesOnline auction sites sometimes provide additional details that help to create an accurate picture of comparable prices for the same make and model of vehicle in the regional marketplace. It is important to understand comprehensively how regional markets change – the same convertible might fetch a high price in Southern California while in Boston it attracts relatively few buyers.

Rarity
When demand is greater than supply, values increase. Obviously classic cars are generally rarer than other vehicles on the market. Among these, there are even more unique cars that are more sought after and harder to find. Basic economics will lead you to the probability that the fewer produced and the harder it is to find a car, the more its price will inflate to reflect its rarity.

Certain limited edition vehicles are also in high demand in spite of their more recent vintage. A car can be highly prized and sell for an extremely high price at auction or in a private sale. In this case, rarity is actually the selling point for the car. In such cases, it is extremely useful to have a professional appraiser help to determine the value of these one-of-a-kind vehicles.

Provenance
Sometimes a car is more valuable because it belonged to or was used by a famous person or celebrity. Vehicles associated with famous people have been known to capture as much as 10 times their fair market value. Celebrity cars are often auctioned for charities and selling prices can often be much higher. This can make it very difficult to determine your classic car’s value without professional assistance and experience.

Celebrity ownership is just one way that provenance can affect value. Restoration garages with a reputation for high standards of quality can demand a higher value range than cars restored to similar standards by an unknown mechanic. Cars customized by famous names are often more sought after and can get a higher price.

Since the classic and vintage car market tends to retain value, it is fundamentally important to document your repairs and restorations and to have professional classic car appraisals done to protect your collector cars.

Car Valuation: How Much is My Car Worth?

How much is your car worth?At some point in every car owner’s life, you ask yourself “How much is my car worth?” Car appraisal is the process that allows us to answer this question, but not all appraisals are the same. An inaccurate appraisal can cost you a lot of money – so what is the best way to get the right value?

Online Price Guide tools provide averages of different models but they are not the value of any one particular vehicle. To establish the value of a specific vehicle, factors unique to that automobile like condition, maintenance history and originality should be considered.

When you appraise a car, the following factors should be accounted for:

Make
The make or brand of your vehicle can significantly impact its value, even if the car condition is excellent. Some cars have a reputation for rapid depreciation while others tend to hold steady in value. These “high performers” tend to carry anywhere from 45-60% of their value during the first three years of ownership while other brands drop to 35% during the same period.

Modifications
If you’ve added aftermarket parts to your vehicle, it can affect the market value of the car, in many cases negatively. Buyers worry about quality of workmanship, maintenance and warranties for non-standard parts.

Condition of the Exterior
Everyone knows that dings, scratches and other marks on the vehicle will affect a car’s value negatively. If you’ve had a custom paint job, that may also detract from the overall value of the vehicle. And remember – bumper stickers and decals count as defects in the vehicle’s paint job.

Car ValuationCondition of the Interior
Worn out mats, scratched interiors, torn or stained upholstery – these things are a sure-fire ticket to lowered value. And keep in mind that while the dog hair covering the seats may be removable, as long as it’s there, it lowers your car’s value.

Mechanical Condition
If you have kept a record of all maintenance on the vehicle, you can help retain value – not only will this record help to prove that the car has never had any major issues or accidents, but will also show that the vehicle has been well cared for, even if it spends most of its time in a garage.

Transmission, Preferences, Etc.
Factors like automatic versus manual transmissions, sport utility capabilities, convertibles, and other preferences can affect the value of a vehicle. The price you can expect to receive may change regionally – for instance, a convertible might fetch a high price in California, while in Colorado, a sport utility vehicle with manual transmission may be more popular.

Mileage
By and large, fewer miles means higher value. In some cases, a low mileage car may actually be in very poor condition and fall well below the average appraisal for the same vehicle with more miles, but in general low mileage is a benefit. The flip side to this truth is that a car may be in mint condition with 225,000 miles and still not sell well.

So now you’re probably scratching your head and thinking “This is really hard! And I should probably go vacuum my car….” You’re right, it’s not as simple as you might think to accurately determine what your car is worth.

You may need an appraisal to sell your car, or you may need it to receive the right benefits from an insurance claim or even in legal matters. If you are a collector, a thoroughly documented appraisal is a valuable asset. You know it’s important to get the right information – how do you get a dependable appraisal?

It is extremely important to get an appraisal from someone qualified and experienced in the field. Accredited appraisers for cars are a rare commodity, and looking for an individual appraiser by yourself can be a daunting task. Your appraiser may be called to defend his or her report in court, making certification and methods extremely important.

Auto Appraisal Group has a team of experts that have been certified and practice correct procedures and process of appraisal. Appraisals performed by just one person can only reflect the opinion of that one person. The certified agents at AAG are experienced, extensively trained and work closely with the Master Appraiser while utilizing AAG’s centralized database. This vast base of vehicle knowledge and appraisal experience allows us to create a comprehensive and accurate evaluation of your vehicle.

AAG will be at the Annual AACA Club Meeting

AAG is gearing up for the Annual AACA Club Meeting in Philadelphia next weekend!

AAG at AACA Annual Club MeetingOne of the highlights of the weekend is the wide variety of seminars given by AACA members about various aspects of the hobby. AAG’s founder, Larry Batton, presents a Value Trends Seminar each year that documents and highlights current value trends for a variety of automobiles. The Fact or Fiction portion of the seminar features selected vehicles from recent auction sales during the Scottsdale Auction week.  Overall sales were down from previous years but lots of interesting and notable automobiles crossed the block last week in Scottsdale.

“The AACA Meeting is a great event that allows us to meet with the volunteer leadership from AACA clubs around the country during the two-day trade show that coincides with the seminars” commented AAG’s Fort Lauderdale agent John Delaney.  AAG agents are available to share a portion of the Value Trends Seminar with local clubs by appointment.  Contact our Headquarters for more information at 434-295-1700.

AACA Club Meeting

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.

What I Love about Hershey

Having just gotten back to the real world after my week at Hershey, I can’t help but reflect on what a great time we had again this year. Except for the brief thunderstorm and subsequent run-off that washed our cooler out of the tent and the Saturday afternoon rain, the weather was nearly perfect. If you’ve never been and you like old cars, you have to put it on your bucket list.  If you have been, maybe you could add your comments about what you love about Hershey.  There are three things that stand out for me this year.

  1. The People – Interacting with many of the AAG agents face-to-face rather than on the phone.  I spend a lot of time on the phone.  Talking with clients, talking with agents, talking to whoever wants to talk with me.  It’s fun to be able to hang out with the agents and get to know each other outside of the appraisal business.  Not that we don’t talk shop, but we can relax and talk cars, family and other fun stuff too.   Hershey is also a great place to see old friends, clients and meet lots of new people.  Life’s all about relationships.The Wednesday Gang
  2. The Cars – Of course being able to visit the car coral and see what bargains are out there and what cars keep coming back year after year, is a great way to spend the day.  But the best part is Saturday morning, watching all the cars drive onto the show field for judging.  Where else are you going to see 900 antique cars being driven into place with period costumes, a little gray smoke and lots of smiling faces?  This is the culmination of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Whether restored and detailed by their owners or a recent purchase and first time entrant, it makes me feel good to see so many living the dream and participating in the hobby.     White brass era
  3. The AACA – How many volunteers does it take to host 300,000 people?  And how many shows are hosted by the AACA on every level throughout the country each year? How many hours are given to make your local, regional and national club a place that allows people to live out their passion for the history of the automobile and the old car hobby? The AACA helps owners to restore, maintain and drive those old cars while hanging out with friends and building community around that passion.  By supporting the AACA we are really supporting one another. Thank you to the AACA for another great event.

Corvette Value Trends Seminars – Corvettes at Carlisle – Friday & Saturday at 10AM

Red Corvette - Corvette Value

What’s hot, and what’s not in today’s Corvette market. Don’t miss this very informative seminar this weekend at Corvettes at Carlisle on Friday and Saturday mornings at 10AM. Be in the know about today’s Corvette values and what the future may hold. What does customization do to the value? What are recent sales trends? Can you spot which cars sold for more at recent auctions? You may be surprised. Come sit a spell and let our founder and market value expert, Larry Batton, entertain and educate you on trends for one of America’s favorite sports cars. If you miss the seminar, invite your local AAG agent to share our presentation at one of your upcoming club events. Call us today for more information. 1-800-848-2886.

Interesting Information about Carroll Shelby

Carroll Shelby

  • He was a well-known race car driver and some considered him the best driver in the world.
  • He was the founder of Shelby American company.
  • He was a romantic. He dropped love letters in a boot from an airplane as he flew over his fiancé’s farm while he was a flight instructor in San Antonio during WWII.
  • He was Tough. In 1955 he drove the “12 Hours of Sebring” race with a broken hand that was in a fiberglass cast and taped to the steering wheel.
  • He invented the Cobra in his sleep. Like many great minds, he kept pen and paper by his bed for ideas in the middle of the night.
  • Shelby drove for Enzo Ferrari until several drivers including Luigi Musso, a friend of his was killed.
  • Shelby’s beef with Enzo lead to the birth of the legendary Cobra Daytona, which strangely used WWII-era German tech to beat Ferraris on European tracks.
  • He was the first American manufacturer to win the FIA World Sportscar Championship.
  • Ford drafted Shelby to reshape the Mustang so it could race in the “Sports Car Club of America” against the Corvette.
  • In February 2014 a Cobra Daytona became the first car considered to be a piece of national heritage by the Library of Congress.

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.