America’s love for the pony car is undeniable. More than 50 years after the Mustang (or the Plymouth Barracuda, if you ask Mopar folks) launched the segment, pony cars are still among the most commonly seen enthusiast rides at car shows, auctions, drag strips, or just revving their engines between the lights.
Over the years, pony cars have taken many different forms, and many domestic brands have tried their hand at building one, so the pony car market is naturally varied. As measured by our Hagerty Vehicle Rating, some are gaining popularity, some are keeping pace with the market, and some are lagging behind. These cars represent each of the three categories:
If we just ignore the Mustang II for a moment, it’s probably safe to say that all Mustangs eventually become collectible to some extent. It has already started happening for 1979–93 Fox-body cars, and even though the 1994–2004 fourth-gen cars are still a somewhat common sight on the road, their transition to collectible status isn’t far off. Average Hagerty Price Guide values for the Mustang bottomed out at the end of last year and showed a 2-percent uptick with the latest release of pricing. That’s a modest number, but it’s still a significant reversal for cars that had been depreciating since they were new.
Buyer interest is also up 20 percent over the past year, while both low-mileage examples and special models are starting to show up at collector car auctions as well. The number of fourth-gen Mustangs offered at auction is up 43 percent and the average sale price is up 17 percent over the past year. For anyone thinking about buying that 2001 Bullitt edition or SVT Cobra, there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to go for it.
It’s unfortunate, but these days people don’t tend to remember AMC for neat performance cars like the two-seat AMX or the Javelins that won the Trans Am Championship in both 1971 and ’72. No, these days people think about cars like the Gremlin or the Pacer if they even remember AMC at all.
Even enthusiasts seem to be forgetting about the cars that American Motors brought to the table during the muscle-car era. Hagerty Price Guide values for Javelins have risen by less than 1 percent over the last six years, which means that prices aren’t even keeping up with inflation. Buyer interest has also dropped by 9 percent over the past five years, and those buyers who are showing interest are mostly baby boomers who remember these cars when they were new. The audience for classic AMCs has always been narrow. Sadly, it only looks like it’s getting narrower.
The market for Bandit-era Firebirds is a bit of a mixed bag. Hagerty Price Guide values have steadily increased, averaging a 5-percent gain every year for the past decade. Buyer interest and insured activity have been outpacing the market as well, but so far this year the sale prices at both auctions and in the private market for second gen Firebirds have fallen by 15 percent. That kind of drop means it’s probably not the best idea to sell, but buyer interest is still outpacing the market and these cars are particularly popular among younger enthusiasts, so things look better in the longer term.