5 Things You Need To Know About the Collector Car Market

Greg Zyla
Q: Hello Greg, I enjoy your columns and see you welcome questions. I have five questions for you I'd like your opinion on. Thanks, Wendy, from Pennsylvania.

1. Are prices of collector cars still down since the recession hit? I just watched Barrett-Jackson and it seems prices are going up.  
Answer: Wendy, dating back to the fall of 2008, most prices are still down or staying neutral. Additionally, don't judge prices by watching auctions on television, as most of the cars going through Barrett-Jackson's televised programming are the top one-percent of pristine pieces. (Which everyone loves of course). The antique car market is much like the stock market in that buyers and sellers usually determine the price. With this said, there are some good deals out there nowadays.

2. Is it better to get a good cheap paint job or leave an original collector car paint job alone, even if faded?
Answer: You have two choices. Leave it alone or get set to pay from $3,500 to $5,000 for a good, top quality paint job. Remember there's no such thing as a "good cheap" paint job. Make sure you deal with a reputable body shop as there is more to painting a car than many think, especially in the preparation end. Good paint jobs aren't cheap, but bad quality paint jobs are.

3. How do you know when to "stop" spending on your car?
Answer: Great question. Too many times, car enthusiasts will spend too much money on a car that really doesn't have intrinsic collector value. However, in this owner's defense, it's his or her right to do so. The owner's personal enjoyment takes precedence to book value, which is why someone might put $5,000 into a 1974 AMC Hornet 258 6-cylinder. Second, who am I to tell them different if they love the car? If some one owns a car that carries with it a special personal or lifetime significance, and they enjoy the hobby, then by all means enjoy yourself. As long as an enthusiast receives the gratification a special restored car brings them, then go for it. (Me? I spend too much on mine).

4. Should I paint first or do the engine work first?
Answer: This is a no-brainer. Always do the mechanical work first.

5. Where can I find the best information on collector cars, in your opinion?
Answer: Auto Round-Up and Hemmings Motor News are my two favorite publications, plus anywhere these days on the Internet. If you do buy a car or truck on the Internet, try to have someone look at the car for you in person, even if you have to pay an area garage employee $100 to go look at it. 

Thanks for the questions, Wendy, and remember these are my personal opinions.
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