Q: Greg I read your column every issue. I have a 1937 Buick that I restored about 30 years ago and a 1969 MG Midget that I worked on 20 years ago. Over the last eight to 10 years, I haven't used the cars much and I am preparing to sell them. I'd like a ballpark figure of what these vehicles are worth. The Buick is a Series 40 Special with a straight-8 engine that I overhauled. The engine probably only has 3,000 miles on it. It has a floor shift standard transmission and the body is very solid. I had to put a little putty on the bottom of one door, but that was it. The paint is fair as it was repainted,and I have new upholstery and headliner, the latter with a minor tear. All of the lights work, too. Floorboards are solid with original rubber. The car needs to be rewired, but it can be driven.
As for the 1969 Midget, it is a 4-cylinder and used to be green but I painted it red. I put on a new top years ago, but a small tear developed. One of the front brakes seized up when I put it away last year, and it uses oil, too, so it probably needs a valve. The starter key is stuck, so I had a starter button put in. The front seats have tears in them and need work, so I covered them with sheepskin. They tires are original. Thanks much, Bill Bower, Troy, Pa.
A: Bill, of the two cars, the Buick is way more valuable. According to the information I can find, your Buick 2-door sport coupe listed at an original price of $975 back in '37 according to the NADA Classic Car Price Guide. Today, your 1937 Buick is listed at a low retail of $10,650 to a high retail of $30,000.
The "middle of the road" price is $19,700, and I'd say your car lies in this price range according to your description and without seeing it. Paint and the other minor problems can be fixed, but keep in mind a wiring problem can be a real hardship. Thus, if someone is interested your sale price might have to come down. If your Coupe is a business coupe, the prices drop just a hair to $10,000 low, $28,500 high and $18,500 average.
As for the MG Midget, it was available new for $2,252 and is currently listed by NADA at $5,700 low retail, $17,600 high and an average of $7,325. Since your car needs several upgrades, some major like the engine and interior, I'd say you're probably talking a tops of $3,000 to someone who really wants a car like this, or $2,200 for a quick sale. These Midget prices are my opinion, of course, and is the best I can do without seeing the car. Oil burning can be a valve stem, but it can also be piston rings, which means a complete engine overhaul which will be expensive.
Thanks for your letter and good luck!