As reported last week, the Arizona, Retromobile, and Amelia Island auctions all aligned with signals from the private market, the emergent theme being “affordability.”
Recently published Hagerty Price Guide (HPG) values, reflecting this pattern, show that collector car demand has moved down-market. The only one of Hagerty’s collector car indices to increase in value since January was the Affordable Classics Index, which logged a modest 1 percent gain. Meanwhile, the Ferrari and German indices—two of the three most expensive market segments—both fell by 2 percent. The Blue Chip Index was unchanged.
These trends clearly suggest that spending at the upper reaches has become much more measured. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities still attract buyers, but typical examples do not.
A broader look at pricing changes in the HPG confirms this as well. Cars valued above $100,000 have been slow to sell, so far this year, and consequently fewer of them increased in HPG value than at any point since 2009. This echoes a pattern begun as 2016 ended, showing that this selectivity is an enduring trend.
While buyers at the upper end are becoming much more discerning they aren’t necessarily refraining from buying altogether. In many cases they are shifting their attention to cars that represent less financial risk. This change in focus is increasing competition for more affordable options, which is one of the reasons why the average appreciation for cars priced below $100,000 was 0.5 percent while it was only 0.2 percent for those valued above $100,000. Standouts here include the BMW 3.0CSi (16 percent appreciation) and first generation Ford Bronco (10 percent appreciation).
The hottest decades were the 1990s and 2000s, with a 6 percent and 1 percent increase, respectively. The biggest movers in these categories were the Ferrari F50 (30 percent appreciation), GMC Typhoon (28 percent appreciation), and Ferrari 456 GT (14 percent appreciation).
For those who have watched the past five years of rapid value growth with jaded eyes, take joy in a few points: First of all, slowing increases (and some price decreases) means that you are unlikely to be priced out of a market overnight. Secondly, speculation (to the extent that it ever was) isn’t pervasive, and the folks who are writing checks are also driving the cars.