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Rarity vs. Value!


Another frequent myth associated with the old car hobby, and especially related to collector car values, is rarity.

Rarity of Vehicle
How many times have you been to a car show and seen a sign on a car that reads, "Only one of 308 ever produced!"? Was it a true limited edition vehicle? A car of extreme high cost, engineering excellence or exclusivity? Or, did they sell only that many because no one wanted to drive the ugly thing? Could it have been grossly overpriced compared to similar vehicles? Cars are rare for many reasons; some build collector value and some reinforce why the car didn't sell in the first place.

Not many Duesenbergs where built, mostly because of cost and the economics of the time...they're certainly among today's top collector cars. Ford only produced 76 Edsel convertibles in 1960...not because the car was especially bad, or ugly, but production was cut short as the entire Edsel line was dropped shortly after introduction. Yet, these too are highly collectable.

Without trying to offend any of our readers, cars such as the Hudson Jet, Henry J, and King Midget never sold in great numbers due to missing some element that would attract the masses. As collector's items these cars are but a few of many that continue to lack some certain appeal that would yield high value. Some modern factory "limited editions" are "limited" to only as many as the factory can sell.

Rarity of Survival
There are certain cars that, while built in lower volume than most collector cars, seemed to be perceived as "special" from the start. Examples include; ’55-’57 Thunderbirds, Ford retractable hardtops, Avantis, Chevrolet Nomads, early Corvettes, Chrysler Town & Country convertibles and sedans and so on. These cars sold well, due to exceptionally appealing styling or filling a specific marketing niche, and many were delegated to "Sunday's only" or at least a little pampering.

How many times have you gone to car a show and read the most dangerous sign of all: "Only one of 3 known to exist in the world today!"? Known to whom? By what standard? By registrations? By some formula? We can practically guarantee that if you place one of these signs on your car at a major car event, an identical car will pull in next to you!

Ironically, cars such as the ones we've listed above, while being "blue chip" collector cars, have seen relatively stable fluctuations in value. No rapid jumps, no skyrockets, but a solid, constant demand that has allowed them to climb slowly in value and yet remain less volatile.

Rarity of Options
Yes, the third famous ill-fated car show sign: "One of only 3 known to exist with hi-po 454 engine, factory air, lighted tissue dispenser and special order DO9 code Burgundy paint!" Yes, some of these factors can matter to the purist, but in the overall hobby market you won't find too many sympathetic ears. Good, solid, basic collector cars don't need gimmicks or obscure options to prove solid value. Of course, some high-performance car engine options can mean a whole lot. That "R" code as the fifth digit in the serial number of your 1967 Mercury Comet can more than double the car's value, as it would indicate a super-rare 425HP/427-cu.-in. V8.

Rarity can help you car's value, but it isn't everything. Originality, low miles, restoration authenticity, quality of construction on restorations and especially street rods, can mean a lot. As a matter of fact, condition, condition, condition is paramount in collector car valuation. So grab that Eastwood catalog and head for the garage—a little resto-upgrade may be more important that rarity.