What's the Value of my Classic? - Part Four - Variations

Preservation vs. Restoration vs. "Other"
Click pic to read about the time Steve Jobs helped this Classic Car Owner
After our last post on the topic of Classic car values, we received a few questions from our readers important to our series, our members and all of our followers.

At what point do conservation efforts push a Classic from being "original" to one that's considered restored?
Craig H. 
Your recent post focuses on "pure" restorations and conserved Classics. There are a lot of other classes, like RestoMods, Hot Rods and Customs. How do we use Garagistry to value these other types of cars?
Alan S. 
Thank you both for your questions. There are numerous variations to what a Classic car may be, the level of authenticity and degrees of restoration, so let us provide some additional details.

It's Not Like Left Twixt vs. Right Twixt

Going back to the two main categories of Collector cars:

It is true that "Original" Classics have to receive numerous maintenance efforts to keep them operational. The goal is to keep them as close to perfectly original as possible. This technically means they have, to some degree, been restored. But the focus is on how little of the car has been affected by these repair and restorative efforts.
Click pic for our Morgan 3-Wheeler posts
The methods used to determine how original a car must be to be considered "preserved" is based on strict grading. Here's an example regarding SURVIVOR® cars from Garagistry Adviser David Burroughs:
  • SURVIVOR® Certified cars are over 20 years old, can pass a 20 mile road test, with over 50% of the car remaining unrestored, un-refinished, or unaltered. Over 50% of its finishes remain good enough to serve as reference guide for restoration of a car just like it.
  • SURVIVOR® Fingerprint Certified car must be at least 30 years old, pass a 20 mile road test, and be over 75% unrestored with 75% of the original finish qualified as a reference template.
  • SURVIVOR® ZZenith Certified, the highest rated vehicles must be at least 40 years old, pass a 20 mile road test and is at least 90% unrestored with a corresponding 90% of the original finish qualified as a reference template.
Now on to Alan's question.
Restored vs. Rehabilitated vs. RestoMod vs. Custom vs. Hot Rod

Restoration means your Classic has undergone a thorough and complete restoration returning it to original "as new" condition. The result is a beautifully preserved automobile in factory-new condition with authentic parts – just like it came off the showroom floor decades ago. But there are drawbacks to a full restoration. 
To begin with it's extremely expensive and may cost more than the restored car is worth. Another is the car, while very authentic, suffers from the age of the technology used at the time it was built. Meaning the performance, handling, braking, convenience items and reliability are extremely sub-standard as compared to their modern counterparts. Therefore, the most common versions of (fully) restored Classics are rare and high priced.

There Are Numerous Sub-Categories and Classes

We'd like to use three main descriptive categories of Classics that lay outside of Preserved or Restored. They are almost always "Partially Restored" (AKA - Rehabilitated): 
  • Stock configurations
  • Modified configurations
  • Professionally Built configurations
Stock configurations likely represent the largest quantity of Classic cars, trucks and motorcycles on the road today. They also broadly represent the "average" grade of Collector cars seen in "book value" charts. 
Modified configurations are equally numerous. They receive various levels of rehabilitation similar to stock configurations, but incorporate numerous aftermarket components to improve performance, handling, braking, convenience items and reliability making them safer, more enjoyable to drive and esthetically more pleasing. This group also tends to receive greater degrees of restoration and as such, often exceed the value of "average" Classics. "Modified" could include additional sub-categories such as Pro-Touring, Pro-Street, Resto-Mods, Hot Rods, Customs, Rat Rods and others.
Professionally Built configurations are likely the smallest group of the three. The high degree of craftsmanship involved reflects a professionally built car or one completed by highly skilled individuals. They receive the same level of detail associated with that of a "true" restoration, but they are rarely "stock". Numerous modern components are almost always incorporated and additional customization is common. They are completed at such a level of detail, they are or could be show cars (AKA-"Trailer Queens") while others are driven with great regularity.  
Ex.-This 'Ron Pratt 40 Ford Pick-Up by Boyd Coddington sold at B/J Scottsdale for $374,000 (Click pic to view)
This category defies the "value norm" of less rare Classics noted above. Despite the cost to complete ($100K+), these Classics are also typically worth more than a similar fully restored or certified Survivor® version. As with Modified configurations, they can include a variety of sub-categories.

There are additional groups of vehicles, such as "race only" category. As an example, they could include drag race, road race, Trans Am and others. Valuing these vehicles could be even more difficult, but those which have survived over 25 years are likely to have very interesting, sometimes important, histories. Garagistry works for these various categories of Classics as well.

Herein Lies the Problem
With so many different types of Classics and unlimited levels of rehabilitation possible, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to judge the condition of a car with your eyes, during a test drive or basic inspection. As such, it's also impossible to accurately gauge the potential historical or monetary value of a Classic. The result is the value will be downgraded until the risk of the unknown is in line with the perceptions of the appraiser or buyer.
And The Solution
The only way to eliminate this problem is to meticulously and honestly record the known history, all the details, photos, stories and available documentation into a single dossier. 
Click pic for the story behind this dirt track Harley
We'd like to again recommend leveraging a Garagistry subscription to provide all the tools you'll need to accurately compile the records of your Classic. Unlike the use of multiple online services or traditional methods, Garagistry automatically organizes all of the documentation into a single account with the records of each Classic cataloged individually.
The details are only accessible by you, the account holder. Stored documents are never shared, sold or available to the general public. Garagistry is accessible by any web enabled device. You can view, edit and research your Classics anywhere a wireless signal is available. Furthermore, with quadruple redundancy, your account provides the most reliable and durable method of digital record keeping for your Classics. 

Paper, Then Floppy Drives, CD's and PC's. What's Next?
Some owners have asked, "Why online and why is digital record keeping so important?" There are several very important reasons. 
Loss of this original document could cut the value by 30% or more. Click pic for more about COPO's
First is the issue of paper documents. They are typically stored in less than perfect conditions where they remain at risk of loss or severe degradation. If destroyed or accidentally discarded, the loss is irreversible and permanent. 

Second are the issues of digital media. In less than a decade, methods to collect and store digitized records have undergone dramatic changes. Third is accessing the digital media itself. You'd be hard pressed to find any way to connect a floppy drive or use a serial or parallel cable with any current computer. 

An increasing number of computers and laptops no longer include CD/DVD drives. They have also never been a component of tablets or smartphones. Furthermore, most of today's operating systems (OS's) are bypassing recognition of these older devices and their needed connections. 

The only way to overcome these constantly changing technologies is to choose the storage and access methods with the greatest possible lifespan. Garagistry is ready for you today and tomorrow with features technology experts support; a combination of an online interface, cloud-based storage and wireless connections (AKA-Cloud Computing). 
Ready, Set, Go - History!
Click pic to read why 100+ yr old documents destroyed

We've been discussing valuation throughout this series, but value is not the only reason to use Garagistry. It is a well known fact automotive history continues to be lost at alarming rates. The history of your Classic, even if it's only since the time you've owned it, will be very important to future owners and generations to come. Keep in mind, vehicles that are historically important are the ones with verifiable stories and documentation, even if they are not the highest priced.   

UP NEXT- Getting started on your vehicle dossier