What's the Value of my Classic? - Part Three - Restored or Preserved

If you have any kind of monetary investment, there are records which reflect the amount you've invested along with the gains, losses and transactions. You can also quickly ascertain the current value of your portfolio. 

Now just imagine for a moment, none of that existed, and the value of your portfolio was based on a guess or what the highest bidder would offer. Kind of scary, right? Then why do you treat the investment in your Classic that way?

The Average Collector Car Costs Over $25,000

And according to the latest information, the largest quantity of collectable cars are worth between $50,000 and $80,000. Regardless of your original intentions to own a Classic, at some point the most relevant information regarding your car is going to be its worth. Your ability to factually assess the value of a vehicle determines how much you’re willing to invest in the purchase, restoration efforts, what it should sell for and how you should use it. 

Put Away the Ouija Board

You owe it to yourself to begin managing your Classic car investment, the same way you manage your other portfolios. Because the history and documentation is rapidly becoming more important to the value. Remember, if you don't do it, nobody else will do it for you.

Who is Going to Test the Value Your Classic? 

It's going to be the next owner, but if the buyer is a part of the "next generation", they have little interest in your nostalgic ties. They seek the "experience" and originality of Classics. Because they have little experience with cars like yours, they are going to base ownership decisions on proof. 
In Parts One and Two of this series, we covered Book Values and the difference between Classics which may be viewed as a Consumable Item versus an Investment. In this segment, we'll start breaking things down on a more detailed level.

Task Number One
Which of the Top 2 Classifications Most Accurately Represents Your Classic?
This Locomobile is over 90% original (Select photo for more details)
There are only two main classes of Collector Cars. Both are based on "condition"; Restored or Preserved (unrestored). 

One Man's Meat is Another Man's Poison

The terms "restored" and "fully restored" are egregiously overused and as noted in Part Two. The term reflects a complete overhaul process. It does not mean new paint, seat covers and chrome valve covers.

re·store - rəˈstôr/ - verb
past tense: restored; past participle: restored
1.To repair or renovate (a building, work of art, vehicle, etc.) so as to return it to its original condition.

The term "preserved" (aka-original condition or a certified class of a Survivor®) also suffers from a similar state of misappropriate reference and overuse.

pre·serve - prəˈzərv/ - verb
verb: preserve; 3rd person present: preserves; past tense: preserved; past participle: preserved; gerund or present participle: preserving
maintain (something) in its original or existing state.

As Dr. Fred Simeone of The Simeone Foundation Museum noted, the mentality of car collectors has, until recently, favored perfection over preservation. It wasn't all that long ago, an unrestored, yet perfectly preserved and fully operational Classic would have been laughed off the show grounds. 

But this new classification, focused on the "originality" of a vehicle, is growing at a significant rate. This reinforces a poorly attempted "refurbishment" could literally destroy the value of your Classic. (Read more here).
This 1929 Stutz Supercharged LeMans received a meticulous Harrah restoration. (Select photo for more details)
Once determining which of these classifications is befitting of your Classic, the focus will be how perfect of an example of either, regardless of how rare or expensive. We'll discuss that process in an upcoming segment.

Task Number Two

How Rare is Your Classic?
Estimating the rarity or desirability of your car remains an imperfect measurement and subject to change. But if you currently own a Classic, thinking of buying or restoring one or planning to sell yours, they should be a part of your due diligence and recorded vehicle details. 

This Dodge Daytona from the Wellborn Collection is both rare and with a well documented restoration
Rarity is based on the combination of two elements; how many were made and how many exist today. There are numerous sources available to determine how many of an example were produced. Our research indicated the records run from 1930 to present, but vary greatly when considering model and equipment variations. Determining how many of a certain type are still around is far more difficult, but there are numerous sources which can provide some insight.  

Task Number Three
How Desirable is Your Classic?

Desirability often trumps rarity. Case in point was reviewed in another article about a 1957 Ford Fairlane. This one-owner car was hand-picked and specially equipped with numerous non-production features. Rare? Extremely, it's one of one. Desirability is unfortunately rather low. A more common version of a two door model is probably worth more to most people.
Select photo to read the full article
"Just Because it's Rare, Doesn't Mean it's Valuable"

It doesn't mean it isn't valuable either. The term has become overused, similar to, "It's worth what someone will pay." As such, we are sometimes too easily convinced these statements are true without some level of substantiation. The only way to validate rarity and desirability is to do your homework, record the details and keep it well organized. Of course, if you have no substantial proof in the form of documentation the current form of buying a Classic, based on negotiating the price per pound, will remain in force.

Documentation Trumps Everything
Regardless if prices rise or fall, Classics with proper documentation will continue to fair better than others. Experts also convey the growing importance of documentation regarding any Classic.

It's Time to Start

Once you have looked up the book value of your car, properly categorized your Classic as either Original or Restored, estimated its rarity and desirability, the next step is to begin recording the details. To get started, click here, to learn more and redeem your complimentary Garagistry subscription. 

NEXT UP - Separating the Wheat from the chaff. Various types of restoration and preservation efforts.