In this article, Auto Appraiser Jason Phillips breaks down the 1-6 “condition numbers” that often get assigned to determine a vehicle’s worth, and the general weakness of this approach in a real attempt to place a proper value.
The first question one should ask would be…”is the car untouched and all original”? From my past experience, it’s very rare when a buyer runs across this situation. This is the easiest situation to assign a single number to a car with equally aged components. Seller’s often unknowingly represent their cars this way, when in fact they have been partially or fully repainted, or modified in some amount they consider not worthy of mentioning. Sometimes, they’re not even aware of previous changes, due to purchasing the car in that condition. Other times alterations are “bolt-ons”, absent the original parts accompanying in the trunk. Sometimes a beautiful exterior re-paint has left the door/trunk jambs in single stage, unattended condition. Sometimes those new base/clear repaints get reacquainted with their old; patina soaked or pitted original bright work. One thing is for certain; other than an untouched, unaltered “barn find”, it’s very difficult to describe most cars with only ONE NUMBER!
After 21 years in the hobby/ workforce, I consider myself a veteran auto appraiser. Appraising and training others to appraise is my full time career. I say this not to establish bragging rights, (though my mother is very proud) but to help establish a foundation of where my opinion comes from. I’ve had the honor of creating an education from inspecting over 6,000 vehicles. Of those, I can count on two hands (O.K., maybe three) the number of actual untouched original vehicles viewed. While a multitude of these appraised cars were close to “bone stock originals” improved upon minimally, the vast majority had at least one exterior repaint, re-covered seats, replacement carpets coupled with some interior paint freshening and re-plated bumpers. The rest fell somewhere between frame up and frame off restored, excluding the “street rods” and “resto-mods”. On cars such as these, it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to assign just one narrow, categorized number for valuing! To further complicate matters, consider the following; of those touting “frame off” restored, the quality of workmanship varied between that “at home” amateur father and son first project look, all the way up to “House of Kolors” over-restored dialed in to the max beauty look!
If my past experience as an auto appraiser has taught me anything, it really all comes down to this: most cars have a “split personality” regarding value. That is to say varying levels of new and aged improvements made on various components, and the quality level at which said improvements were tastefully executed plays a huge role in determining value. Ill-fitting poorly made Chinese reproduction parts are no substitute for true OEM components and or nicely restored original pieces. Stop signs and home heating duct do a sufficient job of patching holes in a trunk pan, but are not equal to a replacement trunk pan that’s been properly installed. New seat covers and carpet DO NOT equal a restored interior. Neither does spray canned black control arms and coil springs with new yellow shocks installed inside them equate to a rebuilt suspension. And NO, roofing tar does not make a sufficient frame repair, regardless of how smooth you may get it to look over the rust holes!
In summary, breaking down the car by each major section and assigning a number or grade is the way I come to a logical conclusion on placing value. Having a solid basis of knowledge on restoration costs, OEM parts expertise vs. aftermarket parts and their associated value, as well as a good eye for quality workmanship are the key factors you should apply when assessing values on your own. Just for grins, Try numbering your own classic car by section and see what you discover. If you end up with mostly #1’s and #2’s, well then……ask your best car buddy to do it for you again, JUST to be sure you’re not missing the mark or showing any subjective favoritism!