Why muscle cars aren’t gaining in the collector car market


As we look at yet another Hagerty Vehicle Rating list that holds some of the most legendary muscle cars and fire-breathing sports cars in the bottom 25, we have to remember that a car’s position in the list isn’t a critique of its value or collectability.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/12/04/muscle-cars-arent-gaining-collector-car-market


What does the “t” in the car list numbers signify? What is the meaning of the Hagerty Vehicle Rating number?


First off, I find it interesting that the article is titled with a reference to “Muscle Cars” – but that really isn’t what the article is about, at least in my opinion. However, the muscle car market as a WHOLE has been struggling for a few years now. I believe that struggle, in general, will continue. There will always be some cars (think limited numbers and high quality) that will do well. But, in general, the problem is this – too many cars, too few buyers = lower prices. The broad ramp up in muscle car prices that began a decade or two ago was fueled largely by baby boomers who were re-living their youth or buying the car they always wanted but couldn’t afford in their youth. As they, quite literally, begin to die off or age out of being able to enjoy their muscle cars – those cars enter the market. Sometimes it’s their estate selling them off because their kids don’t have the same interests. And sometimes the seller him/herself is selling them off. The problem is that the subsequent generations, again in general, don’t have the interest in the muscle cars that the baby boomers did and/or they don’t have the disposable income. So — more cars for sale + fewer buyers = lower prices. Exceptions always apply. The prevailing wisdom still works – buy something you love. Enjoy it while you can. If it grows in value — GREAT! And if you’re actually trying to “invest” – then timing, quality, buy price and buying something that is limited in number AND in demand will be more important than ever when selling time comes 'round.



More than one car made that rating.


Cars such as 69 camaro where do you guys see that market headed ? Also what is the present score ? Trend continues where are the true dz block cars as well as # matching headed in ten yrs ?


This is useless. Yes baby boomers are dying off. Yes millennials hate cars, yes supply and demand. But what does the ranking mean at the end and what does the t mean?


70-71 Challengers shouldn’t be grouped with 72-74.
67-71 Darts shouldn’t be grouped with 72-76
65-66 GT350s shouldn’t be grouped with 67-70
68-70 Javelin shouldn’t be grouped with 71-74

The earlier examples are all much more desirable.


I turned 18 in 1990. I remember going to car shows and cruise nights where signs would be displayed stating “1968 and earlier cars only”
I had a 1971 RoadRunner project car/ driver and would have to park outside the show until the greater minds decides to allow later models in. Even when the later built cars were allowed, 1978 as the cut-off.
I got married, had kids and was out of cars for a while. In 2007 I got back into the old car game when I bought a really nice 1979 AMC AMX with a transplanted 360. Being a life long resident of Kenosha Wisconsin, I was happy to have a bit of our city’s automotive history.
The first time I had my AMX out to the local cruise night, I was stunned to hear several AMC owners tell me my car was not a real AMX and that I was only allowed to park in the back row because they were saving the better spots for their friends.
I pointed out that the giant decal on the hood of my car said ‘AMX’ and offered to race any of them for titles. They declined. I parked in one of their reserved spots and went about looking at the other cars. Today the same geezers still set up camp at the local cruise nights and appear to have chased off anyone who isn’t collecting social security.
The ‘You’re car isn’t good enough’ attitude seems to have driven off newer generations who would have carried on the interest in these old cars. That lack of interest will be reflected in sale prices. As these muscle car owners age they will also be trying to sell their cars. That will increase the available inventory. Since no one did much to cultivate a corresponding increase in demand, values will decline.
I’m not talking about the cars you see at the auctions or in magazines. I’m talking about the driver quality cars that are the majority.
Since my return to the old car game, I have owned cars from the 1970’s 80’s 90’s and the 21st century. At this point in life I enjoy my modern cars more than the classics. I don’t have much interest in owning an old muscle car, but you never know what may show up at an estate sale.


YOU MISSED THE POINT: See these young guys in skinny pants, carrying man-purses, with their faces buried in their “smart” phones? Yeah, those guys are WAY more comfortable operating technology they don’t understand…'cause if you don’t understand it, you don’t have to fix it! “She’s idling a little high, I gotta adjust that.” “What the heck is THAT noise?..DId I torque the flywheel bolts?” “How many rear main seals to I have to put in this piece of $%^&* before it quits leaking?”
THEY WILL NEVER KNOW such worries… And if they did, they wouldn’t tolerate them, the lucky bahstahds!

So…when their dads die and leave that “cool old car” to them, they try to drive it once…it keeps quitting on them (what’s a manual choke?..a hate crime?). So they dump it on the market. I bet the average age of Hagery client is 60. So…enjoy your cars. Drive 'em like rentals. They aren’t, but YOU are!

Wooden ships, Iron men!


Look it has always been about supply and demand. Restoration Shops charge outrageous $$$ to restore a car, this creates a scenario whereby there has to be some sentimental value to spend $50K to restore a car that may only be worth $25-$30K and a solid #2 car. If you recall the Toyota FJ’s market value went through the roof, there was a low supply and as a result shops all over the country were buying up used FJ’s restoring and flipping them for a profit. Once there was too much supply the value declined. With respect to True Classic Muscle Cars I do not see the supply and demand changing, with a soft economy their values increase, in a strong economy typically the value will remain flat or even decline. There is nothing like the feel of a 60’s Muscle car, it cannot be duplicated.


Every generation has cars they aspire to own, and as they get older and have the means they acquire those cars and drive up prices. Then as they age out or pass away, the next generations for the most part aren’t interested in the cars of the past generations, and the prices start dropping, and a new generation of “collectible” cars emerges. This has and will continue to play out as long as cars are built, it’s just the way it is.
As far as the old timers not embracing younger car enthusiasts…it unfortunately happens A LOT! The Corvette crowd are some of the biggest jerks, and snub you if you drive a C4. I’ll probably never own another Vette because I don’t want to be lumped in with all those a-holes.


“T” signifies a tie due to another car receiving the same score. I also wouldn’t say that millennials hate cars. We are finding that millennial aged people (traditionally, millennials are characterized as being born between ‘81 and ‘97) are quoting legitimate collector cars with Hagerty more than ever and is set to outpace boomers in the short term. It has just taken a while for them to come around. By my estimate, financial obligations such as expensive student loans and increasing cost of living has hindered their ability to enter the market sooner.


As a millennial who writes computer code for a living, wears skinny jeans, owns a smart phone, AND has a car collection and knows his way around a carburetor, I agree that the reason prices aren’t rising is because new collectors aren’t getting into the market faster than old collectors are leaving it.

I think muscle cars are cool, definitely, but I don’t have any emotional attachment to them. To me they are just cool old cars, not a time machine that reminds me of my childhood.

So as an enthusiast I evaluate them a lot more objectively, which means I’m going to compare their rarity, looks, performance, and handling to everything else available to me on the market. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy one, just means I wouldn’t pay a premium for one vs. any other classic car.


Totally agree. I graduated in 99… I’m a Gen X btw had older parents and ideals. I was at the forefront of the rice burners and the older guys would scoff. They would even scoff at my 72 Gran Torino. Wasn’t a pleasant experience. If you love cars, respect that no matter what. I have a six year old boy and I’m trying to instill this in him. Love the cars you love.


I agree with you 100%. I’m a millennial who owns a muscle car, but a 69 Grand Prix is a low tier one so it was inexpensive. If I didn’t have that, I’d probably already have the Pontiac G8 or Chevy SS sedan I have been lusting after because of the performance, handling and utility they offer.


All good points, but I think another reason might be that for the first time many years there are some modern cars that have better performance than the first generation muscle cars, and are complete with better handling, safety features, creature comforts, etc. Younger drivers interested in a muscle car can probably pick up a new one w/warranty for the same or less than buying and restoring a classic.


The rating is only saying that the cars with lower numbers aren’t appreciating at the same rate as some others. The “t” is simple - tied with the same rating.


Each age group is different. I’m 59. I like cars from the early 70s or OLDER. The reason is styling and ease of maintenance. Cars built after the early 70s had their styling governed by government regulators under the guise.of safety and fuel economy. These newer cars require more than basic tools to troubleshoot and fix. By the mid 70s their were hundreds of feet of vacuum lines, relays and primitive sensors to stop the car dead in its tracks. If you didn’t have the “special tools” you couldn’t work on it yourself. Newer cars with fuel injection and ECUs will put you on a “hooK” instantly if they fail. You simply can’t fix it by the road. The generation before me debated hydraulic brakes and vacuum advance. BUT, you could fix it with basic tools. The prices on the newer cars will never appreciate the way the early 70s and older cars did. I’ll give a simple example. I own a '67 Camaro. In 1997 the car was worth between 12k-15K. The camaro was 30 years old in 1997. The Camaro sold new in 1967 for approximately $2600. In its first 30 years, the car appreciated about. 5 to 6 times what it sold for new. The 1987 Z28 Camaro sold new for about 12-15k. Today, at the “big” auction a 1987 Z28 in grade 2 or better might bring 20K. That’s not even a 2 multiple. That 1987 Z28 would have to sell for more than $75,000 to be on the same pace as the 1967.Camaro. Inflation adjustments yield the same results as multiples. The reason is style and maintainability. The average person with basic skills cannot work on a 1987 Camaro without special tools. Also, much thinner steel and the use of glues and immense foam accelerate the deterioration process. These newer cars will simply never appreciate the way the old ones did. Of course, there are exceptions. Pace cars, limited production and some exotics to name a few will likely see pricing multiples relative to new in the future. I’m lucky enough to buy and sell 3 or 4 old cars a year as a hobby. I think over time just as our forefathers saw, the old muscle cars will see a slow decrease in value as the baby boomers die off.


Thank you. So there is a number on each side. For example I think the Corvette had a 21 on the left and a 25 on the right?

Frank J. DiSanzo


The key word here is MARKET . I’ve worked on cars that I like since I was 14 . I don’t care if you like it , or how much one sold for at some auction . It’s a hobby , and a way of life . It’s about preserving auto history . I am not concerned about the MARKET !