Traditional American classics continue their slump


We’ve been through this before, and we’ve read your comments. But don’t fret. Just because cars are in the Bottom 25 of the Hagerty Vehicle Ratings list doesn’t mean they’re bad cars. We know, you’re saying, “There are mid-year Corvettes, peak muscle-car-era Pontiac A-bodies, and Shelby GT350s in the Bottom 25, for Pete’s sake!” We agree, we’d welcome them into our garage as well. But don’t shoot the messenger when it comes to market trends.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/01/30/postwar-american-cars-continue-slump


Who was it that said “you can’t sell an old man’s car to a young man”? I think that is a lot of what is at play here. The “old men” who would like many of these immediate post-ware cars are leaving the hobby in their golden years - and of those that aren’t, or younger folks that are interested in these cars, plainly there aren’t enough of those to go around.

Case in point - the “in memoriam” column in my international single-marque car club’s magazine is encroaching on the “welcome new members” list. For those who want the old iron, it will soon be a buyer’s market, and is some pockets of the hobby, already is, in my estimation.


unless your a lemming



Interesting list. Personally not surprised to see the C2 and Shelby Mustangs.

I previously owned a mid year Corvette, and two 66 Shelby GT350s. All three sounded fantastic, looked great, and were in excellent condition. All of them were cars I had wanted from childhood on. But I found them disappointing, and sold all three for one reason: they really weren’t that great to drive.

So I got that American muscle car itch out of my system, and bought a 350hp Porsche 930. And it is really a pleasure to drive hard.


The good news, (for me), is that there are no Studebakers on that downward list!


Those cars you mentioned are works of car art. No old car is as much fun nor as reliable to drive as a newer one. I don’t get this newfound love for trucks and things like the Ford Bronco, but who am I to judge>


No surprises here. Basic demographics at play. I’ve seen this one coming for ages. All those late 60’s early 70’s muscle cars? They’re next.


My thoughts on the collector car hobby is that the car you always wanted when you 16 or 17 is the car you go looking for when you have disposable income post kids. Using that metric,the folks in their 50’s and 60’s are looking at cars that are 30-40 years old, so late 70/80/ early 90’s iron. I think the market is reflecting that. There is also a couple of generations out there now who have never turned a wrench in their lives and have no interest in doing so. Indeed many of the SMOG law generation cars are almost impossible to work on without the OEM computer (mercedes, porsche). The hobby will survive but the demand will change and possibly accelerate as EV’s and autonomous vehicles become more common and emission laws change. Collector car of the future, TESLA roadster, in 10 years nit may be the only classic you can still drive on the road!


It all depends on how one’s children are raised. I have 3 daughters. The youngest (twins - age 40) are desperate for my 1961 and 1965 Corvettes. They crave them and always have loved Corvettes. I have an older daughter who also loves them but probably not quite as crazy as they are . My grandchildren demand that I take them for rides when they come over and love nothing better than sitting in them pretending to drive.
To keep the family peace, I’ll have to leave them to my wife with instructions to sell when I’m gone. But the car craze for classics is still alive and well in the younger generations.
Style never goes out of style and Corvettes from 1956-1972 are always classics.


Correct thinking that older Corvettes drive like vintage cars…afterall the front suspension components were harvested right from full size Chevy parts bins starting in 1963 and did not change until the all new 1984 Corvette was introduced…the dip in values is mostly a correction of the overheated market on C2 models…really…is a '63 coupe split window worth $50K more than an identical '63 roadster?..I have owned both of those '63 models and I found the coupe as noisy due to the “drumming” from driveline noise and air buffeting with a side window cracked…the '65, '66, and '67 models are a much improved C2 Corvettes compared to the '63 and '64 models…the main advantage of modern Corvettes vs Porsche is the cost to buy one…both are great road cars much refined to be pleasurable to drive…


I have an original 1966 AC Corvette convertible and a 1969 Shelby GT350 fastback in my garage. Both are restored and have won a bunch of awards at local and regional shows - where I’m frequently asked if I’m selling.
I personally find it amusing how many people put a lot of faith in collector auction results to “track” prices. Especially since some cars get low bids because no one is there bid on it; or two guys with big egos can easily run up the price of an ordinary car. And that doesn’t take into account that some auction cars are truly a “Pig in a poke” where the seller is deliberately absent to discuss any issues with the vehicle.


It is always difficult to make broad, hobby wide pronouncements based on one’s personal experience. It is obvious that we boomers are getting old and in many instances just not willing to pay the big bucks for the cars “we always wanted” considering our retirement incomes. I personally do not hold the high expectations that this hobby will survive the current generation that doesn’t even seem interested in getting a driver’s license. Nothing so constant as change.


Turned 60 in December. No birth year ever bothered me. Until this one. Hard to believe my age when I feel like I’m 25 and work well with 25 yr olds.

But this list drives the point home. My first two cars -'60 Bugeye Sprite and '57 Chevy Bel Air are considered true antiques by my employees.

I’d love to own 95% of the cars on this list.

Young man in old man’s body


This should not come as any surprise. People collect cars that they wanted in their youth but did not have the means to get at the time. As they get older and have the disposable income to get those cars…they relive their youth by buying those cars. Typically, disposable income peaks between ages 40 and 60. These are the years that people are at their highest earning potential and coincidentally also the years that their children tend to leave the fold. This age group is also your core of collectors and they will be looking at cars from their youth. That means that cars from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are peaking right now…and your prewar and post war classics are taking a nose dive because those collectors are in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and are disappearing. Car speculators have it easy because they know what the next trend in car collecting will be. Take a look at what the teens and 20 somethings like today and wait 25 years and they will be the future classics. 20 years ago no one gave serious thought to JDM type cars…now they are the hot ticket because the 90s kids are in their mid 40s now and want those cars. If you guys are smart, start trying to find unmolested Subaru WRXs, Civic Type Rs and store them away…then thank me in 2040.


James has it right, as we boomers age, the lust for our past is on the wane. Me, I bought a very restored MGB-GT 4 years ago for what was then a good price. Now I’d be lucky to get what I paid for it but I don’t care, every time I get in, pull out the choke, twist the key, wait for the tic-tic-tic of the SU fuel pump, and, with one more key twist, she starts up and I’m grinning ear-to-ear. Personally, it’s fine with me that these cars are declining in value. I’m waiting for some Alfas to make your list! Let’s leave the real classics, the real works of automotive art, to Pebble Beach.


I wish they would drop faster. I’m not getting any younger and there are a couple of cars I wouldn’t mind getting. You wouldn’t know they were dropping at all if you watched any of the televised auctions. I can’t believe some of the money these cars are bringing. Maybe they are coming down from $500,000 to $475,000.


i have had this discussion at many car shows and cruises what young person would spend the crazy money the 60s and up to 1971 muscle cars were commanding in 2008. the drunk big shots on the stage at barret jackson over paying for muscle cars just so there ego was satisfied.you can buy a brand new challenger that runs 9 second times in the 1/4 mile and its a pleasure to drive for a fraction of the cost of what a 70 hemi challenger is still demanding but no longer getting. its over.


While I will agree that the car wanted is likely something from when a person was 16-17 years old, I do not think that it was necessarily a 'new" car…

I was born in the late 60’s, and I NEVER had a desire for a car produced when I was 16 or 17 (1983-1984), and neither do my car buddies… We ALL like the mid-late 60’s Musclecars, and some of the late 50’s (55 and 57 Chevies, etc)… Once you get to those mid-70s “smog” equipped cars, I don’t see much collectibility… Nostalgia, perhaps a bit, but not collectibility…

Fox Body GT Mustangs and IROC Camaros and Buick Grand Nationals… Those were cool, and the GN’s are collectible… We used to rent the 5.0 Mustangs from Hertz, memories… And while I have thought of getting one, I can see the real “collectibility” as an overall trend.

IMO, the drop in values and desireability has more to do with the ridiculously high prices… I have been looking for a C2 Corvette, and most are priced well above where value guides seem to place them… And they are sitting on the market for MONTHS…

Basically, the true “enthusiast” has mostly been priced out of the market, replaced by "investors…


I am one of the younger guys with cars manufactured before I was born. 60’s cars are still the most common theme with a majority of guys collections. You can look at the last Hagerty collectors issue magazine and see that statistic, across almost all generations. What I see is the corvette guys are getting long in the tooth, they are not spending the big money on these cars because there are less of the guys around to do so. It has gotten to the point where they are (against their will) inviting the 1st Gen Camaro guys to their top notch shows. (they are desperate for new blood).
Many guys love the 65-66 Shelbys but do not or cannot fork over a 6 figure check for them, so the next best thing is the 65-66 fastback mustang, and this is reflected in the huge jump that 65 fastbacks have taken while the 65-66 Shelbys have gone a bit south. Plain Jane 60’s cars are up, white there GT, SS, R/T brothers somewhat plateau.


Guys are willing to have the base model 60’s car and put wheels and emblems on it to resemble the expensive big brother models. Make no mistake the 60’s cars is what is fueling the current Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger sales. Guys that can’t wrench on a car, can buy a newer one with decent horsepower for about the same money. BUT this still keeps the 60’s relevant, each millennial that likes the new stuff has an apreecation of the old, and when they hit there stride and get into their 30’s and 40’s I predict they will return to the market maybe for a 2010 Camaro mustang or challenger, but also for the 60’s version that they could not get when they were younger.