1958 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWB down 29%. But “Affordable Classics” sizzle.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
It hadn’t been a smooth ride for the asset class of beautiful machines before the pandemic, including the fiasco at the Monterey auctions last August. Now, in response to the pandemic, all live auctions were either canceled, postponed, or moved to online platforms. Auction activity dropped to the lowest level since December 2010, and private-market activity fell to the lowest level since May 2012, said vintage-auto insurer Hagerty in its release today.
The Hagerty Market Index – which tracks prices and volume of classic cars that sold at auctions and private sales, and is adjusted for inflation – dropped 1.9% in June from May to a value of 138.07. It is now down 11.8% from a year ago, and 26% from the all-time high in August 2015. During the Financial Crisis, the index fell 16% peak-to-bottom (chart via Hagerty, notes added):
Price changes ranged widely among Hagerty’s seven primary indices, with the Ferrari Index and the Blue Chip Index experiencing the biggest price declines, and with the Affordable Classics Index experiencing the only price gain.
We’re going to take four of these indices of beautiful machines out for a spin: Blue Chips, Ferraris, Affordable Classics, and American Muscle Cars.
The Hagerty “Blue Chip” Index of the Automotive A-List
The average price reflected in this index of “25 of the most sought-after collectible automobiles of the post-war era” dropped 7% in May from the last reading in January, after having dropped 6% in January from the prior period, to just above $2.25 million. The index is down 14% from the $2.62 million peak range in 2018.
But note over the 2013-2014 period, the average price doubled! Since 2007, the index is still up fourfold!
- “Over half of the component cars tracked straight.”
- “The Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Spyder and the Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America each shed nearly a third of their values.”
- “Other iconic classics like the Aston Martin DB5, Mercedes-Benz 300SL, 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS and Shelby Cobra 289 all experienced drops that were less severe but still significant.”
- “The sole gainer this period was the Tucker 48, largely thanks to a massive auction result in Scottsdale.”
These are the 25 cars that are in the Blue Chip Index:
- 1967 Chevrolet Corvette, 2dr Convertible 8-cyl.
- 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, 2dr Coupe 6-cyl.
- 1966 Shelby Cobra 427, 2dr Roadster 8-cyl.
- 1965 Shelby GT350, 2dr Fastback 8-cyl.
- 1969 Toyota 2000GT, 2dr Coupe 6-cyl.
- 1959 Maserati 5000GT Frua, 2dr Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB, 2dr Spider (closed headlight) 12-cyl.
- 1954 Lancia Aurelia B24, 2dr Spider America 6-cyl.
- 1972 Iso Grifo IR9 Can Am, 2dr Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1970 Plymouth Cuda, 2dr Convertible 8-cyl.
- 1958 Bentley S1 Continental Coachbuilt, 2dr Drophead Coupe 6-cyl.
- 1964 Alfa Romeo TZ-2, 2dr Coupe 4-cyl.
- 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL, 2dr Roadster 6-cyl.
- 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, 2dr Roadster 6-cyl.
- 1965 Aston Martin DB5, 2dr Saloon 6-cyl.
- 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7, 2dr Coupe 6-cyl.
- 1948 Tucker 48, 4dr Sedan 6-cyl.
- 1963 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P, 2dr Roadster 8-cyl.
- 1954 Jaguar D-Type, 2dr Roadster 6-cyl.
- 1958 Porsche 356A 1600 Super, 2dr Speedster 4-cyl.
- 1963 Ferrari 250 California SWB, 2dr Spider (closed headlight) 12-cyl.
- 1957 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I HJ Mulliner, 2dr Drophead Coupe 6-cyl.
- 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
- 1959 BMW 507, 2dr Roadster 8-cyl.
- 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
The Ferrari Index:
The index averages the prices of 13 of the “most sought-after street Ferraris of the 1950s-70s.” Their average price dropped about 8% in May from January, to $4.8 million, and is down 15% from the peak in January 2016 ($5.7 million), after having skyrocketed sevenfold from 2007 to the peak in January 2016 (chart via Hagerty):
- “Not a single component car recorded an increase, while over half of them lost value.”
- “One of the index’s most expensive cars – the 1958 250 GT California Spyder LWB – was the biggest drop at 29 percent.
- “Other declines, both within and outside this index, were much more modest, but the 250 GT SWB still shed 7 percent (or $600,000).
- “Not all Ferraris are sliding, as later and less expensive models [outside the index] like the 360 coupe, 348 ts, 550 Maranello, 456 GT and Mondial all recorded an increase.”
These are the 13 Ferraris in the index:
- 1966 Ferrari 330 GT SII, 2dr Coupe 2+2 12-cyl. (image via Hagerty)
- 1957 Ferrari 410 Superamerica SIII, 2dr Coupe (closed headlight) 12-cyl.
- 1963 Ferrari 250 LM, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
- 1968 Ferrari 330 GTC, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
- 1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB, 2dr Spider (closed headlight) 12-cyl.
- 1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, 2dr Spider 6-cyl.
- 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
- 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
- 1960 Ferrari 250 GT, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
- 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona, 2dr Spider 12-cyl.
- 1963 Ferrari 250 California SWB, 2dr Spider (closed headlight) 12-cyl.
- 1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
- 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, 2dr Coupe 12-cyl.
Affordable Classics Index
This index averages the values of affordable cars from the 1950s to the 1970s below $40,000. The average price rose 4% to a new high in May, from January, the only one of the Hagerty’s primary indices to experience a price gain.
The index has been on a consistent up-trend since 2015, with the average price gaining about 30% over the period. These price increases have caused Hagerty to raise the cutoff price for “affordable” from $30,000 to $40,000 recently, but the chart still says $30,000 (I added the red adjustment to reflect Hagerty’s text):
- “Most of the index’s component cars tracked steady, none of them lost value.
- “The 1967 Beetle and Karmann Ghia continued their upward trajectory.
- “The Datsun 240Z notched a large increase as well, with the best examples now past the point of being considered affordable.
- “Many of the market’s biggest gainers outside of the index, from BMW 2002s and other classic Volkswagens to Toyota MR2s and Dodge Stealths, also fit into the affordable sub-$40,000 bracket.”
Here are the affordable classics in the index:
- 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, 2dr Sedan 4-cyl.
- 1969 American Motors Javelin, 2dr Fastback 8-cyl.
- 1949 Buick Roadmaster Model 76S, 2dr Sedanet 8-cyl.
- 1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 2dr Coupe 4-cyl.
- 1972 Porsche 914 2.0, 2dr Targa 4-cyl.
- 1963 MG MGB Mk I, 2dr Roadster 4-cyl.
- 1971 Datsun 240Z, 2dr Coupe 6-cyl.
- 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza, 2dr Convertible 6-cyl.
- 1965 Ford Mustang GT, 2dr Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1972 Triumph TR6, 2dr Convertible 6-cyl.
- 1963 Studebaker Avanti, 2dr Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1962 Studebaker Lark Regal, 2dr Convertible 6-cyl.
- 1970 Chevrolet Camaro SS, 2dr Sport Coupe 8-cyl.
Muscle Cars: Index of 1960s American muscle cars
This index – it averages the price of “the rarest and most sought-after muscle cars” – ticked down 1% in May from January, to about $285,000, after having experienced the largest percentage drop of the Hagerty primary indices in the prior period. Since the peak in January 2018, the average price of these machines has dropped about 17%. The index is back where it had first been in 2007 (chart via Hagerty):
- “Four-fifths of the component cars recorded no change at all since January.
- “Small drops for the 1970 Chevelle LS6 and 1969 Mustang Boss 429 as well as a large drop for the 1964 Impala SS convertible were enough to pull the rating down.
- “It’s a similar story for other mainstream muscle cars, with values either tracking straight or weakening.
- “Many higher tier models sold for lower results than expected during the earlier weeks of the year.
- “Muscle cars have been experiencing volatility since before the events of March 2020, and the ensuing crisis hasn’t helped confidence.”
These are the cars in the index:
- 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird, 2dr Hardtop Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1965 Pontiac LeMans GTO, 2dr Convertible 8-cyl.
- 1968 Mercury Cougar GT-E, 2dr Hardtop Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Yenko, 2dr Sport Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1969 American Motors AMX SS, 2dr Fastback 8-cyl.
- 1965 Shelby GT350, 2dr Fastback 8-cyl.
- 1970 Plymouth Cuda AAR, 2dr Hardtop Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1968 Shelby GT500 KR, 2dr Convertible 8-cyl.
- 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454, 2dr Sport Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1970 Plymouth Cuda, 2dr Convertible 8-cyl.
- 1970 Buick GS 455, 2dr Convertible 8-cyl.
- 1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W-30, 2dr Holiday Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1969 Dodge Charger 500, 2dr Hardtop Coupe 8-cyl.
- 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS, 2dr Convertible 8-cyl.
- 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429, 2dr SportsRoof 8-cyl.
In light of these price declines especially at the high end, the good thing is that classic cars are not stocks or bonds that have no visual or emotional value. These are beautiful machines that will continue to please impassioned souls even if some of the monetary value is evaporating. Just take good care of it (that’s costly), don’t expect to be selling it (can be tough and a shock in this climate), and for crying out loud, don’t wreck it.
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I didn’t see any Austin’s listed amount the classics!
My Father used to sing this little Diddy!
There was a man from Boston … Who had a baby Austin … There was room for his ass … And a gallon of gas … But his balls hung out and he lost them!
Two of my former cars aren’t on the list either: a 1968 Mustang I bought in 1976, and a 1978 Datsun 280Z that I owned and loved for 20+ years. There are lots of cars not on this list. This index is like the DOW, which only has 30 representative components, and lots of companies are not included.
Yeah, there is a huge chasm between the affordability index and most sought after muscle car index.
Same here – 57 Alfa Spyder raced through the streets of Boston against my friend with the Stingray. Value is in the eye of the beholder and seems more beholden to nostalgia.
Except for the money laundering of course.
I’ve never thought of 280Zs as Ferrariesque, but it certainly is here.
OK, here’s my 280Z. The nice young man is me ca. 38 years ago. I spent a quadrillion hours modifying the car: heavily modified turbocharged engine, lowered suspension, G-nose, whale-tale, big flared fenders (handmade fiberglass by yours truly), what were huge wheels and tires at the time, etc. etc.
For example, you can barely see four vents in the hood. The two outside vents are stock. The two center vents I put in myself to cool off the fuel injection system right under them. There is a big turbo and intercooler on the driver-side right next to the intake manifold, I wanted to avoid boiling the gasoline and needed to vent out the heat… I molded those two center vents into the hood with fiberglass. That detail alone took days to get right. The only thing a body shop did is paint the car.
Wow that’s really beautiful. That looks like a Ferrari like the one I was linking too.
When I was in Vietnam over Thanksgiving I met this young Austrian guy who had a BMW and he had lowered it and I guess modified it in various ways, and he said he got caught by the police, and they made him undo it or whatever / fined him.
I could imagine you coming to the USA for that reason alone, to be able to modify your car the way you want.
That Austrian was a big fan of the USA, watching all these USA shows on TV about how we modify and do whatever we want to our cars, and don’t get thrown in jail / fined out to wazoo.
Speaking of overregulating Austrians, In 2016 my son and I rented a Fiat 500 and drove it from Salzburg to Vienna, uneventfully. But a month or two later, back in the USA, I got an email from the rental car company in German about a fine.
It ended up being that I was going to fast for the environmental conditions.
Like there are some signs that said in German, which I couldn’t read,that this is a bad air quality bad O’zone time, so no one is allowed to go over 80 km”or somesuch . Was like 50 euros with a 25 euro handling fee for the rental car company. Fun
Been driving my 240Z around as a daily runner for last 10yrs. My father bought it new. Due to its age, it’s exempt from all road taxes and annual certificates and smog tests yet increases in value every year. A great classic to use regularly and as an investment. Love it every time I drive it.
Back in the day when I was in the business my best customer drove a 280Z as his daily driver. But he also owned a Gullwing and an aluminum bodied Ferrari Daytona 275 GTB ultralight.
After I repainted it to the proper RED he sold it to my other Ferrari customer for $20,000. The buyer delivered payment in the form of a suitcase full of one dollar bills. If he were doing it today they would have to be $100 dollar bills.
Those were the days—- when an ordinary mechanic like me could own a Lotus 23 sport racer powered by an ex Graham Hill BRM Formula One engine.
Yes, those were the days. I would have loved to take a look at your Lotus! I’ve heard stories back in the day of F-1 engines showing up in these small sports cars. But I’ve never actually seen or driven one.?
Yes, but those baby Austins (aka Bantams) got the ultimate revenge. They turned into Jeeps, and now are the #3 seller by most measures.
I can appreciate many of the cars listed in this post, but it’s hard for me to think of a VW Beetle as a ‘classic.’ And I’ve owned one, as well as a Karmann Ghia. And worked on them. Oy…
But did you have the repair manual that started with “first, tuck your hair inside your shirt”? My 69 bug was junk and finally died when I stepped on the clutch and it just kept going.
Same with my 68 Mustang. POS in 1976 :-]
Used to LOVE THE BUG,,, and the van too!
Bought my first bug, a ’53 with split rear window and little arms on the post that acted as turn signals for $100 in ’67; battery was dead and it had 4 flat tires, but the sales guy said it would run, etc., or he’d refund the $.
Carried battery first, then the tires one by one to the ”gas” station a block away, paid $1 for the charge and free air, it ran just fine, and sure beat walking.
Offered $500 couple weeks later, SOLD!
Then did same again with about a dozen or so until I owned a one year old bug with no additional $ in…
Learned to ”set the valves” early on, and with time it took me an hour to do that, lube and oil change; setting the valves every 1,000 miles or so was KEY to keeping them going. GREAT cars!
1969 American Motors Javelin, 2dr Fastback 8-cyl.
AMC – true junk. Remember the old ad for the Matador?
“It’s a Matador.”
“Yea.. but what IS it???”
AMC was like the RC Cola of cars.
Woe is us who have big hearts for the people’s car. I have owned/restored two (2) Bugs (70 and a 73), a 65 transporter (bus) – BEFORE they became mega-expensive and now a 71 Type 3 (Squareback). Something about under-powered vehicles is fascinatingly cool.
Speaking of under powered I’ve always envied Steve McQueen’s Volkswagen bug that was mainly Porsche components.
I have a ’76 Porsche 912E, basically a 911 with VW running gear. And it performs about as well as that sounds.
I can’t say I’d ever buy another one, but my very first car was a beater ’61 Beetle “classic”. Worn out engine. Maybe went 60mph pedal-to-metal. But, had a factory sunroof! Cloth thing opened by a huge chrome handle that looked like something on a meat locker refrigerator door. Actually, a great car for a 16 year old to learn to drive on.
So many beetles build so no problem with spare parts. and it is still recognized by teenager so there is still a market for them in the future. Unlike Mustangs who all be melted down by 2060
Try buying a Chevelle right now…can barely find one and get ready to bid for it when it comes up.
Where are the 1958 Trabants?
Taxi service is rural Bulgaria.
I have a picture of myself in one, taken at the museum of communist statues in the suburb of Budapest. They have a Trabant on site for folks to peruse and amuse. Good bad stuff, that..
The classics consist of cars you might have owned or at least rode in. Cheaper to buy
and cheaper to maintain. While the beetle
wasn’t really a good car, it did serve it’s purpose
for millions of people.
It forced GM to produce Vega and Ford to produce Pinto.
Collector stuff aside the VW was probably best but Pinto good value too. Vega not so much.
VW made 20+ million Beetles (not counting the “new Beetle – water cooled”) and even after our EPA decided the air cooled engine wouldn’t meet emission standards, VW continued to make them into the early 1980’s in Brazil.
Most of them rusted into the earth over the years. I had about a dozen or so between 1965 – 1974. Dangerous car in today’s traffic.
The older ones are iconic and highly valued in mint “original”condition. The early VW buses/campers get crazy money.
When my two kids were growing up, if they saw a Volkswagon Beetle, they would suddenly say:
No Punch Backs!”
And then proceed to punch the other kid in the arm!
In California – same game, except, they just called out
“slug bug” (as they were letting another passenger have it)
everyone knew that retaliation was understood not to be allowed.
the quickest to call out and deliver got the free lick in.
It’s exactly the same in the Midwest. Including, the term “slug bug”. It’s still a thing, today, but, is dying out as slug bugs are becoming less common.
I must have grown up in a tougher neighborhood, we would call it slug bug.
My Westie has maintained its value. I was planning on painting it this year but damn, now it needs new injectors. (Always something).
Every time I see a picture of a California GT I think of Ferris Bueller. Ferris would know how to fix this economy. Bueller? Bueller?
I do wonder why the really high end collectibles have lost so much value? It’s not like those that can afford them have actually been losing money these days. Maybe that clientele is worried about optics, like being beaten and robbed and eaten.
re: “I do wonder why the really high end collectibles have lost so much value?”
I’ll take a SWAG: Affordable cars are the cars that were within reach–or just out of reach–for ‘Average Joe’ in high school. Joe was lower- or middle-class, worked in a fast food joint in HS and after and could not quite swing the Mustang, Challenger, Camaro, etc. of his dreams (or he bought a PoS junker, and threw in the towel eventually). Then, Joe got drafted, did a tour in VietNam, survived, used the GI Bill to get a degree, maybe even post-grad, worked his way up to a solid middle management position and had cash in his pocket when he spotted ‘that’ Mustang on a used-car lot and, in the spur-of-the-moment went for it. Along his life’s path, Joe picked-up mechanicals, maybe in the Army Wheeled Vehicle Mechanics program, found he had a knack for machines and knew the Mustang to be a basic ‘old school’ machine–no fancy electronics except maybe an 8-track–that he could fix in his garage (doesn’t hurt there are dozens of aftermarket parts supplies houses for almost all marques of ‘affordables’). And Joe could drive the car anywhere, and get nothing but thumbs ups.
“Reggie”–he prefers to be called ‘Reginald’- got a new Porsche for his 16th birthday, but could hardly figure out how to check the oil (he eventually totaled it). His dad got him into his alma mater on a ‘crew’ (wink, wink) scholarship. After graduating third from the bottom at dad’s alma mater Reginald took a position in dad’s logistics company, fails his way to the top, and at age 60 decided he needs something to brag about at the country club; it’s either art–not manly enough–or the ‘great classics:’ Ferrari, Duesenberg, etc. so he goes to Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, gets stinking drunk and his trophy wife ‘falls in love’ with that (original) Mercedes Gullwing and, wham, he has another trophy. He drives it around the block a few times, takes it to one car show to get a trophy, then parks it in the garage with his Lexuses. It’s a valuable car, and needs real maintenance–tires alone would pay for a nice vacation for Joe, most parts are bespoke and only pros can/should work on it–and Reginald knows it has to be kept running and in great shape or it loses value like ballast from a balloon. Reginald–still unable to check the oil in any car–realizes he has a potentially depreciating asset and decides to unload the Gullwing. Fortunately, a new batch of Reggies is coming along (until, someday, there isn’t).
Possible reasons collectible cars are losing value.
The key demographic is aging/dying out.
This demographic is merely losing interest in it over time.
Production of new old style cars.
New cars just a lot nicer and less trouble.
The classic cars are continuing to age and eventually become less common, are seen less, potentially harder to keep authentic, maybe harder to find certain spare parts.
Classic car shows possibly in decline? Causing less interest in classic cars?
The demographic that wanted them enough to buy them, have already bought them and circulated them around.
Various reasons, I will think of immediately after putting my phone down.
Spot on, made my day.
re: “Possible reasons collectible cars are losing value.”
As WR would say: “Did you read the article???”
>>> “This index averages the values of affordable cars from >>> the 1950s to the 1970s below $40,000. The average price >>> rose 4% to a new high in May, from January, the only one >>> of the Hagerty’s primary indices to experience a price gain.”
I just sold 2 ‘affordable classics;’ a ’55 T-Bird and a ’65 Mustang; my BFF bought the ‘Bird, and he’s in the ‘old guy’ demo, but the Mustang was bought by a younger man for his soon-to-be 16YO daughter (she paid half out of babysitting money; apparently babysitting pays better these days). I expect her to not ‘die out’ anytime soon.
Your comment sounds like it came out of Consumer Reports, where people who see cars only as appliances get their ‘information;’ yes, a Camry is the car for you.
The ‘old car’ hobby is alive but not well, due to the virus, but has a better chance of coming back after the virus subsides than, say, restaurants. There will always be an ‘old car hobby,’ but what is considered an ‘old car’ is a sliding window (70s-era Japanese cars are very popular these days for younger demos).
As the Boomer’s die out the mantra “he who dies with the most toys wins” will die with them.
re: “I do wonder why the really high end collectibles have lost so much value?”
Not enough room for the cars in the bunker.
Lack of foresight again.
Yes bob, I did read the article. And although, affordable classic cars went up slightly. The more prized ones went down. I never said only old people buy these cars, I said the KEY demographic is aging and dying out. And yes a car is something like an “appliance”. It’s an object that is possibly highly prized and is supposed to make you happier or improve your life, just like almost everything you buy.
To young people who love cars, they might not value the same cars and might just always prefer new or recent for a variety of reasons. You might prefer the roar of your engine, others might prefer the roar of AC. There are different engine roars and they may not like the same one as you. Alot of young people are impressed by electric cars, which are fast and nearly silent.
Also, for the young people, it’s possible girls might like the older cars more than the guys. I know alot of young guys who love cars and most of the cars they want are made after the year 2000. Will these same guys want the same cars in 30 years? Who knows?
Also, you don’t have any idea whether classic cars will out-perform restaurants post virus.
For reference one of my dream cars is a black BMW i8. All the cars, I would want are made post 2000. If electric cars become, fully mainstream that’s what I want. A fast efficient car that’s easy to maintain and I could even power it from own energy sources if I wanted. It would have a greater amount of ownership vs the classic cars.
Point(s) taken. When I see only people driving electric appliances on TV commercials instead of classic cars–I can think of several on the tube now–the time for ‘classic cars’ will be over. FWIW, I’ve owned classics off-and-on for over 60 years, and have heard the ‘any day now no one will want those cars’ for most of them and, so far, that day hasn’t come.
The classic car market went into a coma after the GFC, but came roaring back; I suspect it will again. The last few classic car shows I’ve been to have been well attended (until the pandemic hit, of course).
It should be noted I don’t think the interest in current classic cars will go away, it will just be smaller for the current classic cars. Over time the classic car shows will also add newer classic cars and, possibly some unique new cars as well. Some classic cars, though will fall out of favor, being replaced by new ones. In the long term I’d say the Affordable classic cars will be hit the hardest in this way.
Why did they lose so much value? Why did they gain so much value in the first place? There seems to be an assumption here that if something is going up in value it is for a sound / rational reason and viceversa on the way down, or whatever. With the Fed spewing out like a volcano? I don’t think so. That said, what the heck does it cost to get random parts for a multi million dollar 1958 Ferrari etal.? Jeez.
The Type 1 (or Käfer, Bug, Fusca etc) was actually manufactured in Mexico until 2003, but the Brazilian production (ended in 1996) was seen as closer to the origins as the latter used the same body as used on late 50’s European models and the engine never received the Digifant fuel injection of the Mexican cars, which used the same bodywork as 70’s European models.
Brazilian-built Type 1 were officially sold by VW in Europe until 1985 but after that date several thousands arrived in Germany through grey market channels, both from Brazil and Mexico, and from there were dispersed throughout Europe.
Citroën had done the same when, after stopping production of the 2CV in France, continued to assemble them in Portugal until 1990. Intriguingly enough the bulk of these Portuguese-built cars went to the German and Italian markets.
The highly successful 40’s styling of the Type 1 can also be found in same period German scooters like the famous Heinkel Tourist, the Maico Maicoletta and the Zündapp Bella. Kinda like the Type 1 was considered a big step over small British, French and Italian cars of the period, so these big German scooters were considered a big step over Italian scooters like the Piaggio Vespa and Innocenti Lambretta.
The BSA group attempted to tackle the German scooters with the Triumph Tigress/BSA Sunbeam. While very technically advanced for a late 50’s/early 60’s scooter it was also terribly unreliable, not exactly an endearing quality for a daily commuter.
Bound to happen–boomer toys being shed to pay for catfood. /s
Mmmm..Friskies classic pate
Real food is cheaper, and is not taxed. Another myth busted.
Good buying opportunity for Jay Leno.
Jay is having fun being an old guy. Many of us wish we were him!
Had a ’69 Dodge Charger in college. Dad thought it was a dumb purchase, but with the 440, 4 speed, it could outrun most anything for college entertainment! The car only lasted for a year after marriage. Something about 5 mpg and the first Arab oil embargo in the early 70’s and being “practical”. Would love to have that car back now!
Looks like a high school parking lot. Guess they don’t have any authentic 1955 Buick California Highway Patrol Specials on hand. Not even a Helms’ Bakery delivery vehicle. No Divco dairy. That beetle doesn’t have the automatic stick for freeway flyin’ in the faster-than-thou lane.
Maybe these are better indices of how wealthy asset holders are doing than the stock market, which is more about feelings these days than fact.
Autos are also about feelings but not “wealth effect” feelings. A person’s affinity for a V-12 Ferrari isn’t altered by Fed jawboning. What is altered is the amount of “play money” that person has at any given moment.
Fascinating that the play money at the top seems to be under a lot more pressure than the demographic that supports the affordable models.
Better off investing your money in real estate … classic cars don’t pay you rent and they needs lots of upkeep … like pouring money down the drain.
Clearly, you’re not made to own classic cars :-]
More like pouring oil on the block, coolant in the radiator, and knuckle blood on the wrenches. It’s not just the cars, but the times and places they recall…the curves on Sunset, the fields with artichokes before the bay, the orange groves, the deadly curves in an Oregon blizzard, the Kalima diner on the way to Tacoma. Rumble seats in the rain, Caddy convertible in the sun on 395, V-8 flathead or stovebolt 6, push-button auto. They all can tell you the stories of racing stock versus custom while citing what’s rumbling under that hood. The towns may change, but the ride’s the same. Its likewise for boats, planes, trains, streetcars, buses, trucks and maybe golf carts. Who cares how many socks you got for Christmas, it’s the darn BB-gun and livin’ the dream of potting Black Bart. OK, it’s kinda nonsense…but you gotta live a little while you can. Beer?
Very well put!
“Its likewise for boats, planes, trains, streetcars, buses, trucks and maybe golf carts.”
You left out motorcycles :-)
Your right, much better to have invested in a shopping mall,or a tall building with an elevator.
Nice. *sneeze* *cough*
In the revived TV show Veronica Mars which takes place in the fictitious oceanside town of Neptune, an unscrupulous real estate developer hires an ex-con, played by J.K. Simmons, to carry out tasks which include murder and property destruction. He has promised his henchman a place in his planned development to start a classic car dealership. The real estate developer gives Simmons the following advice: “as for your classic car dealership, owning a business especially one that trades in a rarified secondary market with little practical demand and a shrinking consumer base is not the kind of venture to cut you teeth on”.
The events, characters and firms depicted above are fictitious and any similarity to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Meanwhile Aston Martin decided to manufacture new old cars, because they are worth more than their current models.
The steepness of some of those curves are crazy actually – not going to lie: almost smells like a bubble. I’m not sure it’s in line with my idea of supply & demand – now some ’80s and ’90s car has crazy pricing, even though they are pretty abundantly available. A mystery why so many people took up the hobby of car collecting lately – though multi-vehicle garages would make a great target for taxation.
I think the problem is that Aston Martin was in dire straits even before the present recession. Right now they are trying everything: they have fired 500 employees out of 1850 and they have hired Tobias Moers from Daimler (he used to be head of the AMG division) as a CEO to try and pull the from the doldrums. Good luck because he’s going to need it.
This came about because Aston Martin cheapened their image too much: bicycles? A condominium tower in Miami? Design and brand studios? And now an SUV that looks like an extremely expensive Ford? What happened to the old ultra-exclusive Aston Martin image?
Regarding collectibles, I think the problem started around 2013. I am not into cars, but old motorcycles started exploding in value around that date, and with them, believe it or not, chainsaws. Most of this stuff was not exactly high end in the days and in my eyes it’s just junk nowadays. I can understand seeing value in, say, a BMW R90S or a Honda CB1100R, but the rest… let’s just say there’s a good reason it has been mostly forgotten.
People were suckered into buying this stuff with the justification they were “affordable classics” and this started feeding a vicious cycle with some pretty twisted psychological/behavioral bases: on the Internet everybody buys at rock bottom prices, fixes it for pennies and sells in minutes after a “bidding war”. This of course happens in a parallel universe: in reality these folks overpay every step of the way and thus keep on feeding the beast.
Even what was high end in the day is not high end now.
I realize that I have been delusional for years. My ’02 Kawi ZRX 1200 seemed like a high end sport bike to me, and when I bought it eighteen years ago, it was a fast and powerful machine. When I drove it recently after getting a new Aprilia Tuono this spring, I couldn’t believe how slow and antiquated it now seems.
Exact same thing on my ’95 Lexus SC400. I have owned a few, and it was my thing to drive for seventeen years. Yeah, I put performance brakes and suspension parts on it, maintained it and it looks like new. This past Saturday, I took it out to some back roads to open it up for old time’s sake. It is smooth, agile and comfortable, but holy sh!t, at 100 kph, there’s not much more in terms of get-up-and-go. A 4.0 liter V8 and the exact same weight as my ’16 BMW M4 with a 3.0 liter twin turbo, but after that there’s no comparison. The M4 has so much more power, torque, braking and grip to the road that it’s hard to describe the difference with words – you have to drive them both to see for yourself.
The technology in new performance cars and bikes makes so much difference! The Aprilia, with 175 hp, has three different riding modes. The wheelie control is a life saver in terms of control when launching out of a clover leaf, and the traction control calculates lean angle, among other variables, to deliver as much power as possible before the rear wheel lets go. And the stopping power on the dual 330 mm front Brembo brakes is incredible.
There’s no going back for me now that I’ve experienced the best that today’s engineering has to offer.
Classic cars are beautiful works of art. Like Wolf, I’ve owned and loved the Datsun Z, and my daily driver for years in the late ’90s was a 65 Corvair Monza Coupe. With snow tires in Minneapolis’ winters, it was an awesome city car, and it was a head-turner with its cool sculpted lines. But, nowadays, my art hangs on my walls, and my garage has machines that perform.
The Honda CB1300, Kawasaki ZRX1200, Suzuki GSX1400 and Yamaha XJR1300 were all chiefly designed for the Japanese market to cash in on the nostalgia trend that started in the mid 90’s.
The former two were effectively modern machines when they came out (apart form the Kawasaki still using carburetors) while the latter were effectively 80’s models, meaning the handling was aking to sitting on the porch of a house and piloting it around.
All these machines (apart from the Suzuki) sold extremely well outside of Japan, much to the annoyance of the Big Four which saw them as chewing into the sales of far more profitable “for export-only” models but instead of merely withdrawing them from sales adopted all sorts of underhanded tactics. For example the yearly allowance of the ZRX1200 for the Italian market was 25 bikes: they usually sold out in a matter of hours.
While the Honda is a capable enough machine to have been raced (in much modified form) at the Suzuka 8 Hours, and I really like mine, these are not sportsbikes and were never intended as such. They were built for what the manufacturers believed to be a small niche market but proved to be hugely successful, to the point they later kickstarted the European mania for “retro” models (Ducati Scrambler, BMW RNineT etc) which, I have to say, are nowhere near as well styled as the older Japanese bikes. Honda really missed the boat by not putting into production the CB1100R concept, but all of Honda’s choices in the motorcycle division over the past decade have been puzzling to say the least.
On the discount end of this, there are some cool modifieds by company called Revolt, (and probably 1,000s of guys in garages) in the Philippines where they take a $1500 Honda TMX 150 and strip it down and make it look like Scramber, Tracker, Cafe Racer, or whatever. Bolt on the surf board carrier and ur good to go…
I have fourteen bikes, all British and Italian.
How about a pristine Ducati 750 SS? Take two as they use much less garage space than a muscle car.
Collectables all across the board are the same. Classic video games… Garbage Pail Kids (trading cards. Saw a box of them sold for $25K on eBay?) Arcade and pinball machines. Tron used to be $200-300, now it’s $2000-3000. 90s Williams pinballs used to be $1K, now some are $9K. You immediately saw Realtors and the flipper type people showing up in the pinball scene when the value was going up. Classic computers also have gotten expensive (Apple 1 on eBay for $1.5 mil right now.)
It seems like all the cool stuff is in the past, and there is a lot of money chasing it.
You know how car market especially whats cosidered collectible is a giant bubble waiting to pop? When you see Acura Integra Type R ir older Honda Civic SI selling for 50 to 100k on Bringatrailer.com . just saw a SI going for that much recently..just insane.
I guess rich people still have other toys to continue to blow the bubble with. Luxury watch like Rolex Daytona and Patek Natilus still double retail during the shutdown. That’s one bubble I would be more than happy to watch burst harder than anything.
You don’t have to wait for it to pop. It already did… some time ago!
You sure Wolf? Last check on Chrono24 and other watch site, Nautilus still going for overhype price, same goes for Daytona or many other Rolex as well. Thank god I am not into both brands but those poor suckers lining up to pay double or triple the retail on a stainless steel sport watch…it’s going to hurt when the bubble burst hard..
There’s a guy selling a BMW HP2 Sport not far from me. He wants a “non-negotiable” €25,000 for it. The bike has been listed since May 4.
Right now there are many popping up for sale and asking price is in the €17,000/15,000 territory, meaning the real value is somewhere below the low end of that range.
It’s the same thing with those watches: sellers are sticking to their impossibly high valuations because they think this recession is just a speed bump in the road. It isn’t.
The big Asian buyers won’t be back until Fall at the very earliest and it remains to be seen how their purchasing power will be affected. Mainland Chinese may not be back in meaningful numbers for a loong time, if ever.
There are dozens of stores in Geneva, Lugano and Zürich selling collectible watches: they haven’t had any real business for three and a half months. These stores are the hubs around which the whole sector rotates and their international customers only started returning yesterday, as Switzerland finally dropped all controls for the Schengen Area and a few other selected countries: however I take most customers will just be more interested in selling than buying.
For all the desperate attempts, deflationary winds have once again started blowing…
I own a couple of classic movie Cars. One is a Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino, the other one is the General Lee. The missus and I would always show both cars together with signs noting their movie history. Hagerty a classic car Insurance Company voted the General Lee the most recognized movie car of all time. I was telling the wife I bet the General Lee gets banned from any future car shows we might try to attend. Fortunately the General Lee is a 69 Charger which still has value. If it has to be repainted it won’t be a total loss if I sell it.
Why buy an old Charger when you can get a new Hellcat with 707 hp?
18K Patek, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin seem to hold value better than trendy stainless steel sport watches – no matter the name. For the record I do hate the Royal Oaks.
I was looking for a Delorean but instead might opt for a contemporary version of that vehicle… a Tesla…
Most of the Boomers are getting too old now to own a muscle car. Just not as much fun as when you were younger, and a lot of upkeep. I had a show quality corvette for a few years, but detailing it every time I drove it got to be more work than fun.
Thanks Wolf for this very interesting article.
Lately I have indeed been wondering about the mixed signals I received from the classic car scene. On the one hand, news about tumbling prices for collectibles. On the other hand, people I know in classic car circles who talk of serious prices when selling, or buying! Your article answered a lot of questions.
I have a factory-original 1965 K-code HiPo GT Mustang Convertible with full options in the garage. I don’t drive it often but when I do it invariably brings a big smile to my face. Which is quite welcome, with all the bad news everywhere around us.
I think I’ll hang on to it.
It is just a matter of time before my 1999 Honda Accord makes it to one of these indices.
Can’t these be securitized?
Working on it :-]
O they can. You just have to do it. Field of Dreams.
The Western car markets over US$250,000 have taken quite a hit this year (no surprise). Know someone who has lost US$100,000 on a McLaren Senna in <12 months. But the market below the quarter-million level is surprisingly robust and holding steady. People still want fast cars — they just don't want to tie up too much cash in them for now. If the V-shaped global GDP recovery takes hold in Q3 / Q4 2020, as some expect, and there is no second Covid wave, as looks probable, then classic-car values should rebound a decent 5-10% in the US and UK in 2021. There are plenty of bottom-feeders out there.
Me thinks we’re in the 1st inning of deflating many bubbles. The young generation as a whole could care less about cars unless it’s a Tesla. Having owned many old 60’s mustangs and firebirds I can say that I don’t what them now unless I can be 24 again! lol
I only have 2 real regrets in life. One was not buying a perfect Plymouth Superbird for $1500 at an auction I attended in 1978. The other was turning down free tickets to watch the U.S. vs USSR hockey game at the 1980 Winter Olympics because I thought I had to study for a chemistry test.
haha, yeah, hard to imagine any studying getting done in Lake Placid that night.
Some people can make some money in collectables, but it is best not to confuse them with investments. Investment is a term that has been used very loosely the past 30 years.
I don’t think you could put any of those muscle cars up against their modern day counterparts, Mustang and Charger. It was an age before all cars looked alike. As a kid you could tell everyone of them apart.
Prices on even the low end collectables that interest me grew beyond my range some time ago. I believe this is because the market was contaminated by investors who could outbid enthusiasts. I hope they all lose their shirts.
My first car was an early 56 Triumph TR-3 that I bought while still in navy in 66, and had to park on the street outside the gate in Long Beach. Paid $600.
Wanted it back a few years ago, just for the fun, (of having to tune the carbs every time it was driven, etc., etc. ) only one I could find was asking $60,000.00
I love this thread. Thanks Wolf!
My biggest bad day:
When I had gotten out of college with my engineering degree in 1973 (after Vietnam service), I was married to my first love. Then I purchased a 1965 Corvette Stingray (C2) roadster (with the hardtop too). I was stoked and loved that car!
Shortly thereafter, my wife wanted a house as we were living in an old apartment and were tired of canned soup and paying rent the last four years. So, I reluctantly sold the Vette for $2500 (I could ALWAYS buy another) and used that as a downpayment on a $17,500 bungalow in Connecticut, where we lived and went to school. I was an employed engineer and she was a school teacher.
Within a few months, I was offered, and accepted, with wife’s permission, a promotion to a new job in Detroit. No problem…….we would sell the house, wife would move with me and find anew job, and life would be better. And we could buy another house and soon after another Vette.
Well, to make a long story short, wife decided to divorce me before we sold the house and moved! Boy, did that suck! My Vette is gone for no good reason!
Boy, I sure miss that 1965 Corvette and would buy another now, but $75 – $100K for a duplicate one is too much to bite off 45 years later.
I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time. But it’s funny now!? ?
You got that right!
serious question – do people under 40 care about classic cars in the USA?
assume the prices just keep dropping as boomers all get over the 65 years old date in 2029?
Good Question P,
young guy i know bought a ”gran torino” matching the one in the movie about 5 years ago; worked it into much better shape, then needing cash, sold it rather than his boat,,,
Question will be open a while,,, at least until we get on the other side of this current financial crash/crisis. At that point, i suspect a lot of the vehicles in this article, and especially some of the older ones not in the article, will have gone way UP in price as a hedge against the coming major degradation of the monies of the world…
Be interesting to watch, that’s far shore,,, and I certainly do enjoy some of the ”war stories” on here from folks that clearly do love our old cars, from Enzo’s to Ferdinand’s.
I think so, but at that stage in life there are more pressing things to spend one’s money on than a classic automobile. But considering the young(er) people I know (speaking about males), they all seem to either gravitate to old-school muscle cars or the fancy Italian stuff. But they all know what a Jaguar is!
The millennials will view the 60s/70s muscle cars the same way boomers view “antique” cars of the 20s/30s – as a weird hobby item. Only nostalgia keeps the prices of these things where they are. When the boomers die, the nostalgia dies with them.
Just go to a classic car show or “Cars and Coffee” meetup and see who’s there. I have gone to many and there were a lot of younger (under 40) folks in attendance, both as owners and lookers.
Here in Houston, we have a car club called the “Nifty 50’s” and it’s for cars 1979 and below. I go to the Saturday night meets and many of the owners are much younger than me (I’m 76). Our local corvette club has its share of old guys but an equal number of members are much younger.
Well, in one sense there are two basic ways of viewing the classic car market:
1 “real value” = beauty, rarity, quality, uniqueness, etc.
2 “nostalgia” = this is the car I always wanted when I was in high school, etc.
Nostalgic value – specifically in the mass produced USA muscle market, will die out with the nostalgers, to coin a phrase.
The “real value” – will hold much better, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be hugely volatile as certain TBD criteria become favored / shunned.
Such are the markets.
Can’t comment on the US, but in Europe a classic car parade is like a retired meeting. There are some younger guys, but they are mostly just copycats and their budget rarely allows anything more that is looked down upon by the master restaurateurs.
Every year in town there is a ‘Lost in the ’50s’ weekend with retro music street dances and the requisite 50s-era (and later) car parade. The whole community comes out for it, everyone — including millenials and younger– dressed in stereotypical outfits. It is an annual tradition for Canadians across the border to come too, filling up the hotels and motels. A lot of fun.
And THAT reminded me of the time, maybe 1960?, as VP of the HS camera club, the pres and I ”snuck/sneaked” into the loft of Enzo’s/the Ferrari garage at Sebring prior to the race so he, the pres of our club, could photograph those cars with his Linhof 4×5, ( a gift from his parents who realized the guy’s passion for photography,) which he did.
Then, the evening after the race, we did it again, and I almost cried at the very banged up condition of those same cars, lined up in the same order.
I think he, the pres, went on to a splendid career photographing cars,,, possibly other subjects…
Got a 2012 mustang GT black, 2″ lower for track days; over-sized R-spec tires, front end splitter that takes your breath away. I get people complementing the car everyday. $18k out the door used 3 years ago. Put $5 in mods and very happy with performance/wow factor…cheap entertainment. I drive my Porsche and I get cut off everywhere and get flipped off for having a “Rich” guy car.
Yes , I’m in Houston also, you’re correct about seeing lots of younger people at the many car shows around the area. Everyone’s got their weakness, for some it’s golf , some it’s hunting or fishing, some it’s dope . I will say, some of the finest people I’ve met, young or old have been at car meets.
No agendas, just a passion for cars, fast , slow, new and classics.
And unless you’ve driven a car like this on a country road out in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday morning, it might not seem sensible.
But you haven’t lived until you do ?
This is my weakness, and I ain’t no youngster!
Wolf it’s OK by me if you want to move into writing more about classic cars and other collectible assets (Gibson guitars? Lionel?) and less about the world of finance and the soulless frauds who inhabit it.
My claims to fame and street cred: ’74 Cutlass (with swivel bucket seats) and an ’80 BMW 745i sedan – turbo’ed straight six, 3-speed automatic, everything in German, mineral-oil-fed suspension and an absolute holy terror out there in rural PA.
Boy did I make a fuckin’ mistake printing this article. Should be a warning to only print first “X” pages.
Jaguar could make a pile if they did a somewhat updated ’65 XKE, but the government crap makes that impossible.
They’re onto that. Jaguar is rebuilding old E-Types as EVs.
Wolf, I read your blog everyday, and have never left a comment before. But when the topic is classic cars, I can’t resist putting my two cents. Finance is what I do for a living, but classic cars are my passion.
It’s no surprise that Mercedes 300 SL, Porsches 911, Ferraris and Lamborghinis have fallen in value recently, given their insane rise in value in the preceding decade and a half. A 300SL that could be had around $150k around 2001 was a $1million car by 2015. 300SLs are not so rare, with around 3,000 having been built, and multiple examples on sale at any one time. An early Porsche 911, which could be had for $10-20k in 1998, became a $100-150k car by 2015. The 911 is basically a mass produced car, there are plenty of examples around.
Higher up the pecking order, I still remember a Lamborghini Miura that made about £70,000 at the first auction I attended in London in 2003. By 2010, a Miura was a £400,000 car, and by 2015, examples bore a $1-1.5 million asking price. Fact of the matter is that classic cars exhibit long market cycles. After the crash of 1990, prices plateaued for well over a decade until 2004, when the current mad price rise began. We can expect the current decline to be similarly long winded,
I find the composition of the so-called Blue Chip Index interesting. None of the truly great cars are there! Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Bentley 8 Litre. Duesenberg J. Bugatti T46. Hispano-Suiza H6B. Mercedes-Benz 540K. Alfa Romeo 8c 2300. Isotta-Fraschini 8A. American Underslung. Cadillac V16. All of the truly impressive and rare cars are missing. It’s only postwar sporty stuff, usually with a prancing horse. With the exception of Bugatti and Mercedes, prewar cars haven’t followed the upwards trajectory of the postwar, far more mundane cars. And that’s fine by me. Perhaps one day, I’ll own a Duesenberg.
Glad you came to join us here in our living room :-]
“I find the composition of the so-called Blue Chip Index interesting.”
Part of the reason why some of your faves are not in the index is that the index covers only post-WW2 cars. So if you look at the vintages, they’re from 1948 forward.