Ask the Appraiser

Got questions about a classic? Ask the Appraiser

by Dave Kinney
23 June 2023 4 min read
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In addition to benefitting from a trove of data, Hagerty Insider also relies heavily on the expertise of veteran market watchers, including Dave Kinney, appraiser and publisher of Hagerty Price Guide. In this column, he will answer often-asked questions about collector car values and buying and selling. While Dave can’t put a value on an individual car in this column (that’s what people pay him to do in his appraisal business, after all), he can field questions about the appraisal process, how to go about buying and selling classics, and the industry as a whole. Have a question of your own for a future article? Ask in the comments section.

For this installment, Dave digs into a question about one of our most insured models as well as a couple practical questions about interacting with an appraiser.

2003 Chevrolet Corvette low mile yellow front three quarter
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Corvette Conundrum: I’ve had a desire for a Corvette for some time. It’s become one of the very few items on my bucket list. I’m now completely retired and am blessed with excellent health. I love driving and have been captivated by the Corvette since test-driving a buddy’s a few years ago. I have the funds for a modest investment (about $25,000). The problem for me is I’m not experienced in a technical/mechanical sense. Most of the cars I can afford are at about 100,000 miles. I’ve had cars over that mileage, but I had maintained them and knew their condition. I don’t have the expertise to evaluate a local used car, and some of those I’ve reviewed are across the country and would be bought “as is” and “sight unseen.” I can afford the purchase but wouldn’t be able to fund unanticipated, expensive repairs. I know there are no guarantees, but there has to be something better than shooting in the dark. What’s your advice?—Wes Barker

DK: Wes, let me introduce you to the C5 Corvette, built from 1997 to 2004. It’s all Corvette and has the look and the drive of a “mostly” modern car. (Full disclosure, I own a 2003 Anniversary Edition and I love it). I think with your $25,000 spend limit, you can easily find an under-50,000-mile car, possibly always garaged, and maybe even one that is still with its original owner.

Some quick tips: Do your research about model years and body styles—in this era there were actually three body styles, so identify the one you like best. Test-drive a few, watch for known problem areas, and home in on which year, equipment, and colors suit your needs and personal style best. I have watched some very good C5s come through auctions recently, so you can get a good feel for what they are selling for in public. My best advice is to join a local chapter of a Corvette club and get to know some folks there; they love talking shop. Some of them might even have a C5 for sale.

Good luck, and let me know how your search goes!

Dollars and cents: How do appraisers get paid?—Ralph Johnson

DK: Two methods of payment are “normal” in the world of appraisal: an hourly fee or a set fee, which is what I usually do at my business, USAppraisal. Our pricing is listed on our website. Our “Basic charge” is for a production car—think of something like a 2003 Ford Thunderbird. With many prewar cars, special builds, hot rods, restomods, outlaws, exotics, one-of-a-kind cars, race cars, and those with a significant history, the fees go up. If there is travel involved (in my case, usually more than 50 miles each way), we charge for that. No one likes big surprises, so fees must be disclosed and discussed in advance, and a good appraiser knows to limit their expenses when traveling on someone else’s dime.

I’d advise against hiring an appraiser who values stuff based on a percentage of value. That’s something I saw in the last century and have always been wary, as I think that is bad business practice.

We almost always ask for a deposit before we go flying off to look at something, unless it is an established client. And the final bill is customarily due when the appraisal is delivered.

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Imagery: Do you have to see my car in person, or can you write an appraisal using photographs? Can I provide the photographs?— Brad Little

DK: This is one of those questions that gets a “Yes, but…” answer. In some cases, the car just isn’t available to be seen. It’s been stolen, burned, or otherwise destroyed. It’s been moved to another country or, in the case of a dispute, its caretaker will not grant permission to see it.

Often the cost of going to see just one car is prohibitive. In that case, I’ll most often try to find a qualified appraiser who is physically closer to the car. In some instances, I’ll find a way to combine jobs in a geographical area so that my travel costs are shared among a group of people.

It should come as little surprise that when Covid became something that all of us had to deal with, the rules were relaxed a bit. At our office, we took a few jobs that relied on photographs and descriptions provided by others for our valuation.

I much prefer to have myself or a trusted associate “put eyes” on a car we are valuing. Photos and videos are a great resource, but touching, feeling, and smelling a car can often tell you a lot. What might be fine for a $20,000 car might not work as well for something worth $2 million. If I feel I can do a credible job without viewing the car, I will. If I can’t, here comes another road trip.

If you’ve got a burning question to Ask the Appraiser, leave it in the comments below and stay tuned for Dave’s next column.


  • Mike Meyer says:

    I have a 1960 Lincoln continental sedan t HD at is 100% original, except for spark plugs, wures and air in the tires. It has less than 40,000 miles. What affect does originality have on the value of the vehicle?

    • Danny R Meyer says:

      I have a 1956 Chevrolet 2 door Bel Air hardtop restored with a LS3 engine. A/C, Power Windows and Disc brakes. Automatic, Power Steering and Stereo W/Bluetooth. 400 actual miles. Body is clean Red & White. Looking to establish a price for selling. Can you help me?

  • DAVID BROWER says:





  • Nick says:

    Hi Dave, when do you think C8 Z06’s will begin selling in the new or used market at MSRP or less?

  • john m piljan says:

    How does the 2001 and 2002 BMW M5 stand up to increasing in value over the next two years?

  • Dan Swartz says:

    I have an appraisal question on two cars I own…
    1st.. 61 Porsche Knotchback early Emory Outlaw #2 condition with many Emory twists… a bench seat, matching set of 6” by 15” early 911 wheels, nerf bars with front driving lights, AirPower 1950 cc high torque motor with customer exhaust,Weber carbs, electronic ignition, full flow oil filter, plexiglass side windows, outlaw door interior panels with leather window pulls and Emory Outlaw Badges, roll bar.
    Pictured as my photo on Facebook.

    2cd… 70 911T #1 condition with 2.5 liter euro spec motor, 915 gearbox, all new interior in black leather and tartan seats, custom signal orange paint, rust free bare metal restoration, constructed under the supervision and support of Gary Emory it’s an Outlaw!

    Also need values for insurance value for Hagerty insurance.

  • Bob Peterson says:

    What is an average 1963 Corvette Convertable worth?

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    Hourly fee or a set fee? I would say set sounds best in most cases.

  • Wally Schwab says:

    I have a 58 + 4 2-seater and a 66 +4 4-seater Morgan (4,000 miles since new and 5-speed) both concourse restorations, and first in class
    and a 58 MGA roadster also concourse restoration with 5-speed transmission

    At 91 my age forces me to sell. Can you advise me as to their worth and how or where is the best way to sell in this market? They have been insured with Hagerty for a good many years. Thank you.

  • Fred Turcotte says:

    Dave – hello my friend! Just love this new segment of The Insider. Your tech expertise, coupled with transparency and candor and delivered with your ordinary-car-guy demeanor is refreshing and spot on.

  • Paul Gommel says:

    How do an appraisal and a pre-purchase inspection differ? Does an appraisal generally include a suggested purchase price of the vehicle?

  • John Corman says:

    Dave, I have a question on the value of my 1970 Barracuda convertible. It’s was a highly optioned car when it was built and I restored it as a 340 Cuda clone. It is lemon twist yellow with white interior, luggage rack, console shift automatic, rally gauges, power top, vintage air, 15″ ralleys, dual scoop hood, hood pins, driving lights, pedal dress up kit, complete dual exhaust with the tips, and am/fm 3 speaker dash stereo. The engine is a 72 340 that has been bored and stroked to a 418. My question is what would the value of this cloned car be?

  • Jim says:

    Need a Value on a 1977 Ford E150 Chateau CRUISING VAN, purchased NEW in 1977 (Original Owner) 46,000 miles, always garaged. Is insured by Hagerty with pictures on file. Have a Marti report on it. Only MFG BY FORD ON ASSEMBLY LINE 1976 & 1977

  • james says:

    why are 1965 beaumonts not having same value as 1965 chevelles or is it just that usa nose not know about them

  • Vic V. says:

    The Haggerty valuation tool is based upon the vehicles condition, but presumes numbers matching engines. Many original engines in 60’s muscle cars were used up or blown by their aggressive teenage drivers and are therefore hard to find in the surviving bodies. How does a period correct but non-numbers matching engine affect the value of an otherwise excellent condition 60’s muscle car?

  • Doug Savoie says:

    I have a unique 2000 Chevy Silverado LS Xenon Edition pickup with a magnuson MP112 Supercharged 383 stroker 4.8L LT4 500+ horsepower. Lowered 5+ inches, never had an accident, less than 55,000 miles. No rust, no dents, perfect interior. What would this be worth approximately.

  • Dave Dykwell says:

    Please comment on the significance of numbers matching vehicles and the impacts on market valuation.

  • Scotty D says:

    I’m a bit off topic but I used the service of a fellow who examined a series of cars that I’d found online that could help the fellow with the Corvette Conundrum. I have restored a number of C2’s that eventually went through Mecums, Barrett Jackson and Sothebys and consider myself somewhat knowledgeable. The cars I was looking at were on the East Coast of the US while I live on the far West Coast of Canada. The cost of travel and accommodation were prohibitive so I elected to use the services of an individual to examine each car. The reports were comprehensive including video, pictures and a detailed report. Frankly I would never have thought to examine the vehicles to the extent that he did. To be clear, he didn’t appraise the car’s value, he left that up to me. It is unquestionably the best money I spent and I ended up not buying any of the three cars. The lesson learned was to know exactly what you’re buying then settling on a price that you are comfortable with. Good luck on finding your C5.

  • Greg B says:

    I’m looking at a 1956 Mercury Montclair 2 dr ht that was built in Canada. The car is rust freean appears to be in excellant condition. Does the fact that it was Canadian made have any bearing? Thanx

  • paul s murray says:

    ” being an ‘expert’ on general automotive knowledge can you tell me…what would the correct ignition timing be on a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air with a 327 cubic inch engine and a four barrel carburetor?! “

    • billyt. says:

      Its a trick question, the 327 wasn’t offered in the 1955 Belair. “My cousin Vinny”, still one of my favorites! Kudos Paul !

    • T. says:

      R E : paul murray

      Most all SBC ” experts ” will tell you to do 23° all in at 2000RPM. 👉Thats if all else is working properly…👍

      (( test me out ))

  • James McPherson says:

    Hi Dave. I’m wondering if you can offer your expert guess on the approximate value of my 1978 Porsche 911 Targa S/C? The car is a 1978 vintage with 149,960 Kms. I purchased the car in 1988 and have owned it since. Being from Alberta, Canada, the car has always been stored in a very nice shop from October to April. I’m not an expert, but I would say the Car is “Very Good to Excellent”. It’s all original with the exception of a beautiful, (and beautifully sounding) stainless steel exhaust system I had installed by an expert about 5 years ago. I love my little car and it will never go on sale as I intend to bequeath it to my Daughter with the understanding she will maintain the car and eventually give it to my oldest Grandson.
    I appreciate the opportunity to seek you counsel through my Insurance Company, Hagerty.

  • billyt. says:

    Hi Dave, I have a bit of an “unusal” request. As it so happens, I own a Delorean. A customized Delorean. It travels extremely fast, so fast, in fact, that I need a lot of running room to get her “up to speed”. That being said, I traveled back to the future and picked up a 2080 Ferrari XQZ-990. My question for you is: What is its approximate value in todays (2023) market? It flies, has a full array of gravitational magnetic amplifiers that allows full hyper-space jumping, time portal assistance, auto-pilot, black hole/interstellar navigation of course, and a lifetime account for “On Star” road/space side assistance. Do I bring it back for a profit or a loss? Thanks in advance, or, from yesterday, as my watch has stopped working?

  • scott macdonald says:

    I’m restoring a 1962 Lotus Elite type 14 Series 2. It was formally a racecar decades ago, and I have to work hard to find the missing parts. The car came in many configurations. Mine has the bonnet duct, ZF four-speed, twin carbs, and is right hand drive. Options are webers carbs, high lift cam, and tubular exhaust. Should I add the options to increase the value? Options would cost about $4-5K. Thanks

  • Al Thomas says:

    My father-in-law left a 1967 Chevy Caprice to my wife, and the story behind it was that a GM executive had ordered the car but died before delivery. Is there a way to research the history of this car through GM?

  • Bob Morken says:

    Hi Dave, need your marriage counseling advice. Wife and I are trying to decide which of our beloved cars is kept as a 3rd car extra “driver”. We both love them both. Thinking you can help us with a rational evaluation of the appreciation prospects over a 10-20 year horizon. Vehicle 1: a mostly original 1996 Bronco XLT (no lift or performance mods). Original 351 Windsor engine re-built (factory spec). 230,000 miles. Clean re-upholstered leather seats (original was leather) and clean two-tone paint (original white / beige with re-spray of the roof and hood). No rust, AZ & NM vehicle. It exhudes “old-school cool”. Vehicle 2: a 2016 VW Golf GTI S 6-speed standard, that is tuned, aftermarket wheels & tires, exhaust. 54,000 miles. It is red, silly fun to drive, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Cheers!

  • Keith Davis says:

    I get the Hagerty Club mag regularly for years now; but have never seen an article (or photo) of my collector [I like to think] car. It’s a 1988 Volvo 780 Bertone – one of only 8500 units built in Torino, Italy by Bertone for Volvo. It sports a Renault/Peugeot V6 detuned race engine and (unfortunately) a German DF (read mushmobile) automatic transmission. It has become my daily driver due to my daily drive being demolished by a drunkard while it was parked in front of my home. I’d like to get an idea of its collector value (if any). I’d attach a photo but see no way to do so.

  • paul s murray says:

    Sorry T, the only answer I can accept is- “It’s a bullshit question.” Unless T stands for Tomei and your first name is Marisa. Were that the case, I’d gladly accept ANY answer.

  • Brad Hockin says:

    I have a 52 3/4 ton GMC P/u from Sask Canada. It original patina paint and pretty solid driver quality. I’ve replaced the rear pot with a 4:10 gearing and put a t-5 tranny in it to make it more drivable. Still have the original parts including plot rims and tires. Any idea what it may sell for.

  • don cox says:

    I thought I would see Answers to people questions here but I see none—I have an 83 Ford futura (fox body 2 door-running driving & stopping–in Ontario Canada—what are the price ranges–

  • Robert Atamian says:

    I have a 2005 Mercedes CL65 V-12 AMG with Renntech upgrades, supposedly 1 of 142 built. I paid 25K 4 years ago but the prices have not gone up and remains controversial ABC suspension. Any hopes for the future? The services costs are high but at least you don’t have to remove the engine for maintenance, like you do with a Bentley or Ferrari.

  • Blake Woith says:

    Hi, It seems like late model SL Mercs are fabulous cars but resale for relatively low numbers. Why is that? Thx, Blake

  • stvstb#90 says:

    My dad passed and left 2 MG’s in the estate that hadn’t run / been driven for 6 or 8 years. We hired an appraiser to set values for Probate. I’m a retired Master Mechanic and I’ve taken them in lieu of cash for appraised value, but I’m over a grand in parts for one so far and likely have over 20 hours invested. Starts, runs and drives now, but offers are still nowhere near the original appraisal. I’d suspect we should have seen a 20% deduction from “Market Value” for the not running condition – what do YOU think?

  • Peter coyle says:

    I have a 1967 Camaro convertible RS. It has a six cylinder engine and a four-speed from the factory. I have the protective plate to prove the numbers. I have never seen another one of these cars with a six-cylinder Saginaw four speed. Can you help me with the value or the rarity of this car. Thank you.

  • Patrick says:

    I have an ’89 Supercharged Toyota MR2. It’s condition according to Hagerty (I’m insured with them) is #2,,excellent. Car was appraissed at $24,000. I live in Canada. I know the value will go up but at what rate do you see it going up?

  • Danny says:

    I inherited a 1965 Mustang Coup (hits all the 1964 1/5 attributes, too) that my grandpa’s brother bought new back in late 1964. I have all the original paperwork too – bill of sale, handwritten receipt and documentation that came with the purchase. How does having all of that affect valuation – I’ve heard anecdotes and options over the years but would love to know an expert’s take on it. Also, what’s the best way to find an appraiser that is reliable?

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