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The Collector Car Market

Part 1: Where It's Going

By Jeremy Wilson

If you are interested in collectible cars of any kind, you’re undoubtedly interested in their market values. As with any other asset, fluctuating prices can affect your decision to buy or sell, and current valuations are necessary when reviewing your financial portfolio.

Current Prices

NADAGuides.com provides prices (dating back to 1926) for special-interest, exotic, muscle, and sports cars, and trucks. Auction sale prices can be found at Barrett-Jackson.com. Be sure to try their free “Auction Search” tool and pay attention to the auction dates, which may be years old.

Trends

If you care more about the collector car market’s history and where it might be going, Hagerty’s CarsThatMatter.com has a series of indexes with historical values for #2 condition cars in seven categories:

  • A-List (25 sought-after cars of the postwar era)
  • British (21 of the most iconic sports cars, 1950s-70s)
  • Ferraris (13 of the most sought-after street Ferraris, 1950s-70s)
  • Muscle Cars (15 of the top cars, 1964-70)
  • German Cars (21 of the most sought-after cars, 1950s-70s)
  • 1950s American (19 of the most collectible American cars of the 1950s)
  • Affordable Classics (12 undervalued cars from the late 1940s through the 1970s)

The good news is at the time of this writing, the indexes show collectible car prices rising from 2009 lows, except Muscle Cars, which are still declining. Despite the sluggish economy, five of the seven indexes are up compared to four years ago.

What does this mean for the future? No one knows for sure, but the current upward trends in a down economy make many collectible cars look like decent (and fun) additions to a balanced portfolio.

An Inside View of the Collector Car Market

If possible, talk to a professional before buying or selling a collector car--a friend you can trust or an impartial third party who has long-term experience. Jim Gravitt, for example, has bought and sold nearly one hundred early 30s Ford street rods. While showing his 1932 Ford Roadster at a Portland, Oregon cruise-in, Jim took the time to comment on his sales experience (national and international) and the current market.

“I’ve had sixty-five 1932 Fords and ninety-four ‘32, ‘33, and ‘34s,” said Gravitt. “I got started by purchasing a bucket T roadster for $7,000; two weeks later I sold it for $14,000. That told me that there was a market for early Fords. Since then, that’s all I do--buy and sell street rods.

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