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CreamDaddy

1947 Ford Coupe: How much does matching numbers add to value?

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An older gentleman that I helped through the years passed away, and I acquired a 1947 Ford Business Coupe that had been sitting in his barn for over 40 years. It was a dream restoration project that he never got around to finishing. I believe it to be all matching numbers, frame, transmission, engine. It has a flathead V8. It's not perfect, by no means, but it's is not terribly bad and I am pretty sure this car is as it came off the assembly line, no modifications, so forth. What I would like to know is what kind of premium/value the matching numbers w/ original V8 engine might REALISTICALLY command. Somebody once told me "it's worth, what you want to ask for it," but it's really worth only what someone else is willing to pay for it. I'm not really concerned about value estimates on condition, because I've checked out the prices on a few 1940s Fords that are nice (9" inch rear ends, stroker engines, etc.). I'm wondering how much the fact that the numbers all match alone adds to the value of the car. Any insight would be helpful. I am trying to make a reasonable decision on what the best route to take this car would be. Thank you.

Edited by CreamDaddy (see edit history)

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It sounds like you're tempted to go the modified route. Most of the people here would try to discourage that even if it's worth more. I think leaving it as built is much more fun, just fixing anything necessary to put it back on the road is it's own reward. The trend has been not to restore these cars. It's probably a premium if you can show "All numbers match" but the engine doesn't have the number so that really isn't too important. The engine should be a 59A. When the engines went bad and were replaced it looks like original equipment. The VIN is on the bell housing top right behind the engine. A complete car in average condition is probably worth $10-12K. Good luck with it.

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If you don't plan on keeping the car for very long, your best bet is to leave it as it came off the assembly line. The next owner can then decide whether to restore the car back to its original factory condition or modify it. Hopefully, it won't be modified.

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I'm not a Ford expert, but a little research shows that "matching numbers" on such a V-8 Ford mean the frame number (on the left frame rail, front center and rear with the front the only one visible with body on) and the transmission number match. The number stamped on the transmission was the serial number of the car. The engine itself apparently has no number, so it just has to be the correct block and accessories for the year.

To an antique car collector, having "matching numbers" on this car probably adds 10% to 20% in value. The other issue is that you seem to be comparing values of this seemingly original car with the values of cars that have been made into hot rods. That's a very difficult comparison.

Along with "barn find", the term "matching numbers" has been overused and abused. It's very relevant on certain cars, notably Corvettes, but with many of the early cars it's meaningless, as there are no numbers to "match".

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This whole "matching numbers" thing has gotten way out of hand. It started when the muscle cars became collector cars instead of disposable beaters. It was a way to separate real muscle cars from easily cloned versions, and a premium was assigned to cars that were well-preserved and not abused, which was often indicated by the presence of original running gear. The Corvette guys took it to a whole new level with date codes on every engine component, and now buyers of just about any car expect "matching numbers" to mean something. As a matter of fact, early Mustangs and even Shelbys are impossible to authenticate as "matching numbers" yet I see them advertised that way all the time. I have guys asking me if the $20,000 1954 Mercury I just sold had "matching numbers." Really? I get the impression that rookies ask about it when they're not sure what else to ask, and I blame auction TV for this, because it makes people think that you must buy a car with matching numbers or else it's going to be worthless. Personally, I'd rather pay less for a non-matching car and drive the hell out of it--why worry about blowing up 20-30% of your car's value if something goes wrong in the engine?

All that said, I'm firmly of the opinion that unless you're talking about an easily cloned muscle car or something with substantial monetary value, matching numbers is irrelevant and adds zero value to something like the 1947 Ford we're discussing here. If it has a correct motor that's from the right period, then it should make no difference in value. I think the better question (and the one I think you're really trying to ask) is, "Is the car more valuable in original form or if I modify it?" And in that regard, there is no answer. These are nice cars when restored, but even the best will be hard-pressed to break $30,000 or so (I sold a pretty nice one a few months ago for $20,000). A well-built hot rod might go for more, but it all depends on who is doing the building. Throwing in a small block Chevy and a 9-inch rear does not automatically add value; at that point the quality and the builder's reputation play a factor.

If you've acquired this car at a good price, you could probably finish the restoration and sell it in the mid-$20. Or you could build a hot rod, but then you're investing a lot of time in re-doing work that's already done, and you have to hope that your potential future buyer has the same taste you do. I think the hot rod route will ultimately be far more expensive, too. However, if you're keeping the car, who cares? Do what you want and have fun with it and let the future take care of itself.

Just have fun!

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I have always felt matching numbers is mainly a G.M. thing. On a Chrysler Corp. or Ford car the engine code that is part of the serial number tells you exactly what the car is. There is no easy way to fake a rare, expensive H.P. version. Even if it is a "correct, wrong engine" car the value is not hurt too much. { a say 428 C.J car that has a replacement C.J. or a 440 Magnum car with a replacement 440}. With a G.M. the only you can be sure your "SS 454 Chevelle" did not start life with a 307 2 bbl. is if it is a matching number car. {there are correct font stamps on the market now so it is still possible to be burned on a "numbers matching" G.M.}.

Greg in Canada

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As the others said, there was no engine number from new and if there is one on it, it probably would have been stamped on by a shop when it was reconditioned to enable them to ID it for warranty purposes and I have never seen one that matched the frame number

In my opinion, as long as the model of engine is the correct one for your car, the engine number neither adds or detracts value to an early Ford V8 (except if is an early build 1932)

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Back in the 50's when I was a teenage hot rodder there was no such thing as matching numbers. The 46 thru 48 Fords and Mercurys had the 239 cubic inch Model 59 engine. The hot ticket was to build a big cubic inch stroker motor based on the 49 thru 53 Ford 8BA or EBA or Mercury 8CM or EBC block and the Mercury crankshaft. These were put in all years of Fords and Mercurys using heads, manifolds, water pumps, etc. that would fit it to the chassis being used. Ford/Mercury transmissions were not very stout. We regularly shelled the gear teeth like corn on the cob. A good trans was $20 max at the junkyard and two teenagers could change one in less than a day. Lots of 30's and 40's Fords and Mercurys had multiple engine and trans swaps in their lifetimes which had no effect on the value of the car.

Edited by Bob Call (see edit history)

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Would you buy Walmart cola rather than Coca Cola just because it is cheaper even though you prefer the taste of Coke? Or better still would you have a Salvador Delia painting on your wall just because it may appreciate in value?

Why should the thoughts of someone that you don't even know influence the car that you want to buy?

It's all just plain stupid!

Huh?!?!?

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If you modify the car to make a custom or personalized car, look what range a completed car will sell for.

The following is currently advertized on Craigs List in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Columbus OH

post-41405-143142977423_thumb.jpg

Edited by huptoy (see edit history)

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Did it really sell for that amount? Or is that just a "pie in the sky" asking price?

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Matt nailed it. Some cars never had matching numbers. I had someone tell me a 34 Packard had all matching numbers once. I asked "Which ones?" and got a stumbling response. Some early Packards had very close numbers, some as far off as 800 (engine, frame, front axle, rear axle, trans, steering box). He's also right that it's born of the muscle car rise in interest and value. You, however, are talking about a mass produced commodity from 1947. There's one thing that does indeed increase the subject car's value, that being the body style. What some refer to as a "short door" coupe, the roof line is just about as sexy as an early V8 can get without a canvas top. QUALITY has more effect on the long term value of this car than anything. Front spring shackles and a set of wheels make it look like a coveted hot rod for a Saturday afternoon's effort. Bolt on period accessories, done well with restraint (not too much of any ONE thing), again can add value. It's a car that YOU can build YOUR way and never worry about the dollars too much. Almost always in demand and an easy sell. My vote would be slightly hopped up stock with a stance and some wheels. Your results may vary, tax n title extra, void where prohibited...

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Or better still would you have a Salvador Delia painting on your wall just because it may appreciate in value?

QUOTE]

I did a report on that guy once... dude used varnish in his hair!

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I had someone tell me a 34 Packard had all matching numbers once. I asked "Which ones?" and got a stumbling response. Some early Packards had very close numbers, some as far off as 800 (engine, frame, front axle, rear axle, trans, steering box).

If a Packard has "matching numbers," that is a red flag that something is fishy.

What some refer to as a "short door" coupe, the roof line is just about as sexy as an early V8 can get without a canvas top.

My personal opinion is that the canvas tops are less sexy.

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Funny story about matching numbers. When this all started about 25 yrs. or more ago on Corvettes a dealer I know had a 66 Corvette for sale. A customer came in yammering on about his expert knowledge on Corvettes. Proceeded to have his friend videotape him doing his obnoxious critique, and put his dog in the car to see if the dog approved. Then looking over the engine, started yelling loudly (for the camera to hear him) the firing order cast into the intake manifold. Declaring "Yep the numbers match on this baby!"

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I think everybody missed the real question in the first post. This car is a "barn find" and in that condition, there is no difference in value brought about by the numbers on the parts. The fact that all the original type parts are there to be restored has the most effect on the value as an original restorable car in complete condition. I hope he enjoys it as Ford made it, but that's his choice. To street rodders the fact that it has an engine also makes no difference.

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