(Some facts and some opinions.)
by Grant MacLaren
This is the most frequently asked question on our web site. (It's and easy question to ask; usually impossible to answer.)
The basic answer is. "Your Model "A" Ford is worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay." That's pretty much true of any "collector" or special interest car. The value of a Model "A" Ford can be a very subjective thing. There are some "ball park" amounts, of course. But the range of sales prices vary widely.
And, let's face it:
There are tens of thousands of Model "A" owners who enjoy their cars for a wide variety of reasons. The Model "A" hobby is so big it keeps a number of parts suppliers in business. (See appendix.)
There are many ways to determine a "ball park" price for a Model "A" to be sold or purchased. Maybe the best is to get involved with a local Model "A" club. Two national organizations offer memberships that include handsome bi-monthly magazines. Officially "newsletters," that always contain classified advertisements offering Model "A's" "wanted" and "for sale." The clubs are The Model "A" Restorers Club (MARC) and The Model A Ford Club of America (MAFCA) (See our home page for links.) The two national clubs have many chapters in the USA and countries throughout the world.
Another popular publication having "A's" listed "for sale" or "wanted" is Hemmings Motor News. Most large newsstands and bookstores carry this thick monthly devoted to automobile "classifieds." Anyone buying or selling an "A" will want to review the current offerings in this popular publication. Its total paid circulation is over 250,000. (Go to google.com and search for "Hemmings." )
However, even when these publications offer cars for sale, the buyer must determine what's being described. For instance, just because the seller says the car is "original" or "restored," the buyer is advised to carefully investigate the actual condition of the car. (We have seen engines "restored" with a three dollar can of "Ford Engine Green" spay paint, while a reputable engine rebuilder might charge $1,500 to $2,000 to rebuild your rebuildable engine.)
The "Old Car Price Guide" provides this rating scale:
2. FINE: Well-restored, or a combination of superior restoration and excellent original. Also, an extremely well-maintained original showing very minimal wear. Except for the very closest inspection, a No. 2 vehicle may appear as a No. 1. The No. 2 vehicle will take the top award in many judged shows, except when squared off against a No. 1 example in its own class. It may also be driven 800-1,000 miles each year to shows, on tours, and simply for pleasure.
3. VERY GOOD: Completely operable original or "older restoration" showing wear. Also, a good amateur restoration, all presentable and serviceable inside and out. Plus, combinations of well-done restoration and good operable components; or a partially restored car with all parts necessary to complete it and/or valuable NOS parts. This is a "20-footer." That is, from 20 feet away it may look perfect. But as we approach it, we begin to notice that the paint may be getting a little thin in spots from frequent washing and polishing. Looking inside we might detect some wear on the driver's seat, foot pedals, and carpeting. The chrome trim, while still quite presentable, may have lost the sharp, mirror-like reflective quality it had when new. All systems and equipment are in good operating order. In general, most of the vehicles seen at car shows are No. 3s.
4. GOOD: A drivable vehicle needing no, or only minor, work to be functional. Also, a deteriorated restoration or a very poor amateur restoration. All components may need restoration to be "excellent," but the car is mostly usable "as is." This is a driver. It may be in the process of restoration, or its owner may have big plans, but even from 20 feet away, there is no doubt that it needs a lot of help.
5. RESTORABLE: Needs complete restoration of body, chassis, and interior. May or may not be running, but isn't weathered, wrecked, and/or stripped to the point of being useful only for parts. This car needs everything. It may not be operable, but it is essentially all there and has only minor surface rust, if any rust at all. While presenting a real challenge to the restorer, it won't have him chasing for a lot of missing parts.
6. PARTS CAR: May or may not be running, but is weathered, wrecked, and/or stripped to the point of being useful primarily for parts. This is an incomplete or greatly deteriorated, perhaps rusty, vehicle that has value only as a parts donor for other restoration projects.
I can tell you from personnel (and/or first-hand) experience that to completely restore a Model "A" Ford to be a safe, attractive "driver," not a "show car, it would be easy to spend $15,000 in parts and professional help. This would not include the hundreds of hours that the owner might spend on assembly, travel, etc.
Many Model "A's" found in barns today (yes, there are still some of these) were driven for many years before being retired. It is not uncommon to find them in a condition quite different than when they left the factory.
"When my husband bought this car, he said it would be a "good investment."
"When my husband bought this car, he said it would be a 'good investment' and he added things to the car, so I want to sell it for more than he paid for it."
"But this car has been restored!"
"To each his own"
My love for Model "A's" comes from my youth. The first car I ever drove was 1931 Roadster with a home-made hard top and a home-made pickup bed. It had a "Dodge Power Wagon" emblem wired to its radiator, big knobby tires and was driven every weekend from my uncle's home to his summer "camp" on a lake in Rhode Island.
Another Model "A" of my childhood was my Great Uncle Fred's Fordor. Uncle Fred was a bachelor and had owned two cars in his lifetime; a Model "T" and his Fordor. By the time I knew Fred, he was comfortably retired from the textile mills and drove his "A" daily, mostly on back roads in rural Rhode Island. From about age nine to thirteen, during summer vacations, I was his passenger on these trips. (See "Thank You M'ams")
In 1949, (I was at fourteen), our family moved from suburban Philadelphia to Southern California. Talk about "culture shock!" Palm trees, suede jackets, gunnite swimming pools and -- hot rods!
Anyway, that's where I'm coming from.
Model "A" Fords were not highly prized in my youth, but there were still quite a few on the road. Every time my Uncle Fred pulled into a gas station, the attendant would ask if the car was for sale.
Now, here's where I might get in trouble:
There are some things I NEVER saw on Model "A" Fords in my youth. And they are the things that just scream "fake" (maybe "over-restored" is more politically correct) to me when I see them on "restored" cars today:
So You want to know how much a Model A is worth. I made a database with all of the Model As in the Restorer and Model A News for the last five years. There were 1473 cars listed. I grouped them by body style (Type) and condition. I grouped all of the Coupes (standard, deluxe, special, business and sports) into one group. I also grouped all of the 4 doors and town sedans together. I use 5 condition categories. Unrestored includes basket cases to complete cars that are all there but not necessarily driveable. Original is a car that is complete, driveable, unrestored, and in very good condition. A Driver is a car that runs and is either partially restored or a car that was restored a while back and is showing itís age. Restored is a recently completely restored car. Show cars are cars that have won awards or professionally restored cars. Note that I had to use the words in the ads to determine the condition of the cars, and everyone has different opinions on the conditions of cars. It should also be noted that the prices shown below are in thousands of dollars and are asking prices. The low, high and average prices are just that. The Deviation is the standard deviation of the price. It basically represents how spread out the prices are. Take for example the restored coupes. The average is $11,200 and the deviation is $2,400. So I would say that the asking price of a typical restored coupe would be $8,800 to $13,600. The count is the number of cars of that Type/Condition. The higher the count the more reliable the average. I will try to add graphs and charts later. Remember the financial worth of a Model A is how much someone is willing to pay. The Real worth can be priceless.
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