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Hot Rod Values

Words: John Gunnell

The values of specialty cars are just as important to hot rodders as to collectors. There are any number of price guides and value guides published for collector cars, yet finding hot rod values is very difficult to do.

Collector cars were built to certain specifications. While it’s true that cars with lots of options are generally worth more than stripped-down cars, value guides treat the value of options as an add-on, rather than a separate car value. For instance, according to the 2017 Collector Car Price Guide by F+W Publications, factory air conditioning will add $4,500 to a 1963 Corvette’s value.

In the case of a hot rod, things are different. Hot rods did not offer “factory air.” If the builder of the car adds air conditioning, it should increase the vehicle’s fair market value, but not necessarily by a set amount such as $4,500. It may depend on whether the A/C system came from a junkyard car or a high-end supplier like Vintage Air. How well the A/C works will also count.

Some people think it is impossible to create a guide to hot rod values because each hot rod is a unique creation. Each hot rod has a different design and different specifications. No two ’32 Ford hot rods or ’55 Chevy hot rods are the same. So, people wonder how you can even take a stab at hot rod values.

One way is to find a comparable hot rod for sale at a car show and use the asking price (or actual selling price) as your guide. That’s what we tried to do at the recent Madison Classics ( in Elkhorn, Wis. The following three hot rods were entered in the show’s car corral section and presented us with some idea of realistic asking prices for each type of car: A ’32 Ford fiberglass bodied roadster, an unfinished ’34 Ford hot rod pickup truck and an all-steel fat-fendered ’40 Ford pickup truck.



This car was a completely finished yellow ’32 Ford roadster with a Gibbons fiberglass body and fiberglass frame. It had a Heidt’s Mustang II front end. The engine was a 283-cid Chevy small block attached to a 700R4 automatic transmission with a shift kit added. It has a vintage steering wheel and vintage gauges. Power brakes are fitted along with Early Wheel Company “steelies.” A Ford nine-inch rear axle is used. The asking price for this car was $27,000.



This vehicle is best described as a work in progress with all the basics done for you. It has a steel body on a build that started way back in the ‘70s. It seems that the seller bought a house and decided to park his hot rod project for a while. Then, in the 1990s, he got married. The car represents a good start to what could be a classic hot rod if finished. It has an LT1 350-cid engine that was the most powerful one offered other than a fuelie. The seller wanted $12,000 for it, but was open to a bit of bargaining.



This iconic Ford pickup truck was finished in gold with black bucket seats. Much of the factory trim - including the hood ornament – and the front bumper were removed for a cleaner look. Chrome spoke wheels with center caps held the tires. The truck had a later model Chevy steering wheel and a billet dashboard panel. The seller was asking $21,000.