The collector-car market retreat continues


As the driving season opened for the northern part of the United States, the Hagerty Market Rating continued to fall. Despite another 0.6-point drop in June, the rating still remains in the “rapid expansion” range at 71.77, though it will likely retreat into the 60s by the end of the summer.

The main takeaway is that prices—adjusting for inflation, of course—have dropped down to pre-pandemic levels, but the market remains strong.

Digging into the components of the Hagerty Market Rating, Overall Auction Activity score has dropped to December 2021 levels. While the number of cars sold at auctions is at an all-time high, the receding median sales price—a low not seen since March 2020—held this score back. Despite softening macroeconomic indicators, our industry experts have yet to see general economic concerns filter into the public classic-car market; buyer confidence remains high.

Broader economic concerns appear to have leached into the private market, however. Private sales activity has continued to fall, dropping to its lowest point since October 2021, though it is still a respectable 73 out of 100 on our scale. Owners who held on to their cars are not raising insured value at the velocity we saw them do so during the last couple years. The ratio of insured value increases to decreases continues to fall for high-end vehicles as well as for more mainstream classics. However, for every phone call we receive to lower an insured value, we still get nearly a dozen calls to raise values. At its height in fall 2022, this ratio was 1 to 17.

At the start of July, a new update to the Hagerty Price Guide will be released. The next Market Rating update will demonstrate whether the softening prices we’ve seen at auction have made their way into our price guide.

1959 chevrolet corvette blue white rear three quarter
Broad Arrow Auctions


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    I see “drivers” that were $12,000 six years ago (ie 1965 V8 notchback Mustangs) that have sellers still asking $25-30,000 but I won’t be buying.

    Once again I’ll say the normal buyer is losing the ability or want to do a big buck transaction right now with our lousy inflated economy.

    Here in VT I’m seeing the same to a curtain degree but I don’t believe the classic car seine is over quite yet .

    Ya it seems some vehicle types have fallen out of favor like the stock 40’s – 50’s and even some 60’s cars and there is allot more tuner cars , modern muscle cars and Jeeps now but the shows are still doing somewhat OK around here , for the most part.

    Covid and the current economic situation has taken a big toll on many shows here in Northern New England and several have faded away unfortunately as has the membership in the 2 clubs I ride with.
    Like yourself I’ve been on the classic car seine for over 50+ years and have been restoring classics professionally and for myself all that time and the attrition rate is obvious with some of us old guys kicking off now and there cars disappearing .

    Even so , I’ve noticed some of these more popular cars are starting to resurface again with new and younger owners so there is still some hope for this hobby IMO. There will just be a change in the types of cars we’ll likely be seeing at shows and on the street from here on out I’m thinking .

    My 71 Boat Tail Rivi still draws allot of attention sense there pretty unique , even with the younger folks and my lowered 83 Pro Stock style C-10 always was and still is a head turner at the shows.

    If all goes well I have a 72 Karmin Ghia waiting in the wings that just may be my next project toy, I just can’t decide if I want to keep it stock or to go hog wild on it with a Porsche motor swap and rally car type suspension mods or if I’ll just sell it off for someone else to have fun with?

    My C-10 and Riviera aren’t going any place though, that’s for darn sure !

    And I am sure with your confidence and experience you understand selection bias? Just because there is not “young people” at the events you attend does not mean there is no enthusiasm. It just means they aren’t hanging around you, and that is okay.

    I am a younger person (sub 35 years old) and have been driving ’30s and ’60s cars for over half my life at this point. It is a conscious decision to avoid shows/gatherings of older folks because whenever I show up all I hear is how “I/my brother/dad/a coworker had one of those back in the day” usually followed by the most boring story I’ve ever heard. If I try and discuss with them or share my knowledge or experience I am dismissed by most. There is two sides to this generational coin. Are the groups you gather in actually inviting to those you say are not showing up? It’s a tough question a lot of clubs and organizations don’t actually want to address. Change is hard.

    Randy: Seems you’re not talking to the right guys…& maybe YOUR not listening to their stories behind the story… I’m 68. Back in 1970, I went to a Police auction with my Dad, and bought a 1965 Oldsmobile 442 convertible for 55 dollars. I still own the car, and if that car could talk maybe it would hold your interest. You’ll be where we are now, and hopefully, you will have matured enough to listen to the “Younger Guys” and remember what you wrote today. We all have different stories. I raced at New England Dragway in the early 70s, drove the 442 for most of my 20s. Took my Dad with me racing. Went surfing with Boards hanging out the back window of the car to Coast Guard Beach. Drove to Florida Keys 4 years in a row on vacation, broke down in Georga at 1 in the morning, and was helped by 3 Black men who were on their way to work on a farm. I stayed for a day after my axle bearing was replaced at a local machine shop, shared dinner helped clean up, and was on my way. Everyone has stories. Wait till you teach your kids to drive….You’ll have some stories to tell. Good Luck., David, Sandwich Ma

    Randy – You make a good point. I had a great day at a car show with a younger friend being schooled on things that lit him up and just talking cars and design in general. Great a fun learning from fresh eyes.

    Too many auctions are pricing us regular joes out of a lot of possibilities. As much as I would like to get another, I won’t give an exorbitant amount for one some numb nuts seller overpaid to restore.

    I think the point James makes is valid. How can we expect to draw a new generation when the price of entry is getting to be so high? Where do you start?

    When I die, when I die, there’s nobody left to carry on, carry on… A play on the Chicago band song, imagine the horns playing in the background. How can we get schools to go back to auto shop, machine shop, wood shop, crafts and get kids interested in doing things with their hands and minds? I suppose most of us Oldsters did have access to those great programs. I still went to college and got a degree in accounting, which I found too boring, but one can do both.

    I loved the old days, when you could find old cars at reasonable prices in peoples yards or in their carports. Then everybody had garages and shop/storage buildings, and you could still find some good deals by word of mouth, or in the local newspapers. Then came the local Auto Trader publications, where you could still find some good deals, and even see a photo of the vehicle, to show you if it were worth persuing, without even having to make a phone call. Then came the national car auctions, where all the high rollers went to buy, but the common ordinary Joe would see a car sell, and figure that his similar car (although nowhere near the quality), must be worth that same kind of money. Then came the Internet, which magnified that problem even more, to a point where now everybody thinks their cars are solid gold. When you do see a good deal on the Internet, chances are good that it is a scam, because if the deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. High interest rates also make it harder for many people to buy a collector vehicle. Therefore, in my humble opinion, it is much harder for the average Joe to find and afford a nice collector vehicle in today’s world. There will probably come a point, when a lot of hobbiest’s pass away, and the demand for their collector vehicles falls off, which may then make things more affordable to those that may still have an interest, but I, for one, don’t want to spend a fortune on a toy that will sit in my garage and be worth less money to my heirs than what I had to pay for it. Of course the collector car market is cooling!

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