Is This in the Future For Your Classic?

With the recent focus on fraud and counterfeit vehicle sales, we were reminded of a situation a few years back from Western North Carolina...

"My recently deceased brother had a 1966 Ford Thunderbird. I really don't know anything about cars, but I know he had this car for a long time, and invested a substantial amount of money and time working on it. Where is the best place to sell it online and how do I price it?"
Unfortunately, this is a real situation and happens more than most realize.  Perhaps not unfortunate for the eventual buyer who purchases what could be a great classic - then again, maybe not.

First, you will need to gather all the information you can about the car. This may not be a fast or easy task, but it is a critical step you need to take to be successful when documenting a classic vehicle.

You should already have the basics: year, make and model.  But what about the color, mileage, general condition? Has the vehicle had any major repair, restoration, or refurbishment work done?  If so, when, and by whom - do you have any receipts to support the work was performed?

Also, any photos you have will be very helpful; actually the more photos you have, the better off you will be.

According to David Burroughs, Garagistry advisor, well-known classic car authenticator and founder of Prove It® has detailed a list of perhaps 15-20 specific photographs he suggests to properly document a classic vehicle and it's condition. We will be publishing his recommendations in the near future.

In the meantime, when documenting your classic car with photographs there are several practical, common-sense considerations to remember. There are also technical issues which we will keep at a minimum for now.

Wash the car - get rid of bugs, mud and dirt, but go easy with the polish and wax - shininess produces glare and unwanted reflections that detract from what you want viewers to focus on - the car itself. And don't forget to clean and vacuum the interior, the windows and wash the wheels and tires too!

Use the right camera - and that doesn't include most smartphones. Images or those that blur when enlarged just aren't going to help you feature your car.  A point-and-shoot digital camera, even one a few years old, will produce much better photos than an old cell phone.

Take your photographs at the right time of day - which is not High Noon. Early mornings or evenings produce a softer, more even lighting for photographs and helps to cut down on reflections and glare. Overcast days are also a preferable option to consider.

It is amazing how many cars are photographed in some of the worst locations. Professional photographers will suggest a beach or park setting - away from other cars, signs, power poles, or people. If neither a beach or park is available, use of an empty parking lot is recommended.

Frame the picture - cover all the angles. Front, back, both sides will help document the general condition and appearance of your classic. Crop as much of the car into the photo and ignore unnecessary background.  If your classic has specific detail, such as a hood ornament, or tail light assembly or even a gas cap that helps identify your classic, be sure to consider a good close up of those elements as well.

For interior photographs, it is recommended they be taken from the rear seats permitting you to include as much of the dash as possible.  And pay attention to the seating too.


1. DO NOT PHOTOSHOP/EDIT YOUR PHOTOGRAPH - If your classic has a ding or dent, don't try to edit it out. Ditto for scratches.  As much as it may pain you, if your car isn't perfect don't try and hide that fact - be honest.

Be aware that photos that appear to be professionally taken can bring a sense of skepticism to your classic.  Especially with the element of fraud and misrepresentation to consider, your "honest" classic will always fare better than some stock catalog photo.

Yes, we may seem to make a big deal about documenting your classic car - we believe it is one of the most important responsibilities a classic car owner can assume.  As has been quoted before, we are today's "Caretakers" of every classic vehicle. Documenting our period of ownership is how we both protect our personal investment in a classic vehicle, and enhance the future value for the next owner...