Low number cars are all the rage in the Hot Wheels world. But what really is a low number? Where did this marketing strategy come from and can you really charge extra?
Where did the low number idea come from?
Low numbers have always been a thing, just not really applied to the diecast collector world. In the automotive world if you had the 001 car produced you can command an obscene amount of money over numbers like 002 and above. Most of the 001 automobiles are reserved for the manufacturer and put in museums. So where did it come from in the diecast world? Well a few years back when the RLC '55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser "The Candy Striper" jumped on the scene, item number 00001 of 04000 popped up on eBay. The price was going through the roof! See below:
Yes, you are seeing that right! $12,500. This was selling more than an actual real car, maybe even a real gasser! I read in groups were people were bidding just to say they bid and had no intentions of paying. So what's the point right? The item was relisted after non payer and sold for much less but still a really nice chuck of change for a $25 car! Being a collector for approximately 25 years, this is the earliest I have seen of a low number car being advertised for sale. Today, it seems like any number is considered a low number. But is it really worth more?
First we need to examine the question of what exactly constitutes as a low number. We all know 00001 is the lowest number available on run numbered cars. Does that number change with a higher run number such as 01234 of 12,000? Is 1,234 a low number in my eyes? Absolutely not! 1,233 people are before you. I had 990 students in my high school. Imagine being the last one and you're still 243 people away! I see too many post of thousands of numbers, to the highest of 3512 of 10,000 being advertised as a "low number".
And yes they were charging more! My opinion a very low number is 1-10. A low number would be 11-100. Anything other than that should be charged at a normal fair market value.
I know what you're thinking, if people buy into low numbers and pay extra then there is no reason to not market as a low number. This comes from immaturity in the diecast collector market. New collectors pop on the scene daily advertising they found Datsun mainlines not understand run numbers or low numbers in general. They read the listing title and automatically assume its a low number and it must cost more money. This causes a newbie seller to do the same and thinks a 04000 of 12,000 is a low number when in fact, its NOT! This low number has plagued the hobby. Its a deception and unmoral thing to say you have a low number when you simply do not. People are buying into these things expecting to make some massive profits because they think they have something special.
How much extra can you charge for a low number?
There's a simple answer for this. Whatever you want! That doesn't mean someone is going to buy it. An experienced buyer will just move onto the next listing to get the best deal regardless of the number. Low number listings are becoming a joke. See the above Ebay listing to see what I mean. But lets take a look also at the radical price differences from people who THINK they own low number cars:
This seller is advertising he has 1 of 4000. Not 00001 but actually 00647 of 04000. Completely misleading and false advertising otherwise known as "click bait". He's commanding a staggering $3500 for a car that has 646 cars made before that one! He has 14 watchers none will buy this car. It will just sit there.
This seller is advertising a non low number car for $3500 also and that run number is 01200 of 04000! Even worse but at least he didn't mislead anyone. He just wants a ton of money for nothing. But the example is to show that this car's run number is twice what the previous Gasser is and the same amount of money.
This seller is asking a more reasonable price for his gasser and the run number is only 21 more than the previous listing at 01221. This guy will sell his much faster than the previous two even with the first one advertising a low number that is clearly nowhere near a low number! But you can get an idea of how much people will charge just because they assume they have a low number.
Should there be some guideline to what is considered a low number and as to whether you can charge more? I think so. It's unfortunate this trend will not go away as long as people keep buying into them. If people can see a way to make more money from the same item they will. We may not like it but we can also do the same thing. Its all about your morals and what people are will to pay. Expect to see prices 2x, 3x, or 4x the normal fair market values for these advertised low numbered cars. You decide on whats low or not. I have set some guidelines that I hope will stick. Just to add to the confusion, I would say the last number should be something special also. Just as in the the automotive world, the last car to come off the line usually will cost you more.
What are your thoughts on this? What do you think is considered a low number? Do you go by percentage of number to run number or what the actual number is regardless of run number? I'd love to hear your thoughts