What's the Value of My Classic? - Part Five - What's "Significant" Mean

"Why bother documenting my Classic, it's not significant?"
Mark Norman Francis
Our answer is in the form of a question,  
"How do you know your car is not significant?" 

65 Years of Market Evolution Has Changed Everything
Based on the replies we've heard numerous times, it seems the belief in insignificance is centered on the owner's perspective and in spite of how much things have changed. Further, this mindset can become pervasive among  peers because "If everyone says so, it must be true," carries significant weight. Even when it's inaccurate. Why? Because people hate change. It's far easier to maintain what once was true than accept that things have changed and change with it.
Sixty five years ago (1950) the Collector car market barely existed. Twenty-five years ago (1990) it was transitioning into a growing hobby, but the only significant cars were the ones owned by aristocrats. At that time no one in their right mind would spend $80K to fully restore a '55 Nomad, today's popular Collector car auctions hadn't even been thought about, and the current breed of multimillion dollar Classics became "barn animals" because they had little value and were too expensive to fix.

Cash in the "Trash"
The market's paradigm shift can be traced back to approximately the same time as the stock market crash of '89. After which the market began an unprecedented surge in interest for "classic cars," along with a corresponding rise in values. 

Vehicles previously considered significant became treasured cultural artifacts. "Trash" Classics once thought to be less important began back-filling the empty category, which continues through today.

Redefining Significance
Corresponding with rising prices, ideas on how to judge and value Classics have also evolved significantly, focusing on more defined methods to assess quality, desirability and significance. These new measurements define significance in the form of proof (AKA - documentation). 

Regardless of Lore, The Twain SHALL Meet  
Despite changing preferences, such as in 2008, when Muscle car prices dropped significantly. Or more recently when Ferrari's blew the lid off previous highs and '80's Classics brought unexpected interest and prices. Regardless, cars with documentation continue to be valued higher both historically and monetarily. Therefore owners who create a vehicle dossier will have a permanent leg up on significance.

Overcoming Dossier Doubt Based on details provided by vehicle authenticators, such as Garagistry Adviser David Burroughs, documentation must be authentic, believable and validated in some way. 
Documentation Drives Credibility,
Credibility Drives Significance.
Significance Drives Value
Value Drives Demand and
Demand Drives Revenue

Therefore, documenting your Classic drives significance,  
value, demand and ultimately what your car is worth.

Creating a Garagistry vehicle dossier with digitized documents adds "date stamps" reflecting the records and documentation were recorded earlier. When researched to be genuine and validated by the owner they add a layer of authenticity.  Collectively they are indisputable proof of the existence of the car, the condition, the stories, photographs and documentation at the time they were entered vs. today. Furthermore, digital records are not subject to your accidental loss.

As an example of doubt for documentation which could have been created "on the spot", this short video clip reflects the kind of skepticism an owner may face. Will your never seen before "today" vehicle documentation be cause for similar doubt? What would happen if you lost them?

The goal of every Classic car owner should be to improve the significance of their cars without the need to hire experts or spend significant amounts of money. Most owners place greater importance on condition than documentation, leaving that part of significance up to future market value (which is a bit like visiting the roulette table). And while most Classics will never be categorized as an heirloom or cultural artifact, a documented Classic can become more significant as compared to the thousands of other cars "just like yours"
Different Types of Values Improved by Documentation 
  • Fair market value-The highest cash or equivalent price estimated in terms of money which property would bring if exposed for sale in the open market place.
  • Actual cash value-An insurance term that usually means the sum of money required at the time of loss to acquire a similar vehicle, less any appropriate depreciation for previous use or appreciation since purchase date.  
  • Replacement value-The cost to replace an automobile in exact or equivalent condition and with the same components, less any depreciation due to use or deterioration. This would include the cost of custom fabrication, upgrading and any modification cost to duplicate the appraised automobile.
  • Historical value-An additional value assigned to a vehicle above its market value due to proven ownership, association, manufacture or show and racing history.
Defining Significance by Tomorrow's Standards, Today The first question you need to ask yourself “Is my car significant because it's expensive, because it's culturally or socially important, or because it means something to me?” Potentially a tough question to answer, but that does not mean, just because it's important to you, it is not significant with regard to other factors.

Classics become significant for a variety of reasons. The top tier are the result of being extremely rare, perfectly restored or perfectly preserved. In other cases, it is because they are extremely unique, such as the Batmobile, a race car, or an all original, numbers matching Classic with a fully documented history.  But is that all there is to it or is it just what the market has convinced you to believe?
Disrupting The Exclusivity Factor Since 2012 Technology and the digital age have provided access to numerous items previously unavailable. You no longer have to buy an entire album to own one song, hire an attorney to start a company, pay a graphic artist to design a flyer, or buy a paper to read the news. You can shop online 24/7, pay your bills electronically, make worldwide calls while backpacking, send Grandma photos from your phone and publish a book from your iPad.

We think it's time to change the Collector car market in a similar way. Organizing the history of a Classic, defining its significance and valuing your car should not be some kind of exclusive benefit afforded to the very few. What you need is here now. Garagistry is as easy to use as email, you don't need any software and it's complimentary for a limited time. Why not find out what you've been missing?