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What is my car worth?

“What someone else will pay for it.” There is a difference between asking price and selling price. In most cases cars sell for hundreds or even thousands less than the asking price. There are publications which will list prices. One is a magazine called Collector Car & Truck Prices. It uses a “condition rating” from one to five. For each price given, percentage amounts are added or subtracted depending on options. Another publication is “N.A.D.A.” It uses a low/average/high value range. There are other publications as well. However, these prices cannot account for “appeal” of particular models. Colors, engine options, and transmissions can have a huge impact on a car’s desirability. You may have the rarest model because no one ordered a car that stripped down, and that rarity will not equate to value. On the other hand, a red car is common, but also very desirable. Use the guides as a first cut at value, then honestly appraise the condition and the desirability of its features. Remember that if it was so desirable, you would not be selling it!

How can I determine the condition of my car?

Collector Car & Truck Prices magazine gives one of the best ways to rate a car:

#1 - Excellent: A close to perfect original or a very well restored vehicle. Generally a body-off restoration, but a well done body-on restoration that has been fully detailed may qualify. The vehicle is stunning to look at and any flaws are trivial and not readily apparent. Everything works as new. All equipment is original, NOS, or excellent quality reproductions. (Very few cars meet this standard -- none that are regularly driven.)

#2 - Very Good: An extremely presentable vehicle showing minimal wear, or a well restored vehicle. Runs and drives smooth and tight. Needs no mechanical or cosmetic work. All areas (chassis not required) have been detailed. Beautiful to look at but clearly below a #1 vehicle. (A car driven only on the best of days. At others times it is garage kept and covered.)

#3 - Good: Presentable inside and out with some signs of wear. Not detailed, but very clean. Body should be straight and solid with no rust-through anywhere. Shiny, attractive paint but may have evidence of minor fading or checking or other imperfections. Runs and drives well. May need some minor mechanical or cosmetic work but is fully usable and enjoyable as is. (A car that is driven, but well taken care of.)

#4 - Fair: Runs and drives okay, but needs work throughout the vehicle. Body shows signs of wear or previous restoration work. Any rust should be minimal and not in any structural areas. Cosmetics, body, and mechanics all need work to some degree. (This is the typical driver car.)

#5 - Poor: In need of complete restoration, but is complete and not a rust bucket beyond repair. May or may not run and drive. Not roadworthy. (This is a driver car that is no longer being driven and has been allowed to sit outside.)

Parts or Salvage: Incomplete vehicle most useful for parts. Generally, take 40-50% of the #5 value. (This is a car that is not economically feasible to be restored.)


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This page was last edited on 26 July 2007.

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