Why are these desirable collector cars cooling down?

Great cars sometimes dip to the bottom of the market, and many familiar models continue to drag behind. But there are some new additions to the Hagerty Vehicle Rating Bottom 25 that are rather shocking, at least at first glance. Mid-year Corvettes, arguably the best-looking classic Corvette and one of the best uses of side pipes in the history of the automobile, aren’t tracking so well compared to the rest of the market. Add in some brawny muscle cars, big American cruisers, and classic German luxury. How did it end up this way?

The Hagerty Vehicle Rating tracks a vehicle’s performance relative to the rest of the market, based on a 0–100 scale. A 50-point rating indicates that a vehicle is keeping pace with the market overall. Ratings above 50 indicate above-average appreciation, while ratings below 50 indicate vehicles that are lagging.

The Shelby GT350 and GT500, first-generation Dodge Challenger, and second-generation Pontiac GTO remained in the Bottom 25, and considering that just about every muscle car collector would want one in their garage we had to wonder what was going on. We asked Hagerty valuation specialist Andrew Newton what he thought about the Bottom 25 list being filled with desirable and collectible cars.

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Orange 3/4 front
1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Mecum
1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SL gray 3/4 low
1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SL RM Sotheby’s

“With the Shelbys, GTO, and Challenger, it looks like values are generally tracking pretty flat, but buyer interest (which we track via quote activity) is way down for all of them,” he notes. “The number being added to insurance policies is down, and auction results have been pretty weak.” While their value is holding strong, there just aren’t a lot of new buyers entering that market.

The same can be said for the earlier models on the list, as Newton explained, “A lot of the ’40s, ’50s and early ’60s domestics go along with something we’ve been seeing generally, that lots of ’40s and ’50s cars primarily appeal to buyers who are quite a bit older. Younger enthusiasts aren’t taking up the mantle, so demand is shrinking. This definitely seems to be the case with the bottom spot, the Stylemaster. Values dropped quite a bit recently, and buyers don’t seem to be interested in them.”

The average price to buy one of the hottest cars in the market right now in #3 (Good) condition was only $14,085, and 15 of them could be had for less than $10,000. These Bottom 25 come in at an average of $40,700. Even if you remove the Porsche 911 Turbo and the two Shelbys, the only three cars in the six-digit range, the average is still nearly $30,000.

1966 Jaguar E-type high 3/4 view
1966 Jaguar E-type RM Sotheby’s

The lesson is that younger car buyers aren’t “taking up the mantle” on the older cars as Newton put it, but instead are going after more affordable cars, and especially trucks and SUVs, which once again filled the rankings in the top spots. Also, there are simply more buyers for a $15,000 collector car than there are for a $30,000 collector car, causing prices to rise more where there’s more demand.

Like we said last time, don’t let a car’s place on this last deter you from chasing your dream car. This list is still full of great cars that could hold their value, they just might not be flying off the auction block like you may expect.

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Purple 3/4 front
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Mecum
1946-1948 Chevrolet Stylemaster 10
1976-1989 Porsche 911 Carrera (Turbo 930) 10
1949-1954 Pontiac Chieftain 11
1968-1972 Pontiac GTO 11
1972-1980 Mercedes-Benz 350SL / 450SL 11
1953-1954 Chevrolet Bel Air 13
1946-1948 Chevrolet Fleetline 13
1946-1948 Ford Deluxe 14
1964-1967 Sunbeam Tiger 17
1967-1970 Shelby GT500 17
1949-1954 Chrysler Windsor 18
1949-1954 Chrysler New Yorker 18
1961-1967 Jaguar E-type (XKE) 18
1946-1948 Lincoln Continental 18
1970-1974 Dodge Challenger 18
1950-1953 MG TD 18
1976-1985 Mercedes-Benz W123 19
1961-1964 Buick LeSabre 19
1952-1957 Lincoln Capri 19
1971-1976 Cadillac DeVille 19
1965-1970 Shelby GT350 19
1968-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL 20
1994-1998 Porsche 911 21
1963-1967 Chevrolet Corvette 21
1963-1971 Mercedes-Benz 230SL 21
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    I totally agree, and those wanting to ‘cash in’ will need to settle for a lot less than the prices they have been seeing. That day is upon us, and a few more months (years),and the market will bottom

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