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Classic Car Values are Reflecting the Struggling Economy

Posted in Cars, Classic, General by will bee | March 12th, 2008 | 11 Responses |

chevybelair.jpg picture by willfusion

If you ever frequent any classic car shows or cruise-in’s there is one question you are sure to hear over and over. It is not the most polite of questions, but it still finds its way into conversations. “What’s it worth?” Ofcourse the simple answer in return is, “whatever someone is willing to pay me for it… within reason.”

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that as a reflection of the current economic downturn in the United States, and much like the housing market, the classic car market is feeling the pinch. But just as it is the middle class that is most effected by the economic crunch, so too it is the mid-ranged classic car that is most effected.

Mass produced and fairly accessible cars like the Chevrolet Bel Air and Ford Mustang are just two samples of mid-ranged classics that fall in the $30-50,000 range. It is reported that those cars are suffering up to a 1/3rd drop in their value as sellers come down in price to meet a shrinking demand.
In some regard it is the classic car market righting itself from a decade where even the lowly six-cylinder models were fetching prices never before seen by buyers with borrowed cash who were fledglings in the classic car market. Those buyers who were using home-equity for their classic car shopping spree are now finding those loans more difficult to come by.

However, not everyone is suffering from the limping market. Serious antiques collectors and “Big Game” shoppers with cash to spend are still finding plenty of top dollar classics to fill their garages with.

Just like in the housing market those with the available funds to spend can come across some decent mid-range bargains in the classic car market. Sellers who are looking to move on to that next project or hoping to move up to that next level of classic… the specialty cars, are the ones who will be losing in the deal. Then again as long as those classics are still around and being cared for we are all a little better off no matter what the market does.


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11 Responses

  1. Mark C. says:

    Right on the money (pardon the pun!) – I always laugh when I hear the question asked, as a real enthusiast knows that the value is different for every person.

    I don’t know that the prices have really started to fall. It’d be interesting to track what’s going on at Barrett-Jackson this year vs. last year.

  2. will bee says:

    Mark C.
    That would be an interesting comparison to see. Barrett-Jackson would probably have those statistics, but will they be willing to share.

    Right now the spending slow down is mostly hitting the mid-ranged classics, the $20-30,000 cars. If any economists ever brave the official term of Recession then we might start to see it hit the some-what larger dollar cars.

    However, as in any Recession or Depression… there are still those who have money and they will still be more than willing to pay that top dollar for what they want.

    Thanks for the comment Mark C.

  3. Brent says:

    Take a look at ebay prices and you will now see classics have dropped in price and the 1/3 value seems accurate to me. I see some great values out there that made me wish I bought now instead of 2 years ago but what the heck I am not selling anyway just wish I waited is all, patience is key

  4. A 1963 Pontiac Tempest LeMans two door hardtop, one of just six Super Duty coupes ever made, sold for $226,521.63 on November 9 on eBay.

    The Super Duty coupes were built for quarter-mile racing, what is now usually called “bracket racing.” They had plexiglass windows, heavy duty suspension to keep the rear wheels from too much wheel hopping and 389 cubic-inch V8s, some bored 0.30 over, so rumor goes.

    The one that sold most recently had just 3,1165 miles on the odometer and was bought by someone from someone who obviously didn’t know what the car’s providence was. In fact, with the faded paint and generally appearance of the car being what it was, bidding started at just $500 on November first. At one point in the auction, the seller actually turned down $160,000 – after being asked some questions about the windows and such, when interested and savvy bidders began to see, via the photos, exactly what this car was about.

    With just 7 minutes before the end of the auction, and bidding stalled at $95,000, bidding frenzy took over as one bidder got in the fray with another and it ended at the $226,521.00 mentioned.

    Now this is not typical eBay stuff. In fact, eBay is not a particularly good place to gauge the market. People looking at eBay these days are looking for bargains. They probably don’t have a lot of money; maybe they still have decent credit. But the people bidding there, aren’t the same folks you’d see at Barrett-Jackson, or even a regionl auction in a backwater such as Puyallup, Washington – where Silver Auctions held collector car auctions from 1989 through 2007, in conjunction with the Corvette and High Performance Swap Meet.

    Yes, the collector car market is slowly adjusting. Fake “Road-Runners” or GTOs or “Shelby-Mustang” recreations – called “tribute cars” most recently, to sound better than “fake” – were hitting $75,000 to $80,000, three years ago, or even two years ago. That’s going to change, because the people buying them, might be the same people now working for a new deal on their mortgage.

    But cars such as that Super Duty coupe will probably stay strong in value, at least through spring. By then, we’ll know if all this “bailout” money the Federal Treasury is throwing around does enough to keep money throwing through the system in something other than T-bills.

  5. DJ Houston says:

    It’s become a supply and demand hobby/business. There is no demand,but there is a great supply. Owners in the $30,000 range are practically dumping their vehicles to get cash. I saw this happen in 1981-83. It happened in 1988 but this is going to be a world wide depression for 8-10 years. Wall Street is afraid of Obama so they’re moving assest and cash out of the country till he’s gone. Because of the global economy this is much easier to do than 25 years ago. Wake up! In Oct 2007 the dow was 14,000, now it’s 6,600. This is going to be a long DEPRESSION. I’m telling my clients to dump the collector cars and buy gold and euros.

  6. yarp says:

    euros??? you must be joking.

  7. […] where six auctions brought in nearly $100 million. But according to the Wall Street Journal, the pinch is definitely being felt, and some car values have dropped by a third “as sellers come down in price to meet a shrinking […]

  8. Dicjk Schulz says:

    For purposes of restitution I need to have authoritive price comparisons of
    several cars at a point in time about May / June 2008 and May /June 2010. The
    cars to evaluate are 1953 MGTD, 1956 MGA, 1957 MGA 1962 Thunderbird Roadster.

    Can you provide this or give direction to a party that can? Please advise of cost.


    Dick Schulz
    3262 Lake Street NW
    Rochester, MN 55901
    507 254 3287

    • Kurt says:

      Dick, that’s a tough call and I can’t think of anyone to recommend off the top of my head. Your best bet would be to contact someone who specializes in classic car insurance, like Hagerty (www.hagerty.com), to see if they can either provide you the data or point you in a better direction. Classic car values fluctuate more than the price of gold, so any quote more than a few months old probably won’t be accurate.

  9. corry schulz says:

    LETS FACE IT, THE BETTER THE MARKET GETS THE MORE AMERICANS WILL INDULGE. THE WORSE THE MARKET GETS THE MORE AMERICANS WILL INDULGE. point is, you can count on consumer greed to repeat itself!. demand will be constant but collector cars will shift slowly back to trade until the currency/credit faucet is turned up again. Gov / Banks will learn to set the credit tap at medium instead of high like it was in 2006.

    • Kurt says:

      Corry, can you give me a timeline on the economy crawling out of the toilet? ‘Cause I’m thinking it won’t be anytime soon…