April is here, bringing with it a fresh quarterly update to the Hagerty Price Guide. After a lull in auction activity at the end of every year, major sales in Scottsdale and Kissimmee in January as well as Amelia Island in March fill the first quarter with anticipation. After the last car rolled across the block, we dug through the resulting heaps of data with interest: that spurt of activity often sets the tone for the market for the first half of the year. So, what can you expect to find in our latest update?
Frankly, it is one of mixed results and a less-defined direction than the past three years. There was still plenty of positive movement, but it was not in as broad a spectrum as what we’ve come to expect. Stay tuned—my usual lists of winners and losers are coming—but the market’s movement dictated an explanation before hopping into the weeds of individual car trends.
Separation within segments
The muscle car market is a poster child for a split that’s emerging between top-tier cars and the rest of the market. While that segment appeared to be softening toward the end of last year, a number of cars have performed incredibly well since then. Most visibly, Boss 429 Mustangs, first generation Z/28 Camaros and LS6 Chevelles reversed some of the losses posted the past few months. Plymouth Superbirds continued to rise despite a market that risks oversaturation. On the other hand, 1964-67 Pontiac GTOs continued to lose ground and are approximately back to a point where they started in 2022. Value losses are more prevalent among lower-tier trims and less popular drivetrain options. The result is a less buoyant segment than the headline-grabbing cars suggest.
Nuanced developments emerging
While muscle cars have long been a staple collector segment, the Japanese collector market is still developing. White hot though it was during the pandemic, it’s now showing a few signs of change, and trends appear to be more specific and model-centric than before.
Titans like Mk IV Toyota Supras and US-legal R34 GT-Rs remained steady, but other staples have cooled off a bit. Long-term growth of cars like the 300ZX Twin Turbo has been tempered after losing 13 percent this quarter, and FD-series RX-7s have similarly cooled by ten percent. Even darlings like the 240Z, which has had a longer collector trajectory, continue to soften. The Mitsubishi 3000GT, a car that’s been something of an afterthought for collectors until recently, gained ground, posting 14 to 25 percent increases. Amelia showed that big prices can be had for front-wheel drive cars, too, with a world record sale of a low-mile Acura Integra Type-R at $151,200. The Japanese market is clearly gaining complexity.
Trends continue up top, but in more measured form
The most consistent performer, however, was the top of the market. Blue Chip automobiles had a strong showing in the beginning of the year and sale prices show that collectors are still willing to pay top dollar for exceptional cars. From Gullwing Mercedes and Ferrari Dinos to Duesenbergs, the high six- to seven-figure market is still going strong. That said, some notable no-sales at Amelia have demonstrated that even for elite cars, buyers and sellers are transacting with more rationality and less exuberance. We expect this to continue, though our next big opportunity to glimpse top-market buying trends is in Pebble Beach this August.
The biggest takeaway from the beginning of the year is that the collector car market might not be as predictable as before, but it is by no means screeching to a halt. Buyers are clearly becoming more discerning with regard to quality and model choices, resulting in a far more nuanced market than we have seen in a long time. Till these behaviors show a consistent trend, the direction of the broader market may remain elusive to pin down.