How to Estimate Classic Car Values

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Classic cars are sought by many, but assessing their value is not always the easiest process. Since the world of classic cars is somewhat unpredictable, getting an exact value that will hold true for a long period of time is harder than it seems. But it is possible to get a rough idea of the value, based on some common factors and by following a few simple steps.

Common Factors That Affect the Value of Classic Cars

Factor 1: Consider the demand for the car. The idea here is pretty straightforward: The more people who want the car you have, the higher the price is going to be.
This means that a car wanted by many will go up in price, simply because there are more people willing to fork over large amounts of money for that car. Conversely, if your car is not a popular model or only moderately desired, the price will go down accordingly.
Factor 2: Think about the rarity of the car. Rarity goes hand in hand with demand; the cars with the greatest demand are often those that are the rarest.
So if demand is not easily measured, rarity is much more likely to be an obvious indicator of the car’s value. If you are not sure about the rarity of your car, do a little online research.
Factor 3: Determine your car’s condition. As with the other factors already mentioned, the condition of your vehicle plays a big role in dictating its overall worth.
You could have an extremely rare car, but if the paint is all chipped, the restoration work is shoddy at best, and the car overall just does not look good, you can expect the value to be low when compared with an identical car that has had lots of good-quality restoration work performed.

How to Determine the Value of Your Classic Car

When it comes to value guides for classic automobiles, NADA is generally regarded as coming the closest to fair market value. This is a free resource to use, but you should be aware that there are no guarantees you will actually sell your classic car at the fair market value indicated in this online guide.
Step 1: Inspect your classic car objectively. Owners tend to build attachments to classic cars, but nostalgia and affection may make it difficult to assess a car’s condition objectively.
Place sentiment aside and look over every inch of your classic car — both inside and outside. Make note of imperfections like dings, bits of rust, or tears in upholstery. If your classic car runs, take it a for a drive to get an idea of its working condition.
Step 2: Gather your classic car’s identifying information. Before you refer to a car valuation guide, you must gather an array of details about that car.
Note the year, model, make, and odometer reading, and look through the glove box or your auto maintenance records for additional information, such as the last time the oil was changed.
If you know anything about the history of your classic car, such as its number of previous owners, that information can be helpful as well.
Step 3: Visit NADA on the web. On the landing page, click on the “Classic Cars” tab at the top of your browser.
The built-in wizard leads you through multiple questions and menus to gather important details about your classic car. Once this process is complete, the guide displays four values for your classic car — its original retail price, low value, medium value, and high value. There are descriptors for each of these values, so choose the one that best fits your vehicle.
Step 4: Search for similar classic cars listings near you. To further refine the fair market value of your classic car, see what similar vehicles sell for in your area, if possible.
At the bottom of the results page on the NADA website, press the link to “Search Local Cars for Sale” or browse the classifieds of your local newspaper.
Step 5: Determine the demand associated with a car. The age of a car is probably the most reliable way to get a sense of the existing demand.
In the world of collectibles, even collectible cars, age is crucial. So if the classic car in question is old, then this might indicate a higher value. Of course, you can also measure the demand by comparison, especially if you know the price of another same-model car in a different year. You can probably increase the value on an older car and decrease it on a younger one.
Step 6: Know the condition of the car. If the car is really beat up, then the value is going to go down.
Do a thorough check of the paint, the engine, the interior, and so on to determine the quality of these parts. At the same time, a car that has original parts is going to be worth more than one with generic replacement parts. Also, a car in need of work represents money that the buyer will have to pay for restoration, driving the price down.
Step 7: Check to make sure the car is authentic. Obviously, if a classic car is truly authentic, then this is going to make a world of difference in the value of the car.
Be on the lookout for fakes or forgeries. Authenticity can be verified through the VIN, the tags, or the protect-o-plate number, to name just a few common methods of verification.
While there is no exact science to determining the value of your classic car, this process will help you arrive at a starting price for negotiations in the sale of your vehicle, or satisfy your curiosity. When it comes to classic cars, remember that much of the value lies in factors you can’t measure, such as the effort you might have put into the restoration or the memories you made behind the wheel. By being wise and thorough, you can get a better sense of the value of a classic car and be in a better position to buy or sell as a result.

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