Determining Value for a Used Boat

One of the common questions we get here at is, “what is the value of my used boat?” The common answer is, whatever the actual selling price!  But, when you have an older, less common, or custom boat, that can be a tough question.

A 1960 Glasspar G3 for sale in Florida, but at what price?

If you ask a broker this question, they have resources to help them determine what buyers are paying for used boats.  Namely, they can reference the BUC tables, the “blue book” value of boats.  You can access the BUC tables online for a fee.

Brokers can also reference past sales information collected by, and the NADA guides.  Read an article about using NADA guides and to value your boat.

An ad showing a new G3 in 1960

A recent visitor to asked us to help determine the value of her 1960 Glasspar G3 runabout.  The pictures accompanying the request showed the boat looking “tired”. Michelle, the owner, provided a little background. “My husband and I purchased the boat about 17 years ago.  We painstakingly rebuilt all the stringers, the floorboard, and rebuilt the transom.  It is very solid and strong.  Unfortunately when we took it to have it sprayed with new gel-coat, the guy did not follow the directions and within a year the gel coat cracked.  It just made us lose interest in the boat. The 40 hp Mercury motor does start and has good compression.  We have an extra lower unit for the motor and the trailer is in great condition, other than needing some oil for the bearings. The cover was custom made.  I think my husband put $1400 OBO on it.”

The engine, although in working condition, does not ad value to this classic as a period correct engine would be more attractive to a collector
The poor condition of the gelcoat will not help sell this boat

When I called a broker friend, his brokers’ database of sold boats showed that only two similar sized Glasspar boats from the 60s had been sold, for between $150 and $1,595, over 10 years ago. There were none of this exact year, make or model.  Time for digging on the internet; I found references to the Glasspar company and its history and better yet I found a Glasspar owners association.  When I inquired on the owners’ association online forum as to the value, I got this response, “There are a lot of people here that could help, but they are going to need a lot more info! Photos are important, because condition is critical to price… There are, of course, a lot of other factors- equipment, location, etc. The more original & complete, the more it’s going to be worth.”

The boat will have more value to a collector or person familiar with the boat, so your first attempts should be to contact any owners’ associations.  For our particular G3 owner, my arms-length assessment of the boat’s condition and value is low.  I’m not familiar enough with the boat to know if the upgrades the owner did are in keeping with the original, which hampers my ability to assess the exact value. I do know that not having a period-correct engine will decrease the value.

Structural repairs by the owner may be plenty strong, but are they in keeping with the original?

However, for a boat that floats, with a working engine and functional trailer that can still tow a waterskier, I believe the owner is in the right range at $1,400.  After looking at the restoration pictures of other G3 boats on the association website, they could have a diamond in the rough if they restored it to its former glory and condition with attention to detail.

A diamond in the rough, a working skiboat for $1,400 or a collector’s restoration project

Our specific G3 example aside, you can determine the value of your boat by comparing it to listings online, using a broker, subscribing to BUC, or contacting the owners’ association for your make and model. For “low volume” builders of production boats, contact the builder. Sometimes the builder will buy back used boats to protect the value of new boats.

Remember the age, condition, features and equipment all contribute to the value.  If you are serious about selling your boat, use any or all of these resources to value your boat and set the price accordingly.

Written by: Peter d'Anjou

A USCG licensed captain and former merchant mariner, Peter d'Anjou is now a freelance writer and editor. A one-time executive editor at Sailing World magazine, he writes about his passion for racing and boating. Having managed a large yacht repair facility in the NE U.S. his background in boat construction and repair translate to the practical side of boat ownership.

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