In a Cooling Collector Car Market, Not All Cars Are Equal

Eddy Eckart

If you want an accurate picture of collector car market activity, it pays to zoom in.

While big-picture data is critical to understanding how outside influences—things like interest rates and consumer confidence—impact the car hobby, the picture they paint can only offer a broad perspective. The reality is that although the market as a whole is trending downward, not all vehicle values are dropping at the same rate, and some aren’t losing value at all.

Parsing sales information into clear segments yields a more nuanced picture. Retreating average sales prices depicted in the chart below do add further evidence to the theme of a cooling broader market, but those different trajectories also contextualize where the losses in value are hitting hardest. There’s some surprising resilience in some corners of the market, too.


Before diving in, a quick note about these groupings: they are very inclusive by design, with dozens of models in most categories. They are among many internal designations (others include price point, nation of origin, and era of construction) that help our analysts sort and filter the mountain of data they review.

Back to the chart. The most stark contrast between segments comes from two that weren’t widely considered collector vehicles till the last decade or so—sport utilities and pickups. While the average sale price of SUVs we track has dropped nearly 15 percent since its peak in April of 2022, pickups have fared far better, losing only three percent, or $900, from the height of their values in January ’22.


Muscle cars, perhaps the most significant staple of the collector market in the U.S., have retreated much more slowly than the newcomer SUVs, and to a far lesser extent—they’re only down 5.5 percent since May 2022. Another mainstay, sports cars, saw their values drop quickly in 2022 but have since recovered slightly to sit 6.8 percent below their peak.

Average prices for the Luxury grouping, which includes a spread of models from ’60s Lincoln Continentals to ’80s Rolls-Royce Silver Spurs, peaked earlier than most in July of 2021. Although average sales for this segment are down 12.5 percent since then, value losses are not accelerating.

Land yachts is an admittedly more specialized characterization than our other segments—our analysts might work with numbers all day, but they do have a sense of humor—and includes Cadillacs and Lincolns from the ’60s and ’70s. Their steady rise precedes the pandemic market boom, and has only recently taken a noticeable downturn.

While there’s no sugarcoating the collector car market’s overall downward cascade, it’s important to remember that prices don’t move in universal lockstep. Of course, this chart’s delineations represent about one click in on the microscope—there are plenty of ways to filter data into more granular fashion. If you’re beginning to think about what belongs in your garage next, understanding these value trends can help make sense of potential emerging opportunities in the market.




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    The market is or ever has been equal.

    Some cars are like art more than cars and just how special they are or low volumes can make them impervious to negative changes.

    Also market demands like the Bronco. It was not long ago few wanted these. Now they are popular and 10 years from now it may be forgotten again.

    I’m gonna have to go with Eddy on this one. I have never heard anyone use the term “sport car” until I read your post. I even Googled, “sports car or sport car” and every reference points to sports car. There are even several sites with good explanations if you care to Google.

    I chuckled when I saw it—”sport car” is a Shelby-ism. CS used that term and was pretty adamant that it didn’t have an s on the end, even if everyone else insisted it did.

    I checked, the first ever press release for the new Shelby AC Cobra said, “A unique and effective combination of a modern American production powerplant and renowned English sports car body and chassis.” Shelby, went on to use sports car a few more times in that release and in the first brochures! Of course, he would latter, after praising AC Cars Ltd, go on and savage them! The Hurlock’s who owned AC, later regretted their association with Carrol! Keep in mind, they were filthy rich, and at any time during the Cobra program, they could have bought the entire Shelby program out of petty cash! Still, I love the Cobra’s, especially the small block’s.

    “Sport” car? Why? That is certainly not commonly heard – now, nor 50 years ago when I started driving. “Sport coat”, yes, or “sport mirror” – but not “sport car”.

    Sport car is the grammatically correct term. Carroll Shelby couldn’t stand it when people said or wrote “sports car,” he always using the term sport car. And he should know.

    Because all the kids are doing it doesn’t make it right.

    Meanwhile, another listicle above. Who cares about any of this pablum, and where are the unbutchered, non-“retro rod” authentic cars of the ’30s and ’40s, luxe, “Classic,” neo-classic, special interest or not? Are the products of a K-12 trailing that of 16 other modern industrial democracies unable to appreciates style, elegance, historical perspective, charm?

    Dropping a crate Chevy V-8 and Turbo HydraMatic into everything is only the answer for the uneducated. Do we really want to read about Frankencars, or super/”hyper” car du jour that depreciates faster than it accelerates?

    Remember, Hagerty is first an automotive insurance company. Getting feedback from readers via listicles like above helps them determine stated value, etc. on policies.

    Listicles like this on ’60s and newer cars about as interesting, exciting as reading the Kelley Blue Book.

    Now and then, Hagerty has thorough, well-done articles on a given car or facet of auto history. That’s why many of us check in. But all these articles about CamaroMustangChallenger or celeb cars, who cares?

    There’s gotta be more to automotive life than Pep Boys.

    How do you calculate the value of certain vehicles based also on availability ,especially with mass produced vehicles. That is to say, if a model becomes the latest hot ticket item and more are pulled out of the shadows, having become desirable it follows that more will enter the market place. That being the case, at what point then does the market become full or perhaps even over saturated ?

    Paul, let me check with the valuation team on that—I don’t know if our team tracks saturation in any way or if it’s more of a feel. We do track what comes for sale publicly, and there have been instances where an analyst who specializes in a particular car mentions to me that a lot of X have come to market over a given period.

    More broadly, a couple of the people I interviewed for the state of the market story two weeks ago said they were beginning to see saturation in online auctions across several segments. They didn’t reference particular cars, though.

    A wise soul gave me this advice long ago regarding collectables in general: Don’t pay attention to future value prospects … collect what you like and you’ll never be disappointed.

    Eddy- understood and appreciated. Where Hagerty provides raw data based on stats in a ‘hobby’ that is somewhat split between passion and profit the “more of a feel ” can be useful information, especially in the short term. Understanding a market that is to the greatest extent microeconomics is punching way above my weight. But hopefully you’re never too old to learn at least a little something everyday.

    John Wiley’s done some one-off analysis in the past on particular cars, but vehicle liquidity is not a regular part of our number crunching. Good question, and something I’m going to think about relative to some of the stories we have in the hopper.

    If a person owns one or more “collectable” cars and value is the number one reason then it’s really missing the point. I am fortunate to own more that a few and always have purchased the vehicles I wanted and could still afford (wanted a 63 Ferrari GTO my whole life but always out of range and now crazy). I get to drive them, work on them, and share them with like mined friends. This is a part of a lifestyle, value or investment is a distant 2nd.

    Sure, it’s a lifestyle (a hobby really), and not an investment. But that doesn’t mean what happens with value is not important to me. I own one “collector” car that I don’t care about the value of. It’s a family heirloom and I don’t plan to sell it ever. Other cars are just cars. If I want to buy something because I think it would be fun to own for a few years, and its value is dropping, maybe I hold off buying if I know it will be cheaper in a couple years. If the car has reached the bottom of its depreciation curve and doesn’t need a lot of maintenance, I can buy it, drive it and enjoy it a few years, then sell it and I’m only out what I spent on gas and insurance. If it goes up in value and I can make a few bucks to offset those costs and any maintenance costs I may have, hey I got to enjoy what could be an expensive hobby for free.

    The number of cars id like to own greatly exceeds what I can afford to own. Knowing what will happen with values (and maintenance) tells me how much the ownership experience will cost me. Loving the cars and caring about what happens to their value are not mutually exclusive things.

    So if it’s true that”I don’t care about the value of it”, tell me what you insure it for or how you insure it.

    Caring about the value and knowing the value are two different things. One can have no concern about whether a car will rise in value during ownership and merely be happy with owning and driving it. Should it get stolen or otherwise destroyed, the owner would still like to be made whole.

    I insure it for basically what I spent to restore it using a Hagerty “stated value” policy. When I did have a claim on it, Hagerty asked for documentation to support that valuation and I produced all the receipts for what I spent on it. Hagerty was fair to work with and paid the claim fully without further question.

    Joe, I wholly agree!! As I was planning to add another car to my collection, my wife said “You do not need another car”, to which I replied that “Yes, I did not need another car but I chose to pick another for the driving experience”. All my cars were picked based on pleasing designs, good or unique engineering, and a great driving experience. I plan to keep all of them until I can no longer drive.

    In a cooling market it’s more important than ever to be in it for the “right reasons,” like a love of the car(s) you own. I may not respresent the average Hagerty’s member but for the last 8 years have owned a “weekend car.” A convertible (79 450 SL, 88 560 SL and now 06 911 Carerra S). While each was intentinally purchased at or beyond the bottom of their depreciation curve, they were bought for the love of the car not an investment.

    The fact I made money selling the 79 and then 88 Mercedes roadsters was just an added bonus. The Porsche? They’re like having an annuity in your garage if you buy and hold them but even if its value dropped 50% it wouldn’t matter. The car was purchased to drive 3-4K a year and love every minute. If you sell it for more when it’s time to move on that’s just icing on the cake.

    You sound like the stock market. I compare the auctions to Wall Street, whether it goes up or down they make millions. Don’t really care about car or the company it’s just about money. I enjoy my vehicles and don’t give a crap what they are worth money wise. I just hope I’ve taught my kids and grandkids that because I can’t take them with me. Just appreciate them and if you are lucky enough to have one or more, drive them like they were meant to be driven. That to me is the value of them!

    The collector car market has fascinated me for years. I began collecting when I was in my 30s and am now in my 70s. I began my career in the bond pit at the Chicago Board of Trade and today I still oversee and manage investment portfolios for institutions and family offices. Over the years I tried applying some of the disciplines I use for selecting investments to the collector car market. It simply doesn’t work. At times the volatility in the car market far exceeds that of the stock market. The only factor common to both markets is patience. The collector should always have a list of cars he’d like to buy and be patient enough to buy when the price meets his objective. The collector car market requires discipline and patience. Don’t violate your price discipline but be realistic when you set the price you want. Do as much research on the car (s) you are interested in and you might find a great reason or reason(s) to look elsewhere. Enjoy the collector market. Over the years it has become much more efficient and should continue to get even better!

    as a retired guy living on social security, the value doesn’t really make any difference . I can’t afford to buy any car anymore. ive got a 74 firebird formula 400. no one even looks at it at a car show. they only made 1200 of them so its actually rare. when I got it the original motor was not in it, being a car nut I don’t care I got a 68 block and built a nice motor with 9.6 comp forged pistons, 67 heads etc. I drive it and enjoy it.i completely restored it myself and its way nicer than when it came off the showroom floor. gets 16 mpg and is a nice freeway cruiser. too bad guys like me can’t buy cars anymore or there would be a lot more on the road instead of in million dollar collections.

    Cars are cars, if you bought for investment great. I’ve got 5000 sq ft full of cars and motorcycles. Bought though the years for fun factor not as an investment of course they have gone up and Hagerty likes that. Don’t get worried about value just have fun and drive or tinker with them. 😀

    Why would Hagerty be happy that a cars value increased? So they can pay out more in a claims scenario? An increase in value is a two way street when talking about insurance and everyone seems to ignore the second part…

    Maybe because collectors tend to protect their cars more than the masses—driving fewer miles, being defensive on the road, maintaining them better, etc., and therefore get into fewer total loss accidents? Increased value means increased premiums and a better bottom line for the insurer.

    Yeah…. you just described hagerty’s entire business model. They’ve been doing it for 40 years and only recently is it a problem? That seems strange…

    The Hagerty rate tends to be lower compared to the standard market due to the factors you described, though they seem to be marching higher over the last few years (much to my annoyance.)

    Also, only part of the policy is the car. The majority of the underwriting and risk is around the drivers–not the cars. Also, as you pointed out, loss ration stays the same but the cars are more valuable. That means more paid out in claims…

    Randy, the loss rate generally does not change, but when the value rises, so do the premiums! I would presume that much of Hagerty’s insurance business is agreed value.

    In my years as a Hagerty insurance customer (via a local agent, if that matters?) I’ve never been told I have to raise the insured value on my policy. I’ve elected to raise the value due to changes to the car that I have done but that is different than them just upping my value and premium without a request.

    My rate on the other hand continues to change and go up–and thus my payment–despite my coverage staying the same. That’s pretty darn annoying.

    Gayle above raises an interesting conundrum regarding muscle car/sports car. The newest iterations of Corvette, Mustang and Camaro could certainly lean in the direction of sports car as their handling, braking has become of ever increasing importance to their manufacturers and their prospective markets. I wonder if there are a set of criteria by which at a certain point in time, one transitions from one into the other?

    Just remember-collector car values are going to plummet once all these ridiculous so-called green electric vehicles take over-so enjoy while we can because time is running out for gas powered vehicles

    And then again prices may skyrocket. You really never know what this market will do because it is based so much on human emotion 🙂

    The prolem will be the gas supply-both govt’s want to phase this “terrible polluting fuel” out to meet their “green” goals

    Actually, I think the opposite may happen. And at the least, the interest in ICE collector cars won’t drop significantly, I believe – nor do I see why it would/should. Thus, I do not expect a plummet if/when EV’s are in the majority.

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