5 collector vehicles starting strong in 2023
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The busiest month of auctions in the collector-vehicle calendar is finally behind us. Over the course of January, we watched to see whether the slowdown we observed at the end of 2022 would impact the thousands of cars crossing the auction blocks of Kissimmee and Scottsdale in 2023.
Despite magnificent auction totals from Barrett-Jackson and Mecum auctions, figures bolstered by the enormous sum of cars on offer, the underlying trend is that the collector car market has reached a peak and has begun to taper, although there is no indication of a crash in sight.
Regardless of the overarching theme, some sales still smashed our price guide estimates. Before digging into those specific transactions, it is important to point out that there are two ways a big sale can go: It may be an outlier (a single sale, unlikely to be repeated due to provenance, originality, or simply the conditions in the auction room) or it may be consistent with trends in a fluid market.
In this article we are focusing on the latter: big sales supported by repeat results which point to a moving market. Outliers may make for crazy headlines, but sales that beat our price guide and are part of a bigger trend tell a broader, longer-term story.
Not sure what a “Concours” condition car is, or how a #2 car is different than a #3 one? Here’s a breakdown of our 1-to-4 vehicle-condition rating scale.
2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Carbon Edition
Hagerty Price Guide #1 condition (Concours) value: $83,900
Talk about the ultimate version of the already good C6 Z06. The one-year-only Carbon Edition bridges the gap between the well-balanced Z06 with the best parts of the bonkers ZR1. Adding to the Z06’s myriad performance upgrades, the Carbon Edition received a set of 15-inch carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fiber front splitter, rocker extensions from the ZR1 as well as a carbon-fiber hood.
With just 535 examples produced, a Carbon Edition is a very uncommon find. However, two ultra-low mile examples popped up for sale in January: A 15-mile car finished in Inferno Orange at Mecum that sold for $110,000 and this 61-mile Supersonic Blue car at Barrett-Jackson that sold for an astonishing $161,700. This is a substantial increase over previous sales and a likely indicator that ultra-special C6 Corvettes have transitioned from being simply collectible to seriously sought after.
2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
HPG #1 condition (Concours) value: $55,800
It’s a seemingly curious case that a Japanese car would bring such a huge price amongst the litany of muscle cars that traditionally come up for sale in January. This Subaru STI was not missed by keen-eyed enthusiasts, and having turned only 6800 miles, it was quite a find indeed. Low-mile, unmodified GD-series STIs are nearly impossible to find, and this one had a lot going for it.
World Rally Blue with gold BBS wheels is the iconic Subaru color combination, and 2004 is the first year for the U.S.-spec STI—meaning that it has features (or a lack thereof) that subsequent years didn’t. For example, the 2004 models came standard without a radio, a feature that many owners would remedy themselves. The fact that this car is untouched is a big deal to STI collectors.
This wasn’t the only big STI sale in January of 2023, either. Just before Kissimmee, a 7000-mile 2007 STI had a hammer price of $63,000. Compared to other, sought-after Japanese models, Subaru STI values have been sleepy, and we expect these models to begin moving up in value. Although exceptional examples are exceedingly rare, after these two sales, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more unmodified, low-mile STIs hit the market throughout the year.
1989 Chevrolet V1500 Blazer
HPG #1 condition (Concours) value: $43,100
Keen observers of the auctions last month would’ve noticed that trucks did extremely well, especially at Barrett-Jackson, which was loaded with restomodded examples. In their shadow were a number of stock, low-mile trucks, especially Squarebody Blazers, that impressed with their sale prices.
The most notable Squarebody was this 13000-mile example, which brought an eye-watering $93,500. This isn’t the only low-mile Blazer to do well: a 3000-mile one from 1988 brought $83,600. While these are the obvious sales, most stock Squarebody Blazers sold above their condition-appropriate value.
Simply put: No, your really nice Blazer didn’t just double in value, but it is safe to say that on the whole, the model is worth more after January.
1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429
HPG #1 condition (Concours) $380,000
A grand total of 10 Boss 429 Mustangs were on offer last month, far more than we normally see at any one time. These beasts were developed to homologate the reportedly massively underrated Boss 429-cubic-inch engine for NASCAR use by having Kar Kraft modify the Mustang chassis and stuff the absolutely massive engine between its frame rails. To Ford enthusiasts, these would be the equivalent in performance and rarity to a Hemi Mopar.
With so many for sale, the results were understandably mixed. A couple unrestored examples like this one from Barrett-Jackson sold for huge money, but a number of cars at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum sold for over condition-appropriate value. As a result, values for Boss 429s are likely creeping up a bit.
1967 Shelby GT500
HPG #1 condition (Concours) $274,000
Among the best known of the Shelby Mustangs, the 1967 GT500 is one of the most desired cars of the muscle-car era. 1967 was the first year of these big-block monsters, but it would also be the last year that Shelby American was really involved in the actual production of these cars. That factor has made this year particularly sought after.
Throughout 2022, these cars saw little market movement, and at the end of the year they actually appeared to be creeping down in value. January had something to say about that, however, as two early-production examples offered at both Barrett-Jackson and Mecum showed that the ’67 GT500 may have turned things around. The Mecum car’s $330,000 transaction backed up the above Barrett-Jackson car’s impressive sale price. Talk about consistency!
It seems that the Shelby Mustang market in general continues to have life in it, and the ’67 GT500 market appears to be the biggest one to buck previous losses.
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