The classic car market has evolved over the decades and, like everything, tastes change. The evolution of the market can be attributed to many factors such as geography, politics, engineering, and, of course, economics. In the 1950s, design aesthetics defined manufacturing for many auto companies. Some of the designers whose work that still resonates down the decades include Harley Earl, Raymond Loewy, and Elwood Engel. Furthermore, some cars from as early as 1950, are still being used now, such as the Chrysler 300, Chevy Impala, Ford Thunderbird, and the Corvette. The classic car market, like classic car designs, has also changed.


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In 2008, classic cars were considered, by many, hobby projects and not mass market. Since the turn of the 2010s, classic cars have been seen as an investment. Such rises changed the classic car from a simply a passion to an investment-based commodity, with some buyers spending huge amounts of cash with an eye on large returns. Heading towards the mid-2010s and beginning in 2014, investment-driven preference for classic cars began to decline. Cut to 2019 and the market now appears to be driven by a true love of cars again, rather than simply just financial gain.


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1. Classic Cars in 2019


Following the calming of the market in 2018, we have seen the rise of the younger buyer – Millennials and Generation Xers. According to specialist insurer Hagerty, the appetite for classic car purchases is currently growing with many, with the more iconic cars proving particularly popular. Vintage German automobiles like The Beetle and the classic VW Campervan have seen a steep rise in interest, from younger buyers in particular.


Quotation activity from Hagerty also tells us there us interest in potential purchases for Chevrolet Suburbans and Blazers manufactured in the 1970s and 80s as well as later generations of Ford Broncos, the Ford F-series of the 70s, and the International Scout. However, it is notable that expensive classics, such as the first generation Ford Broncos, may well be too expensive for the younger classic car buyer at present. But what’s true about cars is true about people and purchasing power, like age, will change.


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2. The True Classic Car


The definition of classic cars has been generalized to any car over the age of 25 years, but what are the real features of a car that truly separate it as a classic? Whilst age could be a determinant in defining a car as a classic, there are other important features that are typically associated with a car, that defines it as a classic. The Classic Car Club of America (CCCA), which stores and preserves cars and their related information, provides us with key features with which they define a classic. The CCCA says a true ‘classic’ would have had a limited production run and have come with certain defining and unique features. Whilst this point is open for debate, there’s plenty of Mustangs from the 70’s available to buy, we would agree that a classic should represent the apex of engineering, design, and the style of the era.


Collectively, the amount of classic cars in existence today in America is just over one million. This figure is relatively small considering the number of production cars made over the years — a lot of cars both old and new are clearly scraped and not lovingly restored. So, whilst age is associated with a classic, certain groundbreaking engineering and/or design characteristics as well as how many were produced, will, in time define it as a ‘true’ classic.


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3. The Classic Cars Market: Nostalgia, Present, and Future


According to the CCCA, Millennials and Gen X accounted for up to 53% of classic car insurance requests at the classic car insurer Hagerty. These buys show a trend where individuals are following in the steps of their Boomer parents. For instance, Hagerty notes that insurance quotes for Ford Mustang’s and the Chevrolet Camaro’s as well as Corvette’s were highly quoted vehicles for Baby Boomers, Generation X’ers and Millennials alike. So, it looks like ‘true American muscle’ does indeed transcend the generations.


Surprisingly, in the past 12 months, features of classics have started to appear in cars you can buy today. Modern manufacturers have started adding details that could be associated with a Cadillac from 1957, namely two-tone paint. The new Toyota Rav 4, Range Rovers and Mini’s can now be purchased with a vibrant color on the body and a black roof.


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4. Value Trends


The effects of the 2008/9 financial crisis marked the buying 2009/10 period. Probably due to the volatility in the financial markets and bank interest rates, individuals in the U.S. were purchasing classic cars mainly as an investment. Individuals who had experienced stock losses in the previous year sought new investment vehicles (pun intended).


Following the entrance of investors into the classic car market the subsequent years from 2010-2014, there was some media-fueled speculation that hyped classic car ownership (barn find anyone?). Through some headline-grabbing media reports, it was perceived that you could purchase a classic and double the price in the next couple of years, and whilst this made for some great headlines, as the market has shown it has proved not to be true. Such speculation increased the demand for classics, and prices rocketed in the market. Though the period from 2015 through 2018, the trend began readjusting to a more realistic classic car valuation and ‘normalization’ of the classic car market.


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5. Cars to Watch in 2019


Classic car enthusiasts are recommending various cars you should watch out for in 2019. These cars are rich in their heritage and some models are increasing in value, making them worthy buys both for now and in the future.. Here are the five think you should watch:


1984 - 1993 Saleen Mustang – These cars are designed with stiffer springs and dampers, have larger brakes, and a Momo steering wheel. The cars retailed at $25,000 in the 1980s. Hagerty predicts that their value is set to increase in the near future from their current prices that range between 26,400 to 32,500 dollars.


1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport – The cars were last upgraded to higher speeds of 169mph, and currently, they are estimated to be priced between $36,100 and $49,500. Only 1,000 of them were created, making them an invaluable possession going forward from 2019 and given their rarity are set to be a true future classic.


1980 - 1986 Ford Bronco – Much older Bronco’s models are already trading high, and this could be a marker for future values in 2019 and beyond. Prices are currently estimated to be between $13,400 and $18,100.


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2004 - 2006 Dodge Ram SRT10 – These vehicles were transformed from 6-speed manual transmission to a 4-speed automatic in 2005 and added a Quad Cab body style. The Dodge Ram SRT10 has added luxuries, including a limited slip differential and performance suspension. They are currently priced between $26,700 and $35,000. These prices mark a 15% increase in valuation in the previous year.

1994 - 1996 Buick Roadmaster – These cars have seen some increases in value since they were fitted with some features from the Chevrolet Corvette, including the 260 hp-version of Corvette’s 5.7 liter V-8. The cars are currently priced between $13,300 and $18,300 and rising.

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