Old Classic Muscle Car
Tim Esterdahl's picture

60s and Early 70s Muscle Cars Keep Bringing Top Dollar

While there's debate on if the classic car market is growing or declining, there is data suggesting 60's and early 70's muscle cars are only going to climb in value. This segment held steady during the recession. Now a growing group of buyers is sparking more interest. The question is, why?

The most basic answer to this question is that baby boomers are flush with cash and eager to own 60’s and early 70’s muscle cars. According to Yahoo, boomers are ready to spend big on classic cars. They're ready to revisit their “glory days,” and they have the time/money to either buy a restored muscle car or restore their own.

Baby boomers are different than other collectors, and that's part of the reason 60's and 70's muscle is doing so well. Whereas many collectors see cars as an investment - or perhaps a work of art - baby boomers buy cars to drive and show. They're looking for a way to reconnect with childhood, as well as an enjoyable hobby. As a result, they're propping up the market for older muscle cars.

Recession Sales Hold Steady

The data supports the generalities I've made about baby boomers. Hagerty, one of the largest collector car insurance companies in the U.S., puts out what some call a “stock-market-style assessment.” This report highlights different car models and their values, according to a Bloomberg story.

Hagerty says, during the recession, rare cars and older, pre-1948 vehicles saw a large drop in value. These vehicles are just starting to regain their value. The “Affordable Classics” segment, however, has held steady. These cars were mostly protected during the recession by the baby boomers.

Auction Muscle Car Market Strong

There is a strong argument for doubting auction data analysis from high-profile places like Barrett-Jackson. The argument goes that these auctions are ripe for over-bidding, as they attract a lot of casual enthusiasts who don't know what vehicles are actually worth.

On the other hand, the definition of a vehicle's "true value" is whatever someone is willing to pay for said vehicle. Even if cars at Barrett-Jackson or Mecum seem to benefit from their high-profile placement, it's not as if we can "throw away" the auction data, as it can still be useful for determining market trends.

For example, recent analysis of data from the big Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale shows that muscle cars are still strong sellers. It found vehicles from the 1950s, 60s and early 70s had the highest average sale price throughout the auction. The analysis also seemed to indicate that vehicles with a stick shift were worth more than those with an automatic, that collectors prefer dark-colored interiors over lighter interiors, and even that classic MOPARs were holding their value relative to classic Chevrolets. This analysis supports the idea that boomers are greatly influencing the market.

Muscle Car Values Growing

The facts are pretty clear that the recession caused values on nearly everything automotive to hold steady or drop. Now, with more confidence in the economy, it looks like baby boomers are driving a strong muscle car market. Hagerty’s data has been tracking 15 muscle cars from the 1964 to 1970 era. It shows those car values peaked at $235,700 in December, 2008. Then, the value dropped to $190,000 in 2010 during the recession. Now, the values are back on the rise at $205,000 in April. With car show season right around the corner, plus a growing economy, it's reasonable to assume that value will continue to rise. It remains to be seen if the values will reach the pre-recession levels, yet it just might with many industries seeing a full rebound.
All of this data really just shows that muscle cars are still fan favorites. Yes, they are big, gas sucking and powerful cars, but isn’t that what makes them great?

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