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Car language
I found this interesting webpage which breaks down the descriptive words used by many to communicate the condition of classic cars.
They also have a good write-up on what you should pay for a car.


This info might make a good document for our site's WIKI... Idea

here's the text from the page/link above:

Are we all speaking the same language?

One of the more unpleasant things we have experienced as car buyers is that most everyone seems to use the same words but mean different things.

For example how many times have you heard the following terms when asking questions about a car;

Matching numbers
Original engine
Correct engine
All NOS parts
All date codes are correct
Frame off restoration
Rotisserie restoration
Unrestored but refurbished
#1 car, #2 car # 3 car etc.
Rare , ultra rare and desriable
Decoded by so and so
Fully documented

Those are a few terms people selling cars throw around, but seem to have a different intrinsic meaning to each person who uses the terminology. Therefore we are not going to try to provide a definitive answer as to what each term means. But rather we will tell you right now and up front what we think they mean and more importantly what they mean when we use them in discussing a car with you. Click on a term above to view our definitions.

1. Matching numbers. We think this means that a manufacturer stamped the last six digits of the cars VIN number unto the engine block at the factory. So that the last six numbers on the block match the last six numbers on numbers on the VIN plate. However on most engine blocks the numbers are on a machined pad and can be ground off and new numbers replaced over the old ones.
So matching numbers DOES not mean the engine is original to the car from the factory. It just means they match the pad and the VIN plate.

However some cars like a 67 GTO for example will most likely not have the VIN stamped unto the block but will rather have a unit or part number stamped on the engine. This can be cross checked with the Pontiac Historical Society documents to see if the numbers match. Other cars like a 1965 ,1966 GT 350 Shelby mustang will have only the Shelby American VIN number on the VIN plate and the Ford VIN is stamped underneath the passenger side fender and on the engine block. Only the Shelby American Auto Club can verify that the numbers are correct for that car.

Further more once you determine if a cars numbers “match” then you must check the date codes on the major components to see if they were built before the car was built. Which will dramatically increase the chances that a matching number car has the factory original engine if all the cars major components were built before the car was actually built.

So when we represent a car as matching numbers we will go into great further detail to inform you whether or not all the date codes are correct or whether we have cross checked them some other way to corroborate the matching number description.

2. Original engine. We take this to mean that the engine in the car is the one that the car left the factory with. Classic cars with an original engine are exceedingly rare. We would only describe a car as having the original engine if the numbers on the block looked factory stamped, and matched the VIN or other identifier such as SAAC or PHS records and every date code was correct in that every major component was built before the car was built.

3. Correct engine. When we use this term we mean that the engine in the car is correct for the car but not the original engine. For example a 1970 Pontiac GTO as shown by Pontiac Historical Society documents and the cowl data plate might have left the factory with a 400 cubic inch ram air three motor. Therefore such a motor would have the letters YZ stamped on the left side of the engine under the head. The heads themselves would have the number 12 stamped on them. However when you check the cast date or the date the engine block was cast and built it may indicate that the block was cast after the car was built but still cast in model year 1970 making the engine correct for the car but not original to the car. One can find the build date of the car on the cowl data plate the fourth line down from the top of the plate using a 1970 Pontiac for example.

One of these correct motors may be matching numbers since someone may have restamped the VIN on the engine pad, but the cast date of the block eliminates the possibility that it was original to the car. The fact is many owners blow up a motor and find a correct model year engine and restamp the pad and put it back in a car and try to pass it off as an original engine car. When it is in reality a correct matching number engine for the car but clearly not original.

4. NOS parts. (New old stock) We understand this term to be used to describe a new vintage part distributed by a manufacturer as a service part for a particular model. This term is often we think incorrectly used to describe any new part serviced by a dealer as a replacement part for a particular model.

Which We understand that to mean that after the car was built the manufacturer ordered original equipment parts to be sent to dealers to be installed on cars when the factory assembly line parts wore out on the sold cars.

In our experience we have found that parts installed on cars on the assembly line often called “assembly line parts” are somewhat different than NOS parts because different vendors and suppliers may have been used to supply the dealers with replacement parts then were used to supply the actual assembly lines that originally built the cars. The difference is that casting dates or part numbers may be different as well as the fact that they will lack the correct assembly line markings or codes.

That then leaves what we have found to be “take off parts” these are parts taken off a donor car and installed on another car. These parts may be both assembly line parts or NOS parts from our experience.

The importance of the part distinctions is that cars with assembly line parts still on the cars are generally worth more than cars with NOS parts and clearly worth more than cars restored with reproduction parts. In fact the parts alone on a car restored with all assembly line parts or NOS parts can exceed six figures in today’s market.

5. Date code correct. This means to us that all the casting dates on components like the engine block, heads, intake manifold, transmission and rear differential are correct in that they indicate that they were cast and built before the car was built. Other parts like distributors and carburetors may not have cast dates but will have stamped part numbers which must be found to be correct for the car.

6. Frame off restoration...

7. Rotisserie restoration. We take this to mean that a car was brought back to the original condition and most of the time better than the original condition using assembly line parts or NOS parts or reproduction parts. During the restoration process the chassis or unibody was bolted to a large rotating fixture that allows the car to be rotated. Thus a rotisserie restoration generally means that attention was paid to details not normally accessible when a car is on jackstands. A concours restoration means to us that the car was restored to a level that upon being judged would meet the requirements of the concours class.

8. Unrestored. When we use this term it means the car has not been repainted , touched up , that the engine compartment has been left alone. It essentially means unmolested and no attempt has been made to make it look new or original.

9. Survivor. This term has been copyrighted by Bloomington Gold Corvette association and therefore will only be used by us when we refer to car that has been certified by Bloomington Gold as a survivor.

10. Unrestored but refurbished. We take this to mean that the car has not been brought back to original or new but the car has been repainted and quite possibly the engine compartment has been repainted as well. This is a murky area and to us a car that has been repainted or when the engine is pulled and repainted the car has been restored. Therefore we will probably not be using this term in any description of a car.

11. #1 car or a #2 car or a #3 car. This is perhaps the single greatest area of subjectivity found in the automotive world. One persons #1 car can be another’s #3 car. Therefore we will only tell you what we think they mean and when we describe a car as #1 it will mean the following.

#1 car. When we refer to a car as a #1 car it is essentially a trailer queen. It is in perfect or nearly perfect condition. It has been professionally restored by a well known shop. Restored to the current highest standards. Such a car is not driven more than a few miles each year, if at all. Most #1 cars are only driven into a trailer and off the trailer for a show.

#2 car. Our understanding of a #2 car is that it is in excellent condition. It has most likely been restored and shows little or no wear from the date of restoration. Many older restorations may fall into this category. These cars are primarily show cars and driven on weekends for a few miles each weekend when weather permits. This car may also be a late model car with low miles and meticulously maintained.

#3 car. This is a category that seems to have the most variation. But for our purposes it means that the car is in good to very good condition. Many unrestored classic cars fall into this category that are considered to be completely original but show the normal signs of age. This car is also considered a driver and for late model cars may be a car with average miles but also has been well cared for. A #3 car runs and drives well and is generally considered a very nice car.

In the final analysis we feel how a car is labeled is incredibly subjective and has little meaning due to its level of variation.

12. Rare, ultra rare and desirable. To us a rare car is one built in low volume or a model due to it’s history is not easily found. A rare option on a car to us means that the option was offered or selected by buyers in low volume.

Ultra rare will be used by us when describing an extremely low volume manufactured car or option. For example a 1997 Porsche 993 turbo S of which 176 were imported to North America. Would be described by us as “rare”. A 1994 Porsche 964 turbo S of which 39 were imported to North America would be described by us as “ultra rare”. Another example would be the 1965 GT 350 R Shelby mustangs of which SAAC says 36 were built are certainly very rare. However in 1965 Shelby American built 4 GT 350 drag cars of which one is left in existence today and in 1966 Shelby American built 4 more GT 350 drag cars of which two exist today one of which can be found in our museum. The drag cars would be described by us as “ultra rare”

Desirable. To us these are cars that will always have a strong following regardless of their rarity. They therefore sell for strong money. A rare or ultra rare car does not necessarily mean it is desirable. There are many ultra rare cars that simply don’t have a strong following and don’t command a strong price when they come to market. What a buyer may look for is a car that is both rare and desirable for the strongest return on their purchase price.

13. Decoded. We take this to mean that a cars Cowl data plate or VIN plate or other identifying numbers have been interpreted and explained by an expert or a respected publication source.
First of all anyone can buy a book and find the numbers on a car and the book will explain what they mean. On some cars like Mopars for example the most highly respected expert and the most sought after expert is unquestionably Galen Govier. His name is therefore thrown about quite often by sellers of Mopars.

It is important to distinguish what service Galen has provided to the seller. For example if you send in a copy of your cowl data plate and fender tag to Galen he will decode it for you and send the information back to you. He has not however personally inspected the car. For a very reasonable fee when his schedule permits Galen will come out and personally inspect a car to verify it’s authenticity. Therefore a Govier decoded car is quite different then a Govier inspected car in terms of authenticity and value. The car Galen inspects is substantially more rare and valuable then one simply decoded by him.

14. Fully documented. We take this to mean the car has paperwork which if you assume the paperwork is not a forgery would tend to authenticate it’s origin.

Be advised almost every document in existence can be forged.

However if you find a classic car with such documents as a protecto plate, invoice, shipping invoice, window sticker (also called a "monroney"), build sheet ,owners manual, and a warranty book etc. It will dramatically increase the value of a classic car.

Okay, okay - I know there are a few more like "barn find" that are not included in this list but hey, it's a good start.
And we really need to add Tribute, Clone, and really Fake too...


1971 Boss 351  
1972 Q code 4 speed convertible 
1971 Mustang Sportsroof  351-2V FMX 
1973 Mach 1 (parts car)
Great Info Ray.

[Image: 2zem9nk.jpg]
1972 Mustang convertible run_horse  
Visit the Mustang Car Club of New England Facebook Page

Visit the Mustang Car Club of New England Web Page

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