Rookie Guide – How to Buy a Muscle Car, Part 3 – Determine Your Price Range and Payment Method

This series is designed for the person new to the muscle car world. You know you’d like to own one, but in all honestly, they all look great to you and you price tracker have no idea where to start. We’ll assume that you want to really like the car as well – even if you are purchasing it as an investment. Our series will deal with the following topics (and by the end you’ll be ready to wheel your new ride down the road):

1) Determine the make and model you want

2) Determine how you want to use the car (drive often, show car only, etc.)

3) Determine your price range and payment method

4) Evaluate the car, set up insurance, and purchase

Since we’ve already deal with Topic #1 (Deciding which make and model car to choose) and Topic #2 (Determine how you want to use the car) we can now move on to the next step.

Today’s topic: Determine your price range and payment method.

After completion of steps 1 and 2 you should now have your make and model choice fairly whittled down, and you’ve likely already started noticing a few prices. Now let’s dig into determining what a reasonable price range would be for a particular car, and then go about deciding how to pay for it.

* Price Range:

Determining the price range on a major purchase, whether it be a muscle car, a fighter jet, or a dishwasher generally comes down to evaluating your personal financial situation and determining what you can afford. We’ll assume that you already understand that and will stick to determining the price range that the make and model car you are looking at may fall in.

So just how do you really determine the price range for a classic muscle car? Simple – you need to take a look at what the market thinks it’s worth. Just like real estate, muscle car values are determined by what the market thinks the cars are worth, not by calculating the sum cost of all of their parts. The price that people are currently paying for muscle cars is key. It’s a subjective thing that relies on supply and demand. Also, unlike 99% of modern cars, 1960’s and ’70’s muscle cars are really not going down in value anymore. Their value bottomed out long ago and has been on the rise ever since. Over the past few years we’ve seen somewhat of a bubble in values, but they still remain quite high.

Now that we understand how value ranges are established for a make and model, it’s clear to see why understanding how you will use your muscle car is critical when doing your car shopping (refer to our previous post for more details). If you are planning to have a weekend funmobile, a mid-price range car is going to serve you quite well, and you may even be able to go cheaper. If you’re buying a car for an investment a mid-price range car is likely the LOWEST value of car you would go with. Remember, the unique cars, the popular cars, and the all original cars are going to be at the high end of the price range for that particular make and model.

To see what the market thinks various make and model cars are worth based on their varying condition, simply visit Keith Martin’s Collector Car Price Tracker. It’s one of the best resources on the web to get an idea of the trends in the industry based on SALE prices of cars, and you can look at values over the last several years on a model by model basis. (The cost is fairly inexpensive, but as an option you can get a free one-month membership to Keith Martin’s site by signing up for The MuscleCar Place newsletter.) Remember, HOW you plan to use the car is a must when looking at car values. You may come to the conclusion after looking at the sale prices cars have gone for that you need to look at a different make/model, or change your plans in how you will use the car.

In addition to Keith Martin’s Collector Car market, start taking notice of all the prices listed in the Classifieds section of the good online sites. Most asking prices for cars are consistent with what the market will bring (give or take), so you should at least be able to develop a trend.

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