How to Find Classic Car Blue Book Valuesby Jason UnrauUpdated August 08, 2023
Determining the value of a classic car can prove challenging. Many classic cars asking price is based on the previous sale price of similar cars at auction or dealerships, much unlike the new car or used car market where car price is often looked at as a depreciated value from the original sale price. You can consult several car valuation tool sites to find classic car values based off of car’s condition and the current American car buyer market.
National Automobile Dealers Association Guides
NADAguides has a classic car valuation search that can be quite useful in determining the automotive value of your antique car. By selecting the make, year, and model of vehicle, and the optional equipment, a list of values is populated along with the original MSRP, if available. Based on the vehicle condition, there are three ranges of values: low, average and high retail. These levels an be used as a car price guide tool to determine market value or starting value for a car auction.
Low retail is the value to be used if a vehicle is a daily driver or in rough condition while still being operable. There will be blemishes and defects or poor quality workmanship evident on the vehicle. Overall, the vehicle will be whole and intact but not show-worthy.
Average retail is the condition of a vehicle that is an older-restoration or an original-condition car in most cases. There are some blemishes, but they are not visible from a distance. The trim and body are in overall good order and everything is operable on the vehicle. It's referred to as a 20-footer, meaning the car looks really nice from 20 feet away. Closer inspection would reveal the defects.
High Retail is reserved for the show-quality vehicles, those that have been fully restored or are original and are extremely well maintained, car enthusiasts will spend most on these and they carry a classic car worth higher than good condition or poor condition vehicles. There are no repairs or restorations needed inside or out.
Consider the 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 2-door Drophead Coupe. The low retail price is $18,000, at the time of publication, average retail is $30,100 and the high retail is $49,700.
Hagerty offers a pricing guide that breaks down classic car values into four categories based on condition, numbered one through four. Enter the type of vehicle, make, model and year. Select the appropriate configuration listed, then select "Vehicle Value Details".
Kelley Blue Book (KBB)
Blue book values from Kbb.com can offer value guides for retail value or trade in value for old cars, suvs, motorcycles, and more. From collectible Ford trucks to antique Chevrolets, the car blue book can offer guidance on value.
No. 1 condition vehicles are immaculate; they are show cars that receive special treatment like velvet ropes at car shows, and enclosed transportation. A well-versed inspector will not be able to find flaws with the vehicle.
No. 2 condition vehicles are excellent-condition models that can win at local car shows. Any defects and blemishes will not be caught by the general public but are likely to be noticed by an experienced inspector.
No. 3 condition cars are not daily drivers. They are in above-average condition, are well maintained and fully operational. They may possess a new interior or a fresh paint job but may have a non-original parts or flaws that prevent them from being condition two.
No. 4 condition vehicles are daily drivers. They are still considered to be in fair condition but may have cracks in the upholstery or plastic, non-original parts and other imperfections readily visible.
For example, a 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS 454 2-door Coupe, valued in conditions one through four respectively, would be valued at $55,700, $38,500, $23,900, and $16,700, at the time of publication.
The value of a classic car is very subjective, much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What a person believes a car is worth can vary substantially from individual to individual and may not be in line with the appraisal tools.
Jason Unrau is an automotive writer with 15 years experience in the automotive dealer environment, including 10 years as and automotive service consultant. He is a Certified Technology Expert, a regular contributor to Gearheads.org, and operates AutomotiveCopywriter.com.