Via Wolf Street

Affordable Classics rise the most, American Muscle Cars fall the most. Ferraris flat, after big drops earlier. Beautiful machines all of them.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Selling these beautiful machines, from American muscle cars to rare Ferraris, got a lot tougher during the Pandemic, after it had already gotten tough before the Pandemic. Auction activity in August dropped to the lowest level since August 2010, according to vintage-auto insurer Hagerty’s September report.

The big event for classic cars was Monterey Car Week in August, normally a series of auctions spread over the Monterey Peninsula, in California, where some of the rarest and most sought-after cars were sold each year. But this August, the auctions took place mostly via online or phone bidding, and some closed-room bidding, and in reduced capacity. The anchor event, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, was canceled. And the limited auctions that did take place didn’t even take place in Monterey. So maybe next year.

The overall results in terms of volume and high-end sales at the Monterey Auctions were so lousy that they cannot even be compared to last year’s Monterey Auctions as such comparisons “would yield misleading results,” said Hagerty in its report on the auctions.

Last year’s Monterey auctions had already been rough, crowned by the phenomenal fiasco of the now infamous non-Porsche prototype that RM Sotheby had billed as “1939 Porsche Type 64” and as “the most historically important Porsche ever publicly offered,” with a predicted selling price “in excess of $20 million,” though Porsche AG itself, which was founded a decade after this car was built, resolutely refused to claim it. In a hilarious mess, with fake displays of bids jumping to $70 million, the whole thing collapsed, the car didn’t sell, and the rest of the auctions went to heck.

But two years ago, at the 2018 Monterey auctions, two records were set: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for $48.4 million, the highest price ever paid for any car; and a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Roadster sold for $22 million, the highest price ever paid for an American car. That was the spirit!

At the Monterey auctions this year, no high-end cars were sold. Online auctions still don’t seem to cut it for cars that cost many millions of dollars.

Among Hagerty’s seven primary indices, which are updated three times a year (January, May, and September), “1960s American Muscle Cars” saw the steepest price declines. And the “Affordable Classics” experienced the biggest price gains. Below are six of the seven:

The Ferrari Index:

“Given the name recognition, racing pedigree, and exclusivity, Ferraris tend to lead the market, so keep an eye on this group,” Hagerty says. The Ferrari Index averages the prices of 13 of the “most sought-after street Ferraris of the 1950s-70s.” In September, the average price was unchanged from May.

But the May average price had dropped by about 8% from January, its “largest ever drop,” according to Hagerty, and was down 15% from the peak in January 2016 ($5.7 million), after having soared seven-fold from 2007. The May drop took the average price back to 2014 levels (chart via Hagerty).

The drop in May was powered by a plunge in the price of two of the 13 components:

  • 1958 250 California LWB 2dr Spider: $12.6 million in 2018; in 2919, ticked down 1.5%; though May 2020, plunged by 23.4% to $9.5 million, -25% in total. Unchanged in September.
  • 1963 250 GT SWB 2dr Coupe: $9.7 million in 2018; -3% in 2019, then -18% through the May 2020 to $7.7 million, -21% in total. Unchanged in September.

In September, eight of the 13 Ferraris in the index experienced no price change from May; three experienced slight price declines and two experienced slight price increases. Here are the 13 Ferraris in the index (if your smartphone clips the fifth column, hold your device in landscape position):

Ferraris, prices in “good” condition Sep-2018 Sep-2019 May-2020 Sep-2020
1966 Ferrari 330 GT SII 2dr Coupe 2+2 12-cyl. 3967cc/300hp 250,000 237,000 216,000 215,000
1957 Ferrari 410 Superamerica SIII 2dr Coupe (closed headlight) 12-cyl. 4963cc/340hp 3,200,000 3,200,000 3,200,000 3,200,000
1963 Ferrari 250 LM 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 3286cc/320hp 18,000,000 18,000,000 18,000,000 18,000,000
1968 Ferrari 330 GTC 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 3967cc/300hp 605,000 565,000 509,000 505,000
1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB 2dr Spider (closed headlight) 12-cyl. 2953cc/240hp 12,600,000 12,400,000 9,500,000 9,500,000
1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS 2dr Spider 6-cyl. 2419cc/195hp 302,000 284,000 284,000 285,000
1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 4390cc/352hp 700,000 530,000 530,000 515,000
1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 2953cc/240hp 1,700,000 1,100,000 1,000,000 1,050,000
1960 Ferrari 250 GT 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 2953cc/240hp 656,000 630,000 600,000 600,000
1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona 2dr Spider 12-cyl. 4390cc/352hp 2,150,000 2,000,000 2,000,000 2,000,000
1963 Ferrari 250 California SWB 2dr Spider (closed headlight) 12-cyl. 2953cc/280hp 14,100,000 14,100,000 14,100,000 14,100,000
1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 2953cc/280hp 9,700,000 9,400,000 7,700,000 7,700,000
1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 3286cc/320hp 2,500,000 2,250,000 1,950,000 1,950,000
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For some of the Ferraris that are not in the index, the price changes were larger, Hagerty reported. Prices of Testarossas, after a “three-year slump,” jumped 13% in the September update. And 308/328s, 575Ms, and 348s had “significant gains,” but prices of 456Ms “dropped slightly” and the 355, after a sharp increase last year, “took a step back.”

The Index of 1960s American muscle cars.

This index, which averages the price of the 15 “rarest and most sought-after muscle cars,” fell for the fifth update in a row and for the eighth of the past nine updates, now down 18% from its peak in January 2018. But the May and September drops were only around 1% each, compared to the plunges in the prior two periods. The average price is back where it had first been in 2007 (chart via Hagerty):

While the prices of 13 machines in the index remained flat since May, two cars took the blame for the drop of the index:

  • 1969 Mustang Boss 429, at $162,000: -10% since May, and -29% since September 2018 ($229,000).
  • 1969 Hemi Charger 500, at $128,000: -8% since May after having been unchanged for the past three years.

Here are the 15 components of the index:

1960s American Muscle cars; prices in “good” condition Sep-2018 Sep-2019 May-2020 Sep-2020
1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird 2dr Hardtop Coupe 8-cyl. 426cid/425hp 2x4bbl Hemi 222,000 222,000 222,000 222,000
1965 Pontiac LeMans GTO 2dr Convertible 8-cyl. 389cid/360hp 62,600 62,600 62,600 62,600
1968 Mercury Cougar GT-E 2dr Hardtop Coupe 8-cyl. 428cid/335hp 79,900 79,900 79,900 79,900
1968 Chevrolet Camaro Yenko 2dr Sport Coupe 8-cyl. 427cid/425hp 351,000 309,000 315,000 309,000
1969 American Motors AMX SS 2dr Fastback 8-cyl. 390cid/340hp 67,800 67,800 67,800 67,800
1965 Shelby GT350 2dr Fastback 8-cyl. 289cid/306hp 378,000 368,000 368,000 368,000
1970 Plymouth Cuda AAR 2dr Hardtop Coupe 8-cyl. 340cid/290hp 73,300 63,000 59,200 59,200
1968 Shelby GT500 KR 2dr Convertible 8-cyl. 428cid/335hp 155,000 136,000 136,000 136,000
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 2dr Sport Coupe 8-cyl. 454cid/450hp 99,500 88,700 86,900 86,900
1970 Plymouth Cuda 2dr Convertible 8-cyl. 426cid/425hp 1,500,000 1,300,000 1,100,000 1,100,000
1970 Buick GS 455 2dr Convertible 8-cyl. 455cid/350hp 29,500 32,200 32,200 32,200
1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W-30 2dr Holiday Coupe 8-cyl. 455cid/370hp 70,800 70,800 70,800 70,800
1969 Dodge Charger 500 2dr Hardtop Coupe 8-cyl. 426cid/425hp 139,000 139,000 139,000 128,000
1964 Chevrolet Impala SS 2dr Convertible 8-cyl. 409cid/425hp 68,200 66,800 54,500 54,500
1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 2dr SportsRoof 8-cyl. 429cid/375hp 229,000 200,000 180,000 162,000

Affordable Classics Index.

Collectible cars priced under $30,000 continue to do well, inching up to an all-time high in September.

Only one of the 13 components fell – the 1971 Datsun 240Z, which had hit a record of $20,000 in May, having about doubled in six years; “clean examples are now well beyond the point of affordability,” Hagerty says. Five components rose, and the remainder were unchanged:

Affordable Classics, Prices in “good” condition Sep-2018 Sep-2019 May-2020 Sep-2020
1967 Volkswagen Beetle 2dr Sedan 4-cyl. 1493cc/53hp 11,600 12,900 16,100 16,100
1969 American Motors Javelin 2dr Fastback 8-cyl. 343cid/280hp 13,600 13,600 13,600 13,600
1949 Buick Roadmaster Model 76S 2dr Sedanet 8-cyl. 320cid/150hp 14,600 14,600 17,500 17,500
1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 2dr Coupe 4-cyl. 1493cc/53hp 13,900 13,900 16,200 16,800
1972 Porsche 914 2.0 2dr Targa 4-cyl. 1971cc/91hp 19,300 20,000 20,000 20,000
1963 MG MGB Mk I 2dr Roadster 4-cyl. 1798cc/95hp 9,900 9,800 9,700 9,800
1971 Datsun 240Z 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 2393cc/151hp 18,200 18,200 20,000 19,400
1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza 2dr Convertible 6-cyl. 164cid/110hp 12,500 12,500 12,500 11,900
1965 Ford Mustang GT 2dr Coupe 8-cyl. 289cid/225hp 24,700 24,900 25,600 27,900
1972 Triumph TR6 2dr Convertible 6-cyl. 2498cc/106hp 12,900 13,100 13,200 13,300
1963 Studebaker Avanti 2dr Coupe 8-cyl. 289cid/240hp 19,700 19,700 19,700 19,700
1962 Studebaker Lark Regal 2dr Convertible 6-cyl. 170cid/112hp 14,100 14,100 14,100 14,100
1970 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2dr Sport Coupe 8-cyl. 350cid/300hp 21,300 24,400 24,400 24,400
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Index of post-war German collectible cars.

After the boom from 2013 to 2016, prices declined into 2018 and then mostly leveled off. In the May update, the average price ticked down a tad, and in the September update remained unchanged.

Of the 22 components in the index, 17 were unchanged. Two experienced price gains: the 1970 Mercedes-Benz 600 (+5%) and the 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL (+15%). Four experienced price declines, the biggest decliner being the 1970 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo (-8.4%):

Post-war German Classics, prices in good condition Sep-2018 Sep-2019 May-2020 Sep-2020
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 2996cc/240hp 1,300,000 1,300,000 1,200,000 1,200,000
1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 2dr Cabriolet 8-cyl. 3499cc/230hp 258,000 215,000 215,000 215,000
1965 Porsche 356C 1600 SC 2dr Coupe 4-cyl. 1582cc/95hp 108,000 110,000 110,000 110,000
1962 Mercedes-Benz 190SL 2dr Convertible 4-cyl. 1897cc/120h 92,500 87,100 87,100 87,100
1972 Porsche 911 S 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 2341cc/210hp 128,000 122,000 122,000 122,000
1956 Porsche 356A 1500 GS Carrera 2dr Speedster 4-cyl. 1498cc/128hp 1,100,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
1959 Porsche 356A 1600 Super 2dr Coupe 4-cyl. 1582cc/88hp 119,000 119,000 97,000 97,000
1948 Porsche 356 Gmund 2dr Coupe 4-cyl. 1086cc/46hp 950,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL 2dr Convertible 6-cyl. 2778cc/180hp 66,100 57,900 60,200 69,200
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc 2dr Cabriolet 6-cyl. 2996cc/175hp 865,000 865,000 830,000 800,000
1962 Porsche 356B S90 2dr Roadster 4-cyl. 1582cc/90hp 181,000 181,000 160,000 160,000
1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 2dr Roadster 6-cyl. 2996cc/250hp 1,350,000 1,350,000 1,300,000 1,250,000
1973 BMW 3.0CSL Batmobile 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 3003cc/200hp 197,000 197,000 197,000 197,000
1967 Porsche 911 S 2dr Targa 6-cyl. 1991cc/180hp 173,000 166,000 159,000 159,000
1979 BMW M1 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 3453cc/277hp 528,000 440,000 420,000 420,000
1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 2687cc/210hp 489,000 425,000 365,000 360,000
1979 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 3299cc/265hp 118,000 100,000 89,000 81,500
1958 Porsche 356A 1600 Super 2dr Speedster 4-cyl. 1582cc/88hp 305,000 305,000 288,000 288,000
1973 BMW 2002tii 2dr Sedan 4-cyl. 1990cc/130hp 28,100 30,000 32,400 32,400
1970 Mercedes-Benz 600 4dr Sedan 8-cyl. 6329cc/300hp 78,400 94,300 94,300 99,000
1959 BMW 507 2dr Roadster 8-cyl. 3168cc/150hp 2,150,000 2,000,000 2,000,000 2,000,000

Index of post-war British collectible cars.

After dropping to a five-year low in the May reading, the index ticked up 1% in the September reading:

The 1% rise in the index was largely a mix of two big moves in opposite directions: the 1954 Jaguar XK 120 roadster jumped 11%; and the 1956 Austin-Healey Le Mans Roadster fell 7.1%:

Post-war British Classics, prices in good condition Sep-2018 Sep-2019 May-2020 Sep-2020
1963 MG MGB Mk I 2dr Roadster 4-cyl. 1798cc/95hp 9,900 9,800 9,700 9,800
1961 MG MGA 1600 Mk I 2dr Roadster 4-cyl. 1588cc/78hp 16,800 16,400 16,800 16,800
1955 MG TF 1500 2dr Roadster 4-cyl. 1466cc/63hp 28,500 26,500 25,800 25,700
1972 Triumph TR6 2dr Convertible 6-cyl. 2498cc/106hp 12,900 13,100 13,200 13,300
1956 Austin-Healey 100 M BN2 Le Mans 2dr Roadster 4-cyl. 2660cc/110hp 144,000 140,000 140,000 130,000
1967 Sunbeam Tiger Mk II 2dr Convertible 8-cyl. 4737cc/200hp 104,000 105,000 105,000 105,000
1965 Jaguar E-Type SI 4.2 2dr Roadster 6-cyl. 4235cc/265hp 118,000 138,000 98,100 98,100
1962 Triumph TR3A 2dr Roadster 4-cyl. 1991cc/100hp 19,200 18,100 18,000 17,900
1964 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III BJ8 2dr Convertible 6-cyl. 2912cc/150hp 39,500 40,000 39,800 39,800
1954 Jaguar XK 120 2dr Roadster 6-cyl. 3442cc/160hp 89,300 89,300 71,600 79,500
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The “Blue Chip” Index of the Automotive A-List.

This index of the “25 of the most sought-after collectible automobiles of the post-war era,” after having plunged 7% in May, and 14% from January 2018, ticked up in the September update. But note over the 2013-2014 period, the average price doubled, and since 2007, it quadrupled! In other words, this was a red-hot asset class over the years through 2018:

The index includes a few of the cars in the individual indices above, and many that are not in the above indices, such as the 1971 Lamborghini Miura, the 1967 Chevrolet Corvette, 1966 Shelby Cobra, the 1969 Toyota 2000GT, the 1959 Maserati 5000GT, to name a few. Here are the 25 components:

 “Blue Chip” Index of the Automotive A-List Sep-2018 Sep-2019 May-2020 Sep-2020
1967 Chevrolet Corvette 2dr Convertible 8-cyl. 427cid/435hp 126,000 117,000 111,000 111,000
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 2996cc/240hp 1,300,000 1,300,000 1,200,000 1,200,000
1966 Shelby Cobra 427 (CSX3300 – CSX3360) 2dr Roadster 8-cyl. 427cid/425h 1,050,000 1,050,000 1,050,000 1,050,000
1965 Shelby GT350 2dr Fastback 8-cyl. 289cid/306hp 378,000 368,000 368,000 368,000
1969 Toyota 2000GT 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 1988cc/150hp 660,000 550,000 550,000 550,000
1959 Maserati 5000GT Frua 2dr Coupe 8-cyl. 4941cc/380hp 2,100,000 2,100,000 2,100,000 2,100,000
1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB 2dr Spider (closed headlight) 12-cyl. 2953cc/240hp 12,600,000 12,400,000 9,500,000 9,500,000
1954 Lancia Aurelia B24 2dr Spider America 6-cyl. 2451cc/118hp 990,000 990,000 713,000 713,000
1972 Iso Grifo IR9 Can Am 2dr Coupe 8-cyl. 6998cc/400hp 389,000 403,000 407,000 407,000
1970 Plymouth Cuda 2dr Convertible 8-cyl. 426cid/425hp 1,500,000 1,300,000 1,100,000 1,100,000
1958 Bentley S1 Continental Coachbuilt 2dr Drophead Coupe 6-cyl. 4887cc/178hp 975,000 975,000 975,000 975,000
1964 Alfa Romeo TZ-2 2dr Coupe 4-cyl. 1570cc/112hp 2,600,000 2,600,000 2,600,000 2,600,000
1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 2dr Roadster 6-cyl. 2996cc/250hp 1,350,000 1,350,000 1,300,000 1,250,000
1953 Chevrolet Corvette 2dr Roadster 6-cyl. 235cid/150hp 206,000 189,000 166,000 166,000
1965 Aston Martin DB5 2dr Saloon 6-cyl. 3995cc/282hp 825,000 820,000 736,000 726,000
1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 2dr Coupe 6-cyl. 2687cc/210hp 489,000 425,000 365,000 360,000
1948 Tucker 48 4dr Sedan 6-cyl. 335cid/166hp 1,400,000 1,250,000 1,250,000 1,250,000
1963 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P 2dr Roadster 8-cyl. 289cid/271hp 950,000 950,000 902,000 902,000
1954 Jaguar D-Type 2dr Roadster 6-cyl. 3442cc/250hp 4,400,000 3,800,000 3,600,000 4,000,000
1958 Porsche 356A 1600 Super 2dr Speedster 4-cyl. 1582cc/88hp 305,000 305,000 288,000 288,000
1963 Ferrari 250 California SWB 2dr Spider (closed headlight) 12-cyl. 2953cc/280hp 14,100,000 14,100,000 14,100,000 14,100,000
1957 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I HJ Mulliner 2dr Drophead Coupe 6-cyl. 4887cc/NA 401,000 397,000 397,000 397,000
1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 3286cc/320hp 2,500,000 2,250,000 1,950,000 1,950,000
1959 BMW 507 2dr Roadster 8-cyl. 3168cc/150hpl 2,150,000 2,000,000 2,000,000 2,000,000
1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV 2dr Coupe 12-cyl. 3929cc/385hp 1,750,000 1,750,000 1,750,000 1,750,000

The lack of sales provides stability for classic cars.

Classic cars are not a day-trading thing. Most owners keep their beautiful machines for a long time. So even in the Good Times, trading volume in each car, for each model year, is small. Some rare cars are sold only every now and then. So when live auction volume dries up, as it has now done due to the Pandemic, and as auctions are shifted online but the top end still hasn’t sold anything online, and when private sales are reduced, then a picture emerges of a market that has been put partially on ice. Most owners can hang on to their cars for a while in hopes of waiting out the Pandemic.

 

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