Putting a price on a classic car is not an easy task.
If you're the seller, setting it too high may lead to the car to sit in your garage longer than what's necessary. There's a chance that it may not be sold at all. Too low, and you risk selling your precious investment for a song.
When trying to determine the value of a classic car, factors such as demand and condition come into play. Our classic car valuation guide offers a helpful resource of how you can have any vehicle appraised for its true worth.
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Check out our classic car buyer’s guide below. Hopefully, you'll come away with an idea of what to look for and what to avoid in your hunt for the classic of your dreams.
Right off the bat, there's no definite answer to how much a particular classic car is worth.
The price that feels right will vary from one owner to another. For some, their car might have sentimental value and they'd refuse to let it go no matter what. For others, their classics may have spent more time in the garage than on the road, and they'd be willing to negotiate a fair price.
There is, however, a way to check for a rough estimate of a car's value, whether you're a buyer, a seller or a collector. You can turn to reliable sources such as the following:
Attending a classic car auction.
Having the vehicle evaluated by a classic car specialist.
Checking the price of the car in classified ads.
Browsing on online price guides.
Reading listings in classic car magazines.
Estimates and reviews from authoritative classic car websites.
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According to research, more than 70% of total classic car trades happen in private, 20% are done in classic car auctions and the rest of them are processed in dealerships.
A common mistake potential buyers make is the fact that they expect the selling price of a classic car to be exactly as listed in sources such as online, in classic car forums, etc. There will be a disparity in pricing as dealerships tend to change the price tag a bit to compensate for margin, maintenance and others.
The figure you see on these platforms are more likely to have been the retail value of the classic during its production and heydey. Dealers will have factored the immediate sale appeal and potential profit and thus come at less than what's shown on the price guide, for example — everyone has to make money right?
But each transaction is unique, especially when it comes to something as collectible as classics. If you're in a hurry, the most sensible thing would be to have a classic car specialist take a look at it and appraise it. Don't forget to factor in demand- a dealer may offer a higher price as he may have an interested party looking for that exact model. Otherwise, that same dealer may have reservations about giving more than the listed value if he knows that the car might be sitting for a while in his showroom.
If you can be patient, waiting for a private buyer will be the best option. Consider posting online or in your local newspapers for enthusiasts who truly want your classic for what it is.
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Parameters that dictate the value of a classic car include model, condition and the vehicle's make and model. As always, it's best to do several comparisons so you'll have a general idea of what a classic car is currently worth in the market.
National Automobile Dealers Association: A widely recognized and respected association that produces appraisal guides for collector's vehicles and used cars. NADA guides are considered by many to be the benchmark since its inception in 2000. Users can search by zip code to look for the nearest classic car in their area.
Hagerty Insurance: If you're looking to buy or sell a classic made after 1945, Hagerty should be your first stop. The platform allows users to search by VIN, or vehicle identification number, Make or Year. Hagerty also shows how each vehicle depreciates or appreciates over time, allows for saving of desired classics and even insurance estimates.
Hemmings: Hemmings is a valuation tool that provides users helpful data such as recent sales and advertised prices through the course of three years. The platform offers current listings, classified ads, a highlight section, auctions and classic car guides.
HAGI Index: HAGI, or Historic Automobile Group International has an index that can track investments and its trending price on the market. If you're a collector of art and other luxury commodities, you'll find HAGI to be very helpful as it contains sources from marquee specialists, dealers, private contacts and auction results.
Collector Car Market Review: A classic car valuation platform that can be found online and in print. Users can get classic prices from reputable sources, including new car inventory, government data, sales reports, auctions and on the organization's own value database. Each month, CCMR highlights cars as a sort of interest feature.
Clasiq: Of course, we have a range of classics for sale so you could do worse than checking out our extensive listings…
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Your journey starts with a quick online search to get a baseline price for the classic car. Condition still plays a major role, and it can bring a car's value up or down depending on whether it's in mint condition, needs total restoration or needs some work.
Also, keep in mind that a car's value is determined by how it was restored, its rarity and market demand. When you put all of these in effect, the participating individuals should arrive at an FMV, or Fair Market Value which is the price a particular classic will sell for.
A car's condition can fall under any of these six classifications:
Parts car, a classic that is only good for parts and for salvaging purposes.
Restorable. Shows signs of advanced wear and tear but can be restored.
Good. Requires either low-quality restoration or minor work to improve its value and function.
Very Good. The vehicle is in good condition and shows excellent restoration.
Fine. Restorative work is top-notch and most, if not all original components still function.
Excellent. Original mint condition or perfectly restored.
A certified appraiser can eliminate any doubts about a classic car's value. After all, it's their job to know current market conditions, which car is on demand and which ones have fallen out of favor.
Moreover, professional valuers can provide a description and condition come appraisal time, which can be helpful when you're working with insurance companies, owners, banks and potential buyers. Here are a few more benefits of doing an appraisal:
Buy/ Sell. A timely appraisal can set the classic's current market price for pre-purchase inspection.
Insurance. An appraisal is needed as part of insurance requirements. Owners can get an accurate insurance quote for their classic vehicle.
Accidents. Appraisals can show the car's value before the accident took place. It ensures maximum compensation for all damages.
Financing. Most lending companies will require an appraisal before classic car financing becomes viable.
Protection. Appraisals can become safeguards for when your car is damaged or subject to natural disasters.
Cons Appraisals may fall short when complexity comes into play. This is when a classic car has been modified or is incredibly rare to begin with. Appraisals may not factor in the scope of work done in order to restore a classic to near-mint status. Moreover, the more unique features a classic car has, the longer it takes to evaluate.
Owners of rare classic collectibles such as the 1923 original Model T, the 1941 Willys Americar, Diamond T Model 80 and the SVT Cobra will want to insure their cars so they can maximize their investments. But traditional auto insurance probably isn't enough for classics due to its limited scale, scope and premium.
Regular insurance may only cover vintages on up to its cash value, or replacement cost minus depreciation. A new ish Dodge Challenger may have commanded $22,000 when it first rolled out the production line, but if you were to damage the car today the total compensation could be only $14,000.
But this doesn't necessarily apply well when it comes to classic cars as they have several unique intangibles in play. A classic that has all its original parts working and intact will certainly command a higher value than one that has a few parts replaced. Plus, a car that was driven by someone famous or has a noteworthy history will be more expensive than its "ordinary" counterpart.
A lot of insurance for classic cars fall under the "Agreed Value" umbrella.
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Agreed Value is an understanding between an insurer and the classic car owner set on a value that's not dependent on the car's market value or its equivalent cost. Beyond the price tag, these parties can determine a price point that lies on several aspects such as history, awards, prestige and concourse.
Classic car owners will most certainly opt for a replacement rather than getting cash value for their damaged vehicle. Agreed Value means that you can get compensated the maximum if something happens to your vehicle, whether for car replacement or getting a classic of equal value.
For instance, Hagerty lists a 1957 Chevy Bel Air at around $61,000. When you opt for the agreed value and it just so happens that the car was totaled, then you'd be given the full $61,000 by your insurance company.
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Classic Car Value
Instead of paying for a professional appraisal, you can do the work and conduct a car valuation assessment based on guides and an online car valuation tool. A quick search and you'll have an idea of how much a particular classic is going on the market.
Manufacturer, Make And Age
A classic automobile's value will also depend on the age, make and manufacturer model.
Age is a defining factor that can dictate how high a classic can go. A rule of thumb is that the older the car the higher value it commands over time. Older models will certainly be more expensive than a newer automobile of the same model.
Classic Car Authenticity
Interested buyers and collectors can check a classic's authenticity by checking the casting number, date codes, RPO codes, VIN or transmission and rear tags. A vintage vehicle that still has its original equipment and is under fair conditions will command a higher value than one that has some parts replaced, including the pedal rubbers, carpet, seats and interior.
Collectors tend to value authenticity above all else, so this factor dictates just how high a classic car can fetch in the open market.
Classic Car Pricing By Mileage
Mileage may be a minor factor when compared to authenticity and original equipment but it's still a worthy consideration.
It's one of the easiest factors to compute. A Chevrolet Corvair that has close to 100,000 miles will be valued less than a similar model that shows 50,000 mileage. The more mileage beyond what's normally allowed will certainly reduce value by a significant amount.
Interestingly enough, a rare, sought-after classic will have its valuation shoot up if the mileage is way below normal road usage.
Classic Car Pricing By Condition
For some classic car enthusiasts, condition is the ultimate scale when valuing a particular model. Each vintage is unique as it's maintained, replaced or driven differently by its owners.
Gauging a car's value based on condition is pretty straightforward. A classic that's kept in great working condition will have the price advantage over a similar car that's used day-to-day and needs some work done. Buyers tend to favor well-maintained vehicles they can use right away instead of getting a lower-priced classic that needs considerable time and cash in order to become road or show worthy.
It's important to thoroughly inspect the classic's interior and exterior to get a feel for the car's condition and other details. Don't be swayed by emotions and act upon the five key points to get an accurate estimate for a classic car's value.
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