Fool’s Gold: The Flawed Rationale Of Why Nearly Every Marti Report is “Just 1 of 1”

Jul 2023 | Guides

A car owner often says in Ford muscle car circles, “The Marti Report confirms my car is a one-of-one.”  We cringe whenever we hear or read that, especially when a seller tries to attach a premium price based on the report.

Our latest example of that flawed rationale is on full display in this Craigslist ad we spotted in July 2023, where the seller thinks they can get $80,000 for their “One of One” Diamon Blue Mustang equipped with a 302 cubic inch V8 and C4 automatic transmission.  There’s a reason they only made 81 examples: few people like their car painted baby blue, then or now. We also note this 1968 Ford Mustang convertible for sale is not a more desirable “GT model, it only features a manual convertible top, and the fact the seller is not bragging about the motor likely means it’s the more common two-barrel-topped version:

For perspective on the seller’s $80,000 asking price, here is a comparison table of the Hagerty Insurance, Collector Car Market Review, and OldCars.com price estimates based on a car’s condition:

Additionally, Classic.com’s 12-month moving average is only $39,279. Classic.com indicates the only 1968 Mustang Convertibles approaching $80K or more are well-optioned, highly modified, restomod examples.  We predict the seller is about to learn a hard lesson on how the “1 of 1” mindset will not play out with their Mustang.

and the 1969 Ford Torino GT Super Cobra Jet project, once listed in December 2019 on Craigslist in Philadelphia, is a prime example we’ll get to in a moment.

Our original motivation for writing this blog post came from a 1969 Ford Torino GT Super Cobra Jet project offered by a private seller on Craigslist in December 2019.  The private seller had their slightly incomplete, slightly rusty project listed for $18,000 or best offer, which relying on the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool, confirms has his Torino priced $6,000 below the #4 “Fair” (Daily Driver) estimate of $24,000. While we agree a Super Cobra Jet-equipped Ford Torino GT is a rare car, this is still a well-used incomplete car that needs total restoration. With prices showing early signs of declining, you could easily find yourself underwater in a hurry if you need to farm out most of the work.

If you’re unfamiliar with the name, Kevin Marti is an extremely knowledgeable and recognized expert in the vintage Ford world who is the founder of Marti Auto Works. In addition to providing a variety of reproduction Ford parts, his company has sole licensed access to Ford’s database it uses to decipher Ford’s vehicle identification number (“VIN”).  For a fee, after a customer supplies their VIN, Kevin’s company provides a pretty report (complete with an official hologram label) showing the customer the breakdown of how many cars were made with the same combination of options.  Invariably, the Marti report selectively picks several options, claiming the car is only one of a handful produced.  Many times, such as in the case presented here, the Marti report shows that the car is the only one produced that way with a particular combination of options.

Of course it is.  Like most domestic manufacturers in the 1960s, Ford offered a dizzying array of powertrain, comfort, and convenience options.  Mathematicians in statistics and probability call this a combination since the order of how one picks the options doesn’t matter.

The formula for determining the number of possible combinations is defined as follows:

n = the number of options to choose from

r = the subset of options typically chosen

possible number of combinations = n! /( r! x (n-r)!

(the exclamation point refers to a factorial of a number.  For example 4! = 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 24)

In this 1969 Torino GT, after the original owner selected the 428 Super Cobra Jet and four-speed manual powertrain and the color of their car, they still had approximately 25 individual comfort and convenience options to choose from.  The typical order sheet from back then averaged 10 options chosen, so using the formula above:

1969 Ford Torino GT Super Cobra Jet Option Combinations = 25! / (10! x (25-10)!)

= 3,268,760 possible combinations!

We can spend all day debating the assumptions for the number of options available versus those picked and how those factor against the color and power train choices, however with 386,368 1969 Torinos produced, its easy to see our point that depending on the combination of options chosen, its easy to call your Torino a “one of one.”

And that’s precisely the ridiculousness here.  On the “Elite” Marti report below, you can see that by selectively including only the AM/FM radio in combination with the color and power train options, this Torino is yet another “one of one.” When in fact, the report should also include the power steering, floor console, power front disc brakes, and the Drag Pack.

We argue that when all of these options are included properly, Ford probably produced several clones. While only 0.3% of all 1969 Torinos originally equipped with the 428 Super Cobra Jet, we don’t argue that it’s a hard car to come by.  We argue the notion that the rare-for-then factory AM/FM radio option combined with a sub-set of the options Marti Auto Works chose to combine does not warrant the price premium the seller is trying to make for his project car.

It’s comical how pervasive the term “only one of one” is thrown around these days in Ford circles because of the Marti Report.  On the excellent series Barn Find Hunters, Tom Cotter has an owner of another 1969 “one of one” Ford Torino walk him through his car. This example is better optioned and drivable than the project we’ve presented here.

Consequently, whenever you’re looking at a Ford where the owner proudly starts bragging about the Marti report on their car, take it with a grain of salt.  Please comment below on whether you agree or disagree and why.

Here’s the Seller’s Craigslist description:

“1969 Ford Torino GT fastback, red exterior with black C stripe, black bucket seat interior, ram air, 428 super cobra jet, 4 speed, N case 4:30:1 trak lok car, super solid project, very minor patching need ( not whole panels ),only rust areas are rear passenger 1/4 has cb antenna hole about the size of a 50 cent piece, lower hole about the size of a dime behind back wheel at bottom with some pin holes, passenger door is trash but has a great priori go with it, both driver and passenger toe boards have some spots. Solid deck lid, trunk floor, rear rails, floors, torque boxes etc. battery tray isn’t rotted out or the cowl. You aren’t hanging panels on this. If you are good with metal this is an easy car to do and get the dents out too. Original 428 SCJ motor is rebuilt on the stand. Bell housing and 4 speed toploader are not the cars original but correct casting numbers. N case rear is in the car. It’s a roller. Front power discs, power steering, am/fm car. Still has unique big block sway bar. Buckets and back seat are in car along with the tach dash. Has a mint padded dash to go with it. It’s a 1 of 1 per the Marti report. Original chrome GT wheels are on the car still. Missing hood scoop ( plentiful), windshield glass, side glass ( I will throw that in from my parts car ), and ram air.
Here’s the seller’s description:

Do you agree or disagree with our take regarding Marti Reports?  Comment below and let us know!

25 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Sounds like someone is jealous of the marti report success. Of course there are several with similar options. Giant manufacturers could not make a profit if each unit was individually built to be different from every other. The one of one simply shows that that particular unit has characteristics that individualize it. That is what happens when you build millions of the same vehicle.

    Reply
    • Guys with Rides

      Jealous? Hardly. We respect and admire the knowledge Kevin Marti has and how well he has leveraged it into a successful business model. As we stated in the article, it’s a great resource to ensure your Ford has the original equipment for preservation judging. Unfortunately, there are too many sellers who try to increase the value beyond the model’s market norms because the Marti Report confirms a rare option combination.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        We have just recently experienced a similar discrepancy.
        Our 1969 Mach 1 has no AC and no
        evidence of ever having it, however the Marti report list that as an installed option.

        Reply
    • Anonymous

      That’s what I was thinking–they’re jealous of Marti and what he’s managed to do. Then, I saw how they leaped out to defend their opinion “Hardly…” barely 14 minutes after your post. That proved it for me. lolol

      Reply
      • Guys with Rides

        I’m confused why you think we would be jealous of his success when I said I respect and admire what Marti has built. It’s a great tool to validate whether your Ford has the correct options it left the factory with. My point was simply anyone trying to use the report to justify a price premium for a “one of one” car. We say that happening way too often in the Ford world, and quite frankly, the sellers who try to play that card often end up sitting on their unsold car.

        Reply
  2. Jason

    I agree not all cars are a one of one but at the same time everyone seems to have a one of one because the car was ordered with special lug nuts or something. But the Marti Report helps verify or prove the vehicle was in fact built with those desirable options. Otherwise it’s a forgery. Proving your car was in fact a real 428 SCJ car is critical when restoring buying or selling or even judging the car. Just like verifying a 71 Cuda is in fact a Hemi car or a 1970 Chevelle is an original 396 car.

    Reply
  3. Howard

    The Marti report might well be an important addition to your paperwork,
    BUT
    it is usually information that you can obtain online.
    I just went to buy a 1973 Mustang convertible, complete with a Marti report and a “professional” appraisal.
    I was led to believe that this was a very rare, low count Mustang, the way that it had been ordered, and that it was one owner local family. The car has a white convertible top; the Marti report claimed that it was built with a black top. (1 of only 2 ordered). The dealer claims that the current white top is the original. WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?
    With any older vehicle, it is up to the buyer to validate any numbers from the car. The Marti report can only validate that the car was produced with certain extra equipment that the VIN will not cover.
    You can check a VIN on line, at no cost.
    SO I ASK YOU; WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT A MARTI REPORT?

    Reply
    • John

      Well I’m pleasantly surprised to see somebody actually speak up about the validity of a Marti report and whether or not it really makes any difference as to the value or the perceived value of your car. I mean most of the important information that they offer you really you already have in your VIN. Do I need to know how many red ones with the black vinyl roof were made with an automatic transmission? Really? And the pricing for these reports really jumps up for that “Elite” version. $300. I guess because they put it in a frame ( that you could buy at Michael’s for $30 ) I don’t mean to knock Marti Auto Works but just don’t see the value in these “reports.” And I’m glad you show that the report doesn’t really affect the value of your car in actuality. I mean plenty of other vintage marques sell just fine without having all this fluff background information. It’s like having a Marti “Report” puts you in a boys club. Well I don’t need to climb into that treehouse.

      Reply
  4. Guy ulrich

    I have a rare one, but it ain’t valuable. It’s a 75 4dr Comet. 1 of only 388 built that year with the 200 and manual transmission, out of 31,060 built. I need to ask how many of those 388 had factory AC like mine. It’s possible on that criteria alone I might have a 1 of 1. But out of the whole production of 31,060, 14,446 had AC

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    So looking at this Marti report, I understand your concern. If the am/fm radio makes it a 1 for 1, what’s the value of the radio. So where would you cut off this report as far as value? I’m looking at only 4 was ordered with the 428 SCJ per this report. That seems pretty rare and only 2 of those with 4:30 gear. So if not 1 of 1, a 1 of 2? 1 of 4? Or? Thanks just trying to understand value if I run across this. Thanks

    Reply
    • Guys with Rides

      I think where people get hung up is in the “it’s one of…” From our perspective, the Marti Report should be used strictly to validate how close to the original a Ford currently is. The closer to original, the higher the premium, especially if the powertrain is numbers-matching original.

      Reply
      • JOhn

        But if the numbers in front of you already match what’s the point of getting the report?

        Reply
  6. Lonnie

    So looking at this Marti report, I understand your concern. If the am/fm radio makes it a 1 for 1, what’s the value of the radio. So where would you cut off this report as far as value? I’m looking at only 4 was ordered with the 428 SCJ per this report. That seems pretty rare and only 2 of those with 4:30 gear. So if not 1 of 1, a 1 of 2? 1 of 4? Or? Thanks just trying to understand value if I run across this. Thanks

    Reply
    • Trey

      That number 4 is in combination with everything above it. Unto itself, it’s not 1 of 4 SCJ R-code fastbacks.

      Reply
  7. Shelby6t5

    Every car is a one of one: It’s the only one with that VIN.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      This says it all

      Reply
  8. Jeannette McFarlin

    If all we want to know is how many Mustang Grandes were made a certain color code, which Marti report would show that?

    Reply
    • Guys with Rides

      Unfortunately, to find that out you would either need to know someone with a similar car who has already bought a Marti Report, or you’ll need to order one using the VIN with yours. CJ Pony parts offers production numbers by body style, by model, by color at this link: https://www.cjponyparts.com/resources/first-gen-mustang-production#1972

      Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Every time someone says one of one I also cringe. There are far too many uneducated buyers that will pay extra because of that. The Marti report is one more tool to use when buying or selling a car but not the only one to rely on. Kevin Marti has done a lot for the hobby and I use him all the time but I’m sure he would agree his report is just one more tool to use. Stop saying one of one because to the people that really know it sounds stupid. You may have a rare desirable car and educated people will know that without telling them its one of one. I agree totally with the author he couldn’t be more dead nuts on. Kevin Manley

    Reply
    • Jimbo

      I pulled a Marti report on my 14 GT glass roof . The reason I did , I bought it back in October with 12500 miles , one owner and it came out of Canada . Car is perfect and it’s optioned the hilt . Ruby red , leather , manual trans , shaker pro audio , guy even spent a grand on the wheels which I didn’t like so I put on some FR 500’s with a much wider rear tire . Somewhere after the owner traded it in , it ended up at a dealer auction in Arkansas. So by the time it got to a ford dealer ship in Kansas someone had swapped the speedo for mph. I’d rather they have kept the kph speedo as that’s how the car was built . I assume maybe since the car was shipped back to the U.S they had to swap speedo? Anyway the Marti report was kind of helpful . I didn’t know Ford did such a crappy job of keeping records, you know this car was 3 of 100000 built . So no there is no way in hell you can figure out how many of your exact car was built . Which sucks obviously. I will say my car is kind of rare from what I can tell and there aren’t to many one owner 14 glass roof gt’s with 12500 miles around . The car new was 50100.00 that was a lot of money for a 14 mustang . I kind of thought since the original owner Spent that much he could have gone with a Shelby .

      Reply
  10. Dave Manhas

    Hello from the GREAT WHITE NORTH !! ( Vancouver, B.C. Canada) to be exact. I am a proud owner of a factory Wimbledon White 68 Mustang California Special 390 4 speed that I purchased in 1972 from the original owner. ( it was shipped here direct to Fogg Motors from San Jose in July 1968)) I appreciate the info that my Marti Report provides, and the authenticity that comes with the report. That being said, it pleases me more knowing that out of 4,118 California Specials produced, mine is one of 4 as it is rather than being an owner of ” 1 of 1 ” because it came with F70X14 wide oval tires !!!

    bucket

    Reply
  11. Jay

    I agree that the one of one thing is overvalued by sellers, but this passage doesn’t make logical sense:

    “On the “Elite” Marti report below, you can see that by selectively including only the AM/FM radio in combination with the color and power train options, this Torino is yet another “one of one.” When in fact, the report should also include the power steering, floor console, power front disc brakes, and the Drag Pack.

    We argue that when all of these options are included properly, Ford probably produced several clones.”

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    I have 70 Gt500 C6 Grabber Blue white guts with a .350 traction loc because it has a tilt away wheel with the c6 and Posi it is….. according to the report 1 of 1… does that make it more valuable I don’t think so… Most people pay more for a 4 speed….is it interesting how it has been configured…sure. The Mari report IS very nice to help determine if the car I am looking at is equipped as it was when delivered. it gives some history and confirms what i may or may not know. I believe it is a valuable verification tool. it makes for interesting conversations. 1 of 1 is fun but unless it is something significant like the only factory supercharged 427 car or something it will not command a premium in value. Most savy buyers understand that and buy accordingly.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I bet that 70 GT 500 is a beautiful car with white guts. I knew a guy that had one new and endo the car going too fast. I still remember the car driving into the gas station and I’m thinking what a gorgeous car! Bob from the great state of Kansas

      Reply
  13. Tim Linde

    I think the report is a good tool to make accurate restorations possible; especially when your restoration is a 50-60 year old vehicle found out in a pasture wasting away…. Knowing the factory options vs the aftermarket additions or dealer applied options reflects a serious commitment to the history of the vehicle and the hobby of car collection. Trends ebb and flow in every market and cars and trucks are no different…..“there’s a sucker born every minute” and those “suckers” create said “ebb and flow”. Granted, the report is probably over priced but I personally see value in it as a sales tool, no matter if you’re buying or selling. However, I think the “1 of 1”—or whatever is a novelty Marti pushes to sell reports…..it’s simply marketing….. nothing more…. Nothing less.

    Reply

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