Chevrolet vs. Ford: Who rules the collector car world?

Cameron Neveu

In an era when knee-jerk political polarization poisons discussion of everything from the economy to epidemiology, it’s therapeutic to engage in a completely harmless form of partisanship. I’m talkin’ about Chevrolet vs. Ford. The iconic American brands have been slugging it out for more than a century and despite producing vehicles that are very similar on paper, have amassed loyal and often doggedly opposed fanbases.

Both brands, no surprise, are hugely popular among car collectors. But which has the upper hand? To answer that question or, at the very least, provide fodder for each side to cherry pick in a future comments flame war, Hagerty Insider dug into the data.

Since statistics is far from immune to biased interpretation, and this reporter is about as objective as a Tammany Hall operator—my father owned three Camaros and a Corvette between the time I turned five and when I got my driver’s license—I asked Hagerty senior information analyst James Hewitt to run the numbers.

Hewitt focused on the most visible front in the Chevy/Ford battle—Camaro vs. Mustang. Which, he wondered, was worth more? He averaged out the values for all examples of each car in the Hagerty Price Guide.

Advantage, Chevy. I'd have been happy to stop here, only Hewitt pointed out that the averages can be highly influenced by a few particularly valuable models (think: 1969 ZL1). So, he calculated median values:

Well, darn. Things don't look any better for the Camaro when we look at their popularity relative to the Mustang among collectors, as represented by their shares in Hagerty's insurance books. Now, you'd expect the Mustang to be more popular, given the fact that they generally have sold better through the decades, but the disparity is stunning—there are nearly two collectible Mustangs for every collectible Camaro.

That's despite the fact that the people collecting Camaros are, from an age demographics standpoint, identical to their Mustang-owning peers.

It's at this juncture that the Camaro, statistically overmatched, tags in its big brother, the Corvette. And by big brother, we mean that almost literally—Corvette collectors are, on average, five years older.

Although the Corvette is a lower production vehicle than either the Mustang or Camaro, a greater share of them have achieved collectible status. That helps make them more valuable than either pony car.

It also makes them very popular. In fact, digging through Hagerty's insurance data, we see Corvettes are the most popular collector car in the all but a handful of states. On the electoral map, the Mustang barely fares better than Walter Mondale.

Ah, but if we've learned anything in recent decades, it's that the state-by-state count can be deceiving. Just as the "bluest" and "reddest" states are actually "purple," so too do we find upon closer inspection that the margin of victory for the Corvette is razor thin. In reality, most states are a near-even mix of both.

Which helps explains how there are slightly more collectible Mustangs than Corvettes, per Hagerty data.

What did we learn, exactly? Chiefly, that Mustangs are wildly popular and are gaining ground on both the Camaro and Corvette. Of course, the very fact that there is a Camaro and a Corvette is a boon for Chevrolet, and helps explain why the brand is more popular overall among collectors, per Hagerty data.

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