Custom Cars

Defining a Custom Car

Sometimes the only thing better than a number matching antique car is a custom antique.  However, it’s important to realize that any and all customizations to a classic ride will effect the value of purchase or sale.

Custom cars originated in the days of prohibition.  What?!  It makes sense when you begin to exam the era in which customization was born.  The original custom cars may have been a simple as removing fender flares or running boards.  Reducing weight and removing unnecessary components allowed the original classics to out run police when smuggling and transporting alcohol.  As criminals and bootleggers evolved the custom cars things like engine swaps and gear changes allowed them to gain an edge during pursuits and chases.

In today’s society custom cars can become extravagant.  This doesn’t just apply to late model cars.  It’s common to find an old Corvette or Chevy Impala with extreme modifications not only to effectively modernize old ignition systems and enhance performance but also in styling and appearance.  Often times these classics become tainted with parts that are much easier to replace with modern components than tracking down original equipment.  Because of this, you must be aware of the custom car and whether you are willing to take the risk of value. So whether it’s a “Rat Rod,” “Street Rod,” or “Hot Rod,” make sure you do your homework.

Common Custom Modifications

  1. Paint – It’s not as easy as you might think to determine original paint codes or quality.  It’s also extremely difficult to look past a beautiful paint job when you’re trying to identify true value for the antique car in question.  Everyone loves a fresh look to their rides or restoration project. Some paint schemes are easy to identify such as flames and other customization on the surface.  However, a lot of potential buyers don’t realize translucent paints and candy sprays were developed around the 1960s.  Paint can be a crucial valuing topic for a mostly perfect original ride but in most cases it is understood that a new paint job is desired.  Just make sure the paint job follows the original intent of the manufacturer and anything extreme or straying from original should be considered a monetary devaluation.
  2. Engine Swaps – These modifications are typically obvious on the surface but it’s advised to seek professional advice when pinpointing original equipment.  The original “flathead” or “hemi” motors are fading into oblivion but even today the common 350ci Chevy motors are popular replacements for antique cars.  With carburetors facing tough restrictions of modern emissions quality checks, the choice to replace old ignitions systems with fuel injection is quickly becoming the norm.
  3. Body Panels – Be aware of metals and replaced fiberglass copies.  Sometimes determining the value of your antique’s original status can be as simple as a tap on the fender!  Replaced original metals with fiberglass recreations will severely devalue your antique car.

Famous Customizers can add street value

Some of the big names in the business such as Shelby, Boyd Coddington, Joe Bailon and Chip Foose to name a few specialize in custom restorations.  Each artist has their trademark and limitations with upgrading or maintaining the original status.  Even though these rides are typically heavily modified, street value can increase what is lost in the antique car value.  Make sure you consult real time auction prices for these truly amazing blends of antique/modern art.

Deuces with Chrome HatsFlame Paint Job1938 Custom Chevy