Blog : Opinioning your value

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Mike Humble

In the real world, cars like this Rover 45 are as worthless as a broken mirror. To us fans of the brand they are worth what we are happy to pay.
In the real world, unless they are something really special, MGR cars tend to be as loved and
as valuable as a Gary Glitter LP. To us fans of the brand they are worth every penny
of what we are happy to pay

Putting the value on a used Rover or MG is a difficult thing these days. The newest one you’ll find today is fast approaching 11 years old in terms of its build date. It’s time to consider what the trade views and values alongside those of the fan-based community buyers.

Being one of the eight moderators on the AROnline Facebook page is, for most of the time, a fairly stress-free undertaking. As with any social media platform, this site included, it brings out the very best and very worst in people and most certainly is an eye opener. A lot of stuff comes round and around with regularity which is by no means a bad thing and we often get asked for advice, solutions and other requests and in return we try to help and, of course, entertain you through our posts while thoroughly enjoying yours.

But going back to Facebook, there is one topic I try to avoid commenting or advising on like the plague – valuations on cars. I really do sigh when someone posts about a car they have seen for sale, or about something they want to sell, and want to know what it’s worth. Those who know me will agree I rarely pull punches, and I have a realistic view on our beloved BMC>MGR cars. Driving round in my beloved MintEgo, I practise what I preach.

Nor do I wear what some brand fans become blinded by: Rover-tinted spectacles. When it comes to putting an exact value on a model, especially a post-Austin Rover, and even more so with MG Rover era cars, unless it’s something really special, the answer – sadly – is sod all.

Well, that’s the official real world view – if you don’t believe me, see what the salesman offers you at your nearest showroom to part exchange or text your registration number to Werobanyone.com. Make sure you’re sitting down when the text reply pings back, though. Before you throw your tea at the screen, hear me out. Your 1998 Rover 414 Si might be worth a million dollars to you, despite those raggy rear wheel arches, and I totally understand that. We Brits simply love the underdog and no other British brand conjures so much emotion – after all, just look at this website’s most popular content.

Only bombsite dealers stock MGR cars. But so called "prestige" used dealers quite often peddle low mileage high spec cars like the Rover 75 for ambitious over inflated prices.
Only bombsite or low end used dealers stock MGR cars these days. However, so called prestige
used dealers quite often try their luck by peddling low-mileage, high-spec cars like the V6
Rover 75 for ambitious over-inflated prices. We are still a few years away from these cars
(V8 models being the current exception) from being true appreciating retro classics

Unless you browse at trader dumps, which emulate something like the runway at Port Stanley after the Vulcans had done their bit, you won’t see an MG or Rover these days. On the other side of the coin, wannabe prestige showrooms will try to sell a 2005 KV6 Rover 75 with low mileage for anything up to a hilarious nine grand. You and I know the muppet will have given £500 allowance against an 18 month old Kia Magentis, so he can afford to keep the V6 Connie gathering more dust than his rubber plants – and it will. For the average half-decent Joe Dealer, an MG or Rover is about as desirable in his showroom as a gas leak.

A good example of day dreaming dealers came to light just recently. Last year, Russ Swift (yes, the very same), had a small clear out of some of his own personal car collection. Among his tidy fleet was a pair of Austin Montegos. One was a Cashmere Gold 1.6L of ’88 vintage (below). It was very pretty, with just 17,000 clicks on the clock.

It was not 101 per cent tip top but was, nonetheless, one of the best examples out there. We broke the news last year, but sadly no one stepped forward to buy. In the end, Russ sold the car at a show to a trader based in Lancashire for an utter bargain price of £1800. Folks, you really missed out on that one!

Russ Swift owned this immaculate 17,000 mile 1.6L for a short while and sold it to a dealer for just £1800. After six months it failed to sell so it went to auction and went for £2600. By the time the dealer had bought it, stored it, MOT'd and moved it from Lancs to Norfolk I doubt a penny profit was made. A lesson in greed for all to learn.
Russ Swift owned this lovely 17,000 mile 1.6L for a short while and sold it to a dealer for just
£1800 who then priced it up at a silly £4000. After six months, it failed to sell so it went to
auction selling for a shade over £2600. By the time the dealer had bought it, stored it, MoT’d
and moved it from Lancs to Norfolk I doubt a penny profit was made.
A lesson in greed for all to learn…

It then popped on various websites with an opening gambit of – wait for it – £4000! The wording of the advert was so over the top, laying on with a trowel that it was Russ’s former car, that you would have thought it was the car which Russ actually used in the famous stunt driving Montego advert.

After almost six months, it failed to sell. It’s just gone through Anglia Car Auctions as Lot 66A. They placed their estimate between £2200 to £2600 and the car duly went under the hammer for a reasonable £2625. I spoke to Russ this week, and he seemed disappointed at the trader’s initial greed, but said he hoped it had finally gone to someone who had the time to devote some love upon it. Hear, hear, Russ!

I have always preached the verse that a car is only worth as much as the potential owner is prepared to pay. I, and others, have paid over the odds for motors in the past, for no other reason than that aforementioned emotion. This is the reason why some of the really nice examples change hands by word of mouth without anyone else ever having the opportunity to counter bid. Prime examples of that are my Rover 75 and my current Montego. The whole gig was initially developed through two blokes standing in a field just outside Peterborough – in fan terms, that’s how it rolls!

However, if you want to know what your motor is worth, look at similar model adverts on AutoTrader and so on. Be really honest, critical of the condition and price it up competitively with the others that you see out there for sale. My Humble opinion is to do this rather than ask on forum pages.

The actual thereabouts figure will be much more reliable and often more flattering. Nor does it come with a billion offensive or Mickey-taking comments which sadly spoil social media for those of us who adore our classic cars and for whom their value has more to do with emotion than just money alone.

Just remember, most of us own and sell our cars not as investments, but purely out of plain old love for all things BMC>MGR.

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

17 Comments

  1. You see this problem allot in classic car ads. The seller will list all the work they have done with itemised bills. they think that the fact they have spent £5000 on some brown 70’s classic means it is now worth six grand, when most go for a fraction of that.

    They will then complain on forums about cars being undervalued, not getting that as you say, the car is only worth what people will pay.

  2. Ah the thorny issue of what an owners pride & joy is worth.
    In general auctions including ebay will produce a value for a given car.
    However valuing a car can be difficult especially in a rising market, I am a member of the Opel Manta club & in the last year or so values of Mantas especially coupes are rising by around 20% PA.
    Gone are the days when a project Manta Coupe needing full restoration could be picked up for £500
    I too have seen dealers catch a cold when they have bought classic cars & haven’t done their research on what that car is really worth.

  3. All this is fair comment. I’ve got 3 gorgeous Rover 75 cars. A Tourer Connoisseur SE CDTI Auto bought new in 2005 which I rate as the best vehicle I’ve ever owned. Partly because it’s such a gem & I ‘fancied’ a non-estate model, within the last 12 months I’ve acquired 2 second-hand Saloons – both also Connoisseur SE’s; A manual diesel & ( just for the fun of having something rare & rather impractical ), a V8. 1 owner with less than 20,000 on the clock. I’d be prepared to spend almost anything (within reason!) to keep all 3 in as 1st class condition as possible. I’d like to think I (or my executors!) might recoup this outlay. My heart says “I might”! My head tells me the only way to benefit from whatever outlay has occurred is THROUGH USING / ENJOYING these wonderful cars. Thank-you, Mike, for your comments. Sadly you’re right!!

  4. I think we have to face it – our precious Austin Rover > MGR cars are worth very little to the average punter. Big money spent to keep them in tip top condition will not be recovered.

    A case in point is my very own ZR – the asking price continues to fall but still no sale. When I was initially asking £1150, a guy living nearby offered me £800. To him it was just an old car – me telling him just how well it had been maintained seemed to wash over him and there was no increase in his offer. At the time I thought “£800? – What a nerve!”, Now, however, my asking price is fast falling towards this sum – currently £895 ono.

    It’s worth far more to me than the typical person after a cheap second hand car.

    • “I think we have to face it – our precious Austin Rover > MGR cars are worth very little to the average punter. Big money spent to keep them in tip top condition will not be recovered.

      A case in point is my very own ZR – the asking price continues to fall but still no sale. When I was initially asking £1150, a guy living nearby offered me £800. To him it was just an old car – me telling him just how well it had been maintained seemed to wash over him and there was no increase in his offer. At the time I thought “£800? – What a nerve!”, Now, however, my asking price is fast falling towards this sum – currently £895 ono.

      It’s worth far more to me than the typical person after a cheap second hand car”

      How much money you have spent, and how well you looked after the car is irrelevant. If vehicles in similar condition go for less, that is what your car is worth.

      Even if you have the best ZR in the country, the premium over the others is likely to be less than you want. You also have to remember that there are far better car available in the ZR’s class secondhand.

  5. Mike,you are right, what we spend to keep our vehicles in tip-top condition is irrational from a financial viewpoint. But that’s not why we do it – the thrill is to think of your precious vehicle 25, 50 or 100 years from now being admired. You need to see it through your great-grandchildren’s eyes.

    The current value is irrelevant as it was to people who conserved old aircraft, old steam trains or any other old machines that keep on going. Fred Dibnah enjoyed every minute of his life through his traction engines…worth very little after his demise I am sure.

    In my own case with my early-example of a Rover 216 GTi at http://rover-216-gti-web-site.myfreesites.net/ I am sure it is worth little more the £1,000 but it represents a moment in British motoring history – That’s enough for me.

  6. Exactly the reason that when I finally decided to move on from my beloved 2004 Hi-spec ZT190 in 2012 with 106,000 on it, by replacing it with a 2 year old Jaguar XF, I still have the ZT today.

    It was worth not a lot then, and even less now, so keep it, and divide my high mileage between the two. The 3.0 Diesel S XF is a truly tremendous car, but the old ZT still feels great to drive, the seats are frankly the best I’ve ever experienced, and the V6 is creamy, smooth, and sounds glorious on full chant. Currently I’m driving from Coventry to Scotland each week, and last week I went there and back in the ZT in the same day – all in its stride. Now with 145,000 up, it’s never let me down in ten years.

    Folks do tell me though, that the 75 and ZT will be ‘classic’ far sooner than most averagemobiles. Here’s hoping.

  7. @ bartelbe

    Think you’ve hit the nail on the head – my first class maintenance of my ZR don’t command the PREMIUM I initially thought it would. Nor does its relatively low mileage seemingly. Can’t understand it – with a low mileage car you’re buying more years of motoring. Why is there not more of a premium over looney high milers?

    • Low mileage cars can ring alarm bells if you are buying secondhand. Is the mileage legit, and even if it is, low mileage is not necessarily a good thing. It can indicate a car which has spent most of its life doing a few urban miles.

      The engine never gets upto temperature, and the car never runs above 30. That sort of car will be more worn than one which has done long motorway miles, with warm oil.

      • A friend once bought a car of 15 year vintage with only 14k on the clock.

        He actually had more issues with perished hoses, brakes binding etc. than if it had been a regular and maintained motorway runner.

        The good point though, was that the bodywork was mint. Engine issues can be fixed, bodywork is usually a nightmare to sort out without spending a fortune on a respray.

  8. I think the 75 will become a popular classic in the next decade. Most I see seem to be in immaculate condition and seem well loved by their owners, very few have descended into banger status, and it appears that people seem to want to keep what is the last true Rover, a big, good looking saloon. It would be nice to see the 75 become as well loved as the Morris Minor became when it reached classic status.

    • I once commented somewhere about my theory of “Banger Valley”, in that most cars – ie. regular day to day production cars – have an initial ‘new’ peak, then fall (some more than others) through nearly-new used, cheap used and into bangerdom.

      Bangerdom is the trough of their value, when it is often used as a cheap runabout and any major bill condemns it to scrap.

      Then, when the ‘herd’ has been thinned out, any remaining members are appreciated (and likely to have been looked after), and start to slowly climb in value again out of the trough.

      I think that, even cars that were laughed at and neglected in their day, such as Lada Rivas and Skoda Estelles, have now climbed in value as rare collectors items. I believe that this too will happen eventually to things like Perodua Kelisas and CityRovers….

  9. I was after a rover 600T (on a V, in black and with all the service history) for 11 years. This time last year an email pinged into my inbox; I was asked if I was still interested. It had a scrap value of £160 – it is now ready for the road with new MOT, and once the driver’s seat bolster is fixed will be gracing the roads of west Lancashire. Silly money for a future classic me thinks!

  10. I imagine more MG Rover cars will become future classics than the likes of Toyota’s, Hyundai’s, KIA etc. Not any dis-respect to them, but there is such a huge range of cars on our roads now, so many will become instantly forgetable?

    For instance as Roger says, the R600 is more memorable than the Accord it was based on.

  11. Take a look at the Hursley Hill SMG Garage website. I recently saw a 2008 registered ZT160 with delivery miles for sale, at the princely sum of £14,995, and I now see that has been sold. How much for? Sadly unknown, but as a MG fanatic I was sorely tempted to exchange my VW CC (until Mrs S heard about it anyway). I hope the new owner treats it well. New cam belts etc, fitted were included in the price.
    If that wasn’t enough, I also saw in the flesh a Rover 75 V8 Connoisseur, again 2008 reg’ delivery miles, with every conceivable toy, for the eye watering screen price of £29,995. Now that WAS a step too far. One does dream a little though….

  12. From the sublime…..

    About 5 years ago I got a valuation for my 1998S Rover 420GSI 5 door, from We Buy Any Car, when it still had less than 100K miles on the clock. Initially my company car, I’d driven it from new. Full service history etc. £70, less an admin fee of either £30 or £40, I can’t remember which. A couple of years later with the mileage approaching 120K, I did the same. £110 less admin fee.
    Needless to say, I didn’t bite any further on either occasion.
    Nevertheless, it’s another salutary reminder of how the market can value this sort of car.

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