The collector car market has had its ups and downs over the past few years. Some of the cars have made dramatic gains recently while others have remained rather flat in value. A recent article by Graham Kozak of AutoWeek opened my eyes to some rather un expected change in values for some of the collector cars.
Here are 2015’s biggest losers according to Kozak, along with their percentage decreases in sale prices:
1. 1946 – 1952 Hudson Commodore (-36 percent)
2. 1968 – 1975 BMW 2002 (-33 percent)
3. 1976 – 1986 American Motors CJ-7 (-32 percent)
4. 1957 – 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk (-30 percent)
5. 1955 – 1957 Chevrolet 150 (-27 percent)
In my mind, the two big surprises for me are the 1957-1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk and the 1955-1957 Chevrolet 150. The two of these, in my opinion, come from different places in the collector world. The 55-57 Chevrolet 150s are the low end, plain Jane end of the 55-57 cars but they are still part of the highly desirable tri-five! Everyone knows what a 55-57 Chevy is. The 57-58 Golden Hawks on the other hand are niche cars. They are beautiful and fantastic cars, again in my opinion. You have to have a special knowledge of them or connection to them to want one. I think these cars are relatively low production cars within a larger population and were hurt by a couple of bad sales. I think both of these will come back.
Kozak said his two biggest surprises were the BMW 2002, which seemed poised to see big gains as a result of the European sports-car boom, and the timeless Jeep CJ-7.
As for the prices on the Hudson Commodores vary greatly based on condition, body style and equipment, now might be a great time to step into that classic step-down Hudson styling.
According to Hagerty, the market slowed down in the second half of the year — so you might not yet see this drop in prices reflected in the charts generated by the company’s online valution tool, which currently run through September. These should be updated in February through the end of 2015.
On the other hand, here are the top five hottest models based on 2015 sale data:
1. 1974 – 1977 Porsche 911 (+154 percent)
2. 2004 – 2009 Aston Martin DB9 (+141 percent)
3. 1984 – 1996 Ferrari Testarossa/512 TR/F512 M (+98 percent)
4. 1975 – 1985 Ferrari 308 GTS/GTB (+69 percent)
5. 1990 – 2001 Lamborghini Diablo (+65 percent)
According to Kozak, no surprise that the 911 is on top of the chart, and the Ferrari Testarossa and 308 gains aren’t shocking, either. It is interesting to note that newer exotics like the Lamborghini Diablo and Aston Martin DB9 are already rocketing out of their depreciation curves, though whether the significant gains seen last year represent genuine appreciation for these cars or more speculation remains to be seen.
Two big caveats: First, Hagerty’s numbers don’t cover anything from before 1945. Values for prewar cars seem to be more or less stagnant with a few blue-chip exceptions. But while the days of Duesenbergs dominating the top sales lists may be over, choice classics still demand big money — see the 1933 Pierce Arrow Silver Arrow just brought $3,740,000 at the recent RM Sotheby’s sale, for example. Still, don’t expect Ford Model As to be sold for scrap any time soon, even if they’re not as hot as air-cooled Porsches.
Second, public auctions provide a big chunk of Hagerty’s data, and while such sales can give a good idea of where the market is heading, they represent something like 20 percent of cars changing hands in a given year; private sales still make up the bulk of transactions, and they’re tough to track reliably. So if that old guy down the block is convinced his Studebaker Golden Hawk is worth $70,000, waving these numbers in his face won’t do much to change his mind — but conversely, keeping tabs on club classifieds might get you an even better deal than auction data would suggest.
Hagerty notes that, while overall North American sales are up ($1.45 billion compared to 2014’s $1.31 billion), this seems to be driven by cars at the high end of the market; median prices for cars sold were only up 4 percent, and fewer cars were sold overall. With the 2016 Arizona auctions approaching, we’re curious to see how much momentum the market maintains — and which cars will emerge as affordable classics — in the coming months.