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Texas Old Car Guy

Bear Market in Classic American Cars?

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OK, Do you think the cashed up, chinese multi-millionares will get interested in the 30 - 40's classics in the future? Either as status symbles or investments.

If they do that will drive the market or maybe they would just be happy with an old Toyota.

I know they like new Ferrari's and Lambo's

David,

I have an acquaintance who's foreign but comes to the States on business a lot. He keeps a '37 Cord at a place here for when he's wanting to do "The Great Gatsby" thing. I'm sure the Chinese could do the same thing without too much trouble.

Jeff

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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So is greed a specific characteristic to just car collectors or is it something that you find across all people?

The answer to your question is no and mostly yes but to different degrees.

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If the car is rare. You will be ok..

If you just have parts or project car... Get the best price and walk away...

I could not give my Kaiser parts away for free.... It took 7 phone calls to get it done..

We pick up a car like this one for about 175.00

My Dad would save any car... That was a kaiser..

The car was sold . It is still in Ne...

The Pic is from the web,,

post-97742-143142393905_thumb.jpg

Edited by nick8086 (see edit history)

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Please differentiate between "greed" and "supply and demand". I am unclear on this point. Are you suggesting that car owners should sell their vehicles for less than someone is willing to pay? Would you agree to do the same?

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Also while you are ringing the death knell of interest in collector cars maybe you can explain the recent proliferation of TV shows about "old cars" and the success of automotive technology courses at such places as WyoTech, Penn Tech and McPherson. An annual rite of Spring is our receiving numerous applications for employment from grads of these schools and I believe most of them are young people.

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Well, we have not happenned to sell anything in the past year or so but in the past 5-6 years I had three cars sell, ('30 Model A, '68 Olds Cutlass cnvt, '39 Packard 120 Sedan) all firmly in the "common Garden" variety. One sold locally, one to a buyer down south, one overseas - Switzerland. All at market, two under the $20,000 mark noted above. Two of the buyers paying shipping costs in addition to purchase. Pretty much a break even situation all told, with a small loss on the "A" and gain on the Olds. What does this mean? As noted above buyers exist at all levels. In each case I was surprised that they sold as quickly as they did given the gloom and doom discussion is not really new here, especially at it pertains to prewar stuff. That said, the trends are obvious. A '41 Plymouth sedan is not a leading investment car now, just as it was not in the 70s (still miss mine though...) -both rodders and restorers will always value a Ford over the other comparables due to history if nothing else.

I do think the demand has changed in that unless it is very rare or desirable more people prefer running, usable if not restored or very nice original cars, for whatever reason. I know lots of people interested in the hobby in various ages but less are restoring then 30 or so years ago. This could be part of the reason the better shops have waiting lists still?

Added thought - I know the OP spoke specifically of American cars but I mention these as examples simply because I cannot think of an American car off the top of my head for this year, however in just about every year at least a few cars become notable for rapid price escalation. Cars I follow that seem to fit the bill include the Mercedes 190 SL & W-113 "Pagoda" style SLs as well as most any pre '76 Porsche 911, especially the earliest SWB cars. I am sure there are others, just as certain 60s muscle cars followed or may be still on the same price trends. Once at peak, one might expect some sort of "correction" but the bottom line is, if you just have to have a '69 911 today, expect to pay triple what you might have 3 - 5 years ago. certain models heating up and cooling or leveling a bit is all part of the market. I do not think I would consider it greed to sell anything at market. I know if I have a vehicle with a known market value of $10,000 I would not sell if for $5,000 whether I paid $1,000 or 10,000 for it or whether the market a few years ago was $5,000 or 10,000 for the car.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT
added thought (see edit history)

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The only thing I see that has changed is the ability to find cars easier thanks to the internet. Before if you wanted, say, a 1935 Cadillac, and there were a couple you were able to find via the hobby magazines, shows, etc, you were likely to buy one of those 2. Now you can find several very easily. That doesn't mean that prices necessarily go down because the buyers are finding cars closer to what they actually want instead of settling. It also creates a dynamic where there are deals to be found, as well as some being priced completely incorrectly. Basically there are more options to the buyers.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)

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It's not just the market, but the variability and volatility of the market... I've walked away from sales shaking my head because the prices were either way, high or low. I went to an auction with a fair Model A Sport Coupe... all original but not running and the original top was missing. They pulled it out of the auction because the top bid was $16K. I think they should have taken it. Anything over $12k was well sold in my opinion. I also walked by an original running Nash Metropoliton for $4.7k in very nice shape. Been kicking my butt ever since for not picking it up. It's not just the investment, it's having the time, the space, facility and knowledge to maintain these cars. One mouse in an interior can destroy it. I'm a peripheral member of the hobby because I don't have the time to commit to it, but at this point it makes much more sense financially to buy rather than build because everyone thinks a rusted out hulk should be worth $5k.

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Please differentiate between "greed" and "supply and demand". I am unclear on this point. Are you suggesting that car owners should sell their vehicles for less than someone is willing to pay? Would you agree to do the same?

Restorer32, I don't think one should give their car away. A reasonable price that can be agreed on would be fine. Just don't put a $100K price on your AMC Pacer because it's rare and hope to snare a sucker. I am selling off most of my collection and have sold three of my cars so far. I lost twelve grand on the "classic" that the dealer I bought it from totally misrepresented. The other two I was the second and third owner so I knew the history. One I sold for less than the buyer offered to cover his expenses and the other one I broke even if you included what I put into it. I didn't care. I enjoyed having the car.

I'm glad to see that some young people are taking interest. Can't wait till one of them puts a Tesla motor into a Duesenberg. That should light up this board!!

Edited by bubba (see edit history)

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All good points on the market Dave. Markets are funny things and do not always react the way each of us feels they should based on our perspective. For example, your comment on 190 SLs - I actually predict more appreciation in the short term. Not because they are worth the current market prices now (From my perspective - above cars I would traditionally consider more desirable - i.e. XKE Jaguar to name just one??) being commanded but because of the market trend. Of course I thought this when many 60s cars that were mass produced, lower end cars when new shot past many Full Classics or fine sports cars. I chalked that up to coattails just like the MB 190 SL, only then a relatively common muscle car riding on the coattails of the few rare top engine models - but the market did what it wanted, commanded by people who have their own perspective. I would totally agree, greed has less to do with this than what people want to say. Just because I am not one of them, more clearly desire a '69 Chevelle Restomod than a '40 Buick as you describe.

We will definately be "underwater" with the current car,they are not that rare, and I am constantly doing things on it because it is just fun to make improvements, plus, my wife loves this car, where she liked the prior cars. We drive it nearly every weekend in season, so I chalk up any loss to the cost of ownership and use. Of course, that will likely be a 100% loss because the boy wants it and I would like to eventually get a W-113 Pagoda to replace it, but we will likely always have an SL now, even while looking for another oldie for less frequent use.

One way to never be dissapointed is buy what you like in your price range, and don't have unrealistic return expectations and you will get a lot more out of the hobby. :)

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)

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I believe our old cars are also too safe by their standards. :)

Our old cars probably wouldn't pass an Emissions test in China. Seems our old cars run to clean. :)

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There are still some people with some money to spend.. but they are usually not young.. in the next ? 10-20 years there will be a LOT of big collections on the auction block, the current owners are all getting old, like you and me..

So, supply and demand will prevail. A lot of supply, limited demand, and prices will drop.

There will almost always be the two guys with deep pockets and big egos that want to 'win'. and this will drive up the price

at some auctions.. But in general, prices will drop.

I keep seeing the term 'Rare' as a valid reason for high prices.. So, what is 'rare' ? To me, that means very low production numbers, hard to find one even to look at much less buy..

So: what's rare? most of the one year wonders from the teens.. what are they worth ?? virtually nothing. OR the low-price model from some car makers that sold their premium car in decent numbers.. What's a Cleveland worth, compared to a similar year Ford, Chevy, Cadilac, Reo, Olds, etc??

RARE is not synonymous with desirable or with valuable, Rare means scarce.

What's a Yugo worth? it's a rare car, none survived.

How about a Briscoe ? There's one begging for a new owner in the Chicago/Milwakee area. A running car. but it's RARE.. meaning not many out there, and relatively unknown, so it's not very DESIRABLE. But it is RARE.

I looked at a Pierce Arrow Series 80 EDL [enclosed drive limousine] the other day. A coach 'taxi' version, 7 passenger, big coach, low on frills. A lot of money had been spent on the body, chassis, paint, and wheels. The engine had been disassembled, and left to rust for 25 years in a hundred separate pieces. JUNK. The engine had already been overhauled numerous times. Bored to max, so it would have to be bored, sleeved and bored to size. The crankshaft was a hunk of pitted rust, and already .040" under standard.. Junk, a new crank needed.

But the seller thought he has the holy grail of project cars... because its RARE.. well, yeah it's rare because it was worn out in normal service, as a taxi in a big city. and when the war drives came. they got scrapped by the thousands. For some reason this one survived. Rare? yeah, desirable? no.

The buyer was insulted by my refusal to offer a price, when he was persistent, he was further insulted by my offer for the few parts I considered worth dragging home..

BUT this is a RARE car !! was his cry.. But it's the least desirable of that or most models of cars. a working version of a huge sedan.. slow, heavy, and takes extra materials to do anything on it.. Yards more material for the vast interior, and Labor too..

Rare... does not equate to desirable..

Now, a mid '20's open 7 pasenger touring version of the same make and model? $30K plus, in rough shape. if all the parts are there.. now here is where RARE is another problem.. try finding some obscure part for a RARE car.. forget it.. just pay to have one made, or spend years looking, even with the internet. some things just are not around. Either they all wore out, and the NOS stuff got used up, or there are so few cars around that need that obscure part that the part has no value, and in the scrap it goes.

Greg L

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By your logic shouldn't brass cars be available virtually free for the hauling? Last I checked they weren't.

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For example, your comment on 190 SLs - I actually predict more appreciation in the short term. Not because they are worth the current market prices now (From my perspective - above cars I would traditionally consider more desirable - i.e. XKE Jaguar to name just one??) being commanded but because of the market trend. Of course I thought this when many 60s cars that were mass produced, lower end cars when new shot past many Full Classics or fine sports cars. I chalked that up to coattails just like the MB 190 SL, only then a relatively common muscle car riding on the coattails of the few rare top engine models - but the market did what it wanted, commanded by people who have their own perspective.

Just as an aside, I think the run-up in the 190sl prices made a lot of sense. Timeless style, well-built, repairable, by a company with continuing name recognition and prestige. The primary beef about them is that they're very slow, but that matters less and less: Today's cars are so much faster than the cars of the 50s that almost all old cars are slow by today's standards. So I think the rise in prices is pretty sensible. I just kick myself for wanting to buy one several times in the past but never quite doing it.

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By your logic shouldn't brass cars be available virtually free for the hauling? Last I checked they weren't.

Um.. Desirable brass cars, known makes, yes they are not changing owners for cheap.

NOTE I said Desirable.

ORPHAN brass cars? Project brass cars that only one or two were made? Low price brass cars? Are they commanding high prices?? Not from what I've seen.

Well known DESIRABLE brass cars. like Packard, Pierce, Oakland, Rambler, White etc sure they are holding their value, but any of those as a project? way down.

Like I said, there are still plenty of people with money, and desire to own certain cars.. Rarity is not the grounds for which they seek those cars, it's the quality, KNOWN brand, make and reliability.

My 'logic' is not a blanket statement, I did say Desirability being the deciding factor not Rarity?

I bought a '15 Chandler last fall, they were pretty good cars, 'Baby Loziers'. I bought it for a song, at public auction. WHY?

If it had been a Pierce, Packard, Peerless, Oakland, Chalmers, it would have gone for 50 to 100 times the price I paid for the Chandler.

Are the Chandlers rare, yes, does that rarity make them desirable, no. In fact it scared most buyers away.. so the hammer price was very low.

So: rarity was high, desirability low. Unknown or low recognition cars go cheap.

I had to do a google search to find out anything about the Chandler, I didn't want to buy a car that nobody knew about, and only a handful were made, that's just throwing away money, or a dab of salve on the collectoritis infection. :-)

Greg L

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Personally, I take information like that with a grain of salt. If the cars go up in value, thats great, another advantage to owning old cars. If they go down in value, its sad but shrinking values WOULD NOT cause me to give up my cars or diminish my interest in working on my old cars... I do it for the love of old cars....

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There's already a large assortment of bargain cars as it is now from 40s-70s even from the big 3. They're not up to the AACA way, but plenty of 20s-30s cars have found new life being rodded out. Many 40-60s cars have found new life as customs, but they're harder to do than rods and more have survived.

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I never got involved with old or antique cars to MAKE money.. at first I drove nothing but ratty old cars that virtually no one else would want to be seen in. The first new car I bought taught me a significant lesson: don't buy 'em. I lost more money on that car in two years than I'd paid for the last 10 cars, over the last 10 years..

I love the old designs, engineering ideas some of which worked, some went by the wayside very quickly,, some not quick enough for that car maker. It's all history of the automobile industry.. from the engineering side.

While I'd like to make some money, or come close to breaking even on any of my cars.. in reality.. what other HOBBY does the participant have any chance of coming out even close to even when they sell their 'stuff' or collection ??? NOT MANY, if ANY. Maybe antique firearms? some others I can't think of right now..

So we are pretty lucky, to have the values of most of our cars either gain some, or only lose some, but not go to zero.

Greg L

But, if you have portion of your 'retirement' investment in 'average' cars.. get out now !! or just enjoy them and live on Raman Noodles.

Greg L

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I think we're already seeing evidence of this. I have many discussions with various car guys, other dealers, and auction companies, and the one thing that just about everyone can agree on is that garden-variety cars (please pardon the expression, I mean no offense to their owners) are sliding down the value scale rather alarmingly.

Blue-chip cars (early V8 Fords, open Full Classics, early exotics, and other widely-recognized desirable cars) are always going to find eager buyers, but things like, say, that 1926 Buick barn find a few threads down, are awfully close to being 100% worthless today. It's pretty much gotten to the point where I can't represent a non-Classic '20s car that's not a Model A simply because they're impossible to sell at any price, never mind what the owner may have in restoration costs. I had that rather nice 1924 Buick Master Six opera coupe last summer which was a nice running, driving, very presentable car with an older restoration, and I had to give it away at thousands below what I had in it just to get it out of my garage.

The same holds true for '40s and '50s sedans from the middle-tier automakers like Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Plymouth, never mind the "orphans" which are going to be hit even harder. You have to price them at an enormous discount just to get someone in the door to look at them. We had a gorgeous AACA National First Prize-winning 1946 DeSoto last year, and I think we eventually were able to get around $10 or 12,000 for it in a package deal with two other cars, both convertibles. The restoration alone probably cost $50,000! I think the article above makes good points that only reinforce the idea that these cars are not ever going to be more valuable than they are today and may, in fact, be getting less valuable as young, budget-oriented, first-time buyers disappear (or never even enter the hobby in the first place).

I know some guys will dispute this, and I hope they're right, but everything I see day-in and day-out points to average cars becoming virtually disposable unless we can find a way to entice new people into the low-end of the hobby, and that's a big problem. There are relatively few guys who want, say, a 1927 Dodge, however wonderful they might be. That same guy would probably rather have a Model A, a '40s coupe, or a C3 Corvette, and will be willing to pay just a little more for one of those since they're perceived as a "safer" place to park their money. There's a lot of competition in the sub-$20,000 market no matter what "type" of car you want (antique, '50s, sports car, muscle car, etc.). The less desirable cars are simply going to be left behind, which really breaks my heart, but as I said, I can already see it happening.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a great deal on such a car, they will be plentiful and you will be able to get excellent specimens for pennies on the dollar. For those of us already in the hobby and looking for neat old cars without any predisposition to one particular marque or type, it'll be a literal buyer's feast. Hopefully we won't feel like vultures picking a still-warm corpse clean.

This is my first post here so I hope I don't commit any breach of etiquette here. Just struck me as a good place to start.

I remember when I was I was growing up, I couldn't wait until I was old enough to drive. Got my learners permit in 1966 when I was 15, followed by my driver's license at 16. My daughter didn't start driving until she was 20 and my son 19, even though his grandparents gave him a car when he was 16. My son, now 26 is teaching a friend of his one year older to drive. When I went to high school(3,600 students), everyone over the age of 16 drove to school and you couldn't find a parking space within a 6 block radius of the school. When my daughter went to the same high school(her grandparents also attended it too) I used to have to pick her up after school let out. I had no problem finding a parking space in front of school to wait for her. When I went to HS there were tri-fives, Nomad wagons, '62 409's & Dodge dual 4 413 tunnel rams and various other assorted cars starting up after school let out, the noise was deafening. When my daughter went there all I could hear were kids voices and almost all the cars(not many) that students drove were 20-25 year old rice burners. When I was in HS very few drove a car over 10 years old, mine was 4 and they were funded by after school and weekend jobs. The car culture will definitely be on life support once the last of the Baby Boomers passes. The rusty cars that 10 years ago brought high prices are now being parted out and crushed.

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