Why Does AAG Have Certified Agents?

Why Does AAG Have Certified Vehicle Agents?AAG agents come to us with life experiences that prepare them for their role as an inspector and as a professional representative of the company. They also have a passion for automobiles and a desire to help owners make informed decisions to save money and pursue their hobby.

Many of our certified agents have hands on restoration experience either through previous jobs, business ownership, weekend racing, or as backyard mechanics. Many have been members of groups or clubs that share their knowledge and time to support one another’s passion for the old car hobby.

Why Does AAG Have Certified Agents?We know they have the proper skills because we have met them and spent five days together studying classic, antique, muscle, modified, and other collectible automobiles and learning about the auto appraisal business. We want to be sure that the individual inspecting your vehicle is equipped to do the job. That means AAG certified agents:

  • know how to document what they see using the processes that have been created to gather detailed information.
  • know how to grade the condition of each component in a consistent manner.
  • know what they are looking for in order to determine whether or not claims of originality, special options, history, maintenance, customization and matching numbers can be verified.
  • know how to photograph the vehicle to provide the required photos for our reports and to provide clients with a detailed inside look from a buyer’s perspective.
  • are prepared to locate visible pertinent numbers when they get onsite.
  • know where to look for rust, filler, damage, and repairs.
  • have experience that helps them interact with opposing parties in legal matters.
  • know how to ask the right questions.
  • are equipped to send this information to our headquarters in an expedient manner.

Certified Vehicle Inspection AgentsAAG certified agents attend a five day certification class to prepare for their new role. This class helps them to organize their new agency as an independent contractor so they can begin providing services as soon as they graduate.  They see a variety of examples of different vehicles in various conditions and learn how to consistently rate individual components so the research team and appraisers at headquarters can determine an overall condition rating and value. Attendees learn about the different reasons clients rely on AAG’s independent assessment to address their specific needs relating to insurance coverage and claims, financial matters, property settlements, and purchasing decisions.

What don’t AAG agents do?  They don’t give an opinion of value. All values are determined at headquarters by utilizing our massive comparable database which contains all the appraisals and prepurchase inspections we’ve completed over the past 30 years as well as recent auction results and sales.  This allows us to compare the same model of a vehicle with all others we’ve inspected across the country. This prevents the appraisal outcome from being swayed by the opinions and desires of sellers, clients or insurers. We call them as we see them.

Certified Prepurchase Inspection AgentsIf you think you’d enjoy helping people who own and love automobiles, you can apply to open an AAG agency in your area. Visit our website and submit your application and we’ll be back in touch if you have the experience we’re looking for and are in an area where we need coverage. AAG will be hosting certification classes in the coming months. We have limited seating available to allow for hands on practice and to keep all participants safe.  Our 2021 class schedule is:

  • May 10-15 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. April 5th registration deadline!
  • June 14-19 at LeMay Family Collection in Tacoma, Washington.
  • September 27-Oct 2 at AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania

We look forward to bringing new agents into the group who can help us continue to provide independent, certified appraisals and prepurchase inspections for our clients located across the country. Could that new agent be you?

 

 

The Decline of the “Barn Find”

Automotive Barn FindAntique car collectors know the story well: you answer an ad, or maybe you go for a walk, and you stumble upon a barn or a garage with a rare vehicle tucked inside. There was a time when “barn finds” were common enough that every vintage vehicle collector dreamed of finding one. Collectors looking for projects would drive past a barn or an old garage and wonder: “Could my next masterpiece be hiding inside?”

Over time, “barn finds” have become more and more elusive. As consumers and automotive manufacturers turn their interests elsewhere, it is less likely that a rare vehicle will be found by chance.

Vehicle Barn FindThe disappearance of the “barn find” has led car collectors into very different venues to find rare and vintage vehicles. While collectors could assume that a rare vehicle they stumbled upon in an abandoned garage was authentic, they now must navigate car shows and auctions with restored or semi-restored vehicles on display. This new environment presents its own set of challenges to antique car collectors.

Modern vintage vehicle collectors need to be ready to determine if an antique car is worth the price being demanded. Vehicles at shows and auctions may look well preserved, but upon closer inspection, the shiny exterior could hide numerous flaws. It can be difficult to know if non-original parts have been used in the restoration, if the paint color is authentic, or if restoration work has been done properly.

Buyers today must inspect a rare vehicle carefully to determine if the price being asked is fair and represents the car’s condition. The safest way to ensure that you are purchasing an antique vehicle for the right price is to use a certified inspection agent to assess the vehicle’s value for you. Our certified Pre-Purchase Inspection agents can help you determine if you are investing in a collector’s item or a dream that may never be fulfilled.

Call Auto Appraisal Group to plan your next prepurchase inspection!

Too Good to be True

It is something that occurs all too frequently.  You see that ad for your dream car.  You know the one – you and your pals always talked about it, but it was always just out of reach.  Now, one shows up that meets all of the criteria and look at the price!  Woohoo!  You’ve got this; you can make it work!  Better hurry up and contact the seller before someone else snags it up.

Okay, you have contacted the seller and want to get some more information.  What’s that?  Lots of people calling and wanting it?  You’ll need to make a deposit and they will hold it for you until you can arrange full payment.  And they will arrange for transportation also?  Great, because you live out of state (or country).  Also, you will need to arrange for someone to come check it out, give it an in-person inspection.

They know all of the right words to use, how to use your emotions against you.  They want to keep you talking and telling them all about what it means to you and how you have always wanted one.  It is a great way to keep the stars in your eyes that don’t let you see the true condition of the vehicle until after you have bought it, gotten it home, and started really looking at it.

About that deposit – they do have a lot of people wanting this car, but you are the first to contact them so they will give you first dibs – they just need a little money down to hold it.  Everything is in order and – oh, did they tell you it is a matching numbers car? Very hard to come by.  Did you see all of the pictures they put on the ad? They show every angle and any imperfections.  This car is going quick and they are not sure there is enough time to have someone come look at it, but you are welcome to do so.

They are always accommodating and agree with you about everything.  They will even tell you that someone else had just bought it, but their financing fell through.

These are just a few of the many scenarios that occur on a regular basis in the collector and used car markets.  Sometimes you’ll end up paying more than you had planned, and sometimes there is no actual car for sale.  It was just a trick to get your deposit money.

Go ahead and keep looking for that dream classic you have always wanted.  Just slow down a little, take your time and think it through.  Most of the time if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If there is a sense that you need to hurry to get this vehicle, it should set up a caution flag for you.  Sure it will cost you a few extra dollars to arrange for an independent pre-purchase inspection.  That inspection can save you large sums of money and root out some dishonest sellers, some of whom do not have a car to sell.  Another thing it can do is show you through someone else’s independent and unemotional eyes and ears the true condition of that vehicle that may have been overlooked through your starry eyes.

There are people out there that only want to separate you from your money.  There is no car, the ad was made from taking stock photos off of the internet, and all of the popular catch phrases have been used to grab and keep your attention. That does not mean that there are not some very decent cars and sellers out there.  It just goes to show you that you need to be vigilant in the search and those you are dealing with – especially through the internet.  A pre-purchase inspection from a professional is well worth the cost.

Happy hunting!

Written by AAG Agent, Gary Goldsberry, Parker, Colorado

Car Appraisal Process – How it Works

Car Appraisal by certified vehicle appraiserSo you’ve decided to get your car appraised. Understanding how the car appraisal process works can help you to find the right appraiser and get the most out of your appraisal.

A vehicle appraisal is a documented estimate of the current value of the car based on condition, history, and current market trends. Appraisals are usually performed when a vehicle is bought, sold, or insured, and by collectors and hobbyists. An appraisal is also useful for determining the tax value of a donation, in estate cases, or in legal disputes after an accident.

Vehicle Appraisal by AAG AgentAn appraisal will generally cost between $75 – $500. While it may be tempting to choose the least expensive appraiser available, the cheapest appraisals may be performed by inexperienced appraisers and produce inaccurate results. A standard vehicle appraisal should include:

– Date and location of the inspection
– Date the valuation is established
– A full, detailed description of the vehicle
– Methods used to establish a value
– Purpose of the appraisal
– Description of the appraiser’s qualifications including certifications
– Appraiser’s signature and physical address

If your car or vehicle is involved in a legal dispute or insurance claim, you may want the appraiser to provide expert testimony. This will incur additional charges.

Before your vehicle is appraised, it’s best to clean, wash and wax the vehicle and be sure that all basic maintenance has been completed (oil changes, fill all fluids, new filters). Be sure there is enough gas for the the appraiser to take a test ride.

Best Car Appraisal Process A certified value appraisal should include an onsite inspection of the vehicle by a certified agent. This inspection should include photographs of the vehicle and the agent should also gather pertinent historical information as available from the owner. A master appraiser should review all research and valuations, preferably with a centralized database at hand to ensure consistency. Appraisals completed online, without an inperson inspection, can not properly value your individual vehicle and can undervalue your vehicle. This can result in a loss of money if the vehicle is sold under value or potential loss of insurance reimbursement.

A properly performed appraisal done by a certified, experienced agent is always your best choice. An accurate estimate from a trained professional allows you and others to get the best value from your vehicle.

Interested in a Car Appraisal for your vehicle, or for a potential buy? Check out AAG’s Vehicle Appraisals and call us to schedule!

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.

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

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.