Classic Car Vehicle Condition Grades

April 5th, 2015

You may have already noticed that classic cars come in all different states of disrepair, repair, condition, restoration level and type of modification. In order to make sense of the wide variety of car builds and conditions, a rating system was devised to group vehicles together by condition and restoration level so appraisers would be able to value cars in an orderly standardized fashion. Through the years this rating system has been modified and altered so many times, and for some many different purposes that there are now almost as many rating systems as there are classic cars.
So, considering all of the various ratings systems and vehicle conditions, and boiling them down to their most common sense point of view, here is a rating system that should cover all classic vehicles you find in todays’ marketplace.

  1. Excellent/Show Car - Considered the best vehicles in the world. It could be a perfect original car in the same condition it was in when delivered new or better; or a professionally-restored car that has been restored to new or better than new condition. This car is not driven, but is transported to shows in an enclosed trailer. Normally stored in a secured, temperature and humidity controlled environment when not being shown.
  2. Fine - An original car with very low miles that has been meticulously maintained since new; or a frame off professional restoration that has seen very limited use since restoration. Very close inspection by an expert may detect almost insignificant flaws or wear, but to most enthusiasts the car would look perfect. Seasoned observers will have to look closely for flaws. The paint, chrome, glass and interior will all appear as excellent. The vehicle will drive as a new car of its era would.
  3. Good - A well-maintained original car that has been driven limited miles over the years or an older restoration that has been driven limited miles since the restoration was completed. May be showing minor wear and tear from the miles driven and is completely operable with all equipment working as designed, and at first glance may look perfect. Closer inspection may reveal minor wear on parts susceptible to showing wear, such as brake and gas pedals, and some thinning of paint and chrome finishes may also be noticed. Could possess a fresh paint job or a new, correct interior. Runs and drives, but might have some incorrect parts. These cars are not used for daily transportation but are ready for a long road rally without much concern. The casual passerby may not find any visual flaws.
  4. Fair - Daily drivers, with flaws visible to the naked eye. Major components function properly, and the vehicle is completely safe to drive but may need minor repairs to mechanical systems. No parts are missing, but this car has been driven on a regular basis and may need a paint job and a few trim pieces re-chromed or replaced and the interior will show obvious wear and tear. Amateur restorations usually fall into this category, as do very old professional restorations that have deteriorated due to use and exposure to the elements.
  5. Restorable - May or may not be running; everything on the car needs to be restored; may be missing minor parts, but the major components are there. Body damage due to collision or rust should be minor; some surface rust may appear, could have some minor rust through of sheet metal or floors. The car is structurally sound, but needs total cosmetic updating to exterior and interior, as well as repairs to most mechanical components.
  6. Parts - Probably not at all complete; missing some major parts as well as minor parts; may have serious body damage due to wreck or rust through. Soft trim and rubber parts are most likely completely ruined from weathering and exposure. This vehicle needs many parts and has deteriorated to the point of not being a good candidate for restoration.