Determining Collector Car Values

Collector Car Values

Before you buy or sell an antique, vintage, or classic vehicle, it's a good idea to do a little research on collector car values. Collector cars can be worth anything from a few thousand dollars to a million dollars or more. Understanding what yours is worth is an important part of owning this type of investment vehicle.

How to Determine the Value of a Collector Car

Collector cars can range from high-end modern exotic vehicles to antique or vintage cars with a fascinating past. No matter what kind of collector car you have, you can follow this process to find out how much it's worth.

1. Gather Information About Your Vehicle

The first step in assessing your car's value is finding out as much as you can about it. Write down the year, make, and model of the car. Then examine the dashboard area for a vehicle identification number (VIN). According to the National Institute for Safety Research, automakers began using VINs in the 1950s. If your collector car is older, it won't have this identifying number. If your car does have a VIN, run a vehicle title search to get as much information as you can about the car's history.

2. Assess Your Car's Condition

Carefully examine your car's interior and exterior, and use a vehicle inspection form to record what you find. Be honest about the condition so you can get the most accurate sense of the vehicle's value. Note any flaws, including rust, dents, upholstery rips, mechanical issues, any extras, and whether the car has been restored.

Determine which of the following conditions describes your car:

  • Show condition: Cars in show condition are perfect. They haven't been restored, and they are either brand new or have probably simply been sitting in storage somewhere. These are the most valuable collector cars.
  • Excellent condition: In order to be classified as excellent, a collector car needs to be fully restored. Any restoration done must be high quality and accurate, and there can be no rust or damage. This type of car is often extremely valuable.
  • Good condition: A car in good condition may still need some minor restoration work. In order to be classified as "good," everything needs to work properly, and any flaws must be easily repairable. This car should require no major restoration or repair work.
  • Fair condition: If a car is in fair condition, it may have some mechanical issues. The car must be operable, but it may need work to return it to optimal running condition. There may be rust or damage to the body panels of this vehicle.
  • Poor condition: Cars in poor condition may not run at all. They may display significant rust or damage, and it might not be possible to restore these vehicles. They are the least valuable cars, but they do have some value for parts.

3. Look Up the Value

Now that you know your car's year, make, model, and condition, you can begin looking up the value on collector car sites. Input the information about your vehicle to find out what similar cars are worth. It's always a good idea to use more than one source so you can get a very accurate idea of the vehicle's value.

The following sites allow you to look up the value of your car:

  • Collector Car Market Review - Publishers of a collector car value guide and the host of classified ads, this site is a great resource for finding out about values of cars like yours.
  • Hagarty - Use Hagarty to find the value of any car made after 1945. You can search based on the year, make, and model.
  • Hemmings - The Hemmings Valuation Tool is a great way to find out about the value of a collector car, and it has a huge selection of makes and models.
  • NADA Collector Car Prices - NADA produces price guides for used cars, as well as collector vehicles. This valuation tool even uses your zip code to help assess the local demand for your vehicle.

4. Consider Demand

Another factor you need to consider when assigning a value to your collector car is the amount of demand for your vehicle. In order to fetch top dollars, a car needs to be in high demand with collectors. While the demand for the vehicle should be high, the supply should also be fairly low. Certain exotic vehicles are made in small numbers in order to drive up demand for the car. The most valuable antique and vintage vehicles are also often the rarest.

Some valuation tools allow you to take local demand into account, but not all of them have this feature. Another way to assess this part of the value is to look at recent auction sales and see if bidders increased the price of the car due to demand. Barrett-Jackson provides a list of recent top sales, which can help you get an idea of the demand for your car.

5. Get a Professional Appraisal if Needed

While you can often find out a lot about your collector car's value by looking it up yourself, this method may not be accurate enough for insurance purposes or if you're planning to buy or sell a really valuable vehicle. In cases like these, it pays to get a professional appraisal from a company like CarAppraisals.com or Old Car Pricing. You can also find local professional appraisers by asking around at collector car clubs or auto dealerships in your area.

The More You Know

Knowing the value of a collector car can satisfy your curiosity, help you appropriately price the car for sale, or give you a leg up in purchasing negotiations. The more you know about a collector car, the better.

Determining Collector Car Values