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Picture of a Rusty Old CarIt’s often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that you can’t possibly put a price on love. But when it comes to buying and selling collector items like classic cars sentimental value is hardly the coin of the realm. If you’re placing an ad on a classified site, or looking to setup and online auction, whether you’re the buyer or seller it behooves you to have an idea of what a vehicle is worth. Because the condition of the vehicle has a much greater affect on price than rarity alone, a simple rating system for any cars condition has been widely adopted by most auction houses and collectors.
Condition 1
These vehicles are in simply the best condition one could ask for. Rarely, if ever, are they driven outside of simply rolling onto the greenery of a concours show. Colors and materials are correct, possibly even original, throughout the vehicle, and every surface gleams like new. These vehicles are the best of the best of the best.
Condition 2
Condition two vehicles are condition one vehicles that are a little past their prime. These cars and trucks can still easily win a local or regional show if entered, but owners probably drive condition two vehicles a little more than they should, but any flaws are still only visible upon very close inspection.
Condition 3
“Good” is probably the best descriptor when you think of condition three vehicles. Cars and trucks in this category are likely driven frequently, have some easily visible flaws or dings, but possess a number of characteristics of condition two vehicles as well. Fading of paint jobs is common, and minor mechanical issues may be present and persistent with these types of classics.
Condition 4
Here’s where things can start to get a little hairy. Condition four vehicles need some work nearly everywhere. Mechanical issues are instantly audible or visible, cosmetic problems are seen even by those with an untrained eye, and previous restoration work is visible. No major parts or pieces are missing, but these types of classics need some love and care to be brought back from some neglect.
Condition 5
Complete overhaul. Parts are missing or have been incorrectly retrofitted, paint and other cosmetic pieces show evident wear and tear, and it’s a 50/50 shot as to whether or not these vehicles will turn over when you twist the key.
Parts or Salvage
Just what it sounds like, these cars exist only so that others may feed off of their components. Generally, this category of vehicles is worth about 50% of those in the condition five group.
Why does knowing your chosen car’s condition group matter? Using the example of a 1957 AC Ace 2-door Roaster, the top condition one pricing suggestion is estimated at $272,000. Moving down just to condition two means a drop in price to $223,000 – nearly a $50,000 difference. Take that same vehicle down to a condition four, and the price dips all the way to $109,000.
For more information about buying and selling classic cars online, check out our posts on how classic car insurance works, what a matching number classic car is, and the top sites for buying and selling cars online.

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