It is easier to spot a classic car than to know how much it is worth. You may know that the Oldsmobile Cutlass hanging out in your garage is a real sweet vintage ride, but you might have a difficult time deciding how much to sell it. Or maybe you have spotted that Cutlass, but do not know whether the price is worth it.
Worry no more, as here is an easy guide on how to estimate classic car values.
1. Research on Market Values from Dealers
Classic car values are almost always fluctuating, as all car values are. By researching the market value of a classic car sold by professional dealers, you can have a clear marker as to how much a vehicle in a certain condition is worth.
However, remember that this is a dealer’s price, so expect that it is overpriced from 10%-20%. There are many other determinants of price that are oftentimes not covered by dealer-based values, such as your own preference and the demand for that car. Nonetheless, market values from dealers are still a good marker.
2. Check the Condition of the Car
The condition of the car is usually the biggest determinant of its value. Most classic car enthusiasts use a five-point rating system, as follows:
Excellent: A car in perfect and near-mint condition, usually drivable.
Very Good: A car with some very minor scratches or engine and mechanism faults, but is still almost perfect and drivable.
Good: A car with some very repairable damages, but still needs little effort to restore and is still drivable.
Fair: A car that needs a lot of restoration work, with signs of abuse such as dents, scratches, and rust. If a car is not drivable because of engine, brake, or other mechanical failures, but has a solid exterior look, it will fall in this category.
Parts car: A car that cannot be plausibly restored because of heavy damage. A parts car, as its name suggests, is usually bought only for its reusable parts.
A car in an excellent condition could be sold for twice or thrice its original price and collectors will still buy it. Cars in the good or fair condition are the usual ones that you will see in the market.
3. Customization is a Minus
A classic car with an A/C unit, a fuel-efficient engine, and soft seats may be convenient, but these modifications often bring down the value of a car. Customized paint jobs may look cool, but they still decrease the possible price. The reason for this is simple: original parts are harder to find, and maintaining them are more difficult too. Expect a car with almost all original parts (including the wheels) and paint color to have a really large price tag attached to it.
4. Rarity is a Plus
Classic Dodge Chargers may be valued highly, but Chargers with a Hemi engine is a gold mine. This is because Hemi engine-equipped Chargers were made in very limited numbers. If you have one in your old man’s garage, you may want to reconsider that engine change.
5. Original Options are a Plus
Turbo and superchargers might increase a muscle car’s values, given that they are original parts. Because the ’61 Bullet T-bird is used as a pace car for Indianapolis 500, it has some original era modifications which increase its value.
Remember, when buying or selling classic cars, consider the condition, the originality, rarity, and the added options. Put this side by side with the market value from dealers, and adjust as needed.