Anyone who follows the collector car market will tell you that prices are up, and demand is high. Indeed, Scottsdale's 2014 auction week, highlighted by the festivities at Barrett-Jackson, was a raging success, with numbers that were improved from the previous year in most significant categories. A look at the final tallies, though, shows that most of the big-dollar action happened in the foreign and exotic categories, with classic American iron from the 1950s falling behind.

In a recent column for Car and Driver, Rob Sass from Hagerty Insurance highlighted several examples of well-known American cars from the 1950s that have been showing an overall stagnant or even slightly downward trend in prices. Classics including the 1957 Chevy Bel Air, Ford Thunderbird and Chrysler 300C are called out, as are some lesser-known models like the 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk and 1953 Hudson Hornet.

Of course, as pointed out in CNN Money, collectors are urged to invest in the cars they fall in love with and to be proud of their machinery. Still, major questions remain as to how the next generation of auto enthusiasts will respond to the collector car market when it's their own hard-earned money on the line.


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  • 42 Comments
      colgate
      • 10 Months Ago
      I think it is really a generational issue. As others have stated in the comments, the generation of people who grew up or around the 50's & 60's cars are dying off and yes, there are sons and daughters of those initial people to keep the hobby going, it becomes a numbers game and eventually those people will not exist. Im 28 and i love the look of the "classic" cars from the 50's & 60's and even earlier. Cars will never be like that again and i think thats part of their allure. But my generation just does not care to learn about cars, or work on them or even collect them. Those that do care enough to invest their time and money are most likely going to be into the euro or Japanese cars from the 70's 80's and 90's. Why? Because thats what they grew up around. Its all a cycle. To have one of the 50 or so Tuckers that was ever made would be awesome and the backstory is so good, i think even non-car people would listen whenever it is told but thats down on my list because i rather have a DeLorean. Why? Because its more recent and also has a great backstory. Classics will always exist. Its just a matter of the generation that choses what to call a classic.
      svntsvn
      • 10 Months Ago
      No surprise here folks. Cars across the pond will always get more dollar as they are held in higher regard with collectors with big pockets. No comparing a 50's Bel Aire with a Ferrari and the likes. You look at the age of the people who grew up in the 50's and the money they spent to get the cars of their youth, that drove the market. Now they are 65-78yrs old and getting out of the market. And there is this level to which people will buy a car or not with their money. So not surprised that they are going flat. Next up will be the muscle car's going flat as the prices stay level past the 2005 peak. Appreciative values are showing up in the mid to late 70's through the 80's on certain cars. They will not compare to the big prices of the 60's muscle cars and that is fine with collectors of the malaise to fuel injected era, making it attractive to get into the market with nice styled cars. Which kinda brings it all full circle, the collectible cars from the 50's had style and some power with a few models of high interest and engineering , the start of the thunderbirds, the corvette, the belaire.. wings... The 70's-80's had style but no real power until the end of the era. The real question is going forward, is the hobby starting to fade and the new generation would rather play with their phones, tablets and such rather than go out and wrench?
        SCOTTM
        • 10 Months Ago
        @svntsvn
        Absolutely. The gen X (especially those born in the 1970's) and Y have little to no interest in cars, at least not the kind of passion of the baby boomers. Yes, there are a few gen Xer's who will keep the hobby going but I'm a gen Xer, and most of my friends just don't care about it enough to make it feasible. Gen Y is worse, yet.
      rcavaretti
      • 10 Months Ago
      Read it on CNN a few days back. Sadly, the enthusiasts are leaving us, and younger individuals don't care.
      Niels Marienlund
      • 10 Months Ago
      I welcome this news. I've owned several old American cars of the '60s and '70s, and I'd love for them to be affordable and attainable. I drive them because I love them, not because I'm looking to make a buck. I've had a couple of instances where I was about to go see and buy a car, only to have someone else snatch it up first and jack up the price after doing little to nothing to it.
      jonnybimmer
      • 10 Months Ago
      I remember seeing the going prices for a few first-gen Thunderbirds a while ago and being really shocked at how low the prices where. I usually prefer more modern European/Japanese cars, but there's still plenty of great classic American cars that I love to enough I'd want to own. Personally I'm hoping that C2 Vette values absolutely plummet so that I'd have a chance.
      Frisky_Dingo
      • 10 Months Ago
      Considering the absurd prices these things were going for, it was only a matter of time.
      Dane Grant
      • 10 Months Ago
      The Alfa Romeo GTV6 (1980-1986), Porsche 911 (1987-1989), BMW 2002 (1968-1975) and the Volkswagen Water Cooled (1974-1994) have all gone crazy in value... 200-300% in the last three years... FYI...
      Mudotaku
      • 10 Months Ago
      I think it is a demographic issue. Most fans of cars from the 50's are people that now are old and probably dying, making fewer the buyers interested for such cars . I would not say that the value will fade for 50's cars to be worth anything, but it will certainly will get a lower value as it would be more of a car that an "automobilist connoisseur " will appreciate and buy rather than someone who has an emotional attachment to it. Also, as years progress, people who have an emotional attachment of the cars of the malaise era will go for foreign metal, which at the time were better cars.
      Mercennarius
      • 10 Months Ago
      Early 90s Japanese sports cars will appreciate over time for sure. 300ZX, Supra, 3000GT, RX-7, Skyline, etc.
        AcidTonic
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Mercennarius
        The one year for US Evo IX is already sky high. I bought mine for 22,500 and sold it 40,000 miles later for 24,000. KBB shows a 2006 Evolution IX MR going for 27,900 in my zip code with 60,000 miles. The car was low 30's new. Talk about holding value! My 97 Mustang Cobra was $25,500 new and with 30,000 miles was blue booking for $14,500 about 8 years ago. It just wasn't worth anything even with low miles in good condition.
        tinted up
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Mercennarius
        70s Japanese cars are turning into gold mines as well. My 72 240z High Retails at 28,000 now. It high retailed for 18,000 when I bought it in 2010. Absolutely crazy.
        jonnybimmer
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Mercennarius
        Supra, RX-7 and Skyline's are already going back up, especially those few that are left stock. I don't think anyone will have trouble seeing a mint, low mileage FD fetching a higher figure than what it was sold for 10-20 years from now. And almost all Skylines will be legal to import by then as well so that'll drive their prices up as well.
      Skylar Ross Toups
      • 10 Months Ago
      How is the Hudson Hornet "lesser known?" By whom?
        jodie88
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Skylar Ross Toups
        Until a couple days ago I had never even heard of Hudson, period... just not my generation of auto. My idea of a classic is a Datsun 240z but then again I was born in 1988. Does that answer your question?
          • 10 Months Ago
          @jodie88
          [blocked]
      in2dwww
      • 10 Months Ago
      American classic cars will continue to drop in value as the baby boomers die off. The BMW's and Merc from the 1980's will rise as the yuppies and their offspring reach retirement.
      • 10 Months Ago
      [blocked]
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