My Car Quest

March 2, 2024

How To Value A Collector Car

by Mike –

Determining the price to pay, or the price to sell, a classic car can be a challenge especially when there were few examples made. Few cars made mean that few come to market so in a dynamic market environment setting a valuation can be tricky.

One-off custom cars

It is even more difficult if the car in question is a one-of-a-kind. A one-off car includes custom cars and hot rods. These cars are made to the builders personal taste and will limit the market size of potential buyers to those car lovers who like what the builder did with his custom car or hot rod. What do you compare the custom car and hot rod against when considering value?



If the one-off car was made that way from the factory, or is a coach-built car that was built custom originally, then the valuation can be quite different than if it was customized by a subsequent owner. The one-of-a-kind Ferrari Bertone in the photo below comes to mind.

Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale

If the custom car was designed and made by a famous car person, like a car designer, then the value will reflect that persons following and status in the car world. This explains the $16.5 million auction price of this Giugiaro designed Ferrari.

Or, if the one-off car is a prototype of a popular car model like the Porsche 911; the Porsche 901 Prototype owned by Don and Diane Meluzio, for example. This is essentially the oldest Porsche 911, one of the most popular sports cars of all time. What’s it worth? I don’t know but “a lot” doesn’t seem like enough.

Porsche 901 Prototype

Porsche 901 Prototype

Special history cars

“Special history cars” are those examples that have something unique in their history that could impact the value. The most obvious category of “special history cars” (excluding race cars) is the ownership history.

Liv Tyler Jaguar

Does celebrity ownership, like Liv Tyler, increase the value of a classic Jaguar?

Was the car owned by a famous person like, oh say, Steve McQueen? Depending on who this special person was, or is, then the value could be effected a lot or not at all.

The other question comes up is when one of these special history cars sells does it effect the value of other examples of the same model that do not share the special history? An example is the Steve McQueen 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera that sold at auction in Monterey in August 2015 for several times the value of this model without the McQueen ownership. Did this sale increase the value of other Porsche 930 Turbo examples?

Original or Restored?

Classic cars of a specific marque and model are easier to value because there are more people who know and like them and there are more comparable sales to use to help set the price (like Mustang or Camaro compared to Monteverdi or Iso). There is also a baseline of condition – originality – this sets the standard for all the examples made of that model.

With the trend in the collector car market strongly going toward originality then determining if a car is really original is important. The question of how much originality is important too. What if the paint is new but all else is original? Or some of the paint is new and some original? What if some components have been changed but many are original?

Valuing these cars is more complicated than before. The recent price differences between original and restored make these questions very important from a financial point of view.

It really doesn’t change the car in question, however. The car is right in front of you and if you drive it and like the drive and the looks and the condition then maybe it is not important.

The value could vary quite a bit in the future depending upon the answers to these originality questions but if you like the car that helps if later you decide you paid too much.

Let me know what you think in the Comments.


This Raymond Loewy custom Jaguar XKE, below, will not carry near the price tag as the Giugiaro Ferrari shown above. The fact that it is a Jaguar as opposed to a Ferrari is only a small part of the reason.

Raymond Loewy XKE

Raymond Loewy Custom Jaguar XKE

How To Value A Collector Car
Article Name
How To Value A Collector Car
There are many variables that go into valuing a collector car.

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