The Austin-Healey 100 has priced itself out of consideration

Seeing a gap in the automobile market between low-power roadsters and pricey Jaguars, British car designer and racer Donald Healey set out to build a beautiful, agile, affordable sports car capable of 100 mph. Despite its Austin drivetrain, the plan had been to market the car simply as the Healey 100, but Austin saw the potential for the stylish runabout and opted to build the car and take advantage of Austin’s increased production capacity. Thus the Austin-Healey 100 was born.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2020/02/12/austin-healey-100-has-priced-itself-out-of-consideration

Twenty years ago, there was a great deal of money chasing available Austin-Healeys, particularly the beautifully-restored ones. The market’s focus has shifted since.

ell, when I first saw the lead-in on this story, I choked up a bit because I have a blue and white 100-6 for sale. My reaction was, NO! How Could Hagerty Do this to me! But then after reading and using the valuation tool, I am OK— I think! The car is a nice - sorted out driver and the valuation tool says about 30 grand is fair market value. I am OK with that. I do see the entire market for all cars that are driver condition and “mass produced” has been in decline. This is nothing new to the hobby, I have seen these cycles for decades.

“The Austin-Healey 100 has priced itself out of consideration”

That’s an interesting assertion. I thought that “the market” - people, with money they’re willing to spend - made the market. Of course, people are suggestible, and articles such as this may have some effect, but a car cannot price itself anywhere. The market, and the herd mentality that rules much of it, will determine prices, not the car itself.

Doubt that? The 240Z is today the same car that it was 20 years ago. Twenty years ago you could find a great one for, how much?, $10-20,000?, and yet one sold a couple of weeks ago in an online auction for $310,000 plus commission. The car didn’t price itself anywhere. The herd just got stampeded and then the pundits all nod agreement that the price was justified. The car itself didn’t price itself anywhere.

The market, with all its vagaries, made a statement. Those statements might often be irrational in the sense of having no quantifiable justification, but they are still the market.

So let me get this straight? Austin Healeys went up in value because they’re beautiful, collectible cars, and very popular. And as a result of them going up in value, they have become less accessible – and therefore, according to Hagerty, have gone down in value? I’ve read this article 3 times and that’s what it effectively says, in a nutshell. This – the article – makes ZERO sense – defies the logic behind price theory in microeconomics – and appears to be yet another example of Hagerty’s ridiculously flawed “valuation” metrics. Whoever does this “valuation” analysis at Hagerty obviously has access to a lot of data but appears to have no logical idea of what to do with it!

@sljones - It is more that we are discussing that the price of these Healeys got high enough that folks in the market for one have realized what other models they can get for similar money–mainly ones from more lauded marques. We think the increase in price has made buyers aware of the opportunity cost over the last few years, thus the popularity of these models cooling.

@Kyle But isn’t this really just an example of a market pendulum-ing? AH 100 prices go up so much that fewer people buy them, and so the price comes down, and then more people will buy them, and then the price will go back up?

By the way, I would love to see one of the auction/market commentators exclaim sometime that a sale well above the existing market price - such as the $310,000 240Z that sold when your Price Guide valued a concours example somewhere in the $60-65,000 range, I believe - was just plain crazy. “Two crazy bidders with Platinum-level memberships in the More Money Than Brains Club were responsible.
WELL SOLD, to put it mildly!”

Anyway, the whole discussion of the AH 100 pricing itself out of the market reminds me of one of those great quotes attributed to Yogi Berra, “That place is so crowded that nobody goes there anymore!”

So you’re saying cognac prices went up enough that people starting buying scotch, as a substitute, then realized they really liked scotch better than cognac, after all, so cognac prices subsequently fell. Normally, the substitution effect causes the price of the item consumers are subbing out of to plateau rather than drop. But I agree, the price could fall if the substitution actually led to a backward shift in demand (not quantity demanded) for the item. But if that’s your argument, then you’re really saying Healeys were overrated in the first place, relatively. If so, then to what substitutes did Healey demand shift?

They were always awful pricey. I would rather buy a five or six year old one for $750, spruce it up, drive it awhile and sell it for $1500.

“That place is so crowded that nobody goes there anymore!”