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Bear Market in Classic American Cars?


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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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