Data Driven

The Hagerty Market Rating suggests some segments are slowing

by Adam Wilcox
21 October 2022 2 min read

The Hagerty Market Rating dropped nearly a full point this month to 77.08, reflecting something of a slowdown within the collector car world but more so the darkening economic clouds outside of it. Although it remains within a half-point of its all-time high in June 2022, it seems unlikely we’ll see that record broken again in the near future.

Sales activity both at auctions and between private parties has slowed. To some extent, this is expected—the northern half of the country still has a driving season, and it's coming to a close; and while there are plenty of autumn auctions (and non-stop online sales), there's still a bit of a lull between the super sales in August (Monterey) and January (Scottsdale/Kissimmee). Yet it's also becoming clear that even if cars are still moving, the feeding frenzy from last spring is over.

Some of that will depend on the general economy, and here is where the Market Rating is really being dragged down. For the first time since January 2010, each of the four macro-economic indicators used in the Hagerty Market Rating decreased. While Retail Sales (Excluding Food Service) dropped only slightly, the other three saw significant losses. Gold is at its lowest point since February 2020 and the S&P 500 Monthly Average is back down to January 2021 levels. The US Median Home Price Index dropped for a second month after more than two years of consecutive growth.

Collector car values, are to a certain extent, resistant to recessions and can even benefit as people bruised on the stock market look for better performing "alternative investments" and hedges against inflation. Yet that presumes one has money to move around and isn't being pinched by the growing cost of basic necessities.

The latest edition of the Hagerty Price Guide, released at the beginning of the month, indeed reveals a growing divide between the upper end of the market and the general collector. Overall, values in the Price Guide are down, with the median #3 condition value hitting its lowest point since November 2021. The Hagerty Hundred Index, a weighted average of the 100 most-insured vehicles in the price guide, dropped 1.37 points. Meanwhile, the Hagerty Blue Chip Index, comprised of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL and 25 of its closest peers, experienced the largest increase in two years.

It's worth noting that for all the doom and gloom around the general economy, sentiment within the collector car market remains positive. Our industry experts, whose sentiment is quantified on a 0-to-100 scale (100 being the most positive), remain optimistic overall. Owners of collector vehicles don't feel the market is shifting, either—they continue to increase insured values.

It seems as if participants in the collector car market, who have ridden out more than a few crises in the past fifteen years, are not inclined to panic based on what the broader economy is doing. Yet it's also clear that the phenomenal growth we've witnessed over the past two years is finally slowing and that it's likely the more attainable end of the market will be the first to reverse course.

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  • Bob Paczynski says:

    Sure, if I had Mercedes 300SL kind of cash, I’d be buying one now, too — market conditions be damned! Those level cars are only ever going in one direction, generally, … Up!

    However, the market circle I troll in has seen stagnation (fewer sales) and some price reductions. i.e., The crowd rushing everything to a seller’s market the past 2 years has either already made their $$$, adjusted their stable, or … as I suspect the majority of us have, just ridden out the market with no intent to sell or adjust our stables. I have faith in the markets and if/when I’m ready to move on (years from now), am sure I’ll profit. I still try to drive my C1 ‘vette 2-3 times/week. That’s where my enjoyment is.

    I still follow the auction and sale sites closely every week, however, because if the market gets any softer, I’d love to acquire a new piece.

    So, while I have limit d ability currently to trade up or acquire, I certainly have no need to divest.

    • Bruce says:

      I agree with the above. For the top tier, buyers are likely fleeing other investments to acquire collectibles–art, maybe real estate, jewelry (especially high-end watches) and coveted motorcars. These will “beat the market” for most equities and other commodities.

  • Jim Liberty says:

    I have a significant Porsche 356 being set up for an on-line auction. I’ve been restoring early Porsches for decades. This will be the first try at on line. …….jim.

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    It’s definitely a time to be more cautious on your purchases but at the same time people still seem to be jumping on what they want if they are rich.

  • TomE says:

    I’m noticing what appears to be a drop-off in the number of listings appearing in on-line auction sites in recent weeks.

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