Reality check: Determining of real value of your classic


If you’re reading this, then you love the collector car hobby. You like getting your hands dirty, road trips to nowhere, reading car magazines, and searching for parts for vehicles you don’t even own. Our cars are members of our families and they help us create adventures and memories that those outside the hobby (mostly) don’t understand.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/09/18/determining-of-real-value-of-your-classic


Well written article with some real good advice. I think any collector/seller will find it difficult to recoup the sweat equity put into a vehicle. I think we have all put in many more hours just in labor then what the car will be worth, given a few exceptions based on the desirability of certain models. I have two horseless carriages that I am interested in selling. They are older restoration, well cared for & maintained vehicles that today have little market value due to the fact that most hobbyists today cannot relate to early vehicles. Both of my cars are over 100 years old & if I am lucky enough to find a buyer, what kind of reasonable price will I be able to garner?


I used Hagerty and Corvette Magazine’s price guides to set the value of my 2002 Corvette which I have had listed since last November and found my asking price to be much too high at least in the current market. I received no offers even close to those values. Maybe the car is too new yet and folks are looking at blue book value which is much lower than price guides. So, use the price guides with caution also. They may be optimistic for some vehicles.


@tmbaier That is sound advice and I believe that any value guide should be approached that way. Being on Hagerty’s price guide team, I will defend the guide by saying that the Hagerty Price Guide is a generation of the North American market and may not take into account any regional buying trends. With new-ish collector cars, I found that it isn’t always wise to go off of the rated conditions, mileage is absolutely a factor. For instance, a modern collector car with 50,000 miles but in amazing shape wouldn’t fetch posted #1 values, it may not even muster #2 values. For reference, I wouldn’t use a car as a comparable for a #1 value unless the odometer showed double digits. To me a #2 car shouldn’t have seen more than a couple thousand miles per year over it’s lifetime. #3 is where I would lump most of the modern cars we see with any sort of usage that approached an “every day summer driver”.

That said, your insight is helpful and we will take a close look at C4 Corvettes for the next update and look for adjustments to better align it with the market.


In general, the price references mentioned here are a good starting point.
Missing from these references a decent amount of time would be higher end cars, especially those with bulletproof history and ownership documents, including verification by renowned marque experts.

A good number of these cars trade hands privately amongst people or intermediaries who know each other quite well. Some of the reasons for this are that both sides know exactly what they are dealing with, they know exactly what the car is worth, the documentation is 100% complete and is verified, and there is a long established trust amongst these participants. in essence there is no missing information.


Nice article, let it be known that someone who customizes their classic to their personal liking, example exotic paint job, lift kit, etc. won’t get nearly what they’ve sunk into the car. I’ve ran into a lot cars where persons value a highly customized car on what they’ve put into it when in reality, the cars not worth near what they are asking or what they believe it to be worth because they threw thousands of dollars into it. Just because they spent all that money to customize it does not mean that’s what the cars worth.


Good wisdom here for both buyers and sellers. Surprised that contacting an appraiser wasn’t mentioned as I have provided pre-sale inspections to both buyers wanting to be sure they pay a fair price, and sellers wanting to be priced well when they hit the market. Not to mention being insured for an accurate amount when you are keeping the car, and to have the documentation needed to defend a claim if your car is stolen or destroyed. An appraisal is a small price to pay for the protection is the way my clients look at it.