Collector Vehicle Appraisals is always being asked questions about concerns relating to a classic auto appraisal and classic car appraisers.  I have listed a few of the more common questions but feel free to e-mail or call me with any additional questions you may have. 

Why do I need an appraisal?  
The most common need arises from insurance valuation.  Insurance companies have become more cautious in recent years and actually require you to have an appraisal done.  It is always a good idea to have a vehicle appraised for your own protection, should something happen to it.

What type of insurance do I need? 
Insurance companies offer basically three types of coverage,
Agreed Value, Actual Cash Value and Stated Value.  You want"Agreed Value"  but this is not always available, especially on Replacement Cost appraising which is sometimes used on new street rods and the likes. Agreed value policies set a value which the insurance company will pay in case of a total loss.  Actual Cash Value and Stated Value will pay only a depreciated price should a total loss occur.  Stated Value can be deceiving in that the stated value is the starting price of the vehicle before any depreciation is taken. This is not a big deal to some but if it does concern you, be careful.

What is Replacement Cost appraising? 
This is used in some rare cases where one has a fresh, newly built vehicle, has all his receipts and wants insurance coverage for what he has invested.  This can been done but remember two things.  First of all, the insurance company will generally not agree to an Agreed Value Policy and second, it would be correct to say that this is not what the vehicle is actually worth several weeks down the road.  Vehicles such as street rods, depreciate heavily and it would be only fair to say that the insurance company should be able to adjust your value accordingly.  This is no different than purchasing a new car off the lot.

Do you need to personally see my vehicle to give me an appraisal? 
The answer to this is YES.  Even good pictures can be deceptive and certainly one persons opinion of the condition of their vehicle may be over rated.  Rust is my main concern.  I have viewed vehicles which were stated to be "frame off" restorations only to find basketball size holes in the floor and trunk. I have also viewed vehicles which were claimed to be "rust free" only to find several gallons of fiberglass filler patching the holes.

Is a “numbers matching” car worth more money? 
This would obviously depend on the vehicle we are talking about.  It will affect value on certain vehicles, particularly higher dollar vehicles and vehicles where a large premium is paid for a particular engine, such as hemi cars and many of the big block Chevrolet cars.  Many of the muscle cars, such as 442, GTO, Buick Gran Sport and Corvette are expected to have original drive train and pricing will suffer with replacement engines.  It is getting harder to find numbers matching cars simply because the original parts have worn out.  It is my opinion that this will become less and less important as time go on however actual sales figures will determine pricing.  Counterfeiting is also becoming more common as time goes on.  Numbers may match but is it real?

What is a clone? 
A clone is a car made to look like a certain model that is was not originally.  A prime example of this is are Super Sports in the Chevrolet line, or a Shelby Mustang.  Only so many original cars still exist and it is not real difficult to duplicate them using another model of the same body style.  You are seeing more of these all the time.  These are sometimes now being called “Tribute” cars.  Value is somewhat less than an authentic but it doesn’t create any problems as long as someone is not trying to pass it off for an original for profit.  Yes, this does happen.

How often should I have my car appraised? 
Most insurance companies would like to see one every three years.  This is probably a good figure for all purposes.

How do you establish a value on a vehicle? 
The appraisal process takes several steps.  The first is to establish a condition code to the vehicle.  This is normally a number from 1 to 6.  With that established, comparables must be found, similar to Real Estate.  Current printed price guides are used, such as Old Cars Price Guide and NADA.  Auction results are also checked to see what similar cars have actually sold for on the auction block.  As certified appraisers, we have these figures.  Sometimes, if sales figures are not available, figures from cars for sale, minus 10-15%, can be carefully used in valuation.  Once figures are found on comparable condition code cars, an average is established. A valuation should not be considered what you have invested in the vehicle.

What is a Resto-Mod? 
These cars are becoming more and more popular and are a favorite of mine.  Resto-Mod refers to a vehicle that has been restored, usually appearing very close to original in appearance, but has also been modified using upgraded parts and technology.  Different chassis and suspension, brakes, late model engines and hi-tech electronics would be common to these cars.  They are appraised somewhat similar to street rods in that all these modifications are factored into the value of the vehicle.  There is no rule of thumb as to when a restored vehicle becomes a Resto Mod but usually significant dollars have been spent for these upgrades.  They are usually thought of as 60's era vehicles with late model or highly modified running gear and present era electronics.

What is the difference in kit cars? 
Surprisingly enough, there are plenty comparables to use on kit cars and that is how they are appraised. There are at least several types of kits however.  I won't even get into what "some" people may call factory built kit cars at this time.  The two basic types of kit cars either consist of a fiberglass body attached to a cut up donor vehicle (usually a Mustang or Fiero) or a kit which consists of a custom built tube chassis with a fiberglass body.  You have to compare apples to apples here.  The kits using a cut up donor car are just that, a cut up donor car with a fiberglass body graffed on to it.  They may appear nice but value is limited.  The kits that actually use a custom built tube frame can be very nice and will bring higher dollars.  If you can't afford the real thing, this is what you should shoot for.  They will cost more money to build or purchase however.

What makes a car a street rod? 
Streetrods are, by definition, a modified vehicle which is 1949 or older with modifications usually of the performance nature.  Vehicles built in the 1950's are a somewhat grey area for insurance companies.  While not technically a street rod because of year, they share many of the same parts.  They generally fall into a custom or modified classification.  A 1949 Chevrolet can be a street rod while a 1950 is not.  It gets confusing.

How do I tell a real 1970 LS6 Chevelle or LT1 Corvette?
You always find the "know it all" that says he can tell but the truth is, these cars can be extremely difficult to verify authenticity. There are things to look for but these can be added. We already know there are more LS6 Chevelles on the road than were ever produced.  There is no way to verify the original engine placed in the vehicle from the VIN on these vehicles.  Build sheets (and tank stickers) can be counterfeited* (and are) so don't trust them. Very sad to see!!  Unless you actually saw it coming off an unrestored car, there is no guarantee it is not counterfeit. Manufacturers Statement of Origin (MSO's) copies are the only real way and GM has recently started releasing some of these to organizations such as NCRS, at least for some of the Corvettes.  NCRS can provide these for a fee although you may need to be a member or know one. Shipping Data Reports can now be obtained on 1965-1972 Chevrolets by visiting this site, www.chevymuscledocs.com.   Nothing wrong with buying a clone or tribute as long as it is advertised as that. This can be a criminal offense and can provide jail time to someone trying to pass one off as real.  Bottom line here is, be careful before you pay the "big" dollars.  ( Just as a note, I always check to make sure the car has a 12 bolt rear end before I go too far.  Non-SS cars used a 10 bolt and while it can be changed on a good counterfeit, it many times is no

*Recently was asked to view a 1970 LS6 454 car which an individual had just purchased on line from Texas.  It included a build sheet stating it was a 454 car.  Owner took out the back seat and found another build sheet showing it was a 396 car.  First build sheet was counterfeit but they could have at least checked to make sure there wasn't an original in the car.  At least it was a big block car and not a 307 base Malibu.

Are collector cars a good investment? 
Please take time to read an article from CNBC on this exact topic. 
Also, Hagerty does an excellent job on evaluating collector car price trends.  Much of this can be found on line along with a printed copy which is very informative, Hagerty's Cars That Matter.

Do I need to add zinc or ZDDP to my oil on my collector car? 
I don't claim to be an expert on this subject but I do know what I have been told from reliable sources.  The answer to the question is yes if you have a flat tappet or non-roller camshaft.  Recently the oil companies were required to remove the zinc from the majority of our motor oils.  Zinc is the chemical needed to help adhear the oil to the metal surfaces.  Without lubricant on the surface of a non- roller camshaft, the lobes can actually be torn off and you now have a flat cam.  This is especially important on older vehicles that do not run roller lifters, especially if they sit for any period of time.  I buy mine from Eastwood (ZDDP Oil Additive) but many companies are coming out with the additive.  Performance oils are also coming out with added zinc but they are expensive.