Why Should A Classic Car Owner Know Their Car’s Value?
There are only three reasons an owner would want to know the value of their vehicle. They are buying or selling or insuring. Buyers never want to pay too much for collector cars, and sellers don’t want to settle for too little. Since collector car values change often, an owner should know the current market value and the historical sale prices.
Having a good idea of the worth of your car or truck can help you insure it for an appropriate amount (not to mention making sure that your insurance company isn’t overcharging). Car insurance is vital for collector vehicles, and you do not want to expect that a standard auto policy is best. The last thing you want is for a catastrophe to happen that totals your car, only to find your insurance company not paying what the car is worth. For more information regarding auto insurance, see American Collectors Insurance.
What Affects The Price Of A Classic Car?
Before figuring out what price you should tick on the For Sale sign, it’s essential to know some of the factors that can affect classic car values.
The Make And Model
There is no question that specific makes and models of vehicles are more popular than others. Some muscle cars like the Mustang, Barracuda, or GTO are more popular than sedans or small hatchbacks. A classic car owner interested in using their restored vehicle as an investment or to make money should know how the make and model stands up to history by asking these questions.
- Is this a vehicle that created a buzz when it was made?
- Is this a vehicle people would want to be seen driving?
- How many of the make and model were made?
- Is this a rare car, or did this make and model flood showrooms?
- What is the production number of the vehicle?
Most states have laws that specify the age of a “classic” or “antique” vehicle. In most regions, any vehicle over 25 - 45 years old is considered a classic or antique, while any vehicle over 45 years old is labeled a “vintage car.” An excellent example of how age can affect a car’s value is that a 1995 Mustang in good condition is valued at $10,900 (using the Hagerty valuation tool). The estimate for a 1968 Mustang GT is $25,100.
As you might expect, the restoration quality of antique vehicles can play an essential role in determining market value. (Restored vehicles are worth more than the same cars rusting in a barn somewhere). If a potential buyer has to put a lot of work into the vehicle to get it running, you should expect they will factor those repair costs into the amount they offer.
A word to the wise here for any would-be restorer. If you are interested in achieving the most money for your investment, restore the car to as close to its original condition as possible. A shoddy restoration job can severely affect the value of a classic in a significantly negative manner. (Translation is don’t be afraid to get help from professional restorers if you need help. Many of them are excellent in assessing a car’s condition and helping to restore a vehicle’s condition).
Supply And Demand
Just as with every other commodity bought and sold, prices are often influenced by the number of units available and the amount people are willing to pay to purchase one. The effects of supply and demand affect the prices of classic cars, which is why it is vital for owners to know production numbers and view historical data to see how their cars or trucks have been tracked over the years. For an excellent resource regarding your car’s history and links to pricing information, see oldcarsweekly.com.
The Miles Driven
You would expect that for classic car lovers, the fewer, the better, and that is true in most cases. However, mileage is less essential to the value of classic cars than it used to be. The reason is that many restorers reset the odometer when they do a revitalization project, so sometimes it is impossible to know exactly how many miles have been driven on the car. (If you find a car or truck with virtually no miles, the chances are someone may have messed with the odometer).
Features Of The Car
While features are nice to have on any classic car, sometimes they can affect the price of a vehicle. A 1969 Dodge Charger is less if it has an automatic than the three on the tree. While you might wish your 1962 F100 had an FM Stereo or CD player, it is worth more if it doesn’t. (It’s not original equipment).
Any restorer will tell you that the value of a car goes up if there are matching serial numbers on the components of the engine. For example, if the serial number stamped inside the front fender doesn’t match the number on the engine, you know that the car had a new engine planted in it.
What Resources Can I Use To Determine My Vehicle’s Worth?
There are a variety of resources that can help you determine the value of your vehicle.
Any number of internet sites, like classiccarvalue.com can provide consistent and pretty accurate estimates. Another trusted resource is the National Automobile Dealers Association which has been a valuable tool for determining valuations for years. They have an internet search program that is easy to use and provides information in seconds.
If you use your book value, remember that most sites cannot account for modifications or changes that might have been made to the unit. A book value will only give you an estimate based on the mileage and the condition you input. The best advice is to be conservative in the evaluation of your car, so don’t click “excellent” when the rear quarter panel is rusting).
Auction Houses Or Dealers
While auction houses will charge for their services, they can be excellent resources for assessing a potential market. If you plan to use an auction house to sell your vehicle, ensure you know of any fees or commissions you will be responsible for at the time of sale.
Many restorers use recent sales to determine a price range by viewing what their make and model of car has sold for. While this should never be the only factor in determining a price, it can be helpful to know what other owners have received for their vehicles, and this can be a key to determining potential demand. For a listing of available inventory of classic cars and trucks available for sale, see classiccars.com.
Talking with other classic car owners at meets and events is a great resource. There is a vast amount of wisdom that goes untapped at these shows, and the best way to find it out is to strike up conversations. Ask questions. Most classic car restorers are happy to talk about their projects and offer insights. For information on finding car enthusiasts near you, see
carmeets.app. (Yes, there is an app for that).
About THE AUTHOR
My name is Matt and I've been around cars all my life! I have owned and worked on many different classic vehicles, so I started this site to share my experiences. If you're new to classic cars, then this website is for you.Read More About Matt Lane