Thought these 5 classics would go up forever? Think again

Jason Hadfield

The latest update to the Hagerty Price Guide looked pretty normal … which struck us as kind of weird. Over the past two years, as collectors paid unprecedented prices for everything from 1960s muscle to 2000s Japanese-market imports, we’ve become accustomed to wild and wide-reaching gains. Yet as Hagerty Insider crunched the data for the valuation January 2023 update, it became clear that inflation, as well as general economic uncertainty, was finally tamping buyers’ enthusiasm.

As a result, we saw more cars lose value than gain from our last price guide update in October (15.7 percent of the cars in the book were down, compared to 11.2 percent that went up). Many of the losers are rides that have been gaining for a long time—if you missed out on one of the cars below because it became too expensive, maybe there’s hope.

That said, the effects of 2022’s market peak are still with us: some 63 percent of the cars in our guide are worth more this January than they were this time last year. So don’t expect outright bargain basement prices.

1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS: Down 22 percent since October 2022

Chevrolet Chevelle SS front three quarter

The 1968–72 Chevrolet Chevelle is something of a bellwether car—we watch them for swings in the market. That’s partially because there are a lot of them and they sell often. Chevelles are also the sort of vehicle coveted by folks who represent the heart of the collector car market, at least in the United States—well-off enough for discretionary purchases like a collector car but not necessarily wealthy enough to be immune to economic pressures.

For much of 2022, Chevelles from this era gained value at a pace we hadn’t seen since the early 2000s. However, for our latest update, we noted sale prices of big-block 1971 Chevelles are down. Some of this could be particular to the year: The ’71 model year doesn’t get the attention of the ’70 model year, when the Chevelle could be had with the mighty, 450-hp LS6 big-block. Yet there’s also little doubt that these venerable muscle cars are also signaling prevailing trends in the market.

1967–70 Shelby GT500: Down 12 percent since October 2022

Shelby GT500 side view
Don Rutt

As with other big-ticket muscle cars, GT500s stepped back a bit toward the end of the year. We’ll admit we were surprised, though, to see the 1967 GT500s on our drop list, considering that it’s the last year that Carroll Shelby had direct involvement in the GT350/GT500.

Mecum Kissimmee, kicking off as we speak with a raft of high-end muscle, will provide important clues as to whether the declines in this segment are temporary or indicative of something larger.

1975–1978 Datsun 280Z: Down 16 percent since October 2022

Datsun 280Z front three quarter

The buried lede here is that the 240Z—a car that has been gaining in value for seemingly forever—has been softening of late. However, the effect of that drop is more profoundly felt in one of the cars that followed it, the 280Z. As the 240Z climbed into the stratosphere, 280Z prices followed, as we’d expect given the principle of substitution. However, with the “real thing” now coming back into the realm of affordability for many collectors, there’s less reason to settle for the rubber-bumper 280Z (even though, to be clear, many of us would be just fine with a 280Z, and appreciate the drivability improvements thanks to its fuel-injected engine).

2004–2006 Dodge Ram SRT-10: Down 13 percent since October 2022

Dodge Ram SRT-10 front three quarter

Transactions for Ram SRT-10s, a.k.a Viper Pickups, softened noticeably toward the end of the year, and not just with a few isolated sales. Everywhere you look, these V-10 trucks were going for less. These trucks, much like Datsun Zs, have been on a tear the past couple of years, so this could be the market settling in from its peak.

Note, the drop pertains to the standard cab trucks, which came with manual transmissions. Quad Cabs did not drop because there was already a steep discount for their automatics.

1909–27 Ford Model T: Down 10 percent since October 2022

Ford Model T front three quarter
Matt Drilling

In many corners of the market right now, it’s easy to be convinced prices are still going up based on what sellers are asking. Yet as early as last June, we started noticing that sellers were in many cases trying to cash in on perceived rather than actual appreciation.

This is precisely the scenario playing out with Ford Model Ts at the moment. If you look at what sellers are trying to get for their cars, it looks like the market is up. Completed transactions, however, tell a completely different story. We also saw fewer Ts selling overall in the last quarter of 2022—a sign that buyers are not ready to pay what sellers think their cars are worth.

All this said, it is important to note that fluctuations in the price of the Model T are very small. A double-digit drop, percentage wise, is in many cases a matter of only a few hundred dollars. In this way, too, the venerable Tin Lizzy is indicative of broader market trends: most established classics likely won’t change much in price, no matter prevailing conditions, because the people buying them know precisely what they want and how much it should cost.

Via Hagerty Insider


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    Most classic cars are like “thinly traded stocks.” Not enough change hands often enough to establish market prices. Also, unlike stocks, condition, options, mileage vary significantly from example to example. It’s nice when values go up, but it’s seldom enough to cover carrying costs. Buy what you love. The only guys who make money are the resellers and mechanics.

    My first flip was a $200 rusted Orange Datsun 260z that needed a clutch slave/master cyl. Used a piece of sheet metal to cover for the driver floor pan and accidentally covered over the front passenger side marker with Bondo. I have never done any body work since ( I was 19)

    I have been watching bits and pieces of Mecum Kiss-the-wallet-goodbye the last couple of days and price increases for most is not dead. Some are even mind blowing compared to last year!

    If buying at Mecum or Barret-Jackson, the deals are only on the first day, after that you’ll lose yer shirt.

    A rising tide lifts may lift all boats, but it lifts some more than others. These are mostly cars on the margins of the market; narrow niche, iterations of more valuable models, etc. whose values move with the market in general, but may lag a fall earlier. Fun cars should be bought for fun…

    I prefer to evaluate the market downside in a different light. Perhaps the sellers are still asking high prices but are having to compromise as buyers refuse to comply. Nice early Chevelles, Corvettes, Datsun-Z’s are nice cars to own, but at the end of the day are too expensive for the middle class buyer to have and enjoy. Those who do buy such cars are doing so as a business, with profits in mind, and not necessarily interested in driving and enjoying these cars. Sadly, it seems this is where the majority of such cars wind up.

    I disagree. Have a couple Corvettes and have owned 9 over the years. Belong to a Corvette club locally and members have from one to multiple Vettes but no one buys them to resell or looking for a profit. We enjoy driving and showing our cars.

    Their is a place in hades for those who trailer to shows, keep them off the road to ensure low mileage .. Why ?
    It is a car .. treat it as such .. We all know a 70’s car with less then 10000 miles needs a lot of work – The worst thing for a car is to sit

    As the article states, these models’ prices have been “gaining for a long time”. Everyone still loves those 1970s Datsun pony cars, for good reason; they have a lot of character. Same with that ballsy Chevelle. But the prices were already in the Stratosphere. How could a never-ending upwards trajectory on market value possibly be sustainable?

    Empirically, the lesser-caliber stuff is definitely selling for less now, than in Q1’22. Truly premium, high-quality restorations or exceptionally preserved survivors, of the desirable models (like Shelbys) are still climbing – witness the eye-popping numbers at Mecum yesterday for the winged Mopars, Shelby Mustangs, and Cobras, as well as COPOs, LS6s, big-block Vettes, and well-executed restomods.

    Hagerty’s database is almost surely a better proxy than just watching a high-end auction in prime time.

    I much prefer my 1965 Pontiac GTO: 389 cuin, 407 hp, 500 ftlbs torgue, 5 spd Tremac, posi rear end and a killer stereo. Long live Pontiac power!

    I said to new Ford Bronco owners do not over pay for the truck, Order the truck from Ford and wait or wait until production starts to heat up the prices are moving downward. But you still have some gready dealers out there that put a premium price on the truck. People walk away and wait.

    For me, the interest in Chevelles died after 1970. A friend of mine ordered a new ’71 SS in black with black interior and white stripes and a 4-speed. He stopped by one day to show it to me. He opened the hood and there resided a 350. Yes, a meager small block 350. I knew the dream of the Chevelles was dead then.

    He offered to let me drive it. So off we went and not only was it a 350 but one of the new low-compression 350s. I couldn’t believe what a wuss this thing was.

    I believe that same kind of reasoning may be part of why the ’71 Chevelle SS is plunging.

    Your car is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. It is not Blue Book, or any other evaluation that matters or even your asking price. The buyer is the determinator.

    That’s true Dale, but one other factor is that a Classic will always go up in value (if you bought it right and kept it up), vs: buying a new car. Plus they Classic carries a lower Insurance rate at a set value. And then there’s the living in a bubble factor, that is, the thumbs up’s you get when on the road. It’s just so much more fun driving one of the Classics. Period!

    Prices for used cars are ridiculous. When the auction houses started going on TV with their boozed up bidders, chandelier bidders and ringers placed in the crowd the prices got stupid. A BIG correction is long overdue. Real estate is going down the same way. Oh and thanks uncle Joe for crashing the stock market and wiping out trillions in peoples savings. Great job!

    C’mon man! my Corvette is a jewel! Jay said so! And it doubles as a solid block for spying eyes in my garage!

    My thought is as we get older we cannot wait for certain cars that we may really want. It’s either buy now and enjoy. Or it could be a ” could ah would ah should ah” I luckily have my car. I know others that badly want one and are thinking of biting the bullet and getting their car while they can.

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