Little overheating issue with the 1953 Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale Berlinetta 0222AT
Little overheating issue with the 1953 Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale Berlinetta 0222AT

Opinions on the Classic Car Market

Where do you think the classic car market is headed? Up, down or sideways? Hoping for a big correction? Does it even matter?

Our February 11th editorial asked readers to submit their viewpoint on the current direction of the classic car market. Are the markets overheating similar to the pictured 1953 Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale Berlinetta, have global economic headwinds finally taken their toll on classic cars or are recent results a simple case of too much (low-quality) supply? Reader responses ranged from estimates of losses in the 30-40 percent range to the market taking a quick break, yet the overriding theme was one of caution.

Did anyone hit the nail on the head or did everyone miss the mark? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

This is a market hiccup. All who’ve been involved in the collector car “market” for any length of time have seen market corrections or stalled markets, occur time after time. While it’s true that there have been corrections in the value of cars that have temporarily spiked, it’s usually those vehicles that have little intrinsic value. Cars that incorporate true engineering, styling, or other technological milestones will always maintain their value.

We can all agree that if you’re involved in this field as an investment, the market will fluctuate just like the stock market or any other investment and must be measured with a similar yardstick; think decades, not month-to-month or year-by-year.

All of us have observed the collector car market become a “safe haven” for investors who realize little R.O.I from traditional investment arenas. I’m sure that this has also put a “thumb on the scale” in the appreciation of vs. genuine value of collector cars.

…the appreciation in value of these cars is simply an added bonus

If, however, you are a passionate car collector, the appreciation in value of these cars is simply an added bonus that can be used to explain your obsession to those who, otherwise, just cannot understand your passion; assuming that you feel the need to explain.

Many collectors of vehicles do so because of the appreciation/adoration that they have for the vehicles themselves. The dramatic swings in value, although real, often serve as an obstacle to the enjoyment or your, now precious, collector car. No longer able to be used for a fun drive to the grocery store, they’ve become the icons of worship.

Pay no attention to Chicken Little, the sky is not falling … except flying may become more challenging for the vultures.

Michael R.

How can one even be surprised about the market taking a breather? Some cars, especially the ones that have doubled or even tripled in price in the last 2 years, just needed to come down and I believe they will continue to do so until they are in the “sanity range” (still providing a reasonable yearly return).

Blue-chip cars – whether road or race – will continue to do well and increase further. The best of the rest will also hold their values while the not-so-good cars will struggle.

…way too many auctions leading to an imbalance of the demand-supply equation

There are just way too many auctions leading to an imbalance of the demand-supply equation leading to an over-saturated market with quality (on the supply side) suffering.

Welcome back to reality!

Mark D.

The vintage collector car market is slowly going downhill. The reasons for this are many. However, one of the key elements is that when you attend a vintage car race, any of the myriad of car auctions, or watch them on TV the attendees are OLD gray hairs.

We, and I include myself, are not buying cars now but rather disposing of them. My wife could care less about my vintage cars (presently 15 of them). My daughter and grandsons don’t care about them either. The younger generation likes electric green vehicles, not gas guzzling antiques. Then factor in the cost to restore, repair, maintain, insure, and store a car, and you have built in a massive wall of resistance to ownership. After all the youth of today are buying 400 square foot “Small Houses.” You could put their house inside the trunk of a 1959 Cadillac. Why would they want a car that is bigger than their home?

There is no youth movement…

The vintage car market has always been driven by speculators. Of course the crash in the market back in the late 1980s cleaned the house then, but the same old guys are back at it. In another 10-20 years a lot of us original collectors will be gone. Who is going to take our place and keep the market going?

There is no youth movement that will replace us. How many of us have a turn of the century horse and buggy in the back yard? Nobody I know wants one. In another 25 years the collector cars now trading hands will be the modern day equivalent of the stage coach! They will all be put out to pasture, and go back to where they were 60 years ago. A bunch of old cars collecting dust in a barn somewhere.

CG

I am 67 and have been involved in the car hobby my entire life, from Dinkys to Chevys to Exotics! I think that there may be a bit of a rotation in and out of certain categories, i.e. muscle to fifties, antiques, classics, etc.

Further I think that the truly iconic rare and highly sought after cars will maintain their value and continue to appreciate. Of that genre, Ferrari as example, the lesser cars that have been lifted by the tide, I think, will adjust downward.

Greg D.

Unless you are a broker, dealer or closet trader, the current values of classic cars is just a guide for what to accept in a sale, or what to pay if you are buying a car! Classic Cars are a bit like stocks, if you buy good companies that provide adequate dividends and are solid operations, the current stock price is irrelevant … Just apply that philosophy to your current or future Classic purchase or sale!

Frank A.

Good buys of interesting 1970’s consumer sports cars still can be found and the older buffs are releasing older collections due to health and circumstances.

Dave H.

I run a small restoration shop in Southern California, and the Porsche 356 has been my love interest. I say “Love”, because I have never bought a car as an investment. Passion for the marque has driven my interest since my teen years. Presently I’m restoring an early 1973 911 for myself and a 1955 Pre-A Coupe is next in line.

Passion for the marque has driven my interest…

I find the key is bringing the cars as close as possible to factory spec and build quality as possible. It takes me a year to bring this off on an early 356. Some say our cars exceed what Porsche produced, but I am wary of over restorations.

Jim L.

It’s the same old problem “supply and demand.” When there are marked increases in sport car enthusiasts, there is going to be a greater demand. Complementing this is a violent population explosion world-wide.

The good old days when one could purchase a reasonably priced exotic car are gone forever; E.g., in the early sixties I purchased a Ferrari 250 LM for $20,000. The car was sold in the Pebble Beach show 2 years ago for $32 million! It is a shame that this situation is getting worse. It is not going to get better.

Hart I.

The global economy is rapidly deteriorating and the financial markets are nearing a panic. People have lost or are about to lose a lot of money. The collectible car market should decline commensurate — 30 to 40 percent.

Ed Z.

Today, (2/11/2016) the market opened down. Everybody seemed to have an opinion. One was that the 2% inflation rate used by most banks and the USA, is too high. It was said that 1.5% might be right, and that there would be a long period of slow growth.

Many people buy turn-key antique cars because they are a Fixed Asset. In the day of Fiat Money they are a type of currency that you can make yourself.

However those wanting a Daily Driver may opt for just a beater car. They can find them, but those prices and performance can be challenged by new cars, and they may stop appreciating as fast.

I think those who are Craftsmen, or can manage Craftsmen to restore cars to a turn-key state, even if they are not totally original, and are not exceptional, can sell turn-key running cars to folks who live in more gentle places with better climates.

People with serious money to spend should be OK if they buy the best that is available.

Many would buy more if they could, “Just Find The Garage Space”.

The future looks bright…

I have always heard it said that with Antique Guns, there has never been a fall out in values.

It may be that Restoration Services can discover some Economies Of Scale. For Example. Porsche has a restoration shop in Stuttgart and one in Atlanta. They will restore any car they made, at the budget direction of the owner. That could work out well for them. Potentially the same with other makers.

The FIA has their (My words) “Heritage class” of Vintage Race Cars. Those are REAL and must be documented, and those French will NEVER let any fakes get past them. In the same racing class will be all of the Clones, which may be safer, and better, and, in general, very slick. Cars like the Shelby 350GTR, The new made Cobra Le Mans Coupes, those Lightweight E-Types, and all the fake Ferraris.

Think of all of this like Antique Guns, or Stradivarius Violins. I did not even talk about five axis Milling Machines.

The future looks bright, fantasies are often better than the real thing.

Thorn F.

Sideways to slightly down (10-15 percent) for average cars and up (10-20 percent) for high quality, rare cars.

Karsten L.

Just sold a 911 at Bonhams and sat through most of the Scottsdale auctions.

…10-25 percent decline from this time last year

Best of the Best in Ferrari, Aston, Duesey’s etc still pull decent money; However the MB 540K at RM sold at $9 million against a $12 mill expectation; MOPAR exclusive cars holding but steep decline in good to average cars; Other marques and just ‘good’ cars in a 10-25 percent decline from this time last year; 911’s have definitely cooled just as too many are hitting the market.

Likely overall economic conditions are depressing moods, euro money is less active, Middle East and Chinese money is out right now. Cars don’t seem to be replacing stocks as safe havens except for those Best of the Best

Steven V.

As for the classic car market … up, down or sideways, it really isn’t about us. You probably don’t want to hear this, but the $100,000 Chevelle or $250K GT350 is pocket change for the 1 percenters, and that’s who is playing at this level. I’m glad I found my ’66 Mustang GT Fastback 27 years ago. I drive it, beat it, and work on it year-after-year. The collector bums can have their collections … it’s basic hording of an asset that ain’t as liquid as they’d like, but they don’t care either.

…basic hording of an asset that ain’t as liquid as they’d like

I just hope when we’re all dead, that the grand kids won’t go “What do we do with all the $#!+ grandpa (or ma) left us?” Hopefully, there will still be some individuals out there who want to drive ‘em, beat ‘em and fix ‘em!

Cliff T.

Here in Australia it is clear that there are some classics which have shown a consistent increase with a doubling (or more) in sale price. E-type Jaguars (now plus 100k), 1960-’70s Aston Martin (100k plus) 1960s Mercedes-Benz coupes, Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3 (increase from 12k to 50k plus), Ferrari 400i (24k to 60k plus and the Espada (now rarer than unobtainium). Other cars have retained consistent fixed sales figures and consequently have really lost value. MGB, Jaguar saloons, Rolls-Royce and most American muscle cars. True racing cars are in another category altogether. Figures based on personal experience plus Shannons auction results.

Hugh S.

I’ve been following and attending car auctions for a number of years. This year the quantity of lesser quality cars was up as more owners seek to get out before the perceived bubble bursts.

…the quantity of lesser quality cars was up

I am a Porsche pusher and own an 1989 930 and a 996 GT2. The number of 930’s on the market both at the auctions and on the web selling sites at astronomical asking prices is unreal. Granted, they won’t be made any more but most are driver cars not show cars and hence supply is higher than demand at the moment, causing lower prices or no sale at the high reserves being desired.

Richard C.

Show Comments (12)

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  1. Although I will not probably be alive to witness it if it happens, the comment that struck fear in my heart – and my bound-for-eternity soul – was about the collector cars of today being valued as much as the turn of the 19th and 20th century horse and buggy, and will be lost again in the barns of the latter part of the 21st century. So I would encourage us all to take young potential enthusiasts – both girls and boys – to collector car activities and events, from vintage races, to concours, to the local cruise nights and Saturday morning cars and coffee gatherings! And then inspire in them an equal enthusiasm for a good education and an interest in the professional and technical jobs of the future, along with perhaps an entrepreneurial spirit, so they can afford our collector car hobby.

  2. Having had many collector cars that saw invitations to various car shows and events II carried with me an attitude of sharing and encouraging others. Never did I rope a car off. Never was a sign posted, “Do Not Touch”. Touching is sensual. As a friend once tole me, “Everyone wants to touch velvet.” Wiping off fingerprints is easy. Countless times I offered to open the car so that others could sit in it (after checking for combs in their pocketses, Me Precious) and watched them glow. At autocrosses, which saw FTD at almost every event, I took riders. These people and especially young ones were bitten, without cure. Such a simple way to pass the torch.

    1. Excellent point, Carlton! You are to be commended on your willingness to share your cars in an up close, personal, and intimate manner. Similar to the demonstration days at the Simeone Museum (but understandably without the touching). They drive their often extremely valuable cars in the 3 acre parking lot situated out the back door of the museum, and then open them up in every way possible and remove all the ropes, allowing enthusiasts to enjoy them. They encourage photography, patiently waiting for everyone to get their pictures, and occasionally allow a young person to experience the cockpit. People are generally very respectful and appreciative of the unique experience Dr. Simeone provides for them on a twice monthly basis on Saturday mornings. Sounds like you are cut from the same cloth as Fred Simeone, and for the same reason – perpetuating the interest in the history and enjoyment of the automobile.

  3. I agree that the education and exposure to of our youth is ctitical for the long term health of the hobby. I think that many people involved in the hobby are addressing that issue throughout the US. There is support for restoration/auto courses at the high school level. There are programs that invite youth to come out and learn to drive a stick shift in a classic car being provided by various club members. There is always a “pass it along effect” from owners to their children and friends.
    I have see a lot of young people in awe of the older muscle and sports cars of the 50s, 60s and 70s. And aspire to have one. When I drive my Jaguar e-type around I get a lot of Wow and questions from people in their 20s and 30s. My black 1963 Lincoln Continental convertible is recognized and desired by a lot of young people maybe due to media exposure like Entourage and many other movies or because it’s a beautiful car and there are a lot of people of any age that can recognize beauty of car design like artwork.
    I’m confident that the rolling art we love will endure like a Mona Lisa and not disappear like the horse and buggy.

  4. Although I am now a senior citizen, I have been involved with and enjoyed cars since I was very young. I am one of those collectors who is passionate about the cars. I do not look at them as investments, but as acquiring the things I love. I am fascinated with the custom bodies, powerful chassis of classic cars. But also appreciate cars that have not achieved Trailer Queen, Show quality. There are any number of cars that are interesting for various innovations that do not become classics. I know several younger enthusiasts that appreciate the cars as much as I do. I think that the hobby will always survive with people that love the cars not the profit. I like preserving these cars to enjoy, I love driving my XK150 Drophead and could never put a value on that dream. MY heirs may not appreciate or even care about my cars, but I am enjoying them, that’s what I got them for. what happens to them after I am gone is none of my business, after all I won’t be here, so value has no meaning. I am in the hobby because of passion, not profit.

  5. So much cynicism posted above . The market may not be as bullish but the passion is still there, to the guys that say all these cars will be put to pasture… well thats just ridiculous. The owners may pass on but the enthusiasts and the cars will carry on. As the greatest generation leaves us the new generations take over and we can see this having a post war car win Pebble Beach last year. 70′- 80’s cars are now collected by many young enthusiasts adding to the fold a whole new group of cars some very affordable. As long as cars are made there will be a following..

  6. You later buy what you grew-up with and drove/admired.. It would help if our youth saw more of the older cars out on the road. Today, if you see a car you would consider “collectible” driving down the road in most states – – you can almost be sure it is the weekend, and they are taking the shortest route to/from a show.

  7. I agree with most of the comments made here. What will drive the market in the future? Our children!
    Two major stumbling blocks I see in getting the youth involved. One, I notice that the love of the car skips a generation for most families. Not sure why.
    Maybe it has to do with my next road block. Us, car nuts spending more time on cars than kids or when was the last time you let your child drive your classic. What fun is it ridding in a small back seat, if there is one, for a ride to meet a bunch of gray hairs? Why haven’t you let your child drive the car? They don’t know how to drive a stick? You don’t trust them? both answers lead back to mom and dad–right! If they don’t know how to drive it, then it is your responsibility to show them. If you don’t trust them, then you have deeper problems and you need to find a way to spend more time in that special car of yours with your children. Let them drive you to school! Pick them up and let the drive home! Watch what happens when their friends catch them pulling up to school in a cool car.
    Don’t tell me the car is to valuable! What a joke! If you bought the car for what it is worth today then you have the money to pay for repairs. If you bought the car 10 to 40 years ago, you bought it for 1/10 to 1/100 of what it is worth. If you bought the car for an investment — you are in the wrong HOBBY! None of these are excuses not to let them drive the car. If you still can’t get to where you will let them drive the car with or without you, then sell it!
    We had a Jaguar National maybe 10+ years back (we have one in April again). The National Jag club has a national Sollo event. racing around cones for best timing. I taught my then 18 year old daughter and 20 year old son how to drive and race my 1967 Ser. 1 XKE roadster and they loved it. Before and till this day they both love cars. Just one of the cars my children have spent time in, driving, on and off the track. I feel so lucky.
    I am involved with a few automotive events, one being the Arizona Concours and as one of the people involved with the 185 volunteer shifts to work what is a 4 day event for me, I try to involve as many youth as possible. Actually I try to get as many real car lovers to work volunteer positions and ask if they would mind working with a young car enthusiast. I even have father/son class hosts. Yes, I am trying for the ladies to be involved but I am struggling at that. So ladies, next year is your chance if you live in the Phoenix metro area and you have a car crazy son or daughter.

  8. I believe that the latest auction results are indicative of a bit of market correction, but then again, I could be wrong, as the market seems to be driven by emotion as much as by value. Auction houses are optimistic on values, as that is their business. Sometimes buyers agree, sometimes not. If there is too much supply, and dollars are tight, bidding will likely fall short of estimates. The estimates are nothing more than that, an estimate established by the auction house. Having grown up around the cars now considered classics, I wonder if some of the buyers have a true appreciation for what were actually decent models, back in the day. For example, not all 911 models were created equal, some were better than others, and yet, in today’s market, it seems like all are appreciating at about the same pace. At least emotions aren’t driving my sense of value in this case. I’ll let “investors” spend their dollars on such models. Me, I’ll look at other automotive options that are sound alternatives to classics. In today’s market, it seems others might be joining me.

  9. As cars become automated transport devices so the brains of the drivers shrink. Back in the “good old days” drivers used gear levers, used the pull out choke knob, steered with both hands on the wheel and listened to the engine with satisfaction. Now we have automatic gear shifts, power steering so one finger driving is the norm, braking systems that correct bad driving, and the holy of holies…..a warning if the car in front is braking (red brake lights are no longer enough). So to-days driver’s brains shrink into apathy and interest is lost for engineering perfection, Such condition is passed on to the young. I had three youngsters stop to watch me work on my 1957 Aston Martin. To my horror they spent their time taking photos and using their smartphones to chat with distant acquaintances and blast off dozens of photos. But what was even more horrific was that they did not ask one question about the car and went away without asking what it was.

  10. The vintage car market is dying in inches. Us real car guys are also dying off. It’s sad. Young people just don’t car about these beloved cars.

  11. Just like smoking, which is frowned upon these days, a polluting old, unsafe car will be frowned upon. Especially with the new market boom of electric clean vehicles coming to market. Rarely do you find someone under the age of 40 at a car show. And if you do, they don’t have the money or time to have an old vehicle. Certainly don’t know how to work on them.
    The bubble will burst and a flood of old cars will come to market very soon causing a huge crash. Look at how many “collections” are now being offered at auction. They want out while the gettin out is still good – most just want their money back – selling at NO RESERVE. Yes, chicken little, the sky is falling.
    (GM just announced all electric models within 8 years – what’s that tell you?).