This past weekend I celebrated some family birthdays. One was my niece, she turned 3, one was my Grandfather-in-law, he turned 87 and his wife turned 90, god bless them both. As we were sitting there eating cake and drinking some Grand Marnier, my dad and I started talking about...you guessed it...cars. I asked him if he watched the replay of the Barrett Jackson Auction this past Friday, specifically the part about the older couple who were selling their one owner 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible. This car had 16,246 original miles, one owner and loaded. It even had the optional record player in the back seat. It sold for $90,000. The gentleman purchased the car on July 25, 1957. That means he had the car for 50 years and about 6 months. 50 years and he only put 16,246 miles on it. That’s 321 miles a year. So for 50 ½ years that man had to resist driving his beautiful Black Bel Air.
So I did a little research. There were 9 other Bel Air Convertibles for sale at the auction. 4 cars sold for more than the $90,000 (none as original as this one) and 5 sold from $47k to $82k. I did some calculations. He probably bought the car for about $4000 and put maybe another $10,000 into it for maintenance. So, let’s figure $14,000ish turned in to $90,000 50 ½ years later. That’s a return of 542%. But that’s not why I am writing about this car. I am writing about this car because of the low miles and the pain and anguish this one owner had to deal with for 50 years. Think about it. How many times did his wife say to sell it? How many times did he contemplate selling it? He had 6 kids and how many times did they want to take the car out? How many times did he have to move it from house to house? How many children and grandchildren accidentally scratched the car? All those years and he didn’t even get to enjoy driving the car for an extra $40k?
Now, let’s say he drove the car for the first 10 years. Let’s say 10,000 miles a year for a total of 100,000 miles and then he parked it. 40 years later he decides to sell it as is, or restore then sell it. An “as is” 100,000 mile car is probably worth $50,000 (if not more) or a 257% return. The other option is to restore it, spend probably $35,000 for a good restoration and get $100,000 for it, or a 150% return.
So, what is the value of a low miles car? To answer you have to put a value on the fun factor you have with the car. I value that a lot more than just parking it and drooling over it in the garage. So, I would take option 2. Buy the car, drive it as much as you want and then park it…if you think it’s a collector’s item.
What have we learned? Drive your cars, have fun with them, gather the story’s and then park it. It’s a lot more fun that way. I should add a witty comment here, but I’m drawing blanks…..sorry.
Ok, here’s a joke…2 cannibals are eating a clown. One cannibal turns to the other and says “does this taste funny to you?”