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Old iron price, car insurance and appraisals…

Old iron price, car insurance and appraisals…
ER Classics Desktop 2022

What is the difference between the scrap metal price per kg and your beloved old-timer? An appraisal! Now you might think, he preaches for his own parish, which I, as an appraiser of classic motor vehicles, cannot deny. But that doesn't automatically mean that what I'm saying isn't true. Critical thinking is always in order, regardless of who claims what.

By: Oscar Wilbers


The value of consumer goods, such as cars and motorcycles, normally declines as soon as they leave the store with a new owner. Over time, it depreciates in value until it eventually wears out, breaks down and, at best, is recycled.

Sometimes consumer goods are still repaired, but that is also becoming less and less. Who has a washing machine repaired these days? Of course there is some difference in the depreciation. A Rolex will depreciate relatively less than a Timex, especially if it is a sought-after collector's item from bygone times.

And that is exactly what is an important factor with classic cars and motorcycles. Whether something is a collector's item. Now that is of course a broad concept. Because there is always someone who thinks something is worth collecting. If you've seen TV shows like 'hoarders', you'll understand what I mean. There are actually people who think old newspapers are worth preserving. And then you get the law of supply and demand. There are relatively more old newspapers than collectors of old newspapers. So 99% of the old newspapers are worth nothing. 

It is exactly the same with classic cars and motorcycles. Is a rare car or motorcycle by definition worth more? Many think so. But rarity in itself is hardly a measure of value. A rare car that does not want a dog will hardly exceed the scrap metal price in terms of value, while a Ferrari 308, of which more than 10.000 have been produced, can easily exceed 75.000. In short, the law of supply and demand is the basis of value.

But that's not all. Suppose a Ferrari 308 is sold for 213.000 euros. Are all Ferrari 308s in a comparable condition worth that? That again depends entirely on the circumstances. Sometimes there are exceptional outliers due to certain circumstances. For example, if at an auction two people bid against each other and this extraordinary price is the result. Wonderful for the bystanders, the auction company and the seller! But it says relatively little about the value. A renowned classic car company will also be able to charge more for a classic car than a private individual. 

You understand, the value development of classics is a fascinating and dynamic field. And it will remain so for the foreseeable future. Is a classic car appraisal necessary, even if your car insurance don't care? A documented value gives you – in the unlikely event of drama – a useful piece of evidence in any case and if your car insurance accepts this value under article 7:960 of the Dutch Civil Code then you are completely chiseled. In short, always your have an old-timer appraisedunless you expect that the value will not exceed the kilo price of scrap iron…

3 Comments

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  1. I understand that for Mr vd Zee it is a loss of € 3 per 500,00 years every 3 years, but in the event of a real major collision damage, resp. Theft or fire, an appraisal is really indispensable. I speak from an experience of more than 55 years as an insurance provider and authorized agent and the case described by Mr vd Zee is a big exception and a very generous insurer. I myself also advise people who are only insured for third-party liability to have a valuation made, because in the event of a collision the other party does not have a leg to stand on if he is shown a valid valuation report. Because then the difference is indeed often many times more than the € 500,00 once every 3 years.

  2. but of course, Oscar, you're absolutely right. however, as a (worker collector) of 5 classics, appraising every 3 years is quite an expensive joke. if also by a
    "recognized" appraiser is asked for details of your car, because he does not know him, then I will look dubious….. My solution is sometimes to appraise, and then create an archive of questions and any prices paid for comparable cars.
    This can be done by reading magazines, including foreign ones, and by consulting auction sites.
    in the latter case you have to calculate what the buyer ultimately pays, auction costs, etc.
    Unfortunately… this archive has helped me in the past to get compensation for considerable damage to a fairly rare classic car. The insurer's comment was curious….. Then you have to take care of the parts yourself, because we can't get them.
    In the meantime, I tell myself……. even if damage, loss or theft is not or poorly compensated, I still enjoyed the hobby!

    • Thank you for your response to this article.

      One of the first lines of the article is: “Critical thinking is always in order, regardless of who is claiming what.” It is clear that you have mastered this art.

      Of course, valuing 5 classics every year is a cost item. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether this is worth the effort and the risk. It's great that your own research and documentation led to a satisfactory solution with the insurer. Self-reliance is never wrong, but – in general – it is not always the most efficient method. Incidentally, most appraisers will have a special rate for multiple cars at the same address.

      In terms of knowledge, even as an expert you can never know everything about every classic car or motorcycle. If a car is not known to an appraiser, then it is a matter of research, consulting colleagues and/or auction results, clubs, etc. Just like you do yourself. If an appraiser is not (yet) familiar with a particular car, or does not know that the power of that type went from 1969 to 112 hp in 115, that does not necessarily mean that he cannot determine an objective value of it.

      John Pronker's response elsewhere on this page makes it clear that not everyone is so lucky when negotiating with the insurance/expert.

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