Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or insure a classic car, or if you are simply just curius as to what a car is worth, you need to be familiar with the classification system that is widely used among classic car, vintage car, and collector car dealers and hobbyists.
Companies such as Barrett-Jackson, Mecum, Krause, and Manheim use a grading scale from 1 to 6 (some only go as low as 4 or 5) to establish the condition of the vehicle. A number 1 car is perfect car which has been professionally restored to the highest of standards. A number 6 car is simply a parts car. Many untrained individuals often make the mistake of classifying a car at a level greater than what it truly is. Many classic cars that win best of show at the local car show are only number 3 cars. At the point a car is restored to number 1 status, it has seized to be a drivable vehicle and is now a showpiece.
The different classification levels are as follows: (the names in parenthesis are those associated with a #1 to #4 rating system. Such systems do not include values for Restorable or Parts cars)
1. Excellent:(SHOW) Restored to the maximum standard of a professional restoration in every area - or an extremely rare well preserved original. This car is not driven. This is a 95-plus point show vehicle as
recognized by a national show judge.
|2. Fine: (EXCELLENT) A vehicle that has had a superior restoration or is an extremely well preserved original. This car would be a 90-95 point car and would most likely win best of class/show awards at a regional level.
|3. Very Good: (GOOD)A well maintained original or older restoration showing wear. All presentable and functional inside and out. Most classic cars at local and regional car shows fall into this classification.
|4. Good: (FAIR) A drivable vehicle needing little or no work to be fully functional. No parts are missing and there may only be minor body work needed. Chrome and paint may be showing their age.
|5. Restorable: May or may not be running. Needs complete restoration of body, chassis, and interior. Not rusted, stripped, or weathered to the point of being useful only for parts.
|6. Parts car: May or may not be running. Is rusted, stripped, or weathered to the point of only being useful for parts.
If you are looking to insure a classic or collector car, it is in your best interest to hire a certified antique car appraiser. Do not rely on the used car dealer down the street simply because your local bank uses him for classic car loan values. Take the time and spend the extra money to have your investment appraised by a professional.
If you are looking to either buy or sell a classic or collector car, then use collector car price guides such as this one for a good reference or base starting point. There are a lot of variables that affect how the market fluctuates. The values in the guides are derived from market trends, dealer sales and aution sales. Just because 2 guys in Scottsdale Arizona have a bidding war over a 69 COPO Camaro doesn't mean that your COPO Camaro is now worth $800,000.00. The value of a collector car is largley determined by what the market is interested in and what they are willing to spend. Simply because a car is 40 years old doesn't make it a classic. The looks, style, and popularity of a car often have a more direct relation to market value than the age of the car.
Take the time to research the car you own or are looking to buy. The more you know about the market for your particualr car, the easier it will be to determine it's appropriate value.