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How to Evaluate a Used Vehicle

Reference Library Index

If you are selling an antique, vintage or classic vehicle you will need to know how to calculate an "asking" price. Most vehicle buyers will expect you to be willing to negotiate the price which means you will start by asking for an amount above what you are willing to accept. If you are one of the many people who dislike bartering like a used car salesman this may prove difficult, but it is necessary. If you advertise that price if "firm" you are likely to lose potential buyers and of those who do respond, many will try to negotiate anyway. Everyone wants to feel like they made a good deal and to some negotiating is how they meet the need. And some see it as a sign of respect; a give-and-take that demonstrates an appreciation for the other person's situation. The asking price is typically about 10 percent above the actual value of the vehicle.

1932 Lincoln Victoria

1932 Lincoln Victoria *

The actual value of a vehicle can be easy or difficult to determine, based on the age, make and model of the vehicle. The older and rarer the vehicle is the harder it will be to determine the actual value because it is based on the current market value, its condition, how unique it is and the seller's emotional attachment. Newer vehicles are therefore relatively easy to evaluate because they are not rare, the condition is usually a simple factor of appearance and mileage and the seller is not likely to be emotionally attached. However older cars are a different story. Value guides such as NADA or Kelly Blue Book are good places to start - but do not stop there.

The next step is to look at the current market value. Search the Internet for the specific year, make and model of your vehicle and see what others are asking. Call other sellers to compare the condition of their vehicles to yours and determine how long their vehicles have been on the market at their asking prices. Look for used car dealers who are selling similar vehicles because they will have already researched the best asking price, watch the automobile auction shows on television, and study the classified ads in your local newspaper.

The next consideration is the uniqueness which is more subjective and while we have an How To Appraise a Vehicle reference guide you may require the help of a professional appraiser. Just like fine wines, there are specific years, makes and models of vehicles that have a unique appeal and/or are particularly rare. Limited edition vehicles such as the Shelby Cobra and one-of-a-kind vehicles such as the Tucker or a past president's limousine will require a knowledge of their sales history and current public interest.

And finally there is the emotional value. If you really do not want to sell the vehicle but must, or just finished an expensive restoration, you are likely to want more that it is worth. However if you are selling one of Elvis Presley's Cadillacs prior to a significant anniversary when there is a lot of publicity you may be able to ask more than it is worth. Here again a professional appraiser may be of some help.

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Setting the price for an antique, vintage or classic car or truck, or a hot rod, roadster or muscle car warrants careful consideration. Buyers are going to ask a lot of questions to determine how you arrived at the price and you should have pertinent documents at hand to explain your position. For instance a vehicle inspection report will help to prove that there are no issues with the title and that the vehicle has not incurred any significant damage. They will also be interested in maintenance records and receipts for significant repairs or restoration. Once you have determined the actual value of the vehicle do not forget to add a buffer before setting the asking price. This would also be a good time to consider what your absolute lowest acceptable price will be.

We have more information about the history and designation of antique, vintage and classic vehicles and listings of relevant services and resources in our Business Directory.



* Pictures are from ads on AntiqueCar.com and may not be used without the vehicle owner's permission.