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Good resources to value a car?


Guest Java Junkie
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Guest Java Junkie

My dad is giving my sons an unrestored '55 or '56 T-bird (not quite sure on the year). As much as I've dreamed over the years of getting her up and running, it's just not feasible for us. Are there any good resources to figure out what we should sell it for? It's going into my boys' college funds, so I don't want to underprice it. I've searched online, but most everything I've seen has already been restored. Thanks!

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You may want to have it appraised professionally. Costs generally run around $250 for an appraiser to give you their opinion. If you can post some photos, you may get some free advice here as to value. Using value guides is only helpful if you understand the condition ratings.

#1 THE Best one in the world, or close to it. Restored much better than factory condition. Never driven.

#2 A sure award-winner at ANY show. A perfectly restored automobile or (in the case of a relatively new car) pristine original. Rarely driven.

#3 A car that most people would find very little wrong with it. An older good-quality restoration, but one that is regularly driven and cared for.

#4 Obvious signs of deterioration in paint, chrome, engine compartment, upholstery. Engine may be running rough, or poorly. Good solid and complete example, but needs restoration.

#5 Not running, but possibly fairly complete. Not usable as is. Definitely needs restoration

#6 Parts car, probably missing many parts already

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You may want to have it appraised professionally. Costs generally run around $250 for an appraiser to give you their opinion. If you can post some photos, you may get some free advice here as to value. Using value guides is only helpful if you understand the condition ratings.

#1 THE Best one in the world, or close to it. Restored much better than factory condition. Never driven.

#2 A sure award-winner at ANY show. A perfectly restored automobile or (in the case of a relatively new car) pristine original. Rarely driven.

#3 A car that most people would find very little wrong with it. An older good-quality restoration, but one that is regularly driven and cared for.

#4 Obvious signs of deterioration in paint, chrome, engine compartment, upholstery. Engine may be running rough, or poorly. Good solid and complete example, but needs restoration.

#5 Not running, but possibly fairly complete. Not usable as is. Definitely needs restoration

#6 Parts car, probably missing many parts already

West's list of condition categories here is the traditional definitions of each numbered category. However of note the top condition attainable for an unrestored original here is #2, #1 being reserved solely for perfectly "restored" cars.

Recently (within the last 10-15 years or so), a greater appreciation for unrestored original cars has taken hold of the hobby, and frequently those cars' values outpace #1 condition cars if truly original and excellent in condition. This is especially true of very desirable cars like the '55-'57 Thunderbirds.

It is said that the car does not run. This is a mechanical issue that can (hopefully) be easily addressed and will not effect the "original" status of the car if done properly. The rest of it's condition is unknown here. I would strongly suggest, if the car is sound and of reasonable appearance, to spend the money to have it appraised professionally. Even if it's pretty rough, if the car is a low-mileage original with "the factory air still in the tires" (to use a phrase often applied to these cars) then it could be undervalued using the strict #1-#6 value scale. Quite seriously undervalued under certain circumstances, in fact, for a car like this Thunderbird.

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