These Popular Classics Are Tracking Straight in a Mixed Market

Deremer Studios

The last five years have been pretty crazy. There was a pandemic and a whole bunch of other newsworthy items, but even sticking with the classic car market—since that’s what we at Insider know best—things have been topsy-turvy. Aside from some uncertainty in the earlier months of 2020, prices rose at a fast clip for just about everything interesting on four wheels, and kept rising in 2021 and 2022 before slowing down in 2023 and so far in 2024. Many vehicles have even come down in value after their pandemic boom highs, but on average the #2 (“excellent”) value for vehicles in the Hagerty Price Guide is 33% higher than it was five years ago, in the spring of 2019. That outpaces inflation: A hundred dollars five years ago translates to over 120 bucks today.

That doesn’t mean every classic car jumped in value by a third, though. In fact, while quite a few of the market’s most popular classics have been quite active, prices for many others have held steady. The values of these cars have for the most part chugged along at their own pace rather than responding to the whims of the market, or after a brief blip settled back into their prior trajectory. All these examples serve as a reminder that while big numbers can impress when the hammer falls, the meat of the market hasn’t fluctuated as much as some of the top lines would suggest.

Measured by insurance activity, the 1965 Ford Mustang is the most popular classic car in America, and the second most popular is the 1966 Mustang. America’s pony car has indeed had an active five years, with the median condition #2 value up 28 percent over that time. Meanwhile, America’s sports car—the Corvette—has been more stable, at least in its earlier C1 (1953-62) and C2 (1963-67) iterations. The median #2 value for C1s is up 11% over the past five years, and the average up nine percent. For C2s, the median #2 value is up less than one percent, and the average is actually down three percent.

Keeping in the Chevrolet camp, in contrast to the 1967-72 Chevy C/K pickups, which are up an astonishing 72 percent on average over the last five years, muscle car mainstays from the same period have been more understated. The 1968-72 Nova is up just 11 percent, and over the last decade just 13 percent. The median #2 value for 1970 Chevelles is up less than three grand over the last five years. A few other GM muscle staples have been relatively stable as well, with the median #2 value for 1964-67 Pontiac GTOs down three percent and 1968-72 GTOs up 15 percent.

Turning back the clock again to the 1950s American cars, this has generally been a sleepier segment of the market, both before and during the 2020s. A ’50s favorite—the 1957 Chevy Bel Air—has barely moved since 2019. The 1956-57 Lincoln Premiere hasn’t either, while other era-defining cars like the 1957 Chrysler 300C (three percent), 1957-58 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser (two percent), and 1958-60 Edsel (three percent) have also barely nudged.

Even further back, both the Ford Model T and Model A have been mainstays of the old car hobby for longer than almost anything else because they’re so, well, old. The market for them is mature, and they’ve spent the last five years tracking straighter than most other classics. Average #2 values for the 1909-27 Model T are up less than one percent over the last five years. The 1928-31 Model A is up 18 percent, although the median is up 12 percent and many versions haven’t moved at all.

Even with all the movement, both up and down, during this very eventful decade so far, some of our favorite classics have been a lot more consistent. For buyers and sellers of these favorites, it’s always reassuring when a car brings a price that feels right.

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Comments

    My sister had one of these, a convertible in yellow, and used to blow the socks off guys who thought they could out race her from a stop light on the street.

    That coupe was the love of my life (auto wise). If I had had the time to replace all of the “U” joints every weekend I would still own it, what a thrill for a 40 year old living way out in the country. Still miss that Vette.

    One of my big regrets in life. 1972 fall I was looking for a winter car. At dealership where I was test driving a 1968 Olds 442 that I bought for a “winter” car. The salesman took me over to his house. He had a Green 1967 Corvette with Green interior, 427 435 hp. He had imported it and could not sell it til the next spring. He was going to be asking $3500.00 for it. Sure enough next spring I saw it advertised for $3500. Did I buy it NO! I bought a new 1973 VEGA instead! I sold the 68 442 to a friend who totaled it in 6 weeks!

    Well I would think that the answer to that question is plainly obvious. If you enjoy owning the car and are fortunate enough to select a specimen whose value appreciation outperforms the market, you can have a whole lot more fun as a car collector than you can just counting coins.

    I wonder what market you are out-performing. That is, while I am aware that some people do well ‘investing’ in cars, their work at making money would be better made elsewhere, in most cases. There are housing costs, maintenance costs, shipping costs, et c, that a conventional ‘investment’ doesn’t have. And, the car is a riskier ‘rent it out’ object; sure, you can do movies, commercials, weddings, et c, so you could even depreciate this holding, but as an owner of foreign cars from the ’60’s, mainly, and as one with some experience in museum holdings of transportation assets, I feel that I would say that they are not in most cases collected to put the kid through college.

    With the exception of the C/K, all of these vehicles have lost value: total inflation since 2019 is 19.8%. If the price didn’t increase by that much or more, the car lost value.

    Totally agree, plus in most states you’ve paid a hefty sales tax you don’t recover from…and then possible auction fees and transportation costs. Cars are great, but you have to really desire the car…not expect a financial return in most cases.

    Excellent point. After paying a 6.5% sales tax (in Texas) plus plates, insurance, registration, purchase commission, and necessary repairs…..none of which are required with CD’s or other such investments…..the “profit” at sale is reduced considerably.

    Do you consider it a loss if you spend $10k for a family vacation you have dreamed about for years and finally able to make happen? The way I see it is if you own a classic car that you enjoy taking to the local Drive In, cruise night, or the occasional drive down a winding country road, and sell it at break even, all things considered, or even for a slight loss, it was money well spent.

    I totally agree. My 2003 Lexus convertible is for my pleasure. Wish it were a 68 Camaro Convertible like I had in 1970 but it is a good substitute.

    Purchase price is the entry point into the hobby. Someone pining for a 67-72 C/K may stay away instead of settling for something else, while the guy interested in a 64-67 GTO might finally pull the trigger since he can buy the car of his dreams for roughly 20% (adjusted for inflation) than he could five years ago.

    Good question, A. Ski. But we’ll never get the answer ‘mongst this gathering of nest feathering egos. Look at the above list. This is all Hagerty bothers to post from 120 years of autodom.

    Nothing about engineering, charm, the visceral pull some cars have on us; the joy, satisfaction of owning something novel, a time machine beyond the usual little red Corvette/Mustang/Camaro or automatic transmissioned, power braked, power steering “muscle car;” egregious slam bam, thank you, ma’am ’60s Motown mid-sized tin with station wagon engine, teenage suspension festooned with dopey decals.

    But throw in a couple ancient Fords to make that contingent happy.

    Good question, A. Ski. Good question.

    “This is all Hagerty bothers to post from 120 years of autodom.”

    You do realize they post dozens of articles a week about a wide range of topics, right? But rant away in ignorance I guess.

    Because some cars can be an investment that you can drive, enjoy, make memories in, travel, and if taken care of values can appreciate. Looking at numbers in an investment account is boring in comparison.

    If you are a classic automobile enthusiast who is fortunate enough to own a specimen whose appreciation in value outperforms the market, then you can have a whole lot more fun investing in the car than in stocks and bonds or whatever else might turn your crank. If money is the “only” reason for one’s interest in collecting classic autos, then admittedly you are much more likely to be disappointed at the end of the day . . . that is true.

    No such thing as a bad looking corvette unless it had a Mako Shark job done, now that’s decreasing the value in a hurry🙈

    The new vettes are painfully ugly. I thought the previous generation was bad, but gm out did themselves.

    I agree…to a point. A lot of bad angles on the new vette, and I find myself never staring at them. But, have an R35 Nissan GTR drive by and I STILL think it looks awesome. And thats been out now since 2009

    Let’s note some data about so-called “unpopular” C8 styling to help anecdotal opinion meet reality. Total Corvette production in 2023 came within 700 cars of hitting their all-time sales record (set in 1979) despite experiencing the heavy burden of a significant worker strike a year ago. Can’t wait to see what less constrained 2024 numbers will be. And despite the C8 having been out there for 5 years now, there are still long “reservation lists” of buyers waiting to order a Z06. Even more expensive C8 ZR1 lists have been forming up for 2 years and the model hasn’t even been announced formally yet by GM. I guess that sort of settles the “ugly” C8 styling myth. But if you prefer something else, go for it and be happy.

    I agree the new Vets are getting too much like the Eropean style and have moved away from the more traditional American street styling that had been in place for many years.They don;t need to follow Lambourdini, etc.

    One car I never see on any list and at area car shows is a 1964 Buick Riveria. I own one with less than 10K miles with a 465 wildcat motor. The car is garage kept and was recently detailed. Any idea of the value of this car. It is not for sale. just curious as to a realistic value.

    Well that’s good news for me….

    I have a 77 K20 pick up with 58k original miles.

    Runs great and I’m considering selling it soon.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Ron Williams
    205-504-0387 cell text please

    Turned 77 this month and own/drive several vintage/antique vehicles. To me “tracking straight” means the front wheels are aligned properly. All my vehicles run and drive, none are “restored.” I ‘preserve’ vehicular history, get great pleasure driving, learning and tinkering, and monetary value is the least important aspect of my passion. I find the perfection crowd, those possessed with resale value consciousness, boring and egotistical. I’m a collector, don’t buy to flip, and have actually owned one of my vehicles for just shy of 50 years.

    It might be more interesting to know which cars have lost the most value, possibly making them attainable to people who have been squeezed out of the market.

    Hey
    Up in Canada a Chevelle as you described would go very easily for Forty thousand minimum!
    They are not easy to get in even fair shape for that money.
    Even with shipping, dollar difference and duty .

    Gary Galaxie

    Please point me in the direction of the 70 Chevelles in excellent condition for $25,000. I’ll take 3 or 4.

    Right with you Chuck – My pulse quickened when I saw $25,500. Kind of lowers the credibility of the article.

    Two lower cost classics I bet on have gone up in value by at least 50% in the last 8 years. The C3 Corvettes (non metal bumper) and late second gen Camaros 1987-1981. Both rose from $5or $6k to over $10K, making it worth it to put a couple bucks into them. And that makes me happy to keep them going down the road for our next gen of classic car lovers!

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