How much does a classic car cost?

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When most of us hear the words “classic car”, a very particular thing pops into our mind. Most likely that is an old Chevy or maybe even a Porsche. Naturally, we also assign quite the hefty price tags to these vehicles. To us, they are a collection piece, which means “expensive”. But is that truly the case?

Interestingly enough vintage vehicles are not always that costly. In our article on the least interesting classic cars, you can see that many classics are… affordable, to say the least. But how are such vehicles even priced? Is it by age alone, or how scarce they are now? Maybe it is all about how much they cost in the beginning? Let’s see what a classic car’s price tag is made of!

What determines the price of a classic car?

When it comes to pricing, everything is pretty much entirely subjective. The value you place on an item is arbitrary in a sense. If more people want a limited thing, its price usually goes up and vice versa. This is your basic supply-demand principle. So does it even make sense to talk about how much a classic costs? Are collector’s items not the most superficially priced things ever? Well, no.

The vintage car market is in a rather strange situation. On the one hand, certain classic models can get very expensive. On the other hand, the average model costs do not go that high. The reason for that is simple – more and more vehicles become classics with time.

All that being said, averages do not really mean much. We need some clear ways to judge the cost of vintage autos. Surprisingly though, most of these “clear ways” turn out to be a bit more confusing than you may think.

Does the age of the vehicle increase its price?

The majority of people assume that the older a car is the more it costs. This is only partially true. On average a car manufactured in the 50’s would cost more than one that has just become a classic. However, the age gap does not matter as much when you shrink it down to a decade or two.

You can find many examples where a “newer” vehicle costs more. That is because in the car world the term “new” is a bit vague. Take for example the Jaguar XK120. A 1952 model can easily cost less than a 1954 one. Why? Because when it comes to the same generation the exact year is largely meaningless.

This trend goes on even further. Take the same XK120 from 1954 and compare it to its iteration, the 1964 XK-E. Logic would lead you to think that the first one has to be more expensive. However, the XK-E is usually double the price.

Keep in mind that these are the most objective comparisons you might do. Because they can only be done between vehicles of the same manufacturer. Age gets even more irrelevant once you start comparing different car makes. So what are the factors that do make a difference?

Does the car brand matter when it comes to pricing?

The second thing that people jump to after age is the brand. It seems fitting that an old Porsche should cost more than a VW. And it usually does. Indeed, the car make is at least somewhat relevant when it comes to the vehicle’s value.

If you take a look at the most expensive classics you will notice a trend. The majority of vehicles there are premium brands, such as Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Porsche. However, certain iconic models of “regular” marques also make the cut.

The Volkswagen Type 2 in a good condition can pass the $100,000 mark. If you think that is a lot, then consider the GM Futurliner – one of the models sold for more than $4 million back in 1999.

Unfortunately, the car make can only go so far in determining the vehicle’s price. It can only suggest which vehicles might be more expensive. Yet when you get to the broader classics market the make becomes less influential. For example, no one can say whether a random Ford will be cheaper than a VW or a Jeep.

Now age and brand are out of the way. It turns out that the two obvious factors are not that meaningful after all. It is time to take a look at the real deal!

If it looks good, it is good

People are visual creatures – we like to look at things. That includes cars, of course. So it makes sense that a good-looking vehicle has more of a demand. But what do good looks even mean?

What I am talking about is not simply aesthetic appeal. When it comes to vintage cars “good looks” is a more encompassing term. It has to do a lot with the overall condition of the vehicle, as well as its presentation.

It is not uncommon for the same model to cost twice as much if it is properly restored. Also, it can be valued higher if the majority of the parts are actually original. Vehicles, which have been properly maintained from the beginning, usually sell even better than well-restored ones.

Mileage also affects the price significantly, since it has to do with the condition of the engine. Usually, the lower the mileage the more life the motor has left.  People value that highly as they want their classics to be operational. So good looks require proper vehicle care both externally and internally. Speaking of which…

The hidden costs of classic cars

If you want to get yourself a classic, its price tag is not the only thing you should consider. There are some not-so-obvious costs, which can be quite hefty. When you factor them in a seemingly more expensive classic auto can turn out cheaper.

Firstly, you have to know a bit about taxes. If you are looking for an American car to enjoy in the States, you should not worry much. However, if you have been eyeing a German Porsche for a while and want to import it here… You may be a bit out of luck.

Trump’s proposed tariff plan for vehicles can negatively affect your decision. It is part of the trade war that has been going on for a while. Sadly, that means that if you want to import a vehicle, you’ll owe up to 25% of its price to the US government. This can easily make vehicles in the States much more appealing.

Secondly, you will need insurance. Since most vintage cars are an investment of sorts, it is important to protect them. Keep in mind that while this does not need to be overly expensive, it still adds a bit to the overall cost.

Thirdly, maintenance is also a thing. Do you want your vehicle to sit in the garage all the time? Or do you want to actually have some fun with it? If you want to enjoy it every now and then, you will have to take care of maintenance. That means you have to do proper research on part costs and supplies. Plus even an idle car has to be treated against corrosion, for example.

Lastly, there is also the price of car shipping. Finding the perfect deal requires you to look online and out of state. That leads to figuring out how to get the car to you, which is usually done via auto transport. Additionally, many collectors like to show their vehicles at different events. That also requires the services of car shipping companies like Corsia Logistics. We have actually transported many classic vehicles to such events!

Are you up for a classic?

As you have seen, owning a classic car is not a simple deal. It requires you to do your research and pay attention to many things. So I would not be surprised if you are not quite sure whether it is a good decision. Still, I think it can be.

I have already said that many people treat vintage cars as investments. For others, the hobby of restoring an old car to its previous glory is worth pursuing. There are entire businesses revolved around that.

Then there are people who simply enjoy old-timey auto engineering. For them having a vintage car is like capturing a piece of history. And with plenty of affordable options, it is pretty easy to pick up the hobby.

So what about you? Now that you know how classics are priced do you care to buy one? Remember that we can always lend you a hand when it comes to transporting it across the States. Just reach out to us and we will be there for you!

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About the Author:

Atanas Nikolov is a creative with an affinity for psychology and science. He believes the universe is a wonderful place to explore, and no universe is greater than the one inside ourselves. He enjoys a good debate, and can always bring an alternative viewpoint to the table. He also loves reading fiction and poetry. It is highly likely that he writes some as well, but these rumors have not been proven yet.
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