Were our 2019 Bull Market List predictions wise or worthless?

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For the third year in a row, Hagerty has assembled our Bull Market list—the vehicles we believe will drastically outpace the market over the next 12 months. There is no predictive model that accurately forecasts what a car’s price will be, to the dollar, a year from now, so our analysts relentlessly review as many indicators and as much data as they can to cultivate our selections. 

Factoring in our own interpretation of market conditions and specific factors for each car, (along with a bit of internal arguing) we slim the list down from 30 candidates to 10 finalists. Since these opinions—however well-informed and carefully considered they may be—are inherently fallible, it’s only fair that we grade ourselves. To what degree did last year’s predictions play out in reality? Thus, our report card for Bull Market 2019.

We earned a passing grade for our 2019 list overall, but the individual results were mixed. Of our 10 picks, four increased in value by 20 percent or more (an ‘A’ grade), definitively outpacing the 6 percent average increase of all vehicles covered in Hagerty Price Guide. Another two of our picks had 10 percent appreciation or better (a ‘B’ grade). The remaining three were disappointments, with two of our selections remaining flat and one actually losing value. 

Here is a car-by-car review grading of last year’s picks. You can check out the 2020 Bull Market List here.  

1972-75 BMW 3.0CSL

1973 BMW 3.0CSL front 3/4
1973 BMW 3.0CSL

WHAT WE SAID

These cars aren’t common, and their values are up 10 percent in the past 12 months. Even though #2-condition (Excellent) cars are valued at $250,000, we think there is room to grow. BMWs saw the second-highest insurance-quote increase over the past year (after Jeep), and many of the quotes are for people under 55 years old. BMW and Porsche draw many of the same buyers, and as Porsche values grow and price people out, BMWs get more attractive.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $271,143
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $271,143
  •       Change in value: 0 percent

BMWs continued to be popular in 2019, but not cars from this era or in this budget. The broader market turned its back on pricier cars and instead embraced more affordable (and less risky) options, so six-figure choices like the BMW 3.0CSL were mostly idle. Hagerty Price Guide data reflected as much, as we didn’t adjust a single figure for the car for the year. Porsche prices didn’t grow much in 2019 either, so the coattails effect we were expecting remained in check. 3.0CSLs don’t have the same youth appeal as M cars from the 1980s and later, but they will remain investment-grade models given their striking shape and their place in BMW’s motorsports heritage. All the same, since these cars didn’t budge a dollar, we earn an F for this pick.

OUR LETTER GRADE: F

1997-2004 Porsche Boxster

2003 Porsche Boxster S
2003 Porsche Boxster S

WHAT WE SAID

Why this car got cheap: It has the early ugly headlights, the intermediate shaft bearing problem, and a reputation for poor build quality. But 15 years after production ended, there’s a fix for the bearing, and most survivors will have had it done. Many people who could buy a $50,000 car new are the kind who do the maintenance and keep records.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $15,393
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $17,386
  •       Change in value: +13 percent

Affordable fun was the most vibrant segment in 2019 and that’s reflected in Boxster prices, which climbed by double digits. Average values of excellent cars now exceed $17,000 but there is still room to grow before they move out of reach of the masses. Plus, the only Porsche model that’s cheaper right now is the 924, and more people are scooping up Boxsters than the 1980s front-engined coupe. The Boxster’s 13 percent jump in value doubled our benchmark, so this pick was a clear winner.

OUR LETTER GRADE: B+

1984-93 Saleen Mustang

1989 Saleen Mustang
1989 Saleen Mustang

WHAT WE SAID

Fox-body Saleen Mustangs are the early Shelby GT350s of the 1980s. Similarities include being created for SCCA competition by a famous driver and incredibly low production numbers. Bone-jarringly stiff, unapologetic, absolute race cars for the street, these early Saleens are still trading for not much more than a garden-variety Fox-body Mustang GT. For now. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $27,987
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $30,777
  •       Change in value: +10 percent

The Saleen Mustang may have some similarities with the 1960s GT350, but it’s very different in at least one way: it rose in value by 10 percent in 2019 while the Shelby fell by a point. Interest in Fox-body Mustangs increased slightly, but very few Saleen owners put theirs up for sale this past year, emphasizing the car’s desirability. The earlier Saleen Mustangs (1986-88) increased by 13 percent, which would be good enough to give us an A, but other model years were only a touch ahead of the rest of the market. Collectively the car’s 10-percent climb was only big enough to earn us a B.

OUR LETTER GRADE: B

1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

1996 Corvette Grand Sport
1996 Corvette Grand Sport

WHAT WE SAID

Just 1000 examples built in one year means these cars are rare, fast, and distinctive. In a Corvette—in fact, in most cars—those factors add value. Plus, most Grand Sports were treated as collector cars from new, which means lots of low-mileage choices out there.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $34,500
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $32,400
  •       Change in value: -6 percent

The Corvette Grand Sport has the embarrassing distinction of being the first Bull Market car to actually decrease in value the year after we chose it. The GS’s rarity and performance cred weren’t enough to offset waning interest in C4 Corvettes overall, but we still feel the market is sleeping on this car. Even if enthusiasts don’t agree, the Grand Sport’s desirable qualities are enduring and it represents a ton of car for the money. Corvette fans take note.

OUR LETTER GRADE: F

2004-07 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

2004 Subaru WRX STI
2004 Subaru WRX STI

WHAT WE SAID

The real-life versions of the cars we played in Need for Speed were too expensive for the kids who wanted them. But as those kids became adults and made money, the cars got older and cheaper. Good examples are hard to find today, but they are that much more valuable.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $28,240
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $33,820
  •       Change in value: +20 percent

2019 was a youthquake of sorts in the collector car market, as Gen X and millennial enthusiasts became the most active buyers. Clearly, they followed their forebearers by chasing the cars of their youth, which is why the early Impreza WRX STI is now a $30,000 car. Normally an eight-year-old ride would still be sliding down a steady depreciation curve. Instead, this Subaru grew by 20 percent, with an amazing two thirds of all interest coming from owners born since 1981. Given current trends, we could have easily placed the STI on the 2020 Bull Market list as well.

OUR LETTER GRADE: A

1985-89 Toyota MR2

1988 Toyota MR2 S/C
1988 Toyota MR2 S/C

WHAT WE SAID

A car-magazine favorite when new that represents all the cool design things about the 1980s. Clean #2-condition (Excellent) cars are still less than $15K, but values are up 25 percent. Millennials make up 45 percent of our quotes, which is insane; they were toddlers when the MR2 was introduced. These are people just getting into the hobby, so there’s room to grow.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $12,071
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $15,700
  •       Change in value: +30 percent

Thank you, MR2, for making us look smart! This mid-engine Toyota was the biggest mover of Bull Market class of 2019 thanks to a low cost of entry and distinct driving dynamics. Its oh-so-’80s styling paired with extreme affordability meant that even more millennials chased after it than last year (52 percent of our insurance quotes in 2019 came from this cohort). Even after a 30-percent surge the car is still affordable, so long-term prospects are strong.

OUR LETTER GRADE: A

2004-06 Dodge Ram SRT10

2004 Dodge RAM SRT10 rear 3/4
2004 Dodge RAM SRT10

WHAT WE SAID

Our insurance quotes are up 40 percent, and 61 percent of those are from Gen X and millennials, meaning the interested parties are under 55. Auction sale prices are up 15 percent. At the Mecum sale in Monterey, a 1500-mile truck went for $56,000, 10 grand over the original MSRP. They’re really hot right now, they’re moving, and there really isn’t a substitute. A pickup with a V-10 and six-speed is an uncommon combination.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $26,300
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $31,600
  •       Change in value: +20 percent

The “vintage” SUV and pickup craze hasn’t slowed down over the past five years and it’s even extended to “enthusiast” trucks and SUVs. There are few trucks that are more fun to drive enthusiastically than the Viper truck, which grew in value by 20 percent (Quad Cabs increased even more at 23 percent). Interest has started to plateau as values have gone up, suggesting these fast trucks are close to being fully priced, but Barrett-Jackson sold a 7000-mile example in October for $49,500, showing that values should hold strong.

OUR LETTER GRADE: A

1980-86 Ford Bronco

Ford Bronco on the trail
Ford Bronco

WHAT WE SAID

Just as with later Benz SLs, there’s a strong substitution effect by people priced out of the first-generation vehicles. There wasn’t a big performance difference between all the model years, so there isn’t a big falloff in values from the ’70s to the ’80s. Millennials are twice as likely to quote a third-gen as a first-gen because they’re cheaper; a #2-condition (Excellent) value of $15K is a lot more accessible. The fact that they are bringing the Bronco back stands to help long-term values.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $15,713
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $16,813
  •       Change in value: +7 percent

Early Ford Broncos and 1980s SUVs continued to shine in 2019, which carried over to the 1980-86 generation. We gave ourselves a passing grade because the third-gen Bronco outpaced the market and became $1000 more expensive on average, but it growth was just barely ahead of the benchmark. Turns out collectors still have an appetite for first-generation (1966-77) models, which increased by 16 percent, and the substitution effect we expected to take hold instead benefitted the 1978-79 Bronco, which leaped ahead in value by 26 percent. Rather than calling it wrong, we probably just called it too early—strong youth appeal (70 percent of insurance quotes this year are coming from Gen X and younger), rising prices of similar vehicles, and continued affordability will eventually conspire to elevate third-generation Bronco prices.

OUR LETTER GRADE: C

2008-09 Pontiac G8 GXP

2009 Pontiac G8 GXP
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

WHAT WE SAID

The last hurrah of the Pontiac brand, the GXP was the only G8 available with a manual trans. Members of the Pontiac fan club are crazy excited about their cars in general, and when the brand was discontinued, they went nuts and became even more enthusiastic. Values are up 10 percent over last year’s. There’s no downside to this car, and it will never get any cheaper.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $37,800
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $37,800
  •       Change in value: +0 percent

We still believe the Pontiac G8 GXP will never get any cheaper, but our excitement for this car wasn’t shared by buyers. Although interest continued to soar—quote activity for all G8s nearly doubled in 2019—GXP prices stayed flat. These cars are still special given their rarity (1829 made) and spec (415 hp and a six-speed), and the cult of Pontiac is alive and well, but this choice was a clear miss for us.

OUR LETTER GRADE: F

1994-96 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon

1994 Buick Roadmaster
1994 Buick Roadmaster

WHAT WE SAID

Is this the AMC Pacer of the ’90s? The number of insurance quotes we give on this car leads the overall market by 14 points. The quoted values have pretty much bottomed out, which means they are done depreciating. We don’t see them at the auctions yet, but they have a big cult following on social media, and there’s nowhere for Roadmasters to go but up.

WHAT HAPPENED

  •       September 2018 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $10,800
  •       September 2019 avg #2-condition (Excellent) value: $13,300
  •       Change in value: +20 percent

Like other winners from the 2019 Bull Market list, the Buick Roadmaster is all about cheap fun. Fun, you say? How can a ’90s station wagon be fun? Well, it’s less about the thrill of the drive than it is the responses it receives—waves, smiles, and eager questions in the parking lot trail this land yacht’s wake. LT1-equipped Roadmonsters led the charge with price changes by as much as 25 percent, but even the slower 180-hp versions doubled the average increase of cars in the Hagerty Price Guide. Since these Buicks have been rediscovered by a larger audience, it’s possible the novelty will fade and people will start hunting for another throwback. Nonetheless, count this is a star student for 2019.

OUR LETTER GRADE: A

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