March '21

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58 THE SHOP MARCH 2021 professional appraisals, the rules about who can do an acceptable motor vehicle appraisal vary from state to state, and depend on who needs the appraisal. For example, the Internal Revenue Service will accept appraisals based on an appraiser's proven expertise, rather than on certifica- tion by a specific group or organization. FAIR & ACCURATE In some states it is possible for almost anyone to write an appraisal. I have encountered cases where a local body shop will appraise a car for the amount a cus- tomer spent repairing it (or more) in order to justify the cost. This happened once at a Mustang show, where the owner of a car worth about $15,000 told me that it had been appraised at $30,000. When I asked her who did the appraisal, she answered that it was done by the body shop that did the work using a printed price guide. That appraisal made the customer happy, but she might have a hard time proving in court that her $15,000 Mustang is worth twice that much. Back at Old Cars Price Guide, we used a five condition system (since increased to six conditions), and people going by the book tended to rate the condition of their vehicle much higher than a professional would classify it on a 1 to 5 scale. However, regardless of the accuracy of the value estimate, the concept of having a shop estimate the value of a car it repairs or restores pushes the ethical envelope. There would certainly be a tendency for a shop to assess value based on what the customer has put into repairing it, rather than the fair market value the car would bring on the open market. That's not to say that a shop couldn't develop an ethical way to offer appraisal services, as long as it took steps to ensure that the appraisal was done in a profes- sional and very objective manner. One way this could be accomplished is by creating an ongoing business arrangement with a local appraiser who is not an employee of the shop. ESTIMATING VALUE The appraisal itself must be done properly. It should highlight factors such as: • The authenticity of a stock restoration • The special features of a hot rod build Who would have thought the AMC Pacer would become a collector car as well as a "Wayne's World" movie star? This unrestored but beautiful Pacer appraised at $17,500. Offering Vehicle Appraisals Many GM vehicles from the 1970s and newer will have a Service Parts Identifi- cation label that gives the VIN and a complete list of codes for options installed at the factory. Often a vehicle's odometer reading is required on an appraisal report, and it should be noted if the odometer was set back to zero after a restoration. In the mid-1960s, the government required that the Vehicle Identification Number for all vehicles be stamped on a tab on the dashboard and visible through the windshield.

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