Data Driven

Our past Bull Market Lists are bearing fruit—here’s how we pick ’em

by John Wiley
14 January 2022 3 min read
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Photo by James Lipman

Hagerty has produced five Bull Market lists since our first for 2018, a time when dedicated online auctions were just starting to pick up steam. Until Bring a Trailer came online, live auctions enjoyed a healthy six-year run-up in values between 2009 and 2015, a period that saw nearly 80 percent of the vehicles in the Hagerty Price Guide appreciate. It was only in 2015 when values began to soften and drift back down, making it tricky to identify vehicles likely to appreciate. Nowadays, with over 56 percent of the vehicles we track—or some 21,000 out of 37,000—up year-over-year compared to just 40 percent in January 2018, identifying vehicles that will out-appreciate faster than the the majority is our latest challenge.

So, how have our past Bull Market picks performed? Pretty well, as it turns out. (Here are the Lists for 2018201920202021, and the latest for 2022.)

Looking at our past predictions, the average annual return is 23.5 percent, and the median annualized return is 19.7 percent, with a whopping 83 percent of our Bull Market picks appreciating in the year following our predictions. Comparing the performance of the lists over the years shows the median annualized return is typically four times higher than the overall appreciation for the price guide.

So, how do we pick the vehicles on each edition of the Bull Market?

We start with the data and do our very best to be as objective as possible. What does that look like? Well, how about we start with what objectivity doesn’t look like.

Hagerty Bull Market Analyst 1: I saw this great-looking 1957 Fabugarster XP-1A roadster the other day! When’s the last time you saw one of those? They’re going up in value!

Hagerty Bull Market Analyst 2: Did you see how much that mint low-mile 1984 Econa MPG-champ hatchback sold for on Blockchain Bid? They’re going up in value!

Hagerty Bull Market Analyst 3: My buddy told me he sold a 1965 KMD Fextulator GT 425 for way more than he’s ever sold one before. Those ’65 KMD Fextulators are going up!

Yikes. Instead, we pull from a number of data sources to get the best possible picture without dipping into personal opinion.

2022 bull market issue group vertical
James Lipman

Values

First, we look at Hagerty Price Guide values. More specifically, we look for increased appreciation from low levels, the rumblings of a forthcoming price spike, and similar/adjacent vehicles that have already begun to appreciate. Basically, we’re looking for hidden gems that the market likely overlooked.

Policy quotes

Hagerty sells collector car insurance. When people get a quote for a policy premium, we can use that information to gauge the demand for a particular vehicle. Is that demand up from last year? Who’s quoting it? Is that group of buyers associated with vehicles that have appreciated in the past? If so, we keep an eye on those that might see a price bump.

1983 Volvo 245 side profile dynamic driving action
Cameron Neveu

Traffic to our online valuation tools

With valuation tool pages for thousands of vehicles, we can see which vehicles are increasingly researched by enthusiasts. Traffic data is similar to policy quote data, but more focused on prospective values rather than actual quotes.

Policy counts

This is similar to policy quotes, but in this case, we can see what owners actually acquired. Were they just looking or did they sign a check? This can be helpful to verify trends we see with the policy quotes.

1965 Mercedes 230SL rear three-quarter dynamic driving action
James Lipman

Import/Export data

Due to some cars that might not have been sold here when new, domestic demand of vehicles past the 25-year mark can reveal the potential for appreciation. Conversely, due to constantly shifting global tastes, the USDM supply of some vehicle here that’s in-demand abroad might also expose potential appreciation.

Once we’ve compiled these different sources of data, we'll prepare a list of 5 to 10 vehicles per analyst, and then meet to discuss which cars are plausible candidates. Sometimes, the sample of policy quotes or physical exports is too small to be reliable; or, we may decide the seemingly ironclad data correlates to an unlikely vehicle.

This is where our perspectives as enthusiasts comes into play. Was the car poorly regarded when new, and has that sentiment changed since? Is there a prevailing preference towards a particular type of transmission—or engine cooling solution—and could change? What is changing in the market or enthusiast tastes that will lead to faster appreciation soon? So, our understanding of the market helps, but our personal preferences do not.

There you go. That's how the Bull Market sausage is made. We scour oodles of data, we gather what’s plausible, and make some hard-nose decisions. We’ve done pretty well so far, and we’re keeping score. You should too.

2022 bull market issue group
2020 bull market issue group
2019 bull market issue group
2018 bull market issue group
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Comments

  • TexPorschenutt says:

    The use of “market” sorta makes me cringe. In a general sense there is a ‘car’ market broken down in to a variety of segments. But when you talk about a specific model and particularly in evaluating a specific car to compare to others generally in that car group, valuation depends on many non objective variables. Old Porsches my favorite group, don’t really fall into a market other than old Porsches. Sure one can divide it, but the overriding determination of value of a Porsche depends, or should depend, on knowledgeable expectations of the buyer and that specific car. One car does not a market make……nor does folks with unlimited resources overpaying. At least from a prudent buyer’s standpoint.

  • Steve Weidert says:

    It seems that the rich and the shameless get all the grease. Whatever happened to the guy down the street that hand restores his/her American made muscle car. You insure them….so give them the recognition they so deserve. Not some Yahoo paying astronomical dollars for a vehicle most people never even heard of. (Or even cares).

    • Harvey A Ward Jr says:

      Am on agreement with Steve Weidert’s comments as an senior amateur in DYI safety and roadable GM products reconditioning of my own 50’s and ’60s.

    • Tim Bowles says:

      Steve,

      In all fairness, the bull market for 2022 does have a muscle car, as you requested. It also has a Volvo, Mazda, and several others that aren’t mega dollar cars. I think they’re trying to find cars on the rise across a broad range of interests. Old Cadillac, sport utility, muscle car, Japanese car, which have been appreciating, etc. I don’t care about muscle cars, but I live Ferrari Dino’s. Different strokes, different folks.

  • Ken Sousa says:

    Yeah! What about my Rolls Canardly?

  • Mojunk says:

    It’s great to see the market is doing well, but what has it done for our hobby? The little guy has been priced out of the market and the wheeler dealers seam to have no mercy on the hobby, a rusted hulk is a $10,000.oo ready to restore car, what a joke. I love the hobby but I don’t like where it’s going.

  • michael zimmerman says:

    Guys, you’re taking this too personal. Hagerty is just giving you the facts. It’s not that they like or dislike your personal vehicles, they are just giving you the insurance facts that behind the scene you don’t see. I for one think they are doing a great job, and sad to see people that look at the downside of the market trends, and complaining that Hagerty does not give them the attention they are craving on their own personal vehicles. Why do you guys constantly complain about rising prices and your mantra of “geez the little guy is priced out of the market”. Instead of wining, go out and find something fun to restore at something that is friendly to your wallet.

  • Jim Liberty says:

    Interesting. I just sold a Crosley Hotshot for what I believe my be a record number. Yet, I have one of the rarest Porsche 356 Cabriolets on the market with no offers. Both #1 show cars. The sale price for the Crosley is less than I pay for body and paint on a 356. …..Jim.

  • Bill Orr says:

    I’ve been hearing “the working man is getting priced out of the hobby” for more than 40 years now (usually from some car hoarder who could easily afford one or two nicely finished cars if he were to convert his backyard trove of two dozen derelict rust buckets into cash). Obviously, the Blue Chip top of the market (Bugatti, Duesenberg SJ, Mercedes SSK) has been fairly unattainable since the late 50s and these cars are likely to remain so. But as Hagerty from time-to-time points out, there are plenty of affordable entry-level cars well under $20K (American 4-doors, Ford Model A and Model T, Miata) attainable for anyone from high school kids to those on a limited fixed income who just want something a little different as a hobby car.

    And the operative word here is “hobby”. Our free market economy drives the demand and pricing for investment grade muscle cars, European sports cars, etc. There’s never going to be a world where anyone is going to under a political or moral obligation to ensure that the completely discretionary expense of a Hemi Cuda convertible or a 300SL is attainable by everyone as they might be for medical care or access to nutritional food sources.

  • Richard says:

    Great job! The prices have certainly changed, but the hobby has two issues to overcome:
    1) Every year another car becomes collectible.
    2) Every car is big, and has to be someplace.

  • Don Homuth says:

    I’ve owned a number of cars because they were interesting and spoke to me in ways other than dollars. I can understand why an insurance company might focus on that foremost, but I’d never buy any car simply because I thought it had investment potential.

  • jane don says:

    Of course the more expensive the cars were when new-the more Expensive they’ll be when old–there are fewer available–I predict that the older cheaper economy & Family cars will rise in value because more folks can afford them— & they still stand out in the crowd of New(ER) cars as something special–The people collecting cars for profit/investments only have made so many cars unaffordable to most Working folks-

  • Tim Symons says:

    These are not price guides, they are reports of the current trends in the market by analysts who operate in the specialist market every day and they are sharing their observations.

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