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.
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.
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.
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.