Collector Car Values

by Don Elliott on July 20, 2011

More often than not, who wants to buy a classic car the most determines the used car value of the classic car. This is because classic cars are all unique. Each classic car has a history. Each car can tell a story that may or may not be important to the owner. When selling a classic car, the used car value is in the eyes of the buyer. Pricing guides are available to gauge the possible car value, but guides are usually a reflection of historic value. Unlike newer cars, classic cars often appreciate in used car value and are heavily affected by supply and demand.


Obviously, the better condition of a classic car, the more it is worth. Though, condition of the car is relative. Rust is a big negative. The cost to replace and repair numerous body panels and frame elements can make a car with potential carry little used car value. Availability of parts can influence whether a car with a few problems will be worth more than a car that cannot be repaired easily. The highly collectable 1964 ½ original production Ford Mustang can be found in nearly new condition at an auto auction for considerable amounts of money. The same model can also be found in junkyards and back alleys in very bad condition, not restorable, and of little used car value.


Serious classic car collectors know that the fewer there are of any one model, the more “collectible” that car will become. In some cases, there were only a few vehicles built in any one style. In other cases, there may have been many built, but only a few remain in existence. For example, the British-produced Jensen was built from 1954 to 1963. Only one hundred and twenty-seven 541S model cars were built between 1960 and 1963. Just twenty-two of those cars in production had manual transmissions. Only seventeen cars with manual transmissions are known in existence. Regardless of condition, a 1960-60 Jensen 541S in any condition will hold its classic car value.


Original mint condition cars generally tend to have the highest price tag, even if they are not quite perfect. Cars that have undergone a “frame-off” restoration are often highly valued, but generally don’t match up to the rarity of an original car. Restored modified cars have recently been increasing in used car value, particularly muscle cars. These vehicles have the style of the original, but driveline and convenience features have been added. This makes the car easier to drive or faster.


The history or “pedigree” of a car often adds significant value to the price of a classic car. Documentation of the ownership and auto repair records assures the buyer that his investment is sound. Notoriety ownership can enhance the used car value even more. The 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60 is certainly a very collectable car. If it was the one Elvis Presley owned and Bruce Springsteen immortalized in his 1882 song, “Pink Cadillac,” then it would almost be priceless!

Condition, rarity, restoration, and history all affect the collector car value. Make sure you take all factors into consideration before purchasing your collectable car at a car auction or car dealership!

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