General Question

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

How does one determine the value of rare, classic cars?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16538points) April 14th, 2014

There are a few cars that I am interested in buying at some stage, that are incredibly rare, and currently I cannot find any for sale. When the time comes, I may have to directly approach an owner, as they are unlikely to even be advertised. But how do I work out what a fair price is? For regular cars, there is a market to compare price with, and websites that list average kilometres and price for that particular vehicle. When it is something rare though, there is not a large enough sample of recent sales to be a reliable gauge. What should I be prepared to pay? How would an insurance company determine an agreed value?

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11 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Well….I’m a female, blonde, and not super car savvy, haha but, I would imagine it would depend on the rarity yes, but also the degree of restoration. Partial or full blown tricked out beautiful!
Right now there is an amazing, fully restored old. maybe 30’s/ 40’s Mercedes coupe parked at a local mortuary near me. It is stunning!

I have always wanted an old Nash Metropolitan and did some research a few years ago and found quite a few restored models for sale.
I would also look at the out of state markets, Southern CA. has a lot of collectors and I discovered several sites where they would drive/deliver the vehicle to you upon purchase.
As far as working out a price, well, like anything, there is room for bargaining most of the time, especially if it is a distress sale.

Try this site.

funkdaddy's avatar

The truly rare stuff goes to auction. So it is like trying to price art, you look at similar models and try to line up the details and importance in as many ways as possible to get a guess, after that it’s really comes down to the old adage

“It is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it”

Are you looking for something that’s really that rare?

Slightly less rare or unique items can be found on marketplaces like the Dupont Registry, this seems to be closer to the area where you can set a price and do research.

Or, if you’re looking for something that maybe it’s not rare, but is hard to find in good condition, ebay is actually a great source and is a big enough market that you can track trends and pricing for things like condition and models.

As for insurance companies, for the most part, they don’t want any part of insuring something that’s truly one of kind. At least not as an automobile. You can get basic coverage on the auto, and then add on a much more expensive policy to cover potential loss or damage, usually at a set amount. Or there is special auto insurance that doesn’t include using the car to get around for items that stay in a garage, on a trailer, or hit a show circuit.

Smitha's avatar

Try to buy price guides which offer the necessary information on car conditions, rarity of the car etc on the basis of which you will know how a model should be valued. You can check the auto auction shows online for more information about classic car market. To evaluate the value of such cars, it is always good to seek the advice of a certified appraiser. They will be able to provide you a fair estimate of the value of the classic cars. Also, a certificate by an appraiser will make it easier for you to apply for car insurance.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Thanks all for your answers. As has been said, the truly rare cars go to auction, where a price guide is usually offered. Condition and demand determine price around that value. But I’m not sure how that price guide is determined. Is it just the vendor’s wishes? How do I become an informed bidder, and know when to push or fold?

And yeah, I am looking for something that rare, so I haven’t found much of an auction history in my country. I have considered a Lamborghini Uracco (which I can find a price range for, and potentially can afford in time, circumstances permitting), but the ideal would be a V12 model such as the 400GT or Espada. I have no idea if they will ever be in my price range, or if they command Countach/Miura money (which I would never spend on a car even if I had the funds).

The Lamborghinis are just an example. I am looking at particular models from several other brands also, that are similarly rare, but often play second fiddle to more popular models. I have no idea what these would be worth either.

JLeslie's avatar

Auction as mentioned above. You can watch some of the auctions on the car channels on TV. There must be information online about it. Some of the prces they get are unbelievable.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Get an agent, like Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars @ F-40 Motorsports They will look and find a vehicle. They have the inside contacts, know the collectors and values of collectable vehicles. Fees and percentage are negotiable.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

All I know is, something about kick the tires. The agent seems like a sound idea to me. With cars of such value and distinction, I could not imagine any owner being willing to talk with a single buyer. Auction would be much more profitable to them, and one able to afford property of that value isn’t likely to be naive. I should think the only way to make a private purchase would be if the item in question were a bequest, and the new owner ill advised about what to do with it. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen.
Attending an auction with an agent’s advice seems all the real choice there is.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

Many rare cars, and anything considered “classic” by a large enough group of people, will have one or more forums on the Web. Check these out and ask around. Many of these forums have buy/sell/trade sections where people post and haggle about the values of the cars. The more of this sort of thing you read, the better able you will be to evaluate a particular car.
Above all, never take an owner’s word about the value of his car, whether you’re a buyer or just reading about it on the Web. People always tend to think their stuff is worth more than other peoples’ stuff, so remember to take that into account.

After you’ve obtained the car, keep reading those forums. I’ve found some invaluable advice for keeping my old rigs running well in those places.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I like the agent idea. I already know a couple of people from clubs in my area, and every so often go to shows where a small proportion of cars are for sale. It wouldn’t be too hard to get an introduction to the owners of the cars I’m interested in, but of course an agent would have a much better understanding of the market. And of course I’ll trawl the forums a fair bit too.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Some factors that influence car value:

Documentation: The more the better.

Originality: many modifications only make the car better to the current owner.

Is there proof the car was owned by someone famous.

Was the car used to win a competition victory.

Rare or more desirable features.

Condition: What’s the quality of the restoration? In the case of certain examples was the car restored when it shouldn’t have been?

Someone above mentioned art: Is the car authentic or a clone of a rarer model?

Trends: The public’s tastes are fickle. Popularity comes and goes.

Regarding insurance: Agreed Value insurance is used to protect cars like these: You want to be compensated not just for the car itself but the time and money put into it should the unthinkable happen.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

The value of antique vehicles [like everything else] is determined by the buyer(s).

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