How Kelley Blue Book Works

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Kelley Blue Book

The Kelley Blue Book is one of the oldest “usable” price manuals you’ll find. Established almost 9-10 decades ago, the Kelley Blue Book archives accurate and updated prices for automobiles. Through it, you’ll receive accurate values of both motorcycles and recreational vehicles. This has made it a standard for pricing among buyers and sellers.

With the introduction of the internet, this manual has expanded online. And so you can easily acquire accurate evaluations for

any vehicle!

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Below, we’ll provide you more information on the manual’s history, and where it gets it pricing information!

The Beginnings.

The KBB started with Leslie Kelley, a used car salesman. He had actually never intended to start a pricing manual, but that simply developed over time from his original business. Through help from his brother Buster, they started a car sales and repair enterprise in 1918. In order to get more stock of used cars, Kelley would print out notes of cars he’d like to buy, and the price he’d pay to previous owners. Over time, his pricing methods became trusted by many dealers nationwide, and with bankers too. This prompted him to release more of his pricing evaluations, and eventually establishing it into a book by 1926. He decided to name it after the famous Social Registrar (Blue Book), as a way of indicating its value.

Les Kelley’s dealership expanded over time, eventually becoming one of the biggest nationwide. His Blue Book’s popularity also

increased overseas, becoming a recognized method for evaluating cars. During the 1960s, the Kelley family decided to sell away their dealerships, and put all their effort into the Blue Books.

In the 80s and 90s, the KBB Company began using computers to store and track changes in prices. By the early 90s, the company presented car dealers with programs that recorded and printed car conditions, mileage, and a used car optional equipment. The printout included the KBB official seal and KBB car pricing. Following that, the KBB was released as a consumer guide, and a website was created in 1995.

The KBB was eventually sold by Bob Kelley after a few generations of handling the company. As of today, the company employs 200 people, with offices in Michigan and California.

The Kelley Blue Book Evolution

When the book was first released in 1926, the KBB was a simple list of cars with prices. Over time, the list expanded into new and used cars, and also cars that date all the way to the 1940s. Also, the list includes recreational cars, motorcycles, trailers, and motorhomes. A lot of the information can be easily accessed at the official website.

The KBB offers only info for cars bought and sold in the US. Similar models sold in Canadian territories may contain major differences that change the car’s value. Regardless, the guide can still be used when an old car is sold in a different country, but the guide won’t take into account differences in regional markets.

Many people are familiar with Used and New Car Guides (consumer editions). Those can be bought at any bookstore, where

such guides are published 2 times a year. The KBB is similar to those guides.

The Kelley Blue Book provides a “new car guide,” containing price info on cars of specific model years. Those include…

Dealer Cost
MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price)
• Additional costs required (such as car shipments).
• Price tables for additional options that may be available in the car.

The KBB “used cars guide” will provide information on models 15 years back. You’ll get different prices for each model.

• Retail pricing – what a used car salesman will charge you at a dealership.
• Trade-in pricing – what a used car salesman will trade your car for.
• Private sales pricing – what you’ll get if you sell the car to another consumer.

You’ll get tables and charts that aid you in price calculation. The prices depend on the car’s condition, optional equipment, and mileage. Also, the influence of those factors on car value is described. Do note that old car values are published separately from RV and motorcycle values. RV and motorcycle information is only on the KBB website.

It’s easy to use the books. Cars are provided by manufacturer, followed by an alphabetical listing. As an example, getting the example of a Ford Explorer required you to visit the Ford portion of the book. Then you’d check for “E” till you find the Explorer model. Also, the book contains information on how to use it with ease.


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