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What Affects Classic Car Prices?

Classic car prices are influenced by factors such as rarity, condition, historical significance, and market demand. A well-maintained vehicle with a storied past can command a premium, while unique models often become collectors' treasures. Understanding these nuances can be the key to making a wise investment. Wondering how to navigate this intricate market? Let's explore the finer details together.
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Numerous factors affect classic car prices, and the definite value of a classic car can vary according to who is doing the appraising. Auction prices are taken into consideration, as are typical market values outlined by "blue book" guides. A professional appraiser will often dictate classic car prices by taking into consideration these factors as well as the overall condition of the vehicle, the types of restorations done, the previous owners, and so on. Classic cars previously owned by celebrities tend to be more expensive than the same model of car owned by a non-celebrity.

Classic cars are often auctioned off, and the auction price will have an effect on the classic car prices. If, for example, the Deuce Coupe is consistently auctioned off at a certain price or near that certain price, the overall value of a Deuce Coupe on the classic car market will rise. If auction prices drop, the overall value of the car can drop as well. The auction price is, of course, only one criteria for determining classic car prices, though it tends to be a major factor.

A classic car in poor condition.
A classic car in poor condition.

The overall condition of a car will also have a major effect on classic car prices. A car owner can look up an estimated value of his or her car, but depending on its condition, the car's value may be quite a bit less than the listed value. Cars that need excessive restoration or have irreparable damage are very likely to be worth far less than the same model and year of car in pristine or good condition. Refurbishing or restoring the car can increase its value, though it may still not be as valuable as a car with all or mostly original parts. Original cars in pristine condition will very likely fetch the most amount of money.

The overall condition of a classic car can affect its price.
The overall condition of a classic car can affect its price.

Other incidental factors can affect classic car prices. Cars owned by celebrities inevitably cost more than other cars, especially if the car has some sort of history to it. A car driven by James Dean, for example, is far more likely to be especially valuable, and even if a person owns the exact same model and model year of car, it may be worth far less according to the appraisers and other criteria. Cars from the original production run can also be more valuable than cars that were manufactured later on after the vehicle became well established.

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Discussion Comments


@Animandel - Compared to the average returns on stock market investments, investing in classic cars can be a very good investment. The good thing about classic cars is you can buy one and restore it, and enjoy the car in the process. Be sure to consult a classic car pricing guide before purchasing any car.

As long as you are not financially strapped, you don't have to be in a rush to sell the car. When you do sell you can use the money you make to buy another car and start the process again. This will be more fun than owning stock shares and bonds, and you can make just as much money.


@Animandel - If making money with classic cars was easy then everyone would be doing it. And if your husband has no experience doing this type of business then it's probably not a good idea. As the article points out, there are so many factors that influence the prices of these cars. You need to be able to understand how to predict the price changes before you buy a car.


My husband likes to look at old classic cars. He is always taking us to classic car shows on the weekends, and he and my kids build the model classic cars from the little kits. We can't afford to buy a classic car for him to play around with, but I am thinking we might be able to make some money by investing in these cars. This would allow him to have a hobby he enjoys and also earn us money for retirement.

How difficult is it to make money buying, restoring and selling classic cars? Does anyone out there have experience doing this type of thing?


An auction is a good place to attempt to get a good deal on a classic car. You might get lucky and find that no other buyers or only a couple other buyers at the auction are interested in the vehicle you want to buy. When this happens you don't get into bidding war where the price for the car keeps getting driven higher and higher.

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    • A classic car in poor condition.
      By: Michele Ursino
      A classic car in poor condition.
    • The overall condition of a classic car can affect its price.
      By: SNEHIT
      The overall condition of a classic car can affect its price.
    • Cars from the original production run can be more valuable than cars that were manufactured later.
      By: Douglas Tomko
      Cars from the original production run can be more valuable than cars that were manufactured later.