What's The Value of My Classic - Part Six - Condition Grading Systems

The general concept of valuing a Classic is based on only a handful of attributes: appearance, mechanical condition, rarity, desirability and recent market conditions. Therefore it would seem rather easy to assign a value, but it's not. 

My way is the correct way
No, my way is the correct way
The first item we uncovered is while some experts will continually focus their efforts to grade a Classic based on a certain system and a fixed approach, research resulted in the discovery of more than one "standard". Those that exist note they only cover 'condition'. All other aspects are excluded. Rather than waste space, just do a search for 'grading classic cars''.

The second item was that although it should not, assessments can be (are) easily skewed by the personal interpretation (opinion) of the person or people assigning a grade. The scoring system should not be like a Frank Sinatra classic, "My Way", but it is. 

"While grading a car is somewhat subjective, it should not vary 
widely from one experienced collector to another. 
Let me explain how I come to a decision. (I do it my way)"

Third, the existing scoring systems were never developed to cover evolving market conditions decades into the future. They were originally developed as a way to grade the quality of a restoration, because at the time that's all  the market cared about; elite collectors, high-end collector cars and perfect restorations. 

Unfortunately after reading through dozens of sites, articles and blog posts, it became evident the 'market' seems content to bend the process rather than fix issues associated with an antiquated "one-size-fits all" system.

It's not 1955 anymore  Source - Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
Just as the grading process for a multiple-choice test varies from one used for an essay test, it's impossible to use one grading system covering all categories and conditions of Collector cars with a high degree of accuracy. So the question we asked ourselves was, "Is there a way to fix this?"  Our conclusion was definitely, maybe, but not unless more people take a proactive stand. 

If you're asking yourself, "How do I do that?", please keep reading. Fortunately, there are a few well-respected market authorities leading the way. We need to pay attention to what they are doing and learn. Allow us to highlight two of these Garagistry advisers as examples.
Dr Fred Simeone - Dr. Simeone, along with his peers, spearheaded and successfully imparted the concept of well preserved vehicles, why they are important and how they should hold a commanding market position. The concept is simple; a well preserved example of a Classic car should stay that way, be appreciated the same way as original art work and artifacts. Further, they should be afforded proper valuation because they are original, rather than restored.

David Burroughs - Burroughs brought highly regarded grading systems to the market for Classics that have been restored and those in exceptional original condition, the Survivor®. David's current focus is providing forensic level documentation services for significant vehicles. David's business, ProveIt®, is not a service available to the general public, but you can review some the the basics here, then apply the concepts to your personal efforts.


"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step " Lao-tzu

It is in how both Dr. Simeone and Burroughs evaluate a Classic. Preserved cars are judged against other preserved cars, restored cars are judged against other restored cars and so on. They never compare an individual vehicle to all Classics.

If change is going to occur, your focus should be how the market is changing, how much and how fast. In which category does your car belong and how is it rated against other similar Classics vs. all Classics. 


Although very few people gave thought to the importance of documentation, original condition or the quality of a restoration even a few years ago, your first step is to create a dossier of information which validates the graded condition of your Classic.
That doesn't mean your car has to be some super rare or significant example. It means you need to gather everything you know about your car including every available document, receipt, record and photograph, organize it and protect it from accidental loss. Putting it in a shoebox, file cabinet or even a fireproof vault doesn't provide the advanced management and protection capabilities of a digitized library.


There is only one place on the whole planet where you can create a highly organized, private and secure digital vehicle dossier. It's called Garagistry.

Take the first step. We'll be back with more information, suggestions on how to find missing documentation, resources you can use and how to use your vehicle documentation for grading your Classic.