THERE IS a popular on-line car sales site that, as I write, has listed a complete slightly weathered tool kit for a classic Ferrari (pic above). With two days to go, the highest bid is a smidge over US$15,000.

Most of us who read this magazine own cars that are worth less.

In that spirit of sharing, I now offer the complete tool kit from my Dad’s mid-80s Toyota Seca, mint condition. Offers over $1000 given careful consideration – please send to this magazine. And no, the car does not come with it.

But what is value? What is an old car – or a tool roll – worth? Do we measure by the heart or the head? Or the pocket? Is it an emotional or a financial decision?

In this esteemed journal of quality motoring, you will spy ads for number plates for sale for more than some family homes. Two years ago, the most valuable number plate in Australia changed hands at auction in Sydney for $2,450,000.

That is not an error in the production or printing or editing of this magazine.

I will spell it in case your glasses are blurring and the zero’s are confusing you. Two million, four hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That was one million dollars more than the auction house were expecting. Do not overlook the reality that someone else – the under-bidder – was willing to pay $2.44k.

Something is happening here that I struggle to comprehend.

Good luck to anyone who wants to invest their money that way. If you have that much, I guess it has to go somewhere. It is no one else’s business, I agree. But what do these transactions say about the classic car market? And is still a hobby when so much money is at stake?

I am this month helping a friend dispose of his father’s car collection. A sudden and fatal stroke deprived his dear dad of the retirement dream getting the old cars going. Most of them had been dry stored for thirty years. Very cruel – fate can be so unfair. None of us knows what will happen tomorrow.

But now the family has to untangle the puzzle of what belongs to which car and how to retrieve fair value for them. There are around 20 cars, some worth very little and some worth a lot.

The first viewer came to see the most valuable car in the collection and offered the widow about half what it is worth. He seemed a perfectly decent fellow, and explained he was wanting to embark on a nut and bolt concourse restoration of what in any market is a rare and desirable – even iconic if you can forgive the cliche – collectable car.

In my role as honorary [that means unpaid] consultant I explained to the family that the car was not worth less just because this buyer wanted to invest more into it than anyone else would. His problem is that he does not want to over capitalise it, so he wants a lower base from which to start.

Most buyers will have a completely different intent – instead investing in a mechanical recommission of this largely rust-free but cob-webbed barn find, attend to the minimal panel work needed, keeping the car as original as possible instead of gutting it. And will still have more than enough left over to buy the tool kit that I mentioned at the start.

Maybe this is not new. Different people have wildly divergent notions of value and worth.

The funniest car advertisement I ever saw – and somewhere deep in a pile of old papers buried in a filing cabinet I think I still have the clipping – was an ad 30 years ago in the Saturday newspaper motor market. Amidst the pages of tempting bargains, long wordy explanations of modifications, hard luck stories and lies, it stuck out for its wit and brevity.

The wording was neither elaborate nor informative, but on the other hand it told me everything I needed to know.

“Citroen for Sale - suit wealthy idiot”