16 October 2015

Graph of the Week: The Most Common Cars at Auction That Cost Under $15,000

Under $15,000 is a good price point for identifying running and driving classics that can be considered “affordable” partly because they fit the budget for most enthusiasts and partly because it’s under the MSRP of just about any new automobile. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of choices in the world of affordable classics that spans many makes, body styles and model years. Even so, at collector car auctions in North America during 2015 there are certain types of classics that cross the block significantly more often than others.

Out of the 10 most commonly seen sub-$15,000 cars by year, make and model, seven are either Mustangs or Corvettes, all but one are built by either Ford or GM, and eight were built after 1970. If you’ve been to a Mecum or a Barrett-Jackson event lately, the list shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In addition to having modest values, most of these are famous cars with mass appeal, and all were built in huge quantities and have a solid survival rate. For example, almost 54,000 Corvettes were built in 1979 alone. For the 1966 Mustang, the number is over 600,000.

The typical demographic of both buyers and sellers at collector car auctions is also old enough to have nostalgic attachment to these cars rather than more modern classics with similar production numbers and purchase prices. While those modern classics have gotten a lot of recent attention from buyers, sellers and market commentators alike, it’s still the prototypical classics like the Mustang, Corvette and Beetle that are dominating the collector car auction dockets.

14 Reader Comments

  • 1
    bud blanch wa. October 28, 2015 at 23:38
    I like the selections.
  • 2
    Jim Kremsreiter Baraboo, WI October 28, 2015 at 23:44
    I've had my '66 Mustang for 14 years now. I was reminded how much cars have changed when I had my grandson in the car and he remarked "You have a funny radio". I said yep, no FM or CD drive, also no power steering or brakes, no power windows or door locks and no air bags. His response was an incredulous "No airbags!!!". No computer ignition or fuel system either! But, hey, I can work on this car and, in case of a power surge knocking out all solid state stuff, my car will still run! Gotta love it!!!
  • 3
    Tommy Adams Kernersville, N.C. October 29, 2015 at 13:17
    Agreed Jim. Love my 65 Barracuda Formula S. Don't need all that modern stuff to burn a little rice burner on occasion!
  • 4
    James Smith Coachella Valley, California October 29, 2015 at 18:08
    Great study but I worry about the future appreciation of these cars. Who will be buying them in 20 years when most of us old timers are gone? None of my four sons could justify owning any of my four cars: the 1922 Overland, the 1966 Galaxie 7 LItre, the 1973 Montego GT with the 351CJ or even the 1995 Porsche 968. I believe they will be lusting after Tesla's or Saleen Mustangs or Ford GT's when they can afford to buy an investment grade car.
  • 5
    robert hauser bayville, nj October 29, 2015 at 09:41
    I'm almost 80 and recently sold my '13 Vette and bought a '74 Vette roadster. It's a tinkers delight with no computer, electronic ignition or cats. It even has points and condenser with dwell angle set by allen wrench through a window in the distributor cap. The way things were before the smog Nazis controlled the world.
  • 6
    Art Allen Livonia Mi. October 29, 2015 at 09:49
    Ive had my 63 Falcon Sprint 23yrs Trying to teach my grandson how to drive a four speed
  • 7
    John P. Leseganich, CPEA Ohio October 29, 2015 at 10:09
    Glad to see the VW Beetle made it. Playing around with "Classics" my entire adult life....well at least for the time they became "Classics", before that they were just "Cool Cars", anyway had everything from the Mustang to the Corvette...and just recently obtained a cool "65" VW Bug. Love the car, lots of fun and therefore glad to see they are on the list of "Collector" vehicles.
  • 8
    Ed Dudek Kenmore, Ny October 30, 2015 at 15:24
    Daily vehicle is a '15 Jeep Wrangler. It's a "brick", but does what we want in all weather. The "fun car"-my wife's (original owner) '70 'vette 350/350 conv, 4spd w/ NO power steering & an AM/FM radio. Entertaining to drive! The yuppies, gen Xers & millenials can keep their "rice burners" & "prestige" Euro cars. All of the above listed cars R controlled by humans NOT computers & R FUN to drive. People have no idea of the fun they're missin' out on by drivin' entertainment centers & disposable transportation that they can't work on or repair. How sad.
  • 9
    Michael Arvada co October 31, 2015 at 10:34
    I now have my mom's 66 GT Mustang she got new in Dec 65
  • 10
    Denis Lepel Rochester NY November 2, 2015 at 12:24
    Bought my '67 Camaro new in Sept of '67 as a 20 yr. old USAF airman. Now 48 yrs later it is the car I still love to drive. No pwr windows, locks, brakes or steering, just raw power from the 327. All 4 of my sons want to get it when I'm gone, but I don't plan on that any time soon.
  • 11
    Ken Geelhaar Parkville,Md November 5, 2015 at 08:05
    Nice article Andrew. I would also have liked to see included in the data which of the under $15k was the safest to drive. I would think that would matter most to an insurance company. In Maryland we recently had some enthusiests killed driving their antique collector cars. Safety items like seat headrests, seat belts, collapsable steering columns save lives and most people only look at asthestics or power when purchasing a classic car.
  • 12
    Charlie Johnson Oak Creek wi. December 3, 2015 at 21:40
    To Robert... I luv ya man. You said it . POINT taken. I'm in process of rebuilding a 65 Dodge Coronet. At age 59 I have parts in 3 rooms of my house. My pals say how you know where all this stuff goes. My response is I just do. its a giant model. Built when cars were cool. And auto techs were techs. Nuts were metal not pkastic clips.. Mopar to ya.
  • 13
    Steve Lauterbach Chicago Suburbs December 23, 2015 at 12:54
    Ken, I wonder if you "get it". If "safety" is the only thing you want in a car (and probably ultra high mpg with near-zero emissions), maybe you should consider moving to the "Left Coast" and getting yourself the latest model Japanese puddle-jumper you can afford. Then you can sit back, turn on the cruise control and the satellite radio, and set your cell phone alarm to wake you by your estimated time of arrival (unless the collision avoidance system doesn't do that for you first). Otherwise, if you want to enjoy your life a little before the day you die, why don't you look into ANY domestic car built in 1967 or later and you will find EVERY one of the safety features you listed above instead of criticizing and complaining about what you don't appear to understand. Talk about a buzz-kill. There was only one comment posted after yours (and that was a only reply to an earlier comment).
  • 14
    Ernest Lawson Jr South Carolina March 8, 2016 at 22:49
    I can - and have - changed the spark plugs in My '67 Chevelle IN THE DARK!! 327/275. Bought new 12/66.

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