Asset Class of Classic Cars Sinks, High-End Hits 5-Year Low, Priciest Ferraris Drop the Most. American Muscle Cars Fall to 2007 Level

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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!

Hagerty observed:

  • “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):

Hagerty observed:

  • “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:

  • 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):

Hagerty observed:

  • “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):

Hagerty observed:

  • “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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