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Value forum for newbies to the site


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OK, so here is what happens. A guy finds, or his neighbor has, or his uncle has (the list goes on) an antique car. He starts to see his retirement funds coming from the sale of same. He googles antique car, and lo and behold, here is the AACA forum.

Then he posts a question, new member to forum, how much is this rare piece of automotive history worth.

9 times out of 10, he is disappointed with answer, and goes away thinking that "those guys just want to cheat me."

How about a forum heading where they could post such questions, but there are stated rules, such as:

-the forum users will ignore any request that does not have name and location (the Harold Sharon I'm from Pluto rule)

-never reply with specific pricing or value opinions in the forum, other than reference to a price guide

-explain to the newbie that yes, someone may be interested in the car at a reasonable price, but he must either post a sale price, with pictures, or it is possible he will be ignored

There seems to be an endless supply of such requests, and we should have a way to handle them in a way that does not offend an "outsider", or he will be telling his 200 friends (a retail rule, that everyone you offend can potentially influence decisions of 200 people) what a bunch of _________ (insert choice of words) the AACA guys (or old car guys in general) are.

Thoughts? David Coco Winchester Va.

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David, interesting thoughts. You may be on to something. We do at times chase people away as I think guys just get tired of answering some of these requests. Other times you may suspect it is some sort of scam,etc.

Peter and our team should noodle this idea over. Thanks! We do NOT want to sour people about AACA or the hobby!

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Maybe establish some rough guidelines to offer newbies..eg..converts almost always worth most followed by coupes then sedans....longer the hood the higher the price..general guidelines as to desireability by era..brass, teens, twenties, Classics, etc. Value of restored/unrestored, referrals to price guides maybe. Seems like a lot of info could be given without actually venturing a guess as to actual value. I think a carefully worded "canned" rsponse might go a long way and eliminate some of the need to explain the same things over and over.

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Here's some general advice for people asking how much a car is worth; feel free to link to it in the future if you think it's helpful.


Welcome to the AACA website! We're a bunch of car guys, and we love the classic car hobby. You have or know of an classic car, and you want to know how much it's worth. Unfortunately we can't tell you exactly how much it's worth, as the value of cars is sort of like the value of houses: Every car is different, the market fluctuates up and down, and condition matters a lot and is hard to measure without an in person inspection.

With that said, we do have some general advice on car values. Here are a few ideas to help out:

1) There are some great classic car value guides available for free on the Internet. You should check them out. Here are two:



You should remember when you try to apply these price guides that the condition of the car makes a big difference. Some car collectors want cars that have been restored to as-new condition, or even <span style="font-style: italic">better than new</span> condition (yes, it's possible). Price guides need to offer prices for all of these different conditions of cars.

2) One of the great things about the classic car hobby is that most cars are actually quite inexpensive. A lot of people think from TV that all classic cars are worth a lot of money. Fortunately for those of us trying to get into the hobby, that's just not true: There are lots of great classic cars in great working shape with great chrome and paint worth $10,000 or less. There are fantastic classic cars in great shape worth only $5,000, or even $3,000. So if you're trying to determine the value of a particular car, you should understand that most classic cars aren't worth all that much. Some are, but most aren't.

3) But wait, you're thinking, what about the really valuable cars you saw on TV? Maybe you think your car is similar? It might be. But then it might not be. A lot of times, the cars on TV are very special or sought after models or individual cars that collectors really like. Car collectors make up the market, and sometimes a lot of collectors decide that there are some very specific things they just have to have -- even if they're pretty similar to things that aren't very valuable at all. A rare engine option that is original to the car might raise the value of the car by ten times (yes, ten times). Does your car have that rare original engine? If so, you're very lucky; if not, your car is much less valuable. Plus, a lot of the cars you see on TV have been professionally restored. Restoration is really expensive -- more on that in a minute -- so a restored car will be worth more than one in average condition.

4) We mentioned restoration, so let's talk about that. Perhaps you know of a car that needs work, and you want to hire a professional shop to work on it? Be careful. Restoration is extremely time consuming, and restoration experts are skilled craftsmen that bill on an hourly basis: A restoration of a good car to a perfect car usually costs the value of a few good cars combined.

The reality is that most cars don't retain their value when money is put into it for restoration. For example, you could have a beat-up car worth $5,000, and then you could pay $70,000 for a restoration, and the finished car might be worth $20,000. This isn't a great deal, obviously! That's why most collectors say that it pays to buy the best condition car you can afford: It's much cheaper to buy a car someone else paid to restore than to buy a car and hire a restoration shop yourself.

Of course, *someone* is paying for restorations - why are they? Usually they are collectors with a lot of money who are paying for the restoration of very special cars. This is the "high end" of the market in terms of dollars. Particularly sought-after or desirable cars can maintain their value in a restoration because collectors who can afford the most desirable cars often also want them in the best condition. But even then, the people who pay for such restorations are usually very careful about driving their cars: If you drive the car regularly, it quickly drops from as-new condition to regular condition, bringing the car near to its value before the restoration. (Such cars are sometimes called "trailer queens," as they are brought to shows in enclosed trailers rather than driven so as to keep them in the best possible condition.)

5) As a rule, the cars that are worth the most for a particular year and model are the convertibles. The cars that are worth the least for a particular year and model are usually the four-dour sedans. It's just supply and demand: a lot of collectors like convertibles, and not so many like four door sedans, So it's not uncommon to see a convertible be worth 3 or 4 times what the exact same car is worth as a four-door sedan.

6) The experience of most of the people in the old car hobby -- not dealers, not salesmen, just every-day classic car lovers -- is that collecting cars is not a good investment. Yes, you might get really really lucky. But most don't, and most end up putting in more money than they get from it. But to us, our goal is not making money! Our goal is to have fun, and the good times we have driving our cars and showing them off is what makes it worthwhile. We just love old cars, and the money we put in is just the cost of being able to participate in one of the best hobbies in the world.

Good luck!

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I think that a link to an adaptation of 1935 Packard's post, along with the appropriate legal disclaimer, would be a great item to have on the AACA's main webpage.

It would be great to have such a "How much is my collector car worth?" link that would help a newbie get some basic information before exposing themselves to the opportunity to have a less than desirable experience on the forum due to some of the "normal" responses to an uninformed first post asking about a car's value.

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When I read these inquiries my mind immediately thinks..."what day will this turn up on E-bay" sorry folks but I rather tend to shy from pricing just for that reason. It goes along with the question, "does anyone recognize this and tell me what its for" and some folks not only submit this once in a while..but to the tune of a few a day...by answering you may be showing your automobile knowledge but odds are you are running up the cost of parts..just my point of view...

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IMHO Matt Hinsons suggestion is the best I've seen yet on this subject. I just got thru reading "EVERY WORD" of 1937 Packards post and it is the best essay on this subject that I have seen. Personally I think it should be required reading. I wish I had a $1 for every time I have been asked that question and gave an answer, that the guy would pull out a hemmings and show me what some boob is asking for his car in #1 museum condition and the car I was just asked about is a #6 parts car with a #3 + price tag on.

I think this needs to be done if my opinion counts for anything.

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The only change I might suggest be made to '35 Packard's essay would be to more accurately define "antique","Classic" and "Brass Era". I can't tell you how many times I've had to explain that not just any old car is a "Classic" in the eyes of AACA. Of course it certainly doesn't help that each state has its own definition of these terms.

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Guest ken bogren

1935Packard; Great post!

Trimcar had a great idea and you filled in a good many blanks.

The value question is tricky even when you can see and touch the car in person. I look with amazement at some of the prices paid at auctions I've been at, and sometimes for cars I lost the bidding on and just wonder what made the cars bring those prices.

I think Trimcar's idea would be a great addition to the forum.

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Glad you liked it. If the powers-that-be are interested, I would be happy to fiddle with it a bit and make it a more formal document (maybe a .pdf to post on the site?). Just let me know.

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