Vehicle Valuations

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Firstly, thanks to all those folk who wrote to me saying how much they had enjoyed my article in Issue 23 (September 2017). Indeed, this support is what has prompted me to offer some further thoughts as they relate to classic cars and their values.

I am frequently asked what I look for when asked to value a classic and whilst there is no single factor that I am fixated on there are a number of key elements that are important;

  • Originality. Is the car what it purports to be? Pretty obvious you may say but along the way many alterations may have occurred that prior owners may be unaware of. Frequently, these are undertaken in the interests of safety or practicality but nevertheless the vehicle is now not what it was when it left the factory. The sort of things I am talking about include; upgraded gearboxes from 4 to 5 speed, later brakes, wider wheels and non-matching numbers in that the chassis and engine were not the ones that were in the car when new or first delivered. In itself this is not a major issue but often there is such a mismatch that value is eroded as a consequence. In regard to this latter point I always make a point of checking both which tends to highlight that whilst the item in question may be registered as a 1957 model it could actually be of 1958 vintage. This sort of fact becomes apparent particularly with cars of pre-1970 vintage when anyone could bring in anything and simply complete the rego form for it at the local post shop who took your word that the information was correct. Badge changing also was rife, and example being small buses which were imported as vans to attract a lesser rate of duty.

  • Provenance. Should the car have a racing history (eg. driven at Le Mans or owned by a driver of note)? A friend of mine once owned a single seater race car that was “supposed to have been” driven by Denny Hulme. The problem was though that even when the great man himself saw the car he couldn’t remember categorically whether that was the one that he’d driven or not! If a connection could have been proven and more to the point proven to be driven by him on famous race tracks then a price difference of as much as $50,000 would have accrued over the number that it finally sold for.

  • Condition. I have been involved in eight restoration projects and love seeing cars in a state that is “as they left the factory” or even better. But, I also have admiration for people who have looked after a car through its life with “first paint’ still in situ as well as that wonderful patina of age usually prevalent in its interior with cracked leather, worn mats and sometimes original glass. There is something lovely about cars in this state especially if they are used regularly which truly helps to maintain this aura. I recently viewed some cars which dated back as far as pre-WW1 but each had a current rego and WOF and were driven on a regular basis, far from common but a real nice to have as using them is what they were made for. Over restoring is another trait that can have an adverse effect too as owners decide to either personalise their pride and joy, paint it in a colour of a different era or add items that may be don’t even relate to the vehicle. I prefer cars that gave been left alone.

  • Manufacture. I have talked above about matching numbers but where the construction of a vehicle was enacted is also important. For example; Mustangs were produced in both Ford’s Dearborne and Santa Clara Ford plants. Who’s workmanship was the best I can’t comment but owners have distinct views. Similarly so, with Porsche which over time has built cars at its Zuffenhausen facility but in addition has used the Karmann body shop as well as one in Necksarsulum and even Finland when demand has been necessary. I recall in the times when NZ had import licencing in place that Fords brought in fully built up from the UK were far superior to those produced in CKD form at the plant in Lower Hutt. Such factors all play a part in assessing values.

  • Model. MG TDs are on a lower scale in terms of desirability than a TC. Porsche 356Bs don’t rate the same as 356Cs. Convertibles are more sought after than coupes but a coupe with a sunroof may be not far removed pricewise from that of the soft top. Much of the valuation equation is a consequence of supply and demand. If new in NZ then that too makes a difference as invariably there is history of that particular vehicle which often provides us with a discernible story through much of its life. One of the referrals from my previous article revolved around a 1936 Plymouth sold new in Gisborne in that year which came with a history that covered every owner since then to the present as well as a lot of invoices for work undertaken along the way. It doesn’t get much better than that!

In summary, valuation is more than just looking at a car, truck, motorcycle or caravan (yep I value them too) and deciding upon a number. I need is to get under the skin and provide a number that is truly representative of its qualities which are often not easily apparent! The more I can find out though the more I can provide a valuation that fulfils fairly and correctly the market determinants  for both insurer and owner alike.

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