These are the collector car segments that stood out in 2023

Flickr | ANDY PANE

The last time we flipped our calendars over to a new year, we looked back on a 2022 full of record-breaking car auctions, price-guide-breaking sales, and previously-unseen growth for seemingly everything four-wheeled and fun. As we roll our calendars to 2024, things are a little different. Prices are still high in general, and higher than some of us would like. Some cars are still appreciating, but the lines on the graph aren’t as sharp, and quite a few cars actually decreased in value. The Hagerty Market Rating, our measure of overall activity in the collector car market, just dropped for the eighth month in a row. Though this year saw far fewer common trends spanning this massive hobby of ours, several segments offered compelling storylines that stood out to us. Here they are, below.

Momentum among Japanese collector cars appears to be slowing

Unsplash/Eddie Jones

Japan is the Land of the Rising Sun, of course, and cars from that country have been doing some rising of their own the past few years. Mk IV Toyota Supras are worth roughly double what they were in 2018. So are first gen (AP1) Honda S2000s and (NA) Mazda Miatas. Nissan’s Skyline is on its own monstrous trajectory.

This year, though, hasn’t been as drastic. Of all the Japanese collector vehicles in the Hagerty Price Guide, the average appreciation in 2023 was 4.5 percent. Still growing and still higher than inflation, then, but last year the number was 15.6 percent.

Some Japanese classics have taken a dip. From May 2015 to April 2022 the 1970-73 Datsun 240Z grew 163 percent, but during 2023 that game-changing sports car took a four percent drop. The aforementioned first gen Honda S2000 shed ten percent in 2023, and the third gen (FD) Mazda RX-7 dropped 16 percent.

Some Radwood cars are up, some are down

Greenwich Concours Radwood cars
Matt Tierney

This segment has some overlaps with the Japanese cars above, and Radwood-era cars (collector vehicles built during the 1980s and 1990s) were another group that spent much of the pandemic boom shooting up, only to slow down during the past 12 months.

Over the course of 2022, all 1980s and 1990s vehicles in the Hagerty Price Guide experienced an average appreciation of 14.5 percent. For 2023, the number is 4.5 percent. Fox-body Ford Mustangs kept up their multi-year growth spurt, with 5.0 convertibles appreciating an average of 15 percent in 2023, while 1991-92 GMC Syclones grew 6.7 percent and 1981-83 DeLorean DMC-12s grew by a movie-appropriate 18.8 percent. On the flip side, 1986-92 BMW M3s dropped 12.9 percent, 1987 Buick GNXs dropped 5.6 percent, and 1987-91 Ford Broncos dropped 12 percent.

Ferraris had a good year

Ferrari 330LM 250 GTO front three quarter
The most expensive auction sale of the year was this $51.7M GTO (RM Sotheby’s)

If we ignore Formula One for just a sec, 2023 was quite kind to Italy’s most famous carmaker. Ferrari won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the tenth time, and its first since 1965. Its Q3 revenue rose 24 percent from a year ago while profit jumped 46 percent. The company shipped more vehicles and its stock (ticker: RACE) is riding high. There’s even a movie about the man himself coming out. As for older Ferraris, they had a good showing in 2023, too. As of Q3, Hagerty’s  Ferrari Market Index saw higher year-over-year growth than any of the other six indices in the Hagerty Price Guide.

At the top of the Ferrari ladder, despite some headline cars falling short of estimates at auction this year, several sales both public and private confirmed that the market hasn’t dropped for Enzo-era Ferraris, especially ones with pedigree. Five Ferraris sold for over $10M this year. Although six brought $10M or more back in 2014, most years don’t see more than one or two, and some years don’t see any. And, after 2022’s shocking $142M sale of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, Ferrari wrested the top auction spot of 2023 with a $51.7M GTO, the most expensive Ferrari ever sold at auction.

With a wide range of performance, vintage and price point, the overall Ferrari market is nuanced. Naturally, not all the cars move together. Many gained value in 2023. Many of them didn’t. While median #2 (“Excellent”) values for some models like the 1968-73 Daytona (-4 percent), 1975-85 308 (-3 percent) and 2004-09 F430 (-12 percent) took notable steps back, the 1962-64 250 GT Lusso (+7 percent), 1968-76 246 Dino (+6 percent) and 1994-99 F355 (+11 percent) saw sizable gains.

Modern exotics were mixed

Broad Arrow

Exotic cars from the 1990s and 2000s, particularly the kind with a stick shift between the seats, were all the rage in 2022. We noted record sale prices every few weeks. Monterey saw records break for both the Ferrari F40 and F50, while even underappreciated exotics like the Jaguar XJ 220 gained a following. That car gained 26 percent in value over the course of last year. In 2023, however, not everything with carbon fiber and a clutch pedal was guaranteed to get more expensive.

Some did continue their momentum. Ferrari F50s, which more than doubled in value from mid-2021 to late 2022, saw a 3.5 percent gain in 2023. Lamborghini Diablos, which jumped 26 percent in 2022, gained 18 percent in 2023. Lotus Esprit V8s, which gained 18 percent last year, made an even larger 21 percent gain this year. At the same time, others retreated but remain higher than they were in 2021. Values for Porsche Carrera GTs surged 25 percent from Jan. 2022 to Jan. 2023. From then to now, Carrera GTs are down seven percent.  The rise and fall of Bugatti EB110s is even more stark. These cars shot up 54 percent in 2022, only to fall 15 percent in 2023. Ford GTs, meanwhile, had a modest two percent gain in 2022, and their current median #2 value of $408,000 is actually a few grand lower than it was last January.

Taken as a whole, the supercar market still grew in 2023, but it slowed down.

Modern F1 cars are showing up more often, and for more money

2013-Mercedes-AMG-Petronas-F1 car cockpit
RM Sotheby's/Alex Penfold

While this is an admittedly tiny, tiny slice of the collector car market, we can’t help but notice the proliferation of modern (early 1980s to today) Formula One cars coming up for sale as well as higher and higher prices for the most significant cars. All this despite these cutting edge computers on wheels not getting any easier to run or maintain. Modern F1 machines took a podium—landing among the year’s top three auction sales—in 2022 and 2023, something that’s never happened before. In 2023, there were two collector car auctions attached to Grands Prix. That has never happened before, either.

It all makes sense. F1 has been the pinnacle of motorsports for a long time, but it is more popular than ever right now. Owning a rare and drivable (albeit with great difficulty) piece of the series has big appeal for certain collectors, and the market for the best modern F1 machinery had a big showing in 2023. Highlights included Michael Schumacher’s 1991 Jordan for $1.63M, Kimi Raikkonen’s 2006 McLaren-Mercedes-Benz MP4/21 for $2.76M and Lewis Hamilton’s 2013 Mercedes-AMG W04 for $18.82M, the new record for a modern Grand Prix car.

Online auctions kept growing, and aren’t going anywhere

hagerty marketplace online car auctions landing page

Online collector car auctions are sort of like remote work. They were around before 2020, but they flourished and matured during the pandemic, and now they’re here to stay.

During the 2020-22 period, it seemed like there was a new online auction company popping up every other week trying to cash in on the boom. That was no longer the case in 2023 and several of those upstarts are no more, but the space kept growing as people are no longer buying cars from the keyboard out of necessity, but out of convenience.

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