Money Matters: How Much Is Your Classic Car Worth

One of the most daunting parts of selling a classic is making sure that you’re asking the right price: too low, and you’ll be getting less than you’re entitled to; too high, and you won’t be able to find a buyer. It’s a minefield, but this guide is here to help you.


The first thing to bear in mind is that there is no right answer; cars, like any other commodity, are worth what someone is prepared to pay for them. If you’ve owned a car for some time, its value will have changed since you bought it, for better or worse. There are various ways to check your car’s value. The best places to start are:


·         Price guides carried in classic car magazines

·         Online price guides

·         Checking out the prices advertised for similar cars in classified adverts

·         Getting a valuation from a classic car specialist

·         Classic car auction activity

·         Reviews of estimated values from the most popular classic car websites


The guide below will give you a little more information on the factors affecting car prices, and this material, combined with the information you can gather from the above sources, should allow you to realistically assess the value of your vehicle in the context of your market.


Learning how to correctly estimate used car values is a crucial skill for those who are looking to sell their vehicles or trade them in as a down payment for a new car purchase. If you’re willing to spend a little time doing your research, then it’s easy to conduct a car valuation assessment yourself using online car valuation tools and guides to determine the value of your motor. The rules and processes outlined below help to provide an accurate valuation model for all types of used vehicles, including classic  and antique automobiles. 

The mileage of your vehicle is very important when you’re estimating its value. The average consumer puts 2,000 miles per year on his or her vehicle, so this is the scale used to determine the mechanical age of the car. That means that if your 1960 Chevrolet Corvair has 100,000 miles on the clock, it’s going to be worth significantly less than the same model with a reading of 56,000 on the odometer. For many motor enthusiasts, 100,000 miles is a bridge too far when purchasing a vehicle. The more miles a used car has, the lower the price it will command. Conversely, selling a classic with lower than average mileage can be a very lucrative affair.

Other factors which influence the value of a car are:


·         The area a consumer lives in

·         Interior damage

·         Exterior damage such as scratches, nicks and dents

·         Past mechanical problems

·         Poor-quality upgrades/replacement pieces

To command a higher value, you should always keep receipts proving that your classic has received regular maintenance, as a car with an evidential provenance of quality care is likely to be much more reliable long-term.

Selling to a Classic Car Dealer vs. Retail Value

If you carefully calculate a value using the sources above, only to receive a significantly lower quote when you contact a classic car dealer, this is to be expected. There is always a marked difference between your car’s trade in value and retail value, as dealers have to factor in making a profit for themselves when they pass the car on.

The retail value that you’ve calculated is likely to be closer to the actual worth of your car, and is probably around the amount that a buyer would expect to pay if they purchased the car directly from the dealer. The dealer’s offer, on the other hand, is what the dealer is willing to pay you for an immediate sale, factoring in the amount they can sell for and the profit they will make, so it will always be less.

The value dealers will offer you for your classic is not however set in stone, and if you’re looking for a quick sale, contacting a few specialist classic dealers will probably be beneficial. This is because the price you’re offered is affected by how in demand the car is. If a dealer already has a buyer on his books who is looking for that particular model so he knows that he can sell the car quickly, he might be willing to up his price. Similarly, a dealer who already has a classic of the same make and model in his showroom will probably offer less than one who doesn’t, as he knows that he can already meet his consumers’ needs in that area.

If you’re not desperate for a sale, it is always better to wait for a private buyer so that you get top dollar for your classic. You’re much better off selling to other consumers through local newspapers or online than turning to a businessman who’s looking to make a profit.      

Car Valuation Guides Online and in Print

Make sure parts are legitimate and priced correctly so you can maintain your classic vehicle well

There are multiple online websites which offer value calculators to assist consumers in accurately estimating a classic car’s retail price, and a quick Google search will turn up the best of them. Use these sites, of course, but bear in mind that the values obtained will be estimates. The true value of your car will be dependent on a number of factors, from condition to mileage to provenance. Make sure that you don’t use standard car valuation tools, but instead look for special classic car value calculators which list estimates for specific makes and models. Whether you’re driven by curiosity or a desire to sell, you hopefully be pleasantly surprised by what you find. 

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