Do I Need a Pre-Purchase Inspection?

Pre-Purchase Inspection - Close up of chrome and paint at trunk and rear lightsMisaligned ChromeModern car purchasing has changed dramatically from the traditional methods. Online purchasing and a shift towards buying classic cars as investment pieces has made the process both more convenient and more open to misuse.

The FBI and the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York recently uncovered a $4.5 million fraud ring that involved classic cars, indicting 25 defendants for running a nationwide scheme posting fake classic cars for sale online. Victims of the ring would respond to ads online and then be directed to shell corporations to pay for a car they would never receive. In most cases, the money lost was never recovered, and some victims were left with no choice but to continue to pay auto loans without ever receiving a car.

Pre-Purchase Vehicle Inspection - Note tear at bottom edge of door panelDoor Panel WearAAG’s professional inspection process has exposed fraudulent sellers in the past. Dishonest sellers won’t return calls when they discover we’ve been asked to complete an inspection. Or, agents have arrived at the address given by the seller to find empty lots and no cars for sale.

With the convenience of one-click shopping and online auctions comes the need to do your homework: the best way to protect yourself when buying a car is a pre-purchase inspection from a trusted and certified professional.

Pre-Purchase Car Inspection - 1959 Cadillac Fins1959 Cadillac FinsYou may be asking yourself “Do I need a pre-purchase inspection? I can probably go look at the car myself.” An experienced inspector can be your eyes and ears and will provide a detailed report that documents the vehicle’s condition. A professional pre-purchase inspection should include a market value consultation based upon the vehicle’s condition and documented history. An inspection can save you the cost and time of travel should you decide this vehicle is not the one that you want to purchase.

Make sure your pre-purchase inspection agent has been certified, and check to make sure they also provide the following:

    • The opportunity to speak with your inspection agent before and after the inspection in case you have questions.

    • A copy of the title or registration, pertinent receipts and information should be provided to the inspector by the seller.

    • Documentation of all parts of the inspection, including notes on condition, originality, test ride results and paint gauge readings.

    • Detailed photographs that provide first-hand evidence of the car’s complete condition, inside and out. Don’t rely on the seller’s photos alone.

    • Data tag and vehicle identification numbers should be documented and decoded.

    • Ask if your pre-purchase inspection company can provide a certified appraisal for insurance or bank loan purposes if you decide to purchase the vehicle.

    • A value consultation with the master appraiser should be included. AAG utilizes its centralized database along with 30 years of experience to determine an accurate market value for the vehicle.

Pre-Buy Car Inspection - Photo of rust under mat in trunk
Under trunk mat
Pre-purchase inspections often uncover areas of concerns that may give you room to negotiate with the seller’s asking price.

Find an agent who is located near the vehicle in need of a pre-purchase inspection. AAG agents are located nationwide, allowing you to get a pre-purchase inspection promptly.

Before Buying Car Inspection - 1969 Lola T70 ReplicaLola CockpitIt is best to hire an inspector from an independent service, not one affiliated with selling or brokering cars. Pre-purchase inspection agents should work for you, rather than working to their own or the seller’s benefit.

Before you buy your next classic car, antique car or any other type of vehicle, have an independent pre-purchase inspection completed by an experienced, tested and certified AAG agent. AAG’s pre-purchase auto inspection service gives you the confidence to buy or walk away.

Read more about the case behind this article here.

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.

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%