10 November 2011

Caveat Venditor

There is a well-known axiom in the collector car world: Buyer Beware.

It applies to the rest of the world, too, but we're not interested in that right now. What we're interested in is this: Seller Beware.

In the collector car world, and for the purposes of this blog post, it means roughly that your baby isn't always the next guy's baby, especially at that price.

If you've built up a car and added a bit of this, some of that, a supercharged crate 502 and a parachute, you are narrowing your market considerably. And maybe that's just fine with you. If you are your car's market and that's that, or if you simply don't give a damn about your car's "market," then chances are you really love that car. And that is the goal, isn’t it?

But if you've got $100,000 into a fiberglass Willys with perfect pinstripes and you need to sell it, or even just want to sell it, you are going to lose 99 percent of the time. Maybe even closer to 100 percent.

We all build our cars the exact way we want them to be, whether that's simply a Nardi wheel for an MG A or a supercharged turbo-injected laser drive (ST-ILD) for an Omni GLHS. Some things just cost more.

And some things are easily reversed, too. It's much easier to swap out the Nardi for the tattered factory splinter fest you replaced it with than it is to decommission a ST-ILD. The manual alone is eleven thousand pages.

But it is something to consider in your projects. How far do I want to go?

This is by no means a knock against modified cars. I drive a Volvo 240 automatic wagon, and it isn't even one of the cool ones. I'd love a cool 240 wagon. Something with a Ford 5.0 and Getrag five-speed, and suspension and brakes to handle it. Heck, mid-mount it, or cut the roof off and make it a fire-breathing four-door Volvomino. So long as it's tasteful.

Go nuts with your cars. Have fun and enjoy them. This is a less well-known collector car axiom that might help folks facing the "modify vs. restore to original" conundrum. Or even the "finally build that Omni vs. pay for Missy's wedding" one.

Do you have a car conundrum? Tell us about it in the comments.

Stefan Lombard is Managing Editor of Hagerty magazine.

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