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The Collector Car Market

Part 2: Geographics and Demographics

By Jeremy Wilson


“I have a diesel truck and a closed trailer with Jim’s Street Rods on the side, and drive cross country buying ‘32s. I’ve been to New York and Chicago, and Pennsylvania and Florida twice last year. I bring the cars back to Oregon, clean them up, do what needs doing, and then sell them. I deliver most of them personally.”

Over the years Jim has noticed the geographic price differentials within the United States.

“Cars are cheaper down in Florida, it’s the least expensive market we have right now. Sometimes I buy them in Florida and sell them in California.”

Part of the reason the Florida market is low because people move there to retire. When they pass away or end up with health problems their cars go up for sale, resulting in a saturated market.

Jim sells his cars on CraigsList.com and HotRodHotLine.com. He has shipped them to Japan, Australia, Belgium, and New Zealand.

Shifting Demographics

1932 Ford roadsters were popular hot rods long before being immortalized by the Beach Boys classic “Little Deuce Coupe” over four decades ago. The generation for which they hold the most interest is either nearing or in retirement.

“I haven’t sold a car yet to a guy under 50 years old,” said Gravitt. “They’re usually 65 plus with a healthy 401K, or equity in their house. “When a house goes up 400% you borrow a $100,000 or $200,000 against it and buy two or three of these cars. But now that home equities are down, you have a healthy bank account. The market is slower now--I sold seven 32s last year and three this year. Prices have gone down as well, about 20 percent.”

Jim’s latest offering is a pro-built black and blue 1932 Ford Roadster. It has a steel-reinforced glass body, a crate 350 engine with a 350 transmission and an 8” Ford rear end, powder coated black as is the frame.

Also, coil-over shocks, a chrome dropped axle, and disc brakes. Price: $29,900. Jim can be reached at oneflamed32@yahoo.com.

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Click on any item below for more details at Amazon.com

Jim Richardson
Classic Car Restorer's Handbook: Restoration Tips and Techniques for Owners and Restorers of Classic and Collectible Automobiles
HP Trade, Paperback, 1994-11-01

This book covers a lot of ground in comparatively few pages, and while it has step-by-step procedures, the steps are often large. This book is a good choice if you want to understand the restoration process and all the pieces you’ll touch. However, it’s not sufficient to be your main guide to the restoration process.

L. Porter
The Classic Car Restoration Guide: The Complete Illustrated Step-by-Step Manual
Haynes Publishing, Hardcover, 1994-04-30
This book offers some excellent pre-purchase checklists, and spends much of its space on bodywork and interior restoration, but rather less on mechanical items. The book was written in Britain for a British audience, so some elements may be less applicable to an American restoration, such as the section on getting a car through a Ministry of Transportation inspection. The book’s focus is almost exclusively on classic British cars.

Burt Mills
Auto Restoration: From Junker to Jewel
Motorbooks Intl, Paperback, 1980-06

This book is a nice overview of the process, but does not go into great detail about restoration procedures. A good choice if you’re wondering what is involved in a restoration and want to know more before making a commitment.

Greg Donahue
How to Restore Your Muscle Car
Motorbooks, Paperback, 2005-11-07

This book covers all aspects of restoration in detail, with a focus on the special issues found in 1960s and 70s muscle cars. From car selection through engine and interior restoration, this book is full of photos, illustrations, and step by step procedures. Examples are given from all domestic automakers. Reviews have been generally positive, for example (from AutoWeek): “With clean vintage muscle cars skyrocketing in price, this second edition has good timing, providing updates on parts sources and restoration techniques. We didn’t use the book to restore a muscle car, but we found it clear and concise, with user-friendly disassembly diagrams and 1,300-plus step-by-step photos, from choosing tools and which muscle car to restore, to completing the restoration.”

Tom Brownell
How to Restore Your Collector Car
Motorbooks, Paperback, 1999-12-24

This book has a great deal of information on selecting a potential project car and setting up the workshop, plus a lot of detail on cleaning, stripping, blasting, derusting, bodywork and trim restoration, but comparatively less (just 1 chapter) on engine and mechanical restoration and 1 chapter on brakes. The book includes many nice color photos, however, and would be a good addition to a restoration library.

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