Classic Car Museums
If you want to get clued up and inspired about classic cars, then you really need to go and visit a great classic car museum. The question is, which museums are the good ones? Any number of places might claim to offer a great selection of classic cars on display, but how can you sift through them to find the ones that make the trip worthwhile? Whether you are a interested in one-of-one cars, concept cars, or even classic muscle cars, there is a museum for you!
Below is our handy guide to some of the best classic car museums in the US right now:
Gilmore Car Museum - Hickory Corners, MI
Located around 30 minutes away from our Grand Rapids Showroom, the Gilmore Car Museum is our personal favorites! Their mission is to tell the story of America's Automotive past. They showcase the history, heritage, and social impact of nearly every type of vehicle. They have an extremely impressive collection of rotating cars and exhibits that create one of the best museum experiences that can be had! The Gilmore Car Museum is constantly hosting classes, car shows, concerts, and various other events. Just a heads up for first timers, be sure to clear your whole day! You're bound to get lost in the experience. They have a collection that includes some of the best classic cars of all time.
Gilmore Car Museum
The Revs Institute - Naples, FL
If classic race cars are what you crave the most, then the Collier Collection at the Revs Institute in Florida is arguably the best one you’ll ever see. One of its particular specialties is its collection of Porsche race cars from the 1960s and 1970s. These are really a sight to behold. The Revs institute is open only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and currently they only take pre-booked ticket visitors.
America’s Car Museum - Tacoma, WA
Residents and visitors to the Pacific northwest should pay a visit to this display, which proudly proclaims to be “celebrating America’s love affair with the automobile.” The museum houses more than 250 examples of stunning classic cars, but also other unique hallmark exhibits like their Learning Lab to teach students about automotive technology past and present. The regular opening times are from Thursday to Monday from 10:00am to 5:00pm, and it’s open for private events on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tickets must be bought in advance.
Antique Automobile Club of America - Hershey, PA
For those who see the classic car era as stretching back to before the war, and who are in the northeast will find a great exhibit in Hershey, PA. If you wanted to see how a Tucker 48 was built, since there were only 51 ever made, then you’ll find 3 of them in this museum. You won’t find more in a single location. The museum also features many pre-war cars, as well as bus and railway exhibits, and a license plate collectors display. It’s open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Tickets must be bought online.
National Corvette Museum - Bowling Green, KY
This museum in Kentucky was home to a bona fide automotive disaster in 2014 when a sinkhole opened up at the location and swallowed 8 cars, including the millionth Corvette ever made. Luckily, the millionth Corvette was restored to glory and returned to its place of honor. In true “keep calm and carry on” fashion, the sinkhole has now become a part of the exhibit. Until late April 2022, they also have a special exhibit called “Corvette Powered”, which features stories of Corvette engines and how they have powered some of the world’s most amazing cars. They also have an impressive collection of the 1963 Corvette. The museum’s hours from January 1 to March 1, 2022 are Monday to Friday 10:00am to 5:00pm and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on the weekends. From March 1 to October 31, it changes to 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Sunday.
National Corvette Museum
“Driving America” at The Henry Ford - Dearborn, MI
Despite the name and location, this exhibit isn’t all about Ford cars. The Driving America exhibit is housed at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, and showcases everything from the examples of the earliest cars built, to the most modern contraptions. They even have the Rosa Parks bus, a lasting symbol of the struggle for civil rights in America. This exhibit is the perfect choice for the family who can’t agree on which car museum to go to. It covers everything and the kitchen sink.
The National Automobile Museum - Reno, NV
If the “Driving America” exhibit is too far, then try this museum in Reno. It’s open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm and exhibits 200 incredible cars complete with interesting handmade facades and scenes to really make it all come alive. One big point of interest is the Dymaxion car, the only one in existence, on display at the National Automobile museum. You’ll also find the winner of the 1908 NYC to Paris auto race, and James Dean’s 1949 Mercury from “Rebel Without a Cause.” You definitely won't find many affordable classic cars in their collection!
The Dymaxion Car - Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
Affordable Classic Cars
As we move into 2022, many people think they have really missed the boat when it comes to classic cars for sale from eras they may know and understand, namely the 1960s to 1980s. Some may want to invest in these “true” classics instead of those models from the 90s and 2000s that are said to be the classics of the future. The question is, which ones are still a good buy and affordable? In today’s blog, we’re revealing some of the most affordable classic cars out there today, many of which come in at under $15,000.
Before we move forward, please keep in mind that this list is subject to change. At the time you are reading, these prices may have heavily fluctuated.
1982 Porsche 944
The Porsche was one of a few front-engined cars designed by Porsche, who of course are much better-known for their rear-engine cars. Between 1976 and 1982, Porsche came out with a number of models, the 924, 928 and then the 944, all of which had front-mounted engines. The 1982 Porsche 944 was definitely the sportiest of them all, and was powered by a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine outputting up to 187-hp. It also featured pop-up headlights, irresistible lines emanating from the drooping front-end, and also top-notch handling acknowledged as the best in its class by Car and Driver.
1979 Fiat 124 Spider
Modern versions of the Fiat convertible have made a comeback in European markets, but you can pick up a classic version of this legendary Italian motor for around $15,000. The 1979 version is a particularly good deal, and is powered by a 2.0L DOHC engine putting out 102-hp. Best of all is the stunning Pininfarina body, timelessly stylish front grille, round front headlights, and even the gorgeous Ferrari-esque red color if that’s what you like.
1981 Chevrolet Corvette
Classic Corvettes are nearly always featured among the most popular classic cars with sale price in the six or seven figure range. What may surprise you is the number of Corvettes you can still get for much less and that still exhibit all of the best qualities of this iconic Chevrolet brand. The 1981 Corvette Coupe, for example, is a bit extreme in design, but still houses a naturally aspirated V8 engine outputting 190-hp which can easily be tuned much higher for those wanting a bargain Corvette that’s easily converted to a mega horsepower factory.
1996 Chevrolet Camaro
This pick is more of a modern classic, but time is quickly marching on and the 1990s are quickly becoming a true classic era. This product year dances the line of what is a classic car and a modern classic. The 1996 Camaro is a 3-door hatchback coupe available usually for well under $10,000. Like the 1981 Corvette, it’s not necessarily the best-looking Camaro out there, but still features a naturally aspirated V8 with 295-hp (better than Corvette standard) and launching from 0 to 60 in just 5.8 seconds. What’s more, it’s surprisingly efficient at around 20-mpg. This is the only vehicle in this blog that may deserve a spot on a top muscle car list!
1976 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II
It’s easy to understand why you’d never expect the name Rolls-Royce to appear in a list of affordable classic cars. However, the good thing about a Rolls is that it is a brand with a long history and therefore a lot of classic models to choose from. Some of which are more common and thus more affordable.
The Silver Shadow II is a full-size luxury sedan with a powerful V8 engine delivering 247-hp and up to 398 lb-ft of torque. It’s a bit of a gas-guzzler at 10.7-mpg, but then again all Rolls-Royce cars somewhat are. The iconic front grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament are as powerful as ever in their symbolism of luxury and success.
1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SL
For those in more of a continental mood, this Mercedes-Benz roadster is yet another naturally aspirated V8 with relatively efficient fuel consumption and a very affordable price tag. The model year may be almost 40 years old, but this Benz exhibits stunning lines and timeless good looks. The front grille with chrome finishing is a particular head-turner. The engine isn’t so powerful at 155-hp and 0-60-mph time of 10.7 seconds, but this is a car bought more for the looks than the performance.
1972 International Harvester Pickup
If you were lucky enough to get in on the ground floor and get a classic International Harvester Pickup a few years back, you might have only paid $10,000 for it. It’s still affordable at $15,000 but has been moving quickly up the price ladder and 2022 might be the last chance to get your hands on one in the affordable bracket. Americans love a pickup, and this is among the most iconic classic pickups there is. For under $10,000 you could get a rusted one that you could restore, but for a ready-made mint-condition classic, be prepared to pay more.
How to Determine the Value of a Classic Car
As one of the largest classic car dealers in the world, we mainly use our experience as the way of determing the value of the vehicles in this list. However, we know that setting a fair price can be one of the most difficult parts of owning a classic car. To share our knowledge with our readers, we released a classic car value guide. Similar to the prices/vehicles in this list, please keep in mind that the data may have fluctuated since the time of writing, but we believe the general principles will still be in tact. Whether you are simply wanting to get a price for your vehicle, or are looking to sell a classic car, the blog post should help!
Classic Muscle Cars
Americans love their muscle cars and this isn’t news. People might look at modern muscle cars and think that’s it, but the fact is that these models go all the way back to America’s golden automotive age in the late 1950s and 1960s, back when the US reigned uncontested in the world of automobiles as other countries struggled to rebuild after the Second World War.
What about classic muscle cars? Which ones stand out as the great classic muscle cars of all time? In today’s blog, we have a list of cars that we think can begin to answer this question. Some of these vehicles are on many people's best classic cars of all time list!
1964 Pontiac GTO
For many, the Pontiac GTO was the car that started the entire trend of muscle cars. It housed a massive 6.4L V8 engine with triple carburettors that delivered up to 348-hp. It wasn’t a stand-alone car when it was first created, but rather an upgraded version of the Pontiac Tempest which ran on a 140-hp V6 engine. The GTO boasted vastly superior suspension, wider wheels and other enhancements that made it, arguably, the original muscle car.
1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
No list of muscle cars from any era would be complete without at least one entry from a Camaro. The Camaro was built as Chevy’s response to the Ford Mustang, and the 1970 Camaro Z/28 offered a smorgasbord of features, including upgraded suspension, racing stripes, disc brakes, optional blacked-out grille, and a light 5.0L V8 engine that still delivered 290-hp. Buyers had the option to upgrade that to the big block 6.5L version if they wanted.
1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88
Sticking with Chevrolet, we now move on to their other iconic marque, the Corvette. There are so many classic model years to choose from, but arguably the greatest is the 1968 C3 with the big-block L88 engine. The C3 was notable for the Mako shark-inspired design, but also for being the car that was only technically marketed to the public. The racing-spec L88 with its 7.0L V8 engine could reportedly reach well over 500-hp, and competed at Le Mans. GM only ever sold about 200 units, making it also a rare jewel in the classic muscle car crown.
1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird
This is a classic muscle car that was also built for circuit racing. Its features like the pointed nose at the front and the almost unbelievably high rear wing have been immortalized in Hollywood movies, but before the notoriety came its racing spirit. This is a muscle car that was built with the express purpose to slice through the air and win Nascar races. It was powered by a 7.2L V8, or a 7.0L Hemi making 375-hp and 425-hp respectively. Its relative rarity sees it routinely fetch 6 figures at classic muscle car auctions.
1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429
There are myriad choices when it comes to the classic Mustang, but the Boss 429 stands out in the modern era. It’s a great example of a car that is from the older muscle car period, but was made more popular, famous and desirable by a modern movie, namely John Wick. The Boss 429 featured sleeker bodywork with aluminum intake manifolds, as well as a 429 cubic-inch 375-hp V8 engine. Only 1,359 models were built, and only 429 of those fall into the 1970 model year, so it’s another rare one that would fetch a high price at auction.
1970 Dodge Challenger
The Challengers from this era were Dodge’s first big attempt to make the Challenger compete with the likes of the Ford Mustang. They offered coupe or convertible designs, powered by 383 cubic-inch engines as standard outputting 335-hp. There were more than 18,000 models built, so it’s not the rarest of them all, but also it wasn’t a special edition so not all of those stuck around since they were first made. The R/T was the most popular trim.
1969 Mercury Cyclone CJ
For the enthusiast wanting the power and style of the 1960s muscle car but without the six-figure price tag, the Mercury Cyclone CJ is a great option, often valued between $12,000 and $14,000. Back in the day, there was even an offer to put Cobra Jet engines in these cars to boost the already powerful standard 335-hp V8 option. If you found a model with that option, it might be worth more. Besides the irresistible sloping coupe roof at the rear, the front end featured a blacked-out grille and distinctive curved design.
Classic Car Value Guide
Many people have a mind to get into the exciting world of classic cars, and perhaps make a killer investment that pays off years down the line. Alternatively, some may want to keep a classic car as a kind of legacy to hand down to their children, to keep and enjoy in the good times, but also have as an option to sell if things go awry.
Whatever one’s exact reasons for purchasing and keeping a classic car, the question of the car’s real value is one that persists. Before we begin, one of the best ways to find the value for your car would be to visit our sold inventory page and search for vehicles that are similar. We’ve sold over 11,000 vehicles since we’ve opened our doors so you should be able to find something similar to what you have! It also may help to view our classic cars for sale page.
One thing to keep in mind before reading this article is that everything can change over time. The information in this blog is accurate as of the time we are writing it, but do not take our word as law. Do your own research and become educated before officially determining the value of your vehicle!
Value Can be Subjective
First of all, let’s deal with the fact that when it comes to classic cars, their more important value can be totally subjective. Many classic cars are priceless in people’s hearts and minds because the car has some kind of sentimental value to them. Others may feel the car is valuable because it reflects a time period or cultural movement that meant a great deal to them and other people they know. Some vehicles may be on an individual's personal top classic cars of all time list, increasing the value for them and others.
In today’s blog, we want to keep our focus on the more subjective factors that dictate classic car value, and we’ll address these in turn in the next section below. Working with a consignment based dealer to assist you as you try to sell a classic car can help you determine the value as well.
Factors that Positively Impact Classic Car Value
The following are arguably the most important factors that dictate a classic car’s value, but they are by no means all of the possible factors.
Supply and Demand
Put simply, vehicles that are in demand are worth more, and if the supply is limited, then it drives up the price even more. That’s not surprising, since it’s a basic law of economics, but what’s interesting is the unpredictable nature of what makes classic cars suddenly become in demand.
It could be the appearance of a car in a movie that becomes a cult classic, or that it’s given a high profile because one is owned by a very popular celebrity or public figure, for instance. Historical interest also comes into play if it’s a car favored by someone like a former world leader or other notable figure. An example of this is the Bronco, a highly sought after vehicle that has had consistently high demand for some time now. There are a myriad of reasons that can guide demand, and not all are guided by things you think of as being obvious such as prestige of the brand.
Make and Model
Brand prestige and model name does carry a lot of weight. A name like Ford Mustang or Chevy Corvette will carry more weight than a Toyota Camry or Subaru WRX. There’s history and love behind those names; nostalgia and international power that make them as recognizable on the streets of Shanghai as they are in Detroit or New York.
Condition and Originality
Condition is perhaps the greatest key to value, which you might expect. A burnt-out wreck doesn’t compare to a mint-condition car, but that condition also needs to be paired with originality. In other words, it has to have as much of its original styling and as many of its original features as possible.
Classic cars that have been heavily modified, and even those that retain many external features but change all the internal and mechanical features, will invariably be worth less than a fully original car. It’s important to note that this isn’t always the case. A certain buyer may be looking for a uniquely custom car, increasing the value of your vehicle in their eyes. However, more often than not, an original vehicle is in higher demand.
Here, the standard rule applies, which is that the lower the mileage, the better the value you can expect the car to have. A classic car with no mileage is no good because not being run on the road at all is almost as much of a problem as having too much mileage when you factor in all those years. Classic cars that were only used once in a blue moon to keep them running smoothly but to minimize wear and tear are the best balance of used and low-mileage. It can be difficult to determine the value based on mileage, because with older vehicles the mileage shown may not always be accurate. This is the reason that working with a highly trusted dealer like GR Auto Gallery is extremely important.
Another big factor is whether or not the car was made as a limited edition. Many brands have limited production runs of perhaps 1,000-2,000 models on special versions of their popular models. A classic Mustang from the 1960s can be very valuable, but a Mustang from the 1980s that was part of a run of only 1,000 units is even more valuable. This also connects very clearly with the point above on supply and demand.
Online Resources for Determining a Car’s Value
For those looking for further help online in getting a good and accurate valuation on their special-interest vehicle the following online resources should help:
Hagerty Valuation Tools
If you are serious about classic cars, then a membership to a site like Hagerty gives you access to their comprehensive valuation tools, which shares current and historic values of specific car models from many different years. You can also identify specific cars using the VIN decoder.
Current and Historical Pricing
If you want to do the research legwork yourself, one of the best things to do is look at similar models, what they are going for and what they have sold for in the past. Looking at various auction sites may give you an answer to the popular question: should I sell at a classic car auction? Platforms like classic.com and conceptcarz.com will offer historical auction sale prices, and other sites like Hemmings, AutoTrader and ClassicCars.com list current classifieds for private individuals selling on their classic cars. Once again, spending some time viewing our sold inventory will be helpful as well.
If you’re looking to sell your vehicle, contact us today and ask about our consignment program! We’ve sold over 11,000 cars in the past decade and can help you determine the proper value for your classic car. Thank you for reading! Visit our automotive blog page for more content like this.
Best Classic Cars of All Time
Which are the classic cars that never fail to turn heads? Which are the classic cars that have the collectors picking up the phone and draining their savings in order to purchase ahead of others? These are questions that we are going to try and answer in today’s blog. Below are some of the greatest, most iconic, and collectible classic cars ever made. Before we get into this list, just remember that this is OUR OPINION and by no means meant to be a factual list! Our favorite part about the classic car community is the diverse tastes and preferences.
The younger generation swoons over the powerful athletic lines of the Jaguar F-Type in the modern age, but many of them are unaware of the original iconic sports car, the Jaguar E-Type. Even Italian rival Enzo Ferrari couldn’t help but admire it, calling it “the most beautiful car ever made.” The elongated front end, irresistible curves, and impressive top speeds of up to 150-mph are all just a part of what made this British sports car so memorable.
The Porsche 911 is among the more “affordable” of the high-end classic car set mostly because they lack the key factor that drives up the price: rarity. Collectors love getting their hands on a Porsche 911 because these German classics are everywhere. The 911 is fast, nimble, and simply beautiful to behold. Where some classic cars are all looks and no substance, the Porsche 911 is a car that delivers everything. At GR Auto Gallery, the Porsche 911 has consistently been one of the best-selling cars through our classic car consignment program!
Mercedes SL300 Gullwing
Which classic Mercedes has the look of a modern Mercedes-AMG sports car but also comes with an iconic red interior and “Gullwing” vertically opening doors --- eat your heart out, Tesla Model X. The SL300 was first made back in the mid-1950s and was the first production model car to have a direct fuel injection system. It also boasted a top speed of 160-mph, and just to prove its collectibility and appeal, many of the original SL300s are still with their original owners or their descendants. That just shows people can’t bear to part with the SL300.
Chevrolet Corvette C2
How have we come this far without mentioning the Chevy Corvette? We specifically want to talk about the second generation, known as the Corvette C2. The C2 was made between 1963 and 1967 and was the first one to be given the Stingray moniker, although in that generation it was split into 2 separate words: “Sting Ray.” It had engines up to 7.0L in its “Big Block” variety, and 5.4L V8 engines in the “Small Block” variety. Its long hood and raised windsplit became key iconic features of the design. It was available both as a convertible and a coupe. The 1963 Corvette in particular remains one of the most popular models. For years, our inventory has always been active with buyers looking for Corvettes for sale!
Ferrari 250 GTO
Enzo Ferrari may well have believed that the Jaguar E-Type was the most beautiful car ever made, but is it possible to even look at a 250 GT0 from Ferrari and not swoon at its elegant grace? The 250 GTO was made between 1962 and 1964, and what’s more there were only 39 models ever made. That certainly gives it the rarity factor. In August 2018, a 1962 model was sold in Sotheby’s auction house in Monterey, California for a staggering $48.4 million.
This fantastic model was made between 1990 and 2005 before being updated into the newer model that younger people might know better. Acura is Honda’s luxury wing and the NSX was a strong early attempt to demonstrate that you could have supercar specifications with everyday driveability. From that concept, we get the NSX with its terrific handling, keen brakes, and powerful engine. The first-generation spawned 9,000 models in the US between 1990 and 2005, so they are not in short supply --- though still rarer than 911 models overall!
Dodge Viper GTS
Like the NSX, the V10 Dodge Viper GTS was born in the 1990s and offers an incredible 450-hp adventure in every ride. In honesty, it’s not the most safety-friendly vehicle by modern standards, but then again many classics fit into the same category. The Viper GTS doesn’t have ABS, nor does it offer traction control. It’s raw driving power through and through, but it’s also the iconic look, especially the electric blue with the double white stripe, that catches the eye most of all.
Shelby 427 Cobra
This particular Shelby model goes back to 1966 boasting an 800-hp engine and was one of only 2 models ever made. It has been a record-breaking car in a number of respects and is the spiritual predecessor to the above-mentioned Dodge Viper GTS. The 427 had an unforgettable engine roar that would put the fear of God into most people. On the road, it was a performance monster, too, with its powerful acceleration and thundering sound as it rocketed along.
The List Goes On
These are but a selection of the countless fantastic classic vehicles. Which ones are truly best will depend on your own taste, of course. Browsing through the inventory of a classic car dealer is a great way to find your own personal favorites!
Top 10 Tips for Classic Car Care
If you keep a classic car in your garage, then caring for it isn’t quite the same as looking after a regular new car. There are some important and particular things you need to do to ensure that it stays in good condition and thus at a decent value. Whether your car is a piece of personal nostalgia or a serious investment to possibly sell at a classic car auction, the following tips on classic car maintenance should be of use to you.
1. Keep Up with All Regular Maintenance
The one thing classic and modern cars do have in common is the need for regular maintenance on things like the oil and other fluids, filters, belts, hoses, and similar components. In fact, with older cars lacking in some of the modern warning systems, it means that your in-person checks are more important than ever.
2. Drive it At Least Once a Month
This seems counterintuitive to some who want to keep their classic “baby” protected in the garage and free from any harm. The fact is, however, that like any other car, it benefits from a proper drive at least once a month. The frequency of once a month is about the minimum you should maintain, but if you can do more, then you should, such as once a week.
3. Replace Brake Fluid Once a Year
Brakes can be a source of worry for some when driving classic vehicles. There’s always a fear that older, less advanced brakes might break more easily or simply become defunct. It’s a genuine worry but can be remedied by a simple test pumping of the brakes when starting a journey to ensure they’re working properly, and a fresh batch of brake fluid once each year.
4. Storage is Key
Classic cars are susceptible to the corrosion and additional wear and tear that nature’s elements can bring. Their age makes them particularly vulnerable. Therefore, storage is a critical factor. Any and all weather extremes must be guarded against, such as keeping the car out of direct sunlight, with a dust cover if possible. Indoor spaces should be dry, ventilated, and properly insulated, and the temperature carefully regulated.
5. Regular Cleaning and Waxing
A good cleaning, drying, and waxing of your classic cars will do wonders. It keeps dust and dirt from getting embedded into the paint and maintains a protective skin to keep the paint in good condition. Be sure to only use soft microfiber towels to dry, and a clean and fresh microfiber mitt for washing. Avoid using old sponges and rags.
6. Don’t Modify
If you’re hoping to preserve the car as an investment and want to sell a car on consignment, then it’s important that you don’t make modifications to it. A big part of your car’s value is its original feature. The more original it is, the more it’s worth to other collectors. If a modification becomes necessary for safety reasons or because a certain component is simply not available, then it’s unavoidable, but you should avoid modification wherever possible.
7. Rinse Your Winter Tires
If you live somewhere with harsh winters where snow is common and roads are salted, then you should be sure to rinse off your tires after each drive. Road salt is a big enemy of your car’s paint and metal. It can cause corrosion, and that’s incredibly dangerous if the rust happens to be on your car’s suspension or wheel axles.
8. Treat Rust as Soon as You See it
If you spot a little rust, don’t despair but deal with it as soon as possible. Have the area sanded down and repainted. It can be costly but it will cost much more if you leave it too long and have to get a larger paint correction job done. Small rust spots you could fix yourself with a DIY kit to save some money, but leave it to the professionals if you are at all unsure of what to do.
9. Keep Everything Lubricated
When you drive modern cars with slick and long-lasting synthetic oils, it can be hard to appreciate just how much extra attention the engine and related parts of a classic vehicle need. For example, you need to take extra care to lube the u-joints and driveshaft because if they’re not greased properly, the result can be premature damage.
10. Be Sure to Repack the Wheel Bearings
Finally, besides lubrication, you should also keep a close eye on the state of your wheel bearings. You need to ensure that they are property cleaned and checked, and if they need it you need to repack them with the OEM-recommended original grease where possible, or a recommended equivalent. Ask a mechanic, expert, or even a vintage car dealership on that particular model for tips on which to use.
How old does a car have to be to be considered a classic?
We throw around this term classic car as if we all know and understand its exact definition, but do we? Is the term classic interchangeable with vintage and antique? There’s actually quite a lot more to it than you realize. In today’s blog, we’re taking a closer look at what really is the definition of a classic car.
What is a classic car?
According to Wikipedia, a classic car refers to “an older car, typically 20 years or older, though definitions vary.” That last part is the biggest problem of all! There are differences in opinion on what age or period the car is from to make it a “classic.” The common thread that most of the theories share is that classic cars are those of historical interest that people feel are collectible and worthy of either preservation or restoration.
In other words, in the minds of many, a classic car is simply one that has some kind of collectible, historical, or powerful nostalgic value to many, to the point that they can’t bear to scrap it and would rather preserve it instead. The key word here is “collectible.” For a car to be a real classic, there seems to be a need for some market force behind it; a demand from people to add the car to their collections.
Age is clearly an important factor, too, as we will explore in more detail below. However, age is not necessarily the most important defining feature of a classic car. There are hundreds of old cars. If age were the key factor, then everything from a 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 to a 2000 Toyota Prius would be considered classic. There hardly seems to be a clamor of buyers lining up to buy a “classic” Prius. Therefore, we can surmise that collectibility and historical value have more real bearing on what is or isn’t a classic car. This can be seen especially by browsing the types of vehicles that we have for sale at GR Auto Gallery, not every old car is a classic by default.
In a sense, then, classic cars are really just a subset of collector cars, and the term refers generally to street-legal car models --- typically 20 or more years old --- that have a high collector’s value. But what about vintage and antique, where do they come in?
Classic Vs. Vintage Vs. Antique
The other big question is how to differentiate more accurately between the other associated terms when it comes to looking at older cars. The three big terms commonly used are “classic,” “vintage,” and “antique.” Here’s how these terms are generally understood:
- Classic refers to collectible cars that are 20-44 years old
- Vintage refers to collectible cars that are 45+ years old
- Antique refers to collectible cars built between 1919 and 1930
Once again, it’s one definition held by certain people, but others have their own ideas. One group that makes its own definitions very clear on these types of cars is insurance companies. Arguably the best-known nationwide dedicated provider of classic car insurance is Hagerty, and they divide their classic car periods into 2 distinct zones: 1980 and newer, and pre-1980 classic and collector cars.
Even cars from the last 20 years qualify for Hagerty collector insurance if they are, for instance, a limited or special edition, a supercar, or some kind of special interest or imported vehicle. That shows that Hagerty is even speculating as to what will become a “classic” by offering insurance to those who have not yet crossed that 20-year threshold but still hold clearly collectible and interesting car models.
What Adds to Classic Car Value?
We have already mentioned the key point that what really makes a classic car is collectibility, but what are the factors that add so-called collector value? We've recently created a classic car value guide to help you determine the worth of your vehicle! Being in the business of classic car sales, and helping clients buy/sell over 10,000 cars, we have the decades of experience necessary to help you determine the value of your vehicle. At GR Auto Gallery, we initiated our vehicle consignment program as a way to help owners get the true value out of selling their special interest car online.
It’s basic economics that scarcity raises prices, and the same is true for classic cars. The rarer or harder to find a car is, the more naturally valuable it becomes. It’s not an absolute or universal rule, of course. Ford stopped producing the deadly Pinto models, but their rarity now doesn’t make them more valuable. So, on top of rarity, there needs to be more.
2. Iconic Status
Cars that are perceived as the greatest of their generation, or cars that were heavily featured in popular culture --- think the Ford Mustang in “Bullitt” or the 1963 Aston Martin DB5 in James Bond --- will certainly have massive collector value. They can sometimes amass a cult-like status. What’s interesting is that this can happen to all kinds of cars, from exotic supercars to the VW Beetle (thanks Herbie).
1963 Aston Martin DB5 in James Bond, “Goldfinger.”
Finally, collector value is garnered massively from whether or not a car still has its original features: exterior paint, upholstery, dash features, steering wheel, side mirrors, etc. The fewer modern components that have been substituted, the better. Serious collectors don’t want retromods!
Should You Sell Your Vehicle at a Classic Car Auction?
Do you have a classic car sitting proudly in the garage? It might have been your pride and joy for a long time but now the time has come to sell it and move on. You might need the money for something important, or perhaps the car has reached a peak in value and there’s no more point hanging onto it as a further investment. Whatever your reasons, you’ll have multiple channels through which you can sell the vehicle, the fastest of which would be a classic car auction.
However, for reasons we will go into in more detail below, we are here to make the case against classic car auctions and advise you why you in fact should not sell your car this way.
Why People Think Classic Car Auctions are Good
First, let’s get some background on why people think that selling their car at auction is a good idea in the first place.
Convenience and Speed
It’s hard to deny the speed and ease of an auction sale. Once the car is listed, reserve prices are agreed, you just need a date for it to go under the hammer and chances are it will sell and then you’re done. The auction house helps deal with all the paperwork and the entire transaction is over without having to worry about advertising, viewing, or test driving.
By and large, auctions will bring in better prices than you’d get by selling a car to the dealership, which attracts many to selling at auctions. Of course, for classic cars, dealerships aren’t often an option since classic car dealerships are rarer.
Reputable auction houses lend a sense of grandeur and occasion to proceedings and can sometimes reassure sellers that the buyers that come forward are legitimate. When selling privately it is sometimes hard to filter out the time-wasters. Auctions often attract some really serious and solid buyers who come with the express purpose of buying items they’ve already viewed in a catalog, or what they see and love while visiting the auction.
Reality: Why You Shouldn’t Use Car Auctions for Your Classic Car
In fairness, the benefits that we described above for auction are generally valid. It’s not to say that there are no redeemable features of classic car auctions, but rather that, on balance, they are not ideal for the private seller. Here’s why:
Even if you get an apparently better price at auction than you might even get from a classic car dealer, you still then have to contend with fees like the commission, which can be anywhere from 15 to 50 percent of the sale price depending on your price point. If your classic car is especially valuable and will fetch a strong price, your commission would be lower, but you still have to hand over a quite big chunk of change.
It’s Just a Commodity to an Auction House
Whatever their marketing pitch says, at the end of the day your beloved classic car is just another commodity to an auction house. If you want to get the best possible deal, you should sell the car directly to people who both understand and appreciate the asset that you have in that car. It’s not just about getting a better price --- which you will --- but also about getting a better feeling that your car is going to the right place. Even more effective than taking the time to sell directly on your own, would be to work with a classic car consignment dealer. This style combines the convenience and reliability of an auction house, but reduces the commission and ‘commodity mentality’.
At an auction, you are totally blind as to why people might be interested in buying the car. Heaven forbid, they might just want it to strip it down for parts to use in a restoration project they are doing.
You Can Sell “Harder” Outside of an Auction House
When selling privately to a fellow enthusiast, or when talking to a special interest vehicle dealer, you can take your time to pitch your car in the right way. You can introduce the various aspects of care that you have employed to ensure that the paint and other features are properly taken care of. In addition, you can demonstrate the condition of the engine, suspension and drivetrain, as well as point out the preserved original features...the list goes on.
In other words, you can really work the sale to try and get the best deal. That ability to properly express what’s great about the car is better for getting the optimum deal. Other ways will always leave you short, especially a classic car auction. As previously mentioned, at GR Auto Gallery, we believe that selling your vehicle online through consignment is the most effective way to ensure fairness in the process. If you want to learn more about how we can make you the most money for your special-interest car, contact us today!
How To Sell A Car Online
What to watch out for when selling a car
When it comes time to sell a classic car online, there are several things that you must look out for. One of the most common warning flags to be aware of is when a buyer is offering to purchase the car without looking at it or asking questions. Typically, this type of buyer will offer significantly more money than the listing price, even if there are no other bidders. This level of eagerness is a red flag to be aware of.
Some other signs to be on the lookout for are buyers promising to make payments instead of paying with a lump sum, asking for unnecessary personal information, and offering to pay with a check or other unprotected mediums. Being cognisant of these signs can be a daunting process, which is why working with a consignment car dealer such as GR Auto Gallery is an effective way to reduce the risks.
How to sell a car without getting scammed
According to the FBI, from May 2014 to December 2017, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received nearly 27,000 complaints, totaling over $54 million in losses. It is important to note that this only includes individuals who submitted their losses to the IC3, which naturally does not include all of those who were affected. It is clear to see that there is a risk when it comes to selling a vehicle online.
The best way to safely sell a vehicle on the internet is to hire a third party to do the selling for you. At GR Auto Gallery, we offer vehicle consignment as a way to reduce the headaches and risks associated with online car selling. In this process, we do all of the marketing, back and forth with buyers, and shipping if needed. Consignment gives our clients peace of mind and awareness that they are being protected from fraud. Visit our blog page to learn more about selling a car on consignment.
Best way to sell a car online
As previously stated, the best and most safe way to sell a car online is to hire a third party to do all of the work for you. If you need to sell your car quickly, companies like Carvana are good solutions for selling a car in a timely manner. For sellers who are willing to be patient to ensure they get the most money for selling their car, consignment dealers are an incredibly effective solution.
If you still want to sell online on your own, here is a list of best practices:
- Be sure to list your vehicle on as many selling websites as possible, such as Cars.com, Autotrader, Facebook Marketplace, etc.
- Avoid red flags like the ones listed in this article.
- The more photos and videos of your vehicle, the better.
- Any relevant information about the car will aid you in selling, such as the history of work done, receipts from garages, and other information.
What is Consignment?
Consignment is a business agreement in which the business agrees to pay the seller once the item(s) sells, typically taking a small fee as a result. Most commonly, the business will take a percentage of the sale once the item sells.
This isn’t always the case, however. For example, at GR Auto Gallery, we do not take a percentage of the total sale price. Instead, we have the seller determine their ideal sale price, then we sell for above that asking price, allowing us to make the difference.
Types of Consignment
There are many types of items that are commonly sold on consignment. Some of the most common products are clothes, sports gear, antiques, classic vehicles, and furniture. Businesses that sell clothes through consignment, will allow the seller to list as many items as they want, and then they would take a percentage of the total sale price. There are businesses that provide vendor space, meaning that the seller sets up their own booth to showcase their items. Other businesses will take the items from the seller and do their own marketing and other means to generate revenue.
As stated previously, when sales are made through a consignment business, that business typically will take a percentage of the total sale. On top of this percentage, some businesses will charge fees for the set-up and use of their platform.
The charges vary from industry to industry. For example, a clothing consignment store may have fewer charges per item, as they are focused on selling a higher quantity of inventory. An antique furniture seller may have higher charges per item due to the fact that their volume of sales is lower in quantity.
When it comes to selling a car on consignment, the process is unique from dealer to dealer. For the sake of this article, we will explain the process that we have. For vehicle owners that are located near one of our three locations in Grand Rapids, Detroit, or Traverse City, the first step is the transportation of the car to the nearest location.
Then one of our consignment managers goes around the vehicle with the owner to ensure we have the correct information about the car. This includes a basic safety check, a list of work done to the vehicle, and license plate removal. Once this is complete, our recommended sale price is determined based on the information that was gathered.
Vehicle consignment agreement
The agreement that the owner of a car would sign has several important aspects. The first being the right for the dealer to sell the vehicle in place of the owner. Without this element, no dealer would be able to authorize the sale on their own. Having this within the agreement drastically speeds up the entire process. The agreement also allows the dealer to change the price of the vehicle to entice a sale, as long as it does not result in the seller not getting their ideal net.
It also states that the seller can not come to the business and remove their vehicle whenever they choose. It must stay at the location for the duration of the contract, in our case being 120 days. The agreement additionally allows the business to make minor repairs to the vehicle, such as minor scratch repair, without the consent of the owner. This is to speed up the process involved with storing the car. The agreement is reviewed in full with the owner of the vehicle during the consigning process.
Classic car consignment fees and Exotic car consignment
The owner then pays the consignment fee, in our case being $295, and a detailing fee (if necessary) of $189. These fees are used to cover the costs associated with giving the vehicle a full detailing, the photography required for marketing and costs that are generated from listing the car on all of our partnered websites. At GR Auto Gallery, this is the only fee we charge, instead, we make our profit from the difference between the seller's ideal sale price and the actual net revenue that is generated. An example of this is: if a seller wants to make $50,000 from their car, and we sell it for $55,000, we get to keep the difference.
Sell A Car on Consignment
At GR Auto Gallery, we know firsthand how stressful and frustrating selling a vehicle online can be. That is why we have created the consignment program as a way to remove all of the worries. Selling a vehicle on consignment with us has never been easier!
If you are located near any of our physical locations, the first step would be to stop by with the vehicle so we can begin our questionnaire process. More information about this process can be read above in our previous sections. If you are from out of town and unable to travel to one of our locations, then we would help you coordinate with a shipper to get your vehicle in our store. Once it arrives, the process begins as normal!
How much does it cost to consign a car?
At GR Auto Gallery, we charge a fee of $295 to sell a vehicle through our consignment program. This fee covers the costs of photography, digital marketing, and internal processing that are required for each vehicle!
Used car consignment
The process for consigning a used vehicle is actually the same as any other car! As previously stated, either transport or ship the vehicle to one of our locations and we will begin the process from there!
Steps to selling a car
As with anything, we recommend the first step you take when looking to sell a car through our consignment program, is to give us a call or read online about what the process involves! We want to make sure you are comfortable during your entire time of working with us. From there, the next step would be bringing your car to us for inspection, detailing if necessary, and photography for our digital marketing efforts! Once all of these steps, including some paperwork, are complete, the car is listed online and the selling process begins!
Buying A Consignment Car
Buying a consigned vehicle is actually an incredibly easy process! At GR Auto Gallery, since we are the bridge between the buyer and seller, most of the headaches of buying a car online are completely eliminated. If you see a vehicle you like, the first step is to call our office and get in touch with one of our dedicated sales team members. They will provide you any additional information you may be looking for, as well as help with anything else you may need. From there, if you are interested in the vehicle, we help you transfer the funds to our business and then get you behind the wheel! Our job is to handle the necessary paperwork so that you don’t have to.