5 collectible vehicles losing steam in 2023
The collector car market’s rapid expansion from summer 2020 through autumn 2022 was a rising tide that lifted almost all boats. When we noted which vehicles posted losses during that time, most value changes were isolated incidents; they didn’t reflect broader market forces. The first part of 2023, however, told a different story.
Results have been more mixed in the last few months than they have been in years. While a variety of vehicles are still gaining in value, an equally varied set of vehicles—including many mainstream favorites—are losing steam.
No, the sky isn’t falling, but the message is clear: The collector car market is evolving. While investment purposes shouldn’t be the primary reason to buy a car, there are some lessons to be gained by observing market trends and considering what they could mean for the future.
With that, let’s take a look at the five most notable value decreases from the latest Hagerty Price Guide.
1961–73 Volvo 1800 -25 percent
Volvo’s iconic 1800 is one of those models that nailed a design in a way few cars do. Its fantastic looks were penned by Pelle Petterson, son of Volvo consultant Helmer Petterson, while he studying under legendary designer Pietro Frua. The car flaunts an Italian flair while maintaining the sturdiness that Swedish cars embody. As if to prove that point, the record for the world’s highest-mileage car is held by an 1800 that clocked over three million miles.
Volvo 1800 values have historically held steady and affordable, with the occasional headline-grabbing sale spiking prices for a short time. Early in the pandemic, 1800s saw some real positive growth, but by the end of 2022 and into 2023, they began to change hands at pre-pandemic levels again. Moving forward, it is hard to say whether small downward adjustments will occur while the 1800 market finds its footing, but it is safe to say that 1800s won’t stay down forever.
Jeep CJ-5/CJ-7 -15 percent
The Jeep CJ-5 and CJ-7 seemed to mind time and corporate changes no more than pebbles on a trail. Between the two variants, they spanned over 30 years, and the CJ-5 survived through three management companies: Willys, Kaiser and AMC. Replacing the CJ-3 in 1955, the CJ-5 incorporated updates from military Jeeps after the Korean War. In 1976, the CJ-7’s introduction offered further options and comforts from the CJ-5. The two would continue to be produced side by side through the early ’80s, and the CJ-7 would continue through 1986.
Simply put, these Jeeps built the foundation for how we view the Jeep brand and the flagship Wrangler today.
While their appreciation has been gradual, time adds up: A CJ is now worth on average over three times more than it was in our founding (2006) Hagerty Price Guide. That result is undoubtedly spurred on by the enormous enthusiast following Jeeps have cultivated.
Despite that, CJ values have softened 15 percent since the beginning of this year. Much of the observed drop was related to weaker values of #3 (Good) condition examples, while values of pristine examples remained healthy. This points to the fact that buyers are less willing to drop money on driver-quality vehicles, a trend we’ve started observing across the broader market.
This decrease is nothing to panic over, however. The CJ is too big of a name in the truck market to erase all the value gains it made over the past couple decades, and typically, a gradual increase in value makes for a softer landing when the market changes direction.
1961–4 Facel Vega Facel II -14 percent
There’s a good chance that a large number of readers have never heard of a Facel Vega, so here’s a bit of context. The Paris, France–based company originally created stampings and bodywork for the French auto industry but became its own car-manufacturing marque in 1954. Specializing in luxury grand tourers, Facel Vega sourced big-displacement American V-8s to stuff under its beautiful bodywork. Its engine of choice? Chrysler’s 383. The company’s fortunes would be short-lived, however. It went into receivership in 1964, limiting the Facel II’s production to fewer than 200.
These cars rarely come up for sale, especially at public American auctions. After their values grew wildly in 2014, these cars have held steady, even while values of other six-figure automobiles dipped when the market cooled in 2015. That said, time may have caught up the Facel II. With offerings in Europe softer than before and with a collection of fair-grade cars on offer at Amelia Island 2023, it’s all too obvious that the market has softened, especially for any car not in top condition.
The important takeaway here is that buyers are becoming pickier than before: Nothing but the very best will do, and the rest must come at a price that makes sense. The Facel II’s trajectory appears to be yet another sign that reason has crept back into the market.
1964–7 Pontiac GTO -14 percent
Here it is, the muscle car that started it all. The product of John Z. DeLorean and his team of maverick engineers stuffing a large engine into a mid-size car and offering it to the public as a special-option package in 1964, the GTO’s stature in history is secure.
The resulting horsepower arms race lasted until 1972 (or later depending on which cars you choose to include as muscle cars) and is now fondly looked upon as one of the greatest eras in automobiling. Good looks, power, and significance have earned the 1964–7 GTO a place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts, and while it may not be the most expensive or most powerful muscle car of all time, it is one you must experience to be called a true enthusiast of the segment.
Exactly a year ago, values for early GTOs exploded after a long stint of inactivity, gaining a total of 35 percent between April and July. As 2022 wound on and many of the good examples were snatched up, prices quickly began to settle back down. The 2023 January sales at Scottsdale and Kissimmee made clear that the market for GTOs has reassumed the level it held prior to January 2022. In contrast to the Jeeps above, the GOAT is a good example of a rapidly appreciating vehicle whose values are cooling as fast as they heated.
1990–6 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo -13 percent
As the market for Japanese sports cars began to heat up in the late 2010s, the Z32-series Nissan 300ZX experienced a surge of interest from collectors looking to enter the market. Though to a much lesser degree than its Toyota rival, the Supra, the Z also benefited from its cult status amongst kids who grew up in the ’90s and early 2000s. In twin-turbo V-6 form, the Z32 sports a potent 300 horsepower, and handling is assisted by Nissan’s HICAS four-wheel steering.
Following a prolonged hot streak, we’ve observed values of Z32 twin turbos decreasing—the recent 13 percent drop is the largest hit they’ve taken since peaking in the middle of 2022. One of the potential reasons behind the drop is that exceptional cars haven’t been hitting the market like they were before.
Another factor may be coming in shipping containers from Japan: With each passing year, more ’90s-era Skyline GT-Rs have become legal to import, and Nissan’s flagship is now in the U.S. in large quantities. For the same money as an excellent Z32 twin turbo, you can pick up a good R32- or R33-gen GT-R, and those cars carry more clout in JDM circles.
Regardless of the reason, values for this car are settling, not collapsing; don’t expect the Z32 300ZX to drop back to previously low prices.
Via Hagerty Insider