Traditional American classics continue their slump

We’ve been through this before, and we’ve read your comments. But don’t fret. Just because cars are in the Bottom 25 of the Hagerty Vehicle Ratings list doesn’t mean they’re bad cars. We know, you’re saying, “There are mid-year Corvettes, peak muscle-car-era Pontiac A-bodies, and Shelby GT350s in the Bottom 25, for Pete’s sake!” We agree, we’d welcome them into our garage as well. But don’t shoot the messenger when it comes to market trends.

As always, our latest Hagerty Vehicle Rating—the first of 2019—uses data that includes auction sales results, insurance quoting activity, and the number of new policies added, which our valuation specialists churn though in order to rank vehicle popularity compared to the overall collector car market. A vehicle that’s keeping pace with the overall market will score a Hagerty Vehicle Rating of 50. Those that are doing better, and are more popular, will score higher. The cars making up the bottom 25 each scored much lower, mustering 20 points at best. There’s not a single pickup or SUV among them—change is in the air.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette 3/4 rear
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Bonhams

The Shelby GT350 remained on the list, although the GT500 and first-gen Dodge Challenger were gone, replaced by even more late-1940s and early-1950s cars than we’d seen on the list before. Hagerty valuation editor Andrew Newton says, “One thing that stands out is that 10 of the cars on the list are postwar domestics. For the last couple of pricing updates, this is a segment that values have dropped more than any other and there are no indicators that suggest they will turn back around.” This continues a trend that we mentioned in our previous Bottom 25 article in which younger buyers are going for newer cars and trucks that tend to be more affordable, leaving the higher-priced classics with fewer buyers.

A newcomer to the list is the 1949–53 Oldsmobile 88, which we featured last month. Despite its breakthrough technology and wonderful styling, difficult-to-restore classics like the 88 often have a smaller market and struggle to sell compared to their more mainstream cousins.

1946 Ford Deluxe 3/4 front
1946 Ford Deluxe Mecum

The Sunbeam Tiger has also dropped way down on our list. The Ford small-block-powered British roadster might have been seen as a much less expensive entry point than the Shelby Cobra, but interest has tanked dramatically. Hagerty has one in its collection and it’s far from perfect. Newton feels that buyers may have caught on that Tigers are overvalued.

Speaking of roadsters, Mercedes-Benz roadsters are all over the bottom 25. Newton notes that “the 560SL’s rating has dropped by a whopping 80 points in the last eight months. Prices peaked in late 2016 with #1 (Concours) and #2 (Excellent) cars shooting way up. Seems like the best examples have changed hands, mostly mediocre high-mileage cars are on the market now, and buyer interest has moved on to later SLs. Similar story with the 350/450SLs, which have been on the list before.” The 280SL remains at the bottom of the list, and it might still be overvalued. If you’re thinking about buying one, Newton suggests that you wait just a bit longer.

1976 Cadillac Coupe DeVille 3/4 front silver
1976 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Mecum

That same advice may apply to several of the cars on the list; as prices dip down to meet the loss in demand, it’s possible to snap up an excellent addition to your stable. So if you’re interested in any of the cars in Bottom 25, don’t let its position in the rankings deter you. Keep your eyes open. There might be some deals on the horizon soon.

1968-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL 9
1946-1948 Ford Deluxe 11
1949-1954 Pontiac Chieftain 12
1946-1948 Ford Super Deluxe 13
1946-1948 Chevrolet Stylemaster 14
1971-1976 Cadillac DeVille 15
1964-1967 Sunbeam Tiger 16
1949-1954 Chrysler New Yorker 16
1967-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 17
1949-1954 Chrysler Windsor 17
1949-1953 Oldsmobile 88 17
1986-1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL 18
1972-1980 Mercedes-Benz 350SL / 450SL 18
1946-1948 Chevrolet Fleetline 18
1963-1971 Mercedes-Benz 230SL 19
1963-1967 Chevrolet Corvette 19
1956-1971 Morris Minor 1000 19
1951-1953 Plymouth Cambridge 19
1977-1979 Lincoln Continental Mk V 20
1971-1974 Plymouth Satellite 20
1968-1971 Pontiac Tempest 20
1965-1970 Shelby GT350 20
1961-1964 Buick LeSabre 20
1953-1954 Chevrolet Bel Air 20
1952-1957 Lincoln Capri 20
1950-1953 Buick Special 20
1946-1948 Buick Super 20
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