Valuating Your Collector Car
Besides the pure enjoyment of owning collector cars – the love of the machines, the thrill of the open road – they’re also a savvy financial investment. Collector car values continue to skyrocket year after year, making already rare vehicles increasingly more precious. Because of rapid appreciation, it’s important to make sure that the value listed on your collector car’s insurance policy is as current and accurate as possible. Here are some resources to help keep your records up-to-date… and your peace of mind intact.
If your vehicle’s condition hasn’t changed recently (meaning it hasn’t been restored or modified nor been involved in an accident), once a year is usually sufficient for a valuation review. The easiest place to start is a collector car price guide. There is a wealth of booklets available that monitor collector car values, many of them free. Old Cars Price Guide, NADA (the National Automobile Dealers Association) and Cars & Parts Magazine publish price guides that can be picked up at any local bookstore or magazine stand. NADA and Manheim Auctions also feature free valuation guides on their websites (www.nadaguides.com and www.manheimgold.com). You can also get to NADA on the Hagerty site in the Classic Values section.
For a more in-depth analysis of your vehicle’s value, consider getting an appraisal. Appraisals are the most specific and accurate means of determining a car’s worth, but beware: They’re also the most costly. A thorough appraisal can often run hundreds of dollars, though less expensive (and less thorough) appraisals can be found if you shop around. To find an appraiser in your area, check out Hagerty’s Resource Directory.
Besides an annual review, you should also adjust your vehicle’s value anytime it undergoes significant restoration or modification. Sending repair shop receipts or updated photos to your insurance agent is often sufficient to support a value increase; other times it may be better to get an appraisal, especially if custom or specialty work has been done. No matter what route you take, always keep careful documentation of any work that is done to your vehicle; it will help protect you in the event of a claim.
Many collectors watch big-name auctions for an indicator of their vehicle’s worth, but take caution: Auction sales tend to be greatly exaggerated from the overall market. Not only do the cars crossing the block usually represent the very best of the best (especially at auctions like Barrett-Jackson, where the vehicles are generally one-of-a-kind or 100-point cars), but the excitement of competitive bidding (particularly when televised) can lead to grossly inflated sales. Auctions can be useful in forecasting overall market trends, such as an increasing demand for muscle cars, but they’re rarely reliable for estimating average vehicle values. A price guide or an appraisal is a much better tool for this purpose.
If all else fails, try consulting the experts for advice. If your vehicle is insured with a classic car agency, call and ask your carrier to help you determine whether the car’s value should be increased. Local clubs or body shops can also be helpful sources of information, as can other enthusiasts. And of course, the Internet has a vast number of resources dedicated to the collector car community (check out www.hemmings.com to see selling prices on vehicles like yours, or Google your car’s year/make/model to find websites specific to your auto).
Ultimately, there are a wide range of options available that can help ensure your car’s value is current and your investment is fully protected. In the end, which one you choose is simply a matter of deciding what works best for you…and for your car.
– Beth Milligan, Hagerty staff writer