The Bull Market List: How we pick ’em

It's coming up aces for the 1965-1970 Cadillac DeVille Convertible. A 2022 Bull Market pick, this Caddy has achieved a 25% annualized return. Matt Tierney

We have a lot of fun putting together our annual Bull Market List, but we have even more hours put into researching our selections. Our picks appear here not because we think or feel they will appreciate; they make the cut because our data analysis tells us they will.

That’s a bold statement, especially since you might not know who “we” are. I’m referring not to the Media site’s editors (talented though they may be!—Ed) but to a team of 15 data analysts who spend all day, every day examining the collector car market for Hagerty. We personally inspect thousands of cars each year, and we look at more than a million transactions—cars that sell at auction but also a much larger pool of sales that happen privately. Private sale prices aren’t made public (unlike, say, real estate) but often get reported to us when the buyer calls Hagerty for insurance.

We do all this in order to understand what cars are worth and what impacts those values. We publish our findings four times a year in the form of the Hagerty Price Guide, which covers more than 40,000 individual cars, trucks, vans, and motorcycles from the prewar era to modern collectibles.

Nissan 350Z Nismo front three-quarter
The Nissan 350Z, a 2023 Bull Market pick, has posted a 10% annualized return since it was chosen. James Lipman

Bull Market represents the handful of cars in that guide most likely to appreciate. We study recent sales prices, of course, but don’t rely on them exclusively—the point of this exercise is to peer ahead, not tell you what happened in the past. So, we’re most interested in data that indicate growing demand, like a big uptick in people calling us for insurance on a particular model and/or a spike in the number of people looking up car values on our website. We look at who is doing the buying, as well. In particular, although baby boomers and older collectors still spend a lot of money on collector cars, it’s the interests of younger collectors that matter most when we’re trying to predict how much cars will be worth years and decades down the road. So, strong interest from Gen Xers, millennials, and even Gen Zers is key for Bull Market picks.

Through the years, we’ve added more data to the mix. We recently began reviewing import and export data, checking how many of a given vehicle are leaving the country (a signal that they are valued higher elsewhere and that supply is shrinking), or how many are coming into the U.S. (showing there are more buyers than there is available inventory). We’ve also begun layering in an analysis of value trends relative to competitive offerings to highlight cars that appear underpriced next to their peers or look similar to cars that have experienced a surge.

OK, so we like our data. But we love cars, too. After coming up with a shortlist, the analysts hone a final selection with Hagerty Media editors. Some cars get pulled because they’re too rare or impractical to own; others because no one in the room can imagine wanting one. This is usually the part where voices get raised—on at least one occasion, someone involved has threatened to quit if a particular car made the final cut.

Our track record is pretty good. For the 61 previous selections, the average annualized return as measured by values published in the Hagerty Price Guide is 13.7 percent, and the median annualized return is 12.5 percent. Those numbers beat overall price guide returns by 10.1 percent and 9.4 percent. Translation: Bull Market picks consistently outperform the market.

Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 front three-quarter action
Collectors don’t just love cars, so we keep an eye on SUVs, trucks, and even motorcycles. For instance, the 1991-1997 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ80 from our 2021 Bull Market List has realized an annualized return of 14%. Hagerty Media

Key takeaways from seven years of doing this: First, no matter which direction the market is headed, there are always cars that move ahead. Another lesson is that these opportunities exist across decades, price bands, and genres. The Bull Market List inherently skews toward younger cars that are transitioning from used to collector status, but we have featured selections from every decade going back to the 1930s, and prices ranging from mid-teens to seven figures.

At the end of the day, Bull Market or not, the best advice is to buy what you love. If it happens to be featured in our 2024 vintage, congratulations, you should lace up your spending shoes now and get prepared to act. If not, no problem, there are millions of other cars out there that will still thrill you. Either way, this list is designed to help people make smarter, more informed buying decisions to help them drive and enjoy the cars they love. Because if you aren’t enjoying them, you’re missing out on the biggest dividend of all, which is an emotional one.




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    Based on the results I would keep my day job if I were you.

    The results are mixed and often this info people take to seriously and I wonder how many get burned,

    The market is hard to predict and with the big time auctions driving up artificial prices on some models it is really a mess right now.

    Also the rate cars that they may have only made 5 of and it is a unknown car. One sale is hard to judge as being a good assessment.

    This whole thing is equal to picking a Super Bowl champion at the start of a very long season where injuries and more play a big role. Just as t Joe Borrows.

    …but this is their day job?

    The bookies in Vegas will put odds on just about anything. Do people take that information as financial advice? How is what Hagerty is doing any different than watching Jim Cramer spout off about investment opportunities on cable television?

    Hagerty isn’t forcing anyone to act on its predictions. Maybe we should set up a pool that bets against them, just like Jim Cramer. That tends to work…

    Well said. The novice with a pocketful of cash is easily mislead by “one offs”. I’ve NEVER seen two cars exactly alike. Value of the hobby is that the cars are not commoditized. People are not collecting 50 LBS bags of coffee.

    Well, there you have it. The “real expert” has spoken and has told us, once again, how wrong Hagerty is in all of their articles.

    That’s a good question for hyperv6. My comment was directed to him as he thinks he’s the “real expert” and knows more than Hagerty. He’s constantly posts comments about them being wrong.

    The Hagerty team that produces their automotive magazine are consummate professionals who are not only automotive experts in their respective fields and core competencies but go through a rigorous process of analyzing data from a plethora of sources to finely tune their promulgated list for the Bull Market Report. Take a look at the background of the editorial board and staff and you will see the top names in the industry who ran Car and Driver, Road and Track etc. Hagerty has the largest circulation of any car magazine for a reason. They hire the best and the brightest! Don’t hate because you didn’t yet buy a car on the list. Read their great articles, educate yourself on why you would want a particular vehicle and aspire to buy the car of your dreams! In my opinion, their team and articles are top notch and I am looking forward to the 2024 Bull Market Report!

    As they say at the end of the article “buy what you love”. Buying for investment returns are left to the uber wealthy with many millions to spare. If you buy what you love and later get your “investment” back or make a couple bucks then you have succeeded. The enjoyment of ownership and use is your best measure of money well spent.

    I predict that there are cars that will go up in value this coming year! I also predict some of the predictions won’t make it. :^)

    Brian, well done.
    I have been in the hobby for years and still buy cars because I enjoy them, not because I’m looking forward to some return at the time of sale, whenever that is. You are absolutely right when you say the whole issue’s essence is to love what one owns.

    Glad my cars predictions didn’t make the list!!!! This means I have time to buy and enjoy before the prices get in the way of the fun!

    I think some people take this list too seriously. This article should put that to bed, as it reveals that the list is curated by the Media team after the data is crunched. It’s probably best to look at the Bull Market List as half finance and half fun. Are people REALLY going to run out in droves to buy a Prowler based on this? NO! Also in many cases a 13% lift in price means your Condition 2 Plymouth Prowler that was $33,700 is now worth $38,081. Not exactly a get rich quick scheme.

    I have to say that a peek at the cars that didn’t make the final list would be a fascinating article too. In particular I’m interested in which were too rare or impractical to make the list. Although seeing the cars no one at Hagerty could imagine owning could be pretty fun too.

    WollfeandMare – Yes, the ‘ Hagerty Odd Ball List ” ! – 34- 37 Chrysler Airflow + 6%. And if it’s not.. all that ..accurate what would be the difference and who would care!

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