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Probably the question I am most often asked by automobile collectors that I initially do not have an answer for. There are far too many variables to consider for the quick answer the owner is seeking. Collector Car guru Keith Martin even has a television show on Velocity dedicated to the answering of this question. Many collectors make the mistake of seeing similar cars sold at collector car auctions and websites such as ebay motors and bring a trailer and take this as a quick and easy way to determine value. Although you may see asking prices and published sales data that can serve as a reference, there is still some other finite variables to consider.

When trying to pinpoint the value of a collector car research begins with a quick visit to the Hagerty website (www.hagerty.com) which offers hard data based upon a timeline of recent documented sales. That is simply a good place to start. Other variables are to be considered at this time:

– desirability of model
– Size of the pool of the potential buyers
– market trends
– documentation of ownership and service
– Most desired years and option packages
– Original or restored vehicle
– Level of originality and condition
– Level of restoration work
– Mileage

1979 Mercedes Benz 300CD

1979 Mercedes Benz 300CD original Palomino Interior

Low mileage all original vehicles will always be most desirable with condition being the most important attribute followed closely by mileage. That being said, far too often a low mileage example will suffer from mechanical and cosmetic neglect that could severely impact the value of the vehicle. Condition, condition, condition is truly the best place to start after initial data has been investigated.

1988 Porsche Targa

1988 Porsche 911 Targa with 8800 miles from new

Next week, I will discuss in greater detail the mechanical and cosmetic considerations that need to be examined when appraising the overall condition of a collector car. I will use a late model W107 Roadster as my example vehicle as I have 25 plus years of hands on experience with these cars and have had them in every condition on the Hagerty scale (#1-5).