When it comes to collector cars, the question that's on everyone's mind is how much is it worth? Buyers, sellers, people who follow the market from afar or get in close at auctions – everyone wants to know. But value is subjective and depends upon so many variables. Today's trash is tomorrow's treasure (I'm looking at you, station wagons), and what's hot today may cool off in the future. That's why it's important to reevaluate prices from time to time using a variety of different data points. Hagerty has an entire 14-person team dedicated to analyzing vehicle values and updating them with the most accurate, relevant data.
Greg Ingold, who works on the Hagerty Valuation Tools, says they update information three times per year – in January, May and September. He stressed that there's no algorithm refreshing numbers automatically. Valuation is the work of people who look at market data, collector car auctions, sales numbers from a network of vetted collector car dealers and contractors, and numbers reported by Hagerty's members when they buy and sell vehicles.
The market can be tricky, though. That's why value adjustments can't be automated. The human touch is warranted. Ingold and the rest of his team look not only at auction prices, but market characteristics. How much are certain cars actually selling for? How long are they staying on the market? Which vehicles are selling for more or less than they were thought to be worth? Which ones came with documentation supporting their supposed provenance? When choice vehicles cross the block at big collector car auctions like Barrett-Jackson and Bonhams, Hagerty sends people to look at and assess the cars in person.
Ingold said that although auctions grab a lion's share of the spotlight due to their very public nature, they account for only about 5-10 percent of collector car sales. That's why Hagerty asks its members for transaction data – sale price and vehicle condition – when vehicles are bought and sold. When it comes to asking dealers for transaction data, Hagerty relies upon dealers that have already been vetted as authorities on specific types of cars.
"At the end of the day, we want to be able to back up that information the best we can with sales we're seeing in other venues," Ingold said. "We're not just going to any dealer that will talk to us – we're vetting them pretty well. If we have any doubts, we're not going to follow their advice."
At the end of the day, you can be assured that the prices reported by Hagerty are fully considered, exhaustively researched, and – most importantly – accurate.