Hyman emphasized the value of an appraisal in the case of an insurance dispute. "The dispute is typically with an insurance company that was never part of the agreed value accepted by the owner and the owner's insurance company," he explains. "If the car is damaged in a collision or in a paint shop fire, your insurance will pay the agreed value. But when you start dealing with the paint shop's insurance company or with the insurance company of the person who crashed into you at the cruise night, you'll need some way of determining the value of your vehicle."

Classic Auto Appraiser makes house calls, doing its appraisals wherever the car is located. Hyman comes equipped with a digital camera and a laptop to record extensive photos and technical data on the vehicle being appraised. He examines the vehicle with the care and the expertise of an ISCA show judge, noting descriptions, modifications, and components. "Some owners know every nut and bolt on their car," he told us, "and a lot of the people we deal with may not be aware of all the elements of the car."

After many years in this business, Hyman has developed what he calls "templates" for street rods, hot rods, customs, restorations, lowriders, trucks, and bikes. "The programs list every possible mod from front bumper to rear; I note all the modifications that have been made to the vehicle being appraised."

The results are presented to the owner in the form of a bound appraisal report, which includes an identification and description of the car, listing virtually every component on the car and every modification made. It also contains a condition report on every area of the car-exterior, interior, and engine compartment (rated poor, fair, average, good, very good, or excellent)-any published stories on the vehicle, dozens of photos of every corner of the car from multiple angles, and finally, a summation of the dollar value of the vehicle.

We got a hold of the Classic Auto Appraiser appraisal report on Brian Brennan's '29 Ford roadster. The report is more than 30 pages long and incredibly thorough. As it turns out, Brennan's roadster rated an "excellent" scoring in all applicable categories.

We wondered how Hyman determines subjective judgments such as "very good" and "excellent." "Condition is subjective, of course," he explains, "and that's where 22 years of experience comes in. I have worked as a judge at many major car shows, including the Grand National Roadster Show, so I've seen enough to be able to judge a car's condition and dollar value pretty well. Every once in a while I may come across a vehicle that I'm not sure of. I do belong to an appraisal association and I will seek the opinion of other experienced appraisers within that association, or I'll get the expert opinions of professional builders, asking them what they think it would cost to build such a vehicle."

We asked Hyman about the qualifications to look for when searching for a reliable appraiser. "You want someone with lots of experience. You want to avoid these networks and groups with appraisers who have been trained for maybe a week, and who then go out and takes some photos and send them to a parent company for a long-distance appraisal. If your car gets stolen or wrecked, that appraiser might have to be an expert witness in a court case where his credibility will be called into question; he will be questioned aggressively by the opposing lawyer. You need somebody with testimony experience who will be able to state with confidence that he did see your vehicle, that he is the one who made the dollar amount appraisal, and that he has the credentials and the authority to back up his appraisal."