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Restoration Equals Vehicle Value

A shop in our area told the owner of a 1962 Buick LeSabre 4-door that his car would be worth the equivalent of his restoration bill once completed. When the bill came with a $32,000 price tag, the owner was horrified. He quickly found none of the collector car insurance companies would insure it for more than one-third the restoration cost. While the owner did not mind spending the money on his grandfather's old car due to personal ties, the insurance company did not share his nostalgia and would only insure it for replacement value. The owner was angry at the shop, his appraiser and the insurance company. The truth is, he did not do his homework, and he let his fond memories of childhood trips with Grandpa cloud the issue.

In the late 1980s, car values were skyrocketing. One could hardly buy a car and not have it escalate in value quickly. Restoration costs were taken for granted, and presumed to reflect assured return on investment. Speculators jumped into the hobby seeing quick bucks to be made. The auction area was filled with convertibles quickly painted "resale red", netting the non-hobbyist investor his reward.

By 1991, the collector car market underwent a severe "adjustment". Speculators were gone and cars began to return to value levels comparable to the mid and early ’80s. In some ways this was healthy. We've seen car values ever so slowly begin to creep back up, at a proper inflationary pace. The hobbyist is back in control.

Fewer cars are getting quickie restorations for resale. The serious car collector/restorer or even street rodder is doing it for the fun of it once again. We are seeing wonderful products such as Eastwood's Hot Coat Powder-Coating System making the job easier and quicker. It's still possible to find the car of your dreams and fix it up at great savings. The result depends on your ability, willingness to learn, and the quality of supplies and tools you use to build your car. Products like paint have taken huge leaps in quality and application, but so has the cost. What once was a $1000 paint job may now cost $3500. Other products today save you time and money.

Car restoration and modification hobbies are great fun. They're hobbies anyone with a little time, talent and money can enjoy. Restoration also permits you to spread the cost of your dream vehicle out over a longer period of time. You can control the quality and authenticity of the restoration. And, yes, you can even control the cost via hard work and perseverance. But don't expect that every penny will be returned to you at the time you sell the vehicle. If you want a sure thing, put your money in CDs at your neighborhood bank.