Click above for a high resolution gallery Shelby's personal '69 GT500

Those who follow the classic car market are probably not surprised to hear that prices of vintage Detroit iron, especially those cars from the muscle-car era of the mid-'60s to early '70s, have shot up in the last several years, outperforming both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index, according to NADA Guides. Classic cars valued at over $125,000 performed the best, on average, by appreciating 47 percent between February 2004 and February 2008. By way of comparison, collectible cars in general increased in value at an average rate of 36 percent. Sounds like a good rate of return to us!

For those interested in the collector car market but who don't have deep enough pockets to afford some of these high prices, NADA Guides' research shows that the market has begun slowing in the last year and that even the lower-priced cars of $25,000 or less are increasing in value at a good clip.

Of course, Autoblog is not making any suggestions on how you should manage your money. If you are truly interested in getting in on the auction action, you may want to contact a professional. We imagine, though, that as time goes by, classic vehicles are only going to become rarer. Although new classics seem to sprout up all the time.

[Source: NADA Guides]

From Stocks to Big Blocks, Collector Car Appreciation Rates Outdistanced the S&P and Dow in Recent Years, according to NADAguides.com

COSTA MESA, Calif.-- The average increase of collector car values -- from February 2004 to February 2008 -- was 36 percent, more than double the S&P 500 Index increase and the Dow Jones Industrial Average increase of 16 percent respectively during that same time frame, according to a report released today. The report, developed by NADAguides.com (http://www.nadaguides.com/), a leading vehicle pricing and information website, evaluated close to 27,000 makes, models, model years and segments of collector cars, with some surprising findings.

The company found that collector cars valued at over $125,000 appreciated at a higher average rate than vehicles in any other pricing category -- a whopping 47 percent. Collector cars valued between $75,000 and $100,000 appreciated at the second highest rate of 45 percent, while vehicles valued between $25,000 and $50,000 appreciated at the third highest rate of 39 percent.

Most recently, the average appreciation rates of all vehicles on the NADAguides.com list were lower from 2007 to 2008, compared to those same vehicles' appreciation rates from 2006 to 2007.

The report also revealed that from 2004 to 2008, the top 25 collector cars with the greatest percentage increase in value were especially affordable, with 16 of the 25 valued at under $10,000. And yet, during this same timeframe, the average appreciation rate of these vehicles was an astonishing 370 percent.

"We found that, during this timeframe, collector car investors didn't need to spend a lot of money to get a great return on their investments," said Steve Ferguson, Classic Car Editor, NADAguides.com. "Of the nearly 27,000 vehicles we evaluated, close to 75 percent were priced at $25,000 or less, with those vehicles garnering an average appreciation rate of almost 35 percent."

Of the collector cars in the NADAguides.com report whose values appreciated more than 100 percent in the past four years, the company's editors found a large percentage were low volume, more obscure makes such as Citroen, Willys, Rover, Hillman, Metropolitan, Amphicar, Messerschmitt and Alfa-Romeo.

The company also noticed that the early 1970's American muscle car segment showed dramatic increases in values during this timeframe, with six vehicles in particular appreciating at some of the highest rates in the NADAguides.com collector car database.

Ferguson explained, "The growing popularity of '60s American muscle cars has caused their values to escalate significantly in recent years. As a result, collector car buyers are increasingly turning to '70's muscle cars as a more affordable yet comparable alternative."

Following are highlights.

1972 Chevrolet Nova 2-Dr Sedan
2004 Average Retail Price -- $2,500
2008 Average Retail Price -- $11,100
335% Increase

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Hemi 426 2-Dr Hardtop
2004 Average Retail Price -- $44,200
2008 Average Retail Price -- $177,700
302% Increase

1974 Plymouth Cuda 2-Dr Hardtop
2004 Average Retail Price -- $7,400
2008 Average Retail Price -- $28,900
291% Increase

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 2-Dr Fastback
2004 Average Retail Price -- $55,000
2008 Average Retail Price -- $165,600
201% Increase

"When it comes to investing, there are always risks and the collector car market is no exception," said Ferguson. "Knowing how and when to invest in collector cars takes an intrinsic understanding of the marketplace. While the findings of our report are extremely interesting, we suggest consulting the advice of a certified financial expert before making any investment decisions."