How to Estimate Classic Car Values

Assessing the value of a classic car involves looking into demand, rarity, popularity, condition, and authenticity.
Classic cars are sought by many for the rewarding feeling of owning something that is old and valuable. But assessing the value of a classic car 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 value based on some common factors and by following a few simple steps.
In this article, Part 1 addresses some common factors that affect the value of a classic car and Part 2 explains how to go about finding the value of your car specifically.

Part 1 of 2: Common factors that affect the value of classic cars

Step 1: Consider the demand for the car. The principle 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 for that car. Conversely, if your car is not a popular model or only moderately desired, the price will go down accordingly.
Step 2: Think about the rarity of the car. Rarity goes hand in hand with demand since 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, doing a little web research should reveal that to you.
Step 3: Determine your car’s condition. As with the other factors already mentioned, the condition of your vehicle plays a big role in 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 seriously low when compared with the same car which has had lots of good quality restoration work performed.

Part 2 of 2: How to determine the value of your classic car

When it comes to value guides for classic automobiles, NADA is generally regarded to come closest to the 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 car value 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 objective condition.
Place sentiments aside, and look over every inch of your classic car - both inside and outside. Make note of imperfections like dings, bits or 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 have an array of details about that car gathered.
Note the year, model, make, 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 owners, that information can be helpful as well.
Step 3: Visit NADA on the web. From the landing page, click on the “Classic Cars” tab on the top, right-hand corner of your browser.
The built-in wizard leads visitors 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 which 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 for 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 do this 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 paint, the engine, the interior, and so on to check for the quality of these parts. At the same time, a car that has original parts is going to be higher in value than one with generic replacement parts. Also, a car in need of work is 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 determine 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 may have put into 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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