We’re more than half way through the year and another volume of the Hagerty Price Guide down. These last six months have been a time of intense market growth. Half of our collector car indexes are sitting at an all time high, and the Hagerty Market Rating is flirting with “hyper appreciation.” This is all despite high inflation, stocks in bear market territory, and a land war in Europe. Just as they have throughout the pandemic, car collectors seem eager and able to buy. The short term outlook is that values will continue to stay strong. If anything is changing, it is the rate of appreciation. We saw a few big jumps from the last price guide, but on the whole growth seems to be slowing.
Japanese cars win big
Japanese sports cars continue to be an area of the market to watch closely. Some of the biggest gains in the past three months were achieved by Japanese collector cars, most notably Nissan Skyline GT-Rs. Standard R32 (1989-1994) GT-Rs grew by 18 percent; however that only tells part of the story. Global demand for these cars is intense. So intense, in fact, that most importers have ceased to post asking prices (that is if cars even make it to the showroom before being sold). The rising cost to import them from Japan means that these are now market priced weekly.
Cars bred for racing also fared well. Club Racer spec Honda S2000s rose by 18 percent, putting low-mile examples well into the six-figure range. The rally-bred Nissan Pulsar GTi-R rose by a more conservative 12 percent are still affordable—but only if you can find one. Excellent examples are hard to come by and are commanding ever higher prices. But the big winner is the NISMO prepped R32 GT-R. The R32 GT-R has exceptional racing heritage, and these rare FIA homologation specials reap the benefit. They grew 94 percent from the last price guide.
Muscle cars are still roaring
It is now clear that the meteoric rise in muscle car prices following the January auctions in Scottsdale and Kissimmee was not a one-off event. While most gains were nowhere near those of January, the ones posted were significant nonetheless. In particular, we’ve seen cars that had been trailing behind start to catch up.
Take, for instance, the 1966–67 Dodge Charger. They weren’t part of any movie chase scene and are less muscular in appearance than the next generation; however they posted some of the most surprising gains for muscle cars this quarter, with an average increase of more than 30 percent. Early Pontiac GTOs—part of our latest Bull Market list—enjoyed further gains, with 1966–67 models gaining an additional 8–12 percent. Ford products were more reserved in general, yet mid-60s Fairlane GTs gained upwards of 12 percent.
No malaise for late-1970s American car prices
American cars from the late 1970s are often maligned as flashy yet anemic. And, no doubt, performance is a far cry from the beginning of the decade. Moreover, the Baby Boomers who have long dominated the market for American muscle have far warmer memories of the late 1960s (think: high school and Woodstock) than the late ’70s (early adulthood, stagflation). As such the cars of this era have remained dormant for years aside from a few exceptions. Among those exceptions are the Smokey and the Bandit–era (1977-1981) Pontiac Trans Ams. They have enjoyed a great run and continued to gain in this guide. Special Edition cars, which wear that oh-so-recognizable black paint and gold trim, appreciated another 34 percent on top of astronomical gains last quarter.
Arguably more interesting though, are the gains for lesser-known cars. Mid-size GM cars, especially sporty editions, did well this quarter. Mid-70s Chevelle Super Sports and Laguna S-3s grew from 6–25 percent; 1977 Pontiac Can Ams and 1973 GTOs grew by 23 percent as well. This era of collector cars have been criminally underappreciated and it seems that they are starting to gain some of the attention they deserve. Yes, some among us will groan at the thought that these last vestiges of affordable muscle are climbing out of reach, yet these cars have little restoration and aftermarket support precisely because they’ve never been worth enough. One can only hope the new popularity will spur on suppliers to change that and, in so doing, preserve these cars for the next generation.
Final thoughts: The music hasn’t stopped yet
The chatter among industry insiders of late has tended toward anxiety over the unsustainable rate of appreciation. That worrying is not entirely unfounded—we’ve reported, for instance, that some sellers at auction now seem to be expecting bigger prices than buyers are willing to offer. Yet the bigger picture is that we are still in seller’s market. Those looking to buy should understand that they are doing so at what is likely approaching the peak. They should consider carefully what they’re buying but more so why they’re buying. If it’s for love and enjoyment, then there’s not much to worry about. If it’s for the expectation of profit, well…you might be a bit late to the party.
Our next update comes after the Monterey sales in August. Stay tuned here as we report the action as it unfolds.
Greg Ingold is the editor of the Hagerty Price Guide.
Beware the Law Of Trends. “No trend lasts forever. It can’t.”
I have yet to buy a classic/muscle for an investment and expecting a return. I buy cars that I like and I continue to enjoy, drive and maintain them on a regular basis. If they go up in value, then great. If they don’t, then great…I got to enjoy the ownership experience. Doesn’t that account for something anymore?
Emotionally yes. Financially NO
Buddy, that has been my mantra since 16 and still the case at 62.
The writer says “…despite high inflation…” this market remains hot. I would say it is still hot partially *because* of inflation, not in spite of it. Inflation is good for collectibles of all kinds, as it tends to bring investors into the market, looking for somewhere to put money where it won’t lose value.
This year I sold my two 1940 Indians and took a loss on them of a few grand. I have not been able to sell anything else, despite trying to so I can raise enough to buy a ’53 Buick Skylark. This Buick has always been my dream car and I think I can finally get one because asking prices are dropping. Like they say, if you want to make $1 million with old cars, start with $2 million.
I know of a very nice 53 Skylark for sale. Look at my Facebook page for detailed restoration pics Classics of the heart in Greenwich ny
There are many great vehicles out there awaiting restoration but one of my concerns is the high rate at which donor cars are being crushed as salvage yards and their owners disappear. Save what you can, because when those great donors disappear, so does our option for restoring vehicles that were once considered undesirable. I realize we don’t all have the money to save lots of cars, but I have saved two classics from ugly fates in my life. Do what you can to share these great cars with young people! They ARE interested, we just have to help broaden their interests by welcoming them!
Since you have recently looked at the replica, kit and continuation market, it would be very helpful if the most common reproduction car were included in the Hagerty price guide.