Antique Car Values – Determine your price

Classifying an Antique Car

The definition of an antique car is as follows: an antique car is generally defined as a vehicle over 45 years of age.  This is the Antique Automobile Club of America’s direct definition.  So who is this club and why does their definition matter?  The AACA has been around since 1935.  The group facilitates events and gatherings of the world’s top automobile enthusiasts every year.  They have one goal in mind, preserve awareness of the American Antique car.  Simply put, this is the best group to place the general label of “antique” at 45 years.  Antique cars are classified into vehicle eras.  There is a the veterans, brass and vintage eras.  Each era encompasses a small block of vehicles that support that time frame of American vehicle history.  So in today’s terms you would think that there would be an “electric era.”  Wrong.  Turns out the first electric car was developed in 1835 (careful with this one as prototypes were started in 1834).  It’s simply amazing to find out the very ideas we hold as futuristic thoughts have been in theory since before the 1900s.

Antique Investment

It goes with no surprise that antique cars are investments.  The cars are often purchased with goals of earning profit over a course of time.  Interestingly enough, there were only two periods of sharp decline in antique car values.  Early 1990s there was a sharp decline and then once again between 2008 and 2009.  If you spend some time researching these time frames, you will quickly note the sharp decline in the U.S. economy or possibly even in the world economy.  Like a lot of hobbies of today’s society, these investments become luxury items and are all to often sold to recoup losses during difficult times.  It’s important to note that you must take in all of your surroundings when you’re considering the value of your antique car in a current market.  A pristine antique could quickly suffer penalties in value that are totally out of the control of their owners.  There’s not a wrench in the toolbox that will fix the problem of the world’s economy to keep your investment in tip-top value.

Finding Value

You may want to hop over to our Antique car pricing tools page to find out what some of the “experts” think your vehicles worth.  Once you’ve got a ballpark figure.  Consider these important facts:

  1. Number Matching – This is a term that is used when an appraiser considers the true value of your antique car.  When vehicles are produced, various components of that vehicle are stamped to help associate the parts to the vehicles identification number (VIN). On the surface, many buyers don’t realize that the restored version doesn’t include the original components.  It’s not always on the surface and if done properly, not detectable at all.  However, if the motor matches, axle matches and various other heavy equipment comprising the vehicle matches, then the overall value of the antique car is raised.  Basically, it’s as natural and original as you can possibly get.  Just like the term, numbers mean everything and sometimes outweigh the alternative of a newer replacement part, even if esthetics are compromised.
  2. Custom Cars – This goes hand and hand with Number Matching.  All too often, original parts are replaced with favorable performance upgraded components.  This can sway the potential buyer if the custom parts are not desired and the true original equipment is preferred.  Antique cars can be difficult to find original equipment for.  Performance from the original equipment is not always up to standard with today’s technology.  Sometimes heavy parts are replaced with lighter newer alloys just to reduce vehicle weight and increase performance.  Make sure you consider how your antique car is put together and whether or not you should choose custom parts for your investment.
  3. Restoration– This is a big one.  Everyone will interpret what the true definition of antique restoration is.  Realistically, a restoration brings the car back to original status using original parts and not opting for anything other than original.  This isn’t just an engine tune up.  Even paint choices and true paint numbers are criticized.  Sometimes the original paint codes aren’t available or too difficult to match so similar production era vehicles paint codes are “borrowed.”  If the antique car is considered a “restomod” then it does not possess the original equipment and has parts that are not considered original.  There are a lot of terms used in this part of antique car valuation such as “Ground up” and even “Over restoration”