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How to figure what the proper price is for a classic?

Not every old car is a classic. Some are just old cars.


Here’s a benchmark; of sorts.
Too many doors and wrong color for my taste.

I agree, but sometimes there’s more to it than that. I’d like to have a 1964 Series 62 Cadillac hardtop. It’s not a classic Caddy, but we had one when I was in my mid-teens, and started driving in it. The parking test for my license was not a cake walk in that barge. It also stalled when I took corners too fast. I guess I starved the carburetor when the car tilted too much. Soft suspension.

Actual classics have ample sources of pricing data. Hagertys, all the auction houses and sites like Bring a Trailer.

Cars like your Caddy have all the elements for you as any classic car but because your desire isn’t shared by many, the database of sales isn’t large enough to give you direction on pricing. That’s where the 84 is as well.

Best advice is buy the best one you can afford. A seller must do their research and accept the likely lower price an old car commands versus a desirable classic.

There’s a Caprice Classic sedan in my neighborhood. Looks to be about the same vintage as those in the Hemmings ad. And it is clearly in excellent shape.

I haven’t bothered to ask . . . and it’s not for sale . . . but I’ll bet lunch the guy wouldn’t entertain letting it go for less than 4 - 5 K

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My 62 has that same suspension, and I love the ride, altho if you take a turn or curve too fast, it feels like the body is going to slide off the frame. The car isn’t worth a lot, but I didn’t pay a lot for it, and I smile whenever I drive it. You can’t put a price on that.


Absent some extreme emotional attachment it’s worth a couple of thousand max. If the owner was an idiot and had it restored to some degree then add another thousand or two, again max.

Love makes fools of us all…

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I was actually looking at that coupe caprice in Hemmings. So 12k for a caprice coupe is a big no-no? I’d love to come across a caprice again but no I’m not going to pay $12k for one. Thanks for all the advice. Much appreciated. I’ll just wait for another to come along albeit much much cheaper.

Only by actually seeing any classic or even an old vehicle they can have prices all over the place. New brakes , exhaust or other work can be expensive . It might be worth it to one person but not to another .
Just saying a certain vehicle is only worth a price is silly when it comes to vehicles like these.


One thing you can not predict is future value. A car that would fetch $150 in the 1960s could go for $50,000 today. Desirability and condition are key. We had a 1950 two door Nash Statesman, no rust, did not use oil, original interior. Sold for $50. Even that would go over $5000 today.

Maybe, but not to me. I wouldn’t pay $50 for any 1950 Nash.

Asking price is a start. If you like the pictures, communicate with the owner and get to know more about it. Write down your questions before you call. If you still like it, schedule a visit. While you’re there, negotiate a price that you both like.


One problem here is that @Rusty wants a particular make/model/year/body style. Not many cars will meet those requirements, so he’s stuck with a very small market. Not as much room to bargain if there aren’t alternative cars out there.

Hemmings is the traditional Bible for classic cars and it’s readers tend to be a whole lot more savvy on condition and cost than the traditional Craigslist/Used Car market so that $12,000 doesn’t appear to be way out of line for a car that you’d actually want to own. Sure, you can probably buy one for $3,000-$5,000 and then spend another $10,000 and a year of your time to get it to Like New condition or you can buy one already done.
My experience has been that the best values come from car fans who lavished the time and money on their particular vehicle but now either want to “move up” (selling a restored Porsche 924 to get a 911) or have “aged out” (kids going to college, getting married, downsizing home or “just too damned old” to fit into or keep up that particular vehicle).
Car clubs, marque specific car shows, Hemmings and even Cars and Coffee meets are good places to start looking

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My experience is that many people expect to recoup the majority of the time and money they spent restoring a car that appeals to few people. They price it according to their idea of what its worth and negotiating to anywhere near reasonable price would be futile. I had a neighbor put a car out for sale and out of curiosity looked at it. WAY out of line asking price. After about a month he mentioned his surprise no one even called about it. I told him perhaps his asking price was too high and people might feel it wasn’t worth calling because of it. Dropped the price and sold a week later…

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You never know what someone will do when it comes to an old car. Not many years ago I was watching a TV car auction one weekend and a Barney Fife clone cop car came up for bids. Black/white/bubble gum lights on top, etc. This one was nowhere near correct as it was a Galaxie; not a Fairlane.

Two women sitting on the front row (alcohol drinks in hand) started bidding. One of them was a well known collector car buff. This car was worth maybe 15 to 20 at best and that’s a stretch.

When the bidding hit the mid 30s both announcers were stunned and started talking about buying up 63 Fords and converting them to Barney cars for resale. Final bid? A 110k dollars. Go figure. One would think that common sense would have stepped in at some point. Guess the liquor and/or “Oh no you don’t” attitude took over.


That’s my reason to ignore BJ and other auction results as ‘market value’. They’re often absolute top of the market cream puffs inflated by alcohol and the ‘oh no you don’t’ factors.

A similar thing happened several years ago . . .

We were looking to buy a used Toyota for my brother

We found a good candidate, a car which was in good shape, had obviously not been in an accident, and which was deemed acceptable by me

We showed up, test drove the car, I checked it out and everything.

But it was priced about $500 too high . . .

We showed the guy we had money on hand . . . genuine green american dollars, but $500 below his asking price . . . and he would not budge. He said his price was firm

I monitored the listing . . . I believe it was craigslist, but I’m not sure . . . for several more weeks. He kept listing it at the original FIRM price. Eventually, he lowered it by exactly $500 and it apparently sold quickly, because it was never listed again.

That seller was a fool, in my opinion. He could have had that cash a few months earlier, if he’d realized a bird in the hand is better than two birds in the bush

But all ended well for us, too. We found a suitable car for my brother, which served him well for many years, and was very dependable. And when he had upgraded to a nicer car, rather than junk it or deal with trying to sell it, he gave it to a friend in need of a car

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There is almost nothing worse than inexperienced sellers imho… They drive me absolutely nuts @db4690

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