Charvet Classic Cars



with David Charvet

David's latest news and observations of the old car hobby.

8/18/2016: What's Hot? EVERYTHING!

It's been a while since I've updated this blog. My excuse: We're busy selling great cars!

I'm often asked, "What's hot right now in the collector car marketplace?" My response is: "EVERYTHING!"

Recently, we have been selling a wide variety of cars to all parts of the world. Within the last few weeks we have shipped such diverse vehicles as a 1911 Ford Model T Touring Car, a 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera, a 1963 Morgan Roadster, a 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser, a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass Custom Coupe, a 1977 Daimler Sovereign Vanden Plas, and a 1931 Ford Model A Roadster! Truly "Something for everyone."

This diversity speaks well for the collector car marketplace. There are buyers seeking every type of vehicle. So, if you're looking to buy, there are some mighty fine deals out there. And, if you are looking to sell, the chances of finding a buyer for your car are greater than ever.

While I never recommend buying a collector car as an investment (Buy it because you LIKE IT!,) it appears that the market is continuing its steady climb as witnessed over the past 20+ years. Most quality collector cars today are selling for more than they were 5 or 10 years ago. So if you buy QUALITY (as you'll find here at Charvet Classic Cars), it's a pretty safe bet that they will hold their value over the long-term. Of course my crystal ball can't predict the future, but the most important thing is ENJOYMENT. With a good quality collector car, you'll be assured of personal enjoyment - whether looking at it in your garage, or driving it down the road in the future. And isn't that what the hobby is all about?

Just "Ask The Man Who's Sold Some!"™

- David Charvet

9/26/2016: Welcome to Our New Website

It's been a long time coming, but we have updated our site and added some new features, most noticeably being video tours of each of our cars for sale. You can see all of the details of the car and see and hear the engine running.  We hope this helps you make a better-informed decision when looking at our selection. Thanks for stopping by and as always, feel free to contact me personally if you have any questions.

Just "Ask the man who's sold some!"™

- David Charvet

9/23/2016: NEW! Charvet's "Virtual Test Drive"

So you've found the car you like on our website but you live across the country (or around the world) and can't come to see it in-person? Now you can buy with confidence when you take our "Virtual Test Drive™". Here's how it works:

Contact us to arrange a mutually convenient time to take a "Virtual Test Drive™".

At the agreed time, we will call your iPhone, iPad or computer using the Apple "Facetime™" video conference feature. From anywhere in the world you can join us LIVE as we walk you around the car, answer your questions in real-time and show you exactly what you ask to see. Have a question about the paint condition or interior? We'll show you.  What does the engine bay and undercarriage look like? We'll show you. Then, we'll start up the engine so you can see and hear it run, and then take you with us on a true test drive. You'll be able to see and hear how the car handles and operates, how the gauges and accessories function, and anything else you'd like to know. It's the next best thing to being here in-person!

No other collector car dealer offers the Charvet Classic Cars "Virtual Test Drive™". 

Contact us for more details or to schedule.

Just "Ask the man who's sold some!"™

- David Charvet

10/16/2015: If It Sounds Too Good To Be True...

The old car hobby is filled with “celebrity cars” – those owned or associated with a famous (or infamous) person. You see them going across the block at auction all of the time. (How many “Elvis Cadillacs” and “Bonnie and Clyde death cars” have been sold to unsuspecting buyers?) I have also been involved with the sale of several, including cars owned by classic Hollywood actors Clark Gable and Brian Donlevy. With the definition of “celebrity” having changed over the years, there seem to be more cars popping up with negligible celebrity ties, all trying to bring big money when sold. But recently, I had the opportunity to inspect what could have been a real show-stopper. I was called from an individual in New York to go look at a classic car here in Oregon that was allegedly owned by a mega-celebrity of the 1930’s. While I’m not saying who, he was one of the biggest names of the day and was internationally-known. The current owner of the car was looking to borrow some funds and wanted to use the car as collateral. The sum of money was substantial, which is why the lender in New York wanted the car checked out. I was happy to oblige, partially for the opportunity to see the car.

I met the owner on a sunny Sunday morning and looked at the car. At first glance I noticed several things that were “questionable.” First, there was no solid paperwork linking the celebrity to the car. Lots of hearsay and “We were told…”, but nothing rock-solid. Strike one. There was an old piece of paper he said was found in the glove box with the celebrity’s signature on it. I later compared the signature with known examples by the celebrity and the one on the paper looked nothing like the authentic signatures. Strike two. Next, the car had been modified (allegedly by or for the celebrity, in the 1930’s.) I looked at the modifications carefully and found them to be very poorly done and obviously not to a level that would have been done during the era and especially by/for a person to whom money was no object. Strike three. I could go on with the other things I found flawed about the car and the story, but bottom line, I had to report to the gentleman in New York (the lender) that this car that had been touted to him as being worth millions, was probably really worth only about $35,000-$50,000 at best.

Had there been ANY verifiable documents with the car linking it conclusively with the celebrity, then the million dollar figures might have been justified. But there was nothing to prove it. I believe this was a case of the current owner having purchased the car based on the story he had been told, and in his desire to want to believe it, he neglected to fully research the car.

When looking at a high-dollar car with an alleged celebrity tie, it is always best to do your homework and examine the car and documentation carefully. Step back and take a long hard look (or hire someone to do it for you) to be certain everything being represented is true. Are there documents or photos? Are they real? (Now with Photoshop and other graphics software, it’s easier than ever to create a forgery.) Are there any credible witnesses who saw the celebrity with the car? And finally, who is selling the car now, and why? If everything checks out from multiple sources, then you have to decide if having a celebrity car in your garage (without the celebrity!) is really right for you. Only you can answer that question. For the other questions, just “Ask the man who’s sold some.”™

- David Charvet

4/14/2015: Price Guides: The Reality Behind the Experts

The old car hobby has several “price guides” that are supposed to help the novice buyer or seller determine a value for just about any car made since 1900. Hobbiests look on these books as the gospel with regard to what a car is worth, and also sometimes in an attempt to determine the current “value” of their collection.  

While modern car values (where thousands of like-model vehicles are available at any given time) are calculated through sites such as Kelly Blue Book and based upon a lot of data including current average sale prices, mileage, geographic location, options and other minutia and can be considered fairly accurate, when it comes to “old” cars there is no way that ANY price guide can peg an accurate value for your particular car.


It’s simple: Every car is different!

While some guides have a numerical condition scale, (with “#1” being perfect and “#6” being a parts car) there are too many variables within each of those numbers to lend any real credence to these values.

Here’s an example:

Recently I had listed for sale a 1970 Jaguar XKE 2+2 Coupe. It was a completely original car with 26,000 actual miles and three owners from new. If you look at the Old Cars Price Guide you will see values ranging from #1 at $27,000, #2 at $18,900, and #3 at $12,150. Yet if you look at the National Auto Dealer’s Association (NADA) Guide, they value the car at a “High Retail” of $45,150, “Average Retail” of $35,450, and “Low Retail” of $17,650. (And NADA warns that “High Retail” should NOT be considered to be a “#1” car.) That means the two guides have nearly a $20,000 spread of value for comparable cars!

So what gives?

Surprisingly, neither price guide takes into account mileage. While not as important on a frame-off restoration, mileage is EVERYTHING when it comes to an original car. As a long-time friend of mine says, “You can’t buy miles!” Meaning if you have two identical cars, (given that if all things are equal) the one with lower mileage will always be worth more. But along with mileage is CONDITION. Was the car properly maintained, or left in a shed for 30 years? These are all factors to consider.

If two similar cars are both full restorations, then the quality and details will usually help determine the price. While one car may have a “fresh” paint job finished last week and the other may have paint that was done 5 years ago, the older paint may still be of better quality, so “fresh” does not always equate to higher value.

But bottom-line, it is always the buyer and seller who decide the price of any car. As another long-time dealer who I know likes to say, “The only ‘book’ that matters is the CHECK BOOK.” It’s really true. While a 1956 Studebaker may only be worth a small amount to one buyer, it may be worth thousands more to another person because of sentimental or other reasons.

So how can you be sure you’re getting a good deal? First and foremost, if you don’t know a lot about a particular make or model of car, consult with a dealer who has a good reputation and knowledge of the vehicle. Ask questions and do your research. That may include Price Guides, but remember, they are just that: “GUIDES” not gospel.

Just “Ask the man who’s sold some!”™

- David Charvet

1/12/2015: Auctions: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Ah, January! Along with all of the resolutions to stop-smoking or stop over-eating, many car collectors (unknowingly) make the resolution to spend (or give up) MORE MONEY by going to one of the many high-profile auctions held in Arizona.

While there is no doubt that these auctions in some ways set a mental benchmark for the condition of the hobby at the start of the year, in many instances they also create an over-inflated sense of what some cars are worth. It usually ends up that buyers pay too much and sellers get too little. Why?

 The auction companies play upon one thing: EGO. The ego of the sellers by convincing them their car is worth soooo much money. They also play upon the egos of the bidders, who are convinced that the auction is a “once in a lifetime chance” to get that wonder-car of their dreams; so “bid high and bid often!”


CAVAET VENDITOR (Let the Seller Beware!)

Let’s say you live in North Carolina and decide to sell your pride and joy, for this example a 1966 Mustang Convertible, at one of these auctions. After all, you’ve watched them on TV and see cars just like yours bringing $25,000 and more! And old Joe down the street had the nerve to offer you only $16,000! Doesn’t he watch TV?  So you contact one of the big auction houses 3 months before their sale and they tell you that they’d LOVE to auction your car! (Ego: “Wow! They like me!”) They also tell you that to create more interest (and what they don’t tell you - to insure them a larger fee) you must list it at “No Reserve” (meaning it will sell to the highest bidder, no matter how high – or low – the bid). They cite examples of all of the million-dollar cars they’ve sold that way and tell you that “real buyers” will line-up for the chance to bid on your car. So, against your better judgment you decide to go ahead and list your car with them. You only live once, right? Who knows? This could be the big one. “Especially with a car as nice as yours!”

 All of the paperwork arrives via overnight mail to make you feel special (and to help prevent “seller’s remorse” by giving you less time to change your mind.) Then the fun begins. If you can read the many pages of fine print, you will realize that like a casino, the odds at an auction are ALWAYS in the house’s favor; and that “fine print” can come back to haunt you if not read carefully.

 For example: Fees. Your “Insertion Fee” to place your car in the auction could be anywhere from $100 up to $5000+ depending upon the auction house and the scheduled time you want to see your car go across the block. Obviously prime times (usually mid-afternoon to early-evening on the biggest day with TV coverage) will cost the most. Let’s say you pick a mid-range time for a $500 fee. Then, the agreement will state that 8% to 10% (depending upon what you negotiate) is going to come right off the top of the final “hammer price” of the sale. Add to that the cost of transporting the car from your garage to the auction site (as much as $3,000 in an enclosed transporter if you live across the country); then if you decide to go to the auction to babysit your pride and joy before it goes across the block, add-in your airfare (x2 if you’re bringing a friend), hotel costs, rental car or taxis, meals and incidentals (like admission tickets to the auction, unless you’ve negotiated that into your deal with the auction house) – so let’s call it conservatively $3000.00 for your trip to say “farewell” to your car.

 Still want to do it?

 Let’s say you do, and you send in the signed paperwork (and your signed title, so the auction house now has legal ownership of your car, by the way), and wait for the hoopla to begin.  Some auction houses charge (and insist) for their photographer to come take pictures of your car for the catalog and advance advertising (for a fee, of course.) Or you can send in your own photos and hope for the best. But unless you are a pro and know how to photograph a car, you can be sure that your photos will not look as good as they should. You also send in a carefully written story of your car’s history, the painstaking restoration and a thousand details.  

 Eventually, the catalog comes out and you get a copy in the mail (via overnight priority, of course.) You thumb through the hundreds of pages and find your car. There it is! “1966 Mustang Convertible. 289. Full restoration of a clean original. Numbers matching. Nice example. NO RESERVE.” That’s it. From all of the information you sent, that’s all they wrote. Boy, that one photo they used is awfully small, and there is nothing about the months you spent restoring it and making sure every nut and bolt was correct. Oh well, people will see it at the auction.

Finally, the big day is here. You’ve flown out to Scottsdale with dollar signs in your eyes. You get to the auction and find your car – after you walk by the 8 other 1966 Mustang Convertibles that have also been consigned for sale. Wow, some of them look pretty good too – even better than yours that looked so good by itself in your garage at home. Your car is now sitting in a holding area with people rushing past. Some take a moment to stop, and a few even comment, “Nice Mustang,” as they hurry to look at what’s around the corner. Suddenly, your car does not seem that special anymore. You wait, and wait. The moment arrives. The spotters come tell you that it’s time to get your car in line to bring to the stage. They drive it away from the holding area and you follow alongside.

 It’s the moment of truth: Your car drives up on to the stage. “Lot number 270. A 1966 Mustang Convertible. 289. Full restoration of a clean original. Numbers matching. A nice example….” Hey, the auctioneer is reading just what was in the catalog! No mention of the hours spent and special features. Oh, well. “Who will give $7,500?...” A bid! And off it goes. Your 90 seconds in the sun.  The auctioneer is good and does his job. Spotters are yelling. The crowd is pushing. You and your car are the center of attention. Isn’t life great? Two bidders go back and forth. The excitement builds. Finally, the hammer falls at $18,500. The audience applauds. The auctioneer calls, “NEXT UP FOR BID…” and your car is quickly pushed off stage and back to another holding area, now with a "SOLD” sticker on the window. Wow. It sold. $18,500! “Old Joe down the street at home only offered me $16,000 for it a few month ago! I showed him! I hope he was watching on TV….”

 After the euphoria wears off (along with the alcohol from the free bar), you have a chance to go over the cold, cruel numbers:

 Your 1966 Mustang Convertible sold for $18,500.00

 Now, subtract:

 $1,850 (10%) Final Value Sale Fee to the auction house.

 $500 Insertion Fee.

 $3,000 Transportation cost.

 $3,000 Attendance cost for you and a friend.

 Total Cost outlay: $8,350.00.

 Net Amount the Seller takes home: $10,150.00

 And actually, “take home” is the wrong term. Because as your contract stated, the auction house will mail you a check (NOT by overnight mail, by the way) and it may take UP TO 90 DAYS for you to receive payment, after the auction. So, around April 15th, (six months after you initially signed your contract with the auction house) your check arrives. Just in time to pay the tax man.


CAVEAT EMPTOR (Let the Buyer Beware!)

 The flip side of this coin is the bidder/buyer. Let’s look at it from his side. He’s looking for a clean 1966 Mustang Convertible. Just like the one he had in high school and sold to the neighbor before heading off to college. He gets online and sees a nice one that will be at the auction. He flies out to Scottsdale and spends the same $3000 as our seller, to do so.

 At the auction he enjoys the “free” (as long as you have a $500 bidder paddle), open VIP bar that gets him relaxed and ready to bid (probably more than he should.) The Mustang rolls on to the stage. He wants the car and opens the bid at $7,500. But wait, another bidder has jumped in. The bids go up. He keeps going. “No one else is going to get this one,” he says to himself (or anyone around him who will listen. Ego: “I have more money than you do!”) The bids go up, and when the hammer falls 90 seconds later, our boy is the winner. “SOLD FOR $18,500!” The auctioneer screams. The audience applauds. “NEXT…”

 The next day (with a less fuzzy head), our winner goes to collect his spoils.

His costs:

 $18,500.00 Hammer price for the Mustang.

 $1,850.00 (10%) Buyer’s Premium.

 $500.00 Bidder’s paddle (with “free” hangover.)

 $3,000.00 Attendance cost for buyer and friend.

 $2,200.00 to ship it home to Wichita, Kansas.

 Total Cost of the 1966 Mustang for the Buyer: $26,050.00


So, there you have it. Is the buyer happy? Maybe. If it’s a car he wanted and it was truly as represented (but don’t forget that the auction house is NOT liable for ANY statement made in the catalog or by the auctioneer about the condition, provenance or anything else related to the car.) Even if everything is good, the buyer will most likely be hard-pressed to recoup his investment should he decide to sell the car in a few years.  Is the seller happy? Probably not. Especially when he realizes that he would have net more from “Old Joe down the street” if he had sold the car to him. Is the auction house happy? Most likely. They netted $4,700 from the sale of that one Mustang.



 After reading the above, you must think I am against auctions. Absolutely not. For CERTAIN VEHICLES, it can be a good way to sell. But those vehicles are few. Most auctions are abberations. They reflect what one person is willing to pay for one car at one moment in time. As a long-time friend of mine who deals in collector cars told me years ago: "Remember that those auctions you see on TV are NOT 'reality' shows!" Very true. But auction houses DO earn their money. The preparation, costs and payroll of an auction house are huge. While the big publicity is generated by the few “big money” cars you see on TV and read about online after the sales are over, auction houses rely on the hundreds of smaller, “meat and potatoes” cars to pay the way.


But I will contend that for most cars, there ARE better ways to sell that allow the buyer to get a fairer price and the seller to realize more from the sale, and in a lot less time than six months.

 Just “Ask The Man Who’s Sold Some!”™

 - David Charvet

12/23/2016: Quality, Quality, Quality!

I'm often asked how the vehicles listed on our site are priced. In some cases when you look at other websites you may think you see a similar car priced for less. Why? It's simple: QUALITY.

Because every car is different, even among identical models, quality is what ultimately determines price. "Quality" does not always mean a fresh restoration. Every restored car was done to a certain level, based on the budget of the owner and quality (there's that word again!) of the work done by the restorer. Those levels vary widely. I've seen 20 year old restorations that are beautiful and just-restored cars that should be re-restored because they skimped on quality. With a great, truly "original" car, quality comes from things such as low mileage, maintenance and provenance. In the long run, it is always best to buy the best quality you can afford. When in doubt, do your research, examine the car you're considering, and don't be afraid to ...

"Ask the man who's sold some!"™

- David Charvet