Aaron Widmar
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How to Have Your Classic Car Appraised

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Want to determine the value of your vintage vehicle? Here’s the best way to find out.

1960 Chevy El Camino at Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum
1960 Chevy El Camino
Photo: The News Wheel

It’s important to know the genuine worth of an antique car or vintage hot rod, but you can’t simply plug information into the Kelley Blue Book valuation algorithm to determine its value. An accurate appraisal requires a careful assessment by an experienced professional. If you’re unsure how to arrange an appraisal, here’s a beginner’s guide to having your classic car appraised.

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Why have your classic car appraised?

Like any valuable collector’s item, it’s rewarding to know how much your rare automobile is worth. It brings you a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that people would willingly pay so much money to own what you possess. However, there are more reasons than mere satisfaction to know how much your antique car is worth.

Knowing an accurate value of your classic car helps you select accurate insurance coverage and compensation if you ever need to make a claim on it for damages. You’ll also have proof of its worth if you ever sell the vehicle, use it as collateral on an auto equity loan, and for tax purposes during estate planning (it will greatly help whoever you bequeath the vehicle to if they have to claim it as income or go through probate).

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Metropolitan 1500 classic green car Dayton British Car Show
Photo: The News Wheel

The best way to determine your vintage vehicle’s value

You could use certain online appraisal systems to estimate the value of your car, but you’re much better off hiring a professional appraiser to audit your particular asset. Why?

Far more factors influence a classic car’s worth than simply its age, make, and model. An accurate valuation also considers its condition, any restoration work performed, thoroughness of documented records, trends in auction sales, regional interest, and any one-of-a-kind traits that make your specific unit unique.

Those factors are too precise and nuanced for a computerized system to accurately gauge, so your best solution is hiring a classic car appraiser with an established name. It doesn’t have to be a top-of-the-line auction house, but make sure it’s someone who has a reputation for accuracy and credibility. You don’t want to use your friend’s cousin, a mechanic who’s used to working on pickup trucks to evaluate your 1957 BMW 503 Coupe.

These appraisal business listings on AntiqueCar.com are a good place to start.

When you find a potential appraiser, reach out and make sure they’re familiar with your model before hiring them. Ensure you’re working with an expert on your particular brand or production period.

Gather all the paperwork you have on the vehicle and discuss the best way to meet with the appraiser if doing so in person. Many trustworthy appraisal businesses also offer virtual appraisals that can take place over email if you can provide detailed photographs and documentation on your vehicle.

In either case, you may have to pay a few hundred dollars for the appraisal, but knowing the true value of your beloved car can bring a level of satisfaction that’s — frankly — priceless.