Are you a fan of antique cars, but have no idea how to value them? Look no further than the antique car blue book!
These blue books are buyer’s guides for antique or collectible vehicles. They accumulate nationwide data from car sales, government resources, auctions, and other guidebooks to accurately price old vehicles.
This article will dive into all you need to know about finding and using your antique car blue book today.
What Is an Antique Car Blue Book?
The term blue book dates back to the 1400s. At this time, large books covered in blue velvet were used for government record-keeping in Europe. Since then, the term blue book has been used to refer to almanacs, compilations of statistics, and buyer’s guides.
Antique car blue books are buyer’s guides for older, collectible cars. While antique cars are usually over 45 years old, blue books may also include information on classic cars which are over 20 years old.
These antique car blue books include information like the make and model of the car and its current value based on compatible sales with similar mileage. They analyze the private party value, retail value, trade-in value, and certified pre-owned value for certain cars.
- Private party value: what a buyer might pay if buying the car from another person and not a dealership
- Retail price: the highest value of the car by reasonable standards at the time
- Trade-in value: the amount a dealer will offer you towards the purchase price of a new car in exchange for your car – this information is less commonly found in antique car blue books but is often found in used car blue books
- Certified pre-owned value: the value of a car that is thoroughly inspected by technicians and backed by additional warranty coverage
How Do Blue Books Value Antique Cars?
Antique car blue books will give you a valuation of your vehicle based on statistics they pull from other car sales. Their pricing also includes factors like rarity and analyzes cars in good condition, original condition, or restorations.
This information may come from auctions, dealerships, private sales, other guidebooks, or even public information on government websites, like vehicle registration databases.
Prices are adjusted based on where the sale took place, as well as to account for changes in the market, like inflation.
Some blue books show the lowest price paid for a certain make and model, but most focus on the going price that a vehicle will currently sell for. Most use their own algorithms to analyze price, data, economic conditions, trends, and even the time of year to come up with the most accurate price for each car.
Which Antique Car Blue Books Are Available?
Blue books are available as physical books and in digital formats online. There are plenty to choose from, but not all are created equal in how much information they give.
We’ve listed some of the top options below.
Kelley Blue Book
The Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is one of the most famous blue book names, especially for older cars. It has been around since the early 1920s, with its published car price guide on the market since 1993. They even valued motorcycles, personal watercraft, and snowmobiles.
The KBB has recently switched to being fully online and now focuses on cars 25 years or younger. If you get a hold of an older pricing guide, you can get a loose idea of your car’s worth, but the numbers are sure to be outdated and do not account for inflation.
Hemmings is one of the best resources and blue books for vintage and antique cars. They offer pricing information on collectible cars as well as sell vintage vehicles themselves.
Hemmings will provide both high and low prices offered for the vehicle of your choice, as well as its average selling price. It collects this data from recent sales information and ads over the last 36 months.
Collector Car Market Review
The Collector Car Market Review offers a new 2022 edition guide with over 600 pages of car information for models from 1910-1983. They offer both print and digital subscriptions or single-issue purchases.
Alternatively, you can download the free e-book of the 2021 version. If you just want basic information, you can also look up your car’s make, model, and year online.
This website gathers its information from the company database, the government, sales reports, and more. You can also look at ads to buy or sell certain antique cars on this site.
Old Cars Report Price Guide
Old Cars Report Price Guide has been appraising and pricing collectible cars since the turn of the century, but you can only get these guides through a paid subscription. They’re offered in print and digital versions and are reasonably priced at roughly $2.50 to $3.00 per issue.
National Automobile Dealers Association
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is one of the more popular pricing guides for all types of cars. NADA guides have been gathering information on different vehicles for decades and published most of this information online in the last 20 years.
You can search for new and antique cars alike online by selecting the make, model, and year of the vehicle you’re interested in. They have information for models that date as far back as 1926!
If your car is from the 1940s to the 1980s, you may have luck finding information on it through Haggerty Insurance. They offer online valuation guides for free and allow you to search by year, model, or vehicle identification number (VIN).
You’ll need to create a free account on the site to use most tools. This account will let you save the information you find important.
J.D. Power and Associates
J.D. Power and Associates is a name you may have heard In different dealership commercials. That’s because it’s a firm known for its research in the automotive industry. They are one of the most – if not the most – famous car ranking companies in the U.S.
The main limitation is that most of J.D. Power’s rankings are for cars that are 20 years or younger, so while you can compare your model to newer versions, you won’t be able to value an antique car through them.
You also have a chance to subscribe through a paid account that provides a special valuation guide three times a year or, if preferred, as a single copy.
Mecum Auctions is the biggest car auction entity in the world. You can find information on some of the top cars sold in their auctions over the last 10+ years, giving you an idea of what people are paying for specific types of vintage cars.
For example, in 2021, their most expensive auctioned-off cars included two 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadsters, a 1930 Duesenberg Model SJ Rollston Victoria, and a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette.
Classic Car Value is a new online design that helps you value your antique car by comparing it with other data both on and offline. They source their information from places like NADA, Hemmings, Collector Car Market Review, and Old Cars Report Price Guide, all in one.
Your value will be determined according to make, model, year, factory options, and vehicle trim.
CAARGUIDE is an online platform that estimates the values of collectible cars through a valuation scale. These prices come from an appraisal and resource guide that they’ve put together over the years.
You won’t be able to find your car’s official value on this site, but you might get some help in determining what it’s worth. This free website shows the basic information about classic and antique cars on the market.
How Can I Use an Antique Car Blue Book?
To use an antique car blue book, you’ll choose your book, look up the car you’re interested in, and then compare the details with other sources.
1. Choose Your Book
With so many blue book options out there, it’s not always easy to choose. In many cases, you shouldn’t choose and instead compare your vehicle’s pricing through at least two different blue books. Some of the most reputable blue books are Hemmings and the National Automobile Dealership Association.
If your comparison shows vastly different prices, you may have to get a third blue book involved or head to an auction house for more accurate information.
Nowadays, online blue books can be just as dependable as printed blue books, so this choice comes down to preference.
2. Look Up Your Car
You’ll need to know the make, model, and year of your car before looking up its value in a blue book.
The make is the brand of the vehicle, like Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, and Honda. The model is the specific vehicle by that brand, such as the Mustang, Corvette, Camry, or Civic.
You may also want to know your vehicle’s VIN. A VIN is a unique code given to each car during manufacturing. It provides information on your car’s engine and product details, recalls, and how many times it’s been sold.
3. Compare the Details
It is the seller or buyer’s responsibility to validate the blue book they use to price their vehicle. You should always try to use at least two valuation tools when finding out how much your antique car is worth. You could combine two blue books, or use a blue book plus a physical appraisal at a car auction, antique car dealership, or online.
Antique car blue books are used to gather car prices for antique, vintage, and collectible cars. These blue books can be sold as subscription issues, single-purchase books, or seen online.
To properly value your antique car, be sure to use at least two blue book resources to get the most up-to-date pricing for your vehicle. The more you know, the more likely you are to get the best deal!