Perceived Value Part I
Mar/Apr 2019 edition
Issue #4 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
There are many variables with collecting models, which a good many collectors fail to realize; and of course, there is perceived value, good or bad, which always comes into play.
Before we dive in, the first, and most important rule for collecting in general is, enjoy it. The second important rule is, if you have no concerns about value now & selling later, or ever, and you like it and can afford it, then buy it. However… if you want to assemble a good or great collection (with value) then the “second rule” changes!
Some people make funny comparisons when justifying what they are buying/collecting; either by kidding themselves that a truly overpriced model is worth it, or conversely that a very expensive model is not worth the price. Both are somewhat right but mostly wrong. And, it is simply not only about what someone is willing to pay.
1:8 scale 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2600. Pocher kit, built to an OK standard (better than the majority of ALL built Pochers). Thousands of parts, many working features along with very many poor fitting parts typical of all built Pochers. Never will be worth much, many thousands of these produced, difficult to sell. Price range depending on build quality… $1,200 - $4,500. The one in the photo sold for $1,750 at auction incl. buyers premium.
A very savvy collector might think something is too expensive for what it is, and might be right, but just as often, said collector could be dead wrong. You owe it to yourself and to any seller (private or dealer) to do your due diligence. You really need to understand the models in order to make good/informed decisions. The same rule applies to all collectibles.
Two common pitfalls I have seen; both due to lack of understanding & lack of due diligence. Collectors missing out on something that was a once in a lifetime opportunity, or great rarity. The other side of the coin is for those who bought something that was just not a good purchase, or anywhere near as special as they thought.
Bear in mind, there is a huge difference between limited edition hand built models that were made in the UK, Europe, and the USA, and the much more common mass market ones cranked out of factories in Asia. Limited = a couple hundred or less vs. the mass of thousands. Then to make it all a bit more complicated, there are custom built, and scratch built models.
1:8 scale 1957 Ferrari 315S from MiniDelta, made by Patrice De Conto. Spectacular hand built limited edition. Perfectly accurate. Made in France, sold out edition of 25 models. NO working parts - curbside model, but an exceptional piece of artistry. These do sell quickly on the very rare occasion one comes up for sale. Price range $11,000 to $14,000 and worth it.
There are too many scenarios to list here, but the most common, inaccurate comparison I have heard time and time again, is... incorrectly comparing a truly limited-edition hand built model to a mass produced one. Can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone try to knock a price down or justify their misguided belief by making a real stretch and comparing two or more completely dissimilar models (or any other items).
Rarely is one of these comparisons ever valid; most often it’s an “apples vs. oranges” comparison. Sure…. those are both fruits, and they’re round, and grow on trees, but are still completely different. This “stretch” also happens with average & midrange mass market models.
Here is what I always look at and consider before I buy. Please note: the rules are a bit different for a custom built or scratch built model…. that’s a future article. OK, in this order: Subject matter, accuracy, overall quality, fit and finish, fine detailing (the quality-accuracy-and fitting of these parts), working parts if any, rarity - is it a hand built Ltd. edition, low/mid volume edition, or mass market, model brand (but this last one is a variable).
Two great looking 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS “tear drop” models from two manufacturers. Light blue is 1:18 from CMC with many working parts, thousands produced in China. Available everywhere for around $450 which is less than list price. The smaller 1:24 scale burgundy car was made by Motor City USA almost 19 years ago, has NO working parts (curbside model), very rare, a highly sought after sold out hand built Ltd. edition of 300 made in the USA. Price range $800 to $900.
Don’t forget your due diligence, and keep in mind: Quality vs. quantity. Buy quality, it wins every time. Add in rarity with quality, and it’s a no-brainer. A low price on something one thinks is substantial in value most often is not, hence the low price. Do NOT buy based solely on the size of the model or how many parts it is made of. Yes, they can add value, but not always.
Buy the best and you’ll only cry once.
To read more great columns like this one from model car expert Marshall Buck...
Collecting Model Cars
Editor of AutoMobilia Resource Magazine, and owner of CMA Models, Marshall Buck caters to serious collectors of boutique and high-end model cars.