Forget Festivus. For those of us at Hagerty, December means Bull Market, our annual roundup of vehicles we predict will grow in value. In case you missed the latest list, have a read here. As Bull Market has become a full-on yearly tradition, we have several lists to look back on. Have our predictions come to fruition, or are we just full of bull…you know?
Full results are below, but first, a quick refresher on how we come up with this stuff. We’ve said it before, but will shout it one more time for those in the back of the room: Our picks are based on data, not personal preferences. We sift through auction sales, quoted values from the insurance side of our business, and the demographics of who is shopping, and more to come up with a group of cars that are primed to outperform the market.
That last part—outperform the market—is key. The truth is most collector cars are safe bets, and during the last two years in particular, just about every motor vehicle has ticked up in value. We calculate the average annualized return of classic cars at 4.6 percent over the span Bull Market has existed. That in mind, we only considered a pick a “hit” if it has well exceeded that rate.
So, how’d we do? The proper statistical term, we believe, is “Not too shabby.” Have a look below for a year-by-year analysis.
Biggest hit: 1993–98 Toyota Supra (31% annualized return)
Biggest miss: 1993–02 Pontiac Firebird (5% annualized return)
An uninformed spectator might have mistaken our first assemblage of Bull Market picks for a used-car lot. The vast majority of our picks came from just the previous decade; and one of them—the 2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor—could conceivably have been on its factory warranty at the time.
Of course, this was prescient. The market surge of the past few years has, as noted, lifted almost everything, but it’s utterly transformed perceptions and values for newer performance cars. So much so that some of the numbers quoted in the original piece now seem quaint. $60,800–$74,700 for a 1993–98 Supra? Tell that to the person who paid $304,750 for one earlier this year.
The reassessment of 1990s and 2000s sports cars has, for better and for worse, largely passed over American muscle from the era. Fourth-generation Firebirds, which can give contemporary Supras a run for their money at a stoplight, can presently be had for a fifth of the price.
Biggest hit: Buick Roadmaster (48% annualized return)
Biggest miss: Pontiac G8 (1% annualized return)
Don't think that all of our American picks have struggled. Far from it. Take our 2019 list, which adroitly predicted the rise of the Fox-body Mustang and 2004–2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10 pickup. Yet nothing from this year tops the humble 1991–96 Buick Roadmaster. These small-block-powered woody wagons draws enthusiasts of all ages—Baby Boomers, Gen–Xers, and Millennials all call our insurance agents about them frequently—and have appreciated dramatically. Our original article noted you could find a great one for about $13,300–$18,300. Today the best examples are going for more than $40,000.
The trailer, once again, is a poor Pontiac. The G8, the last muscle car from the brand that invented the genre, is essentially flat.
Biggest hit: 1990–94 Volkswagen Corrado (80% annualized return)
Biggest miss: 1999–2005 Ferrari 360 (10% annualized return)
We didn't predict everything about 2020, but we did pretty well with the cars. Leading the pack is the VW Corrado, which has clearly made the leap from sports car bargain to modern classic. The numbers we quoted just three years ago—$5700–$8000—would now be sufficient cash for only a very rough driver (which, any VW fan can tell you, is asking for trouble).
Even "under-performers" in this bunch are actually pretty solid. We weren't wrong about the Acura Integra Type–R, but we might have been a little late, as it had already appreciated significantly by 2020. And we think you'll agree a Ferrari 360, especially one with a gated manual, remains a pretty safe bet, given that pretty much all modern Ferraris—even 400is—are on the rise.
Biggest hit: Lexus LFA (38% annualized return)
Biggest miss: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 (2% annualized return)
It is a testament to the strength of the market of late, as much as to our intellect, that nearly all our picks from 2021 have already increased dramatically. Yet we'll pat ourselves on the back for the 2011-12 Lexus LFA. Just two short years ago, these were still used supercars, albeit pricey ones. Now they're among the most coveted of Japanese collector cars, with racier Nürburgring editions creeping close to $2M.
Biggest hit: Ferrari Dino 246 GT (71.23% return)
Biggest miss: 1963–71 Mercedes-Benz 230SL
2022 isn't even over yet and many of our picks are already up big. We'd love to tell you that's because we're getting smarter with every list—and, hey, that could be true. But we'll also remind you that it's been an unbelievable year for collector car values, during which our Market Rating has consistently hovered near "superheated." The biggest gainer of them all is the Ferrari Dino 246 GT. Thanks to some incredibly (occasionally inexplicably) high sales, values have climbed more than 70 percent—a tall feat since we're talking six-figures here.
No doubt the market will eventually cool—regress to the mean, as our data folks say. We're nevertheless confident our picks will perform well over the long haul. Just as important, we'd happily own and drive every single one of our Bull Market cars. We just wish we'd taken our own advice and snapped them up when we could still afford them.