Charted Territory

Chevrolet vs. Ford: Who rules the collector car world?

by David Zenlea with reporting by James Hewitt
1 May 2022 3 min read
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Photo by Cameron Neveu

In an era when knee-jerk political polarization poisons discussion of everything from the economy to epidemiology, it’s therapeutic to engage in a completely harmless form of partisanship. I’m talkin’ about Chevrolet vs. Ford. The iconic American brands have been slugging it out for more than a century and despite producing vehicles that are very similar on paper, have amassed loyal and often doggedly opposed fanbases.

Both brands, no surprise, are hugely popular among car collectors. But which has the upper hand? To answer that question or, at the very least, provide fodder for each side to cherry pick in a future comments flame war, we dug into Hagerty data.

Since statistics is far from immune to biased interpretation, and this reporter is about as objective as a Tammany Hall operator—my father owned three Camaros and a Corvette between the time I turned five and when I got my driver’s license—I asked Hagerty senior information analyst James Hewitt to run the numbers.

Hewitt focused on the most visible front in the Chevy/Ford battle—Camaro vs. Mustang. Which, he wondered, was worth more? He averaged out the values for all examples of each car in the Hagerty Price Guide.

Advantage, Chevy. I'd have been happy to stop here, only Hewitt pointed out that the averages can be highly influenced by a few particularly valuable models (think: 1969 ZL1). So, he calculated median values:

Well, darn. Things don't look any better for the Camaro when we look at their popularity relative to the Mustang among collectors, as represented by their shares in Hagerty's insurance books. Now, you'd expect the Mustang to be more popular, given the fact that they generally have sold better through the decades, but the disparity is stunning—there are nearly two collectible Mustangs for every collectible Camaro.

That's despite the fact that the people collecting Camaros are, from an age demographics standpoint, identical to their Mustang-owning peers.

It's at this juncture that the Camaro, statistically overmatched, tags in its big brother, the Corvette. And by big brother, we mean that almost literally—Corvette collectors are, on average, five years older.

Although the Corvette is a lower production vehicle than either the Mustang or Camaro, a greater share of them have achieved collectible status. That helps make them more valuable than either pony car.

It also makes them very popular. In fact, digging through Hagerty's insurance data, we see Corvettes are the most popular collector car in the all but a handful of states. On the electoral map, the Mustang barely fares better than Walter Mondale.

Ah, but if we've learned anything in recent decades, it's that the state-by-state count can be deceiving. Just as the "bluest" and "reddest" states are actually "purple," so too do we find upon closer inspection that the margin of victory for the Corvette is razor thin. In reality, most states are a near even mix of both.

Which helps explains how there are slightly more collectible Mustangs than Corvettes, per Hagerty data.

What did we learn, exactly? Chiefly, that Mustangs are wildly popular and are gaining ground on both the Camaro and Corvette. Of course, the very fact that there is a Camaro and a Corvette is a boon for Chevrolet, and helps explain why the brand is more popular overall among collectors, per Hagerty data.

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Comments

  • Don Homuth says:

    If I wanted an automotive icon, it’d be a Mustang. But if I wanted a Car – something to drive with enthusiasm — I’d go with a Camaro or Corvette.

  • Bryan McGraw says:

    Awesome, great analysis. Further proof that Mustang is THE car. Bowties are stupid. Of course I’m being completely objective as my six Blue Oval vehicles in my garages ranging in age from 1923 to 2018 are proof. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve owned a few Bowties over the years, but their ugliness, electrical issues and constant need for attention quickly stresses your patience and wallet.

  • Dr. Seldom B. Overboost says:

    I own both great marques. A 1936 Ford 8 second pickup and a 1980 roots-supercharged 6.3 liter sbc1 Corvette. One for the drag track and one for the autocross course. Both are street legal.

  • Frank Young says:

    I am 89 and have never owned a G M product Many Fords ,Mercury a few Lincolns 2Dodges a Rolls a Willy’s 1945 USAAF Jeep
    2Tr Spitfires 2 Tr vitesse convertibles And 4 Hyundai but no GM cars. I have no regrets.

  • Justin Clifford says:

    I’ve owned 4 Corvettes and 3 Camaros as my “fun” cars over the years. When I was a kid I was told Ford stood for ‘Fix Or Repair Daily”. Needless to say, never owned a Ford product. Just sayin’.

  • Carl Boyes says:

    I have owned 4 Mustangs but never a Corvette nor a Camaro. Considered purchasing 2 different Corvettes at different times but backed out due to factors like drivability and/or insurance cost.

  • Richard says:

    My opinion is the exact opposite! Fix Or Repair Daily is why I dont own fords anymore. Constant attention to electrical issues and limited value of only a few mustangs. As opposed to the 8 Bowties I currently own which have demonstrated steady appreciation $

  • Dr. John Sopko says:

    Owned one Ford (1970 Torino GT convertible) never again . Made me a loyal Corvette owner , new and old models .

  • Jim Nelson says:

    I am the only owner of my 1968 Camaro, 327 4 barrel carb, 4 speed, currently with 207,346 miles. Now restored and seldom driven except to shows. My main car is a 2013 Corvette. So I am a GM person. Oops my 2007 Ford Ranger is my blue oval.

  • Dennis Moore says:

    The Camaro is a better car with its subframe compared to the Falcon based unibody Mustang but that doesn’t seem to matter to the Ford lovers. It would seem that on a purely emotional level that the hype and advertisement of the Ford Motor Company from the introduction of the 1965 Mustang is still swaying enthusiasts in the 21st century.

  • Paul D says:

    I’ve owned/restored Corvettes (still own two), Camaros (68 & 70), and Mustangs. The GM cars were far easier to restore because their build quality was way better to begin with. The 80 Mustang Turbo I bought new was the worst piece of trash I’ve ever owned but the 2019 Shelby 350GT is an absolute gas. But I’ve owned Corvettes for more than 40 years and my 2019 Z06 is my favorite car of all time. In summation, I’d rather restore GM, but all the species, depending on year and options are fun to drive.

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