About Muscle Cars
Many buyers have watched the phenomenal rise in interest in and prices of Australian and US muscle cars at the high performance end. Among Chryslers, the R/T models from E37 to E55 are gaining value, especially the mighty E38 and E49. When looking for Fords, Falcon GT is the designation to watch, or watch out for, the most. The XY and XW models have enjoyed as much as a 50% increase in price, while a few high quality GTHOs have been approaching $100,000 at some auctions. Ford XA and XB coupes are also under pressure. Last year’s favourite, the Mustang is showing signs of levelling off – unless you’re after a Shelby, which are rarer and still on the increase, here and overseas. Other Mustangs were imported in such numbers in the last 12 months that demand and prices have eased a little. Holdens are experiencing their own gains, particularly HK and HG Monaros, which may also fetch 50% more than last year with the right options and in top condition. Bathurst and 350 models can cost you substantially more. Likewise, Bathurst L34, A9X and XU-1 Toranas have increased dramatically in price, while even standard versions are picking up, too.
But, as Ken Brown from Vigil Insurance, who talked with us about the muscle car market, explained, these trends only hold for good quality, original cars. Modified, poorly restored, incomplete or neglected cars are harder to value and may be getting harder to sell, regardless of the model. A few dealers explained further:
Paul Sabine at Brooklands Classic Cars, Sandringham Vic
Paul agrees that Australian and US muscle cars are an exciting market sector, following their growth in popularity last year. But he recognises the usual pressure of more demand than the supply can meet, mostly from people who grew up with these models and realise now that the genuine article is growing scarce. Customers are aware of their future collectability and do want original, genuine vehicles in good or excellent condition, due the rising cost of restoration. Which models? Early V6 and V8 Monaros, high-optioned Valiant Chargers and virtually all types of Ford Falcon GTs. The 186S Monaro was probably Paul’s top seller all year.
While Mustang prices have finally levelled off since last year, other Americans that may have benefited from high Mustang prices are 1968-81 Chev Corvettes and earlier, smaller Ford Thunderbirds 1955-63. Watch out for these.
Among British vehicles, early Aston Martins have done well, especially DB4 to DB6, and interest in E-type Jaguars continues. Certain Porsche models are on the rise, 356 and the early 911s, and Mercedes-Benz from the early ‘60s are expected to rise, too. But generally, favourite UK and European makes – MG, Alfa, BMW and others – are just holding their own in the market, not gaining or losing. Japanese cars, too, are something to keep for the future. The later model, turbo versions will be the collectable cars but now are still too new and too plentiful. But the MX-5 holds its value well and Z cars may be rising soon.
Paul says top quality will continue to be the way to go in the year to come. Some may like the challenge of a ground up resto but most buyers would rather pay more up front for quality than face unknown expenses to get a car on the road. Lesser vehicles will be left to amateurs or neglect.
Michael Finnis at Collectable Classics, Adelaide SA
Michael was quick to agree that Australian muscle cars – R/T Chargers, early Monaros and GT Falcons have remained his biggest sellers for the last 12 months. But plenty of other variations are still emerging in classic car sales. E-Type Jaguars, coupes and convertibles, especially 6-cylinder models, underpriced for many years, are now are gaining popularity as they may offer comparable performance to many Astons and Ferraris at half the price – for now, that is. Expect prices to rise further. Mk2 Jaguars, 3.4 and 3.8L, especially manual and overdrive examples, are also attracting strong sales. MG T-Types up to MGBs including As, and also early TD2000s, are other strong British vehicles.
Restored 1920s to early ‘30s style roadsters, coupes and tourers are selling well, mainly because a ’29 Chev, Ford A or Chrysler 6, for example, will go for about $20,000, but will have cost more than this to restore. The 1930s and ‘40s models from Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford are moving well, and Ford V8 side-valves 3.2 to 4.8 are worth watching in this group.
The ’55-’57 Chev V8s remain in demand, especially convertibles and coupes. A few larger American models have dropped back, such as the bigger Thunderbirds, but V8 Customlines and even Fairlanes have had a small revival. Other winners worth noting here are S and R, AP6 and VC Valiants and the S series Dodge Phoenix.
Michael also says he can’t get enough of such classics as the Jaguar Mk4 and Mk5s, 2½ Rileys, Bristols and Jowett Jupiters, Allard, Borgward Isabella coupes, Jensen CV8s, Rambler Javelins, V6 Ford Capris and early Karmann Ghias and 911s. What makes them so desirable now? They are all getting harder to find.
He does have a few losers to report, too. 1970s and ‘80s Jaguars such as the XJS and XJ6 are not doing well on the market, nor are Mercedes-Benz and BMW sedans, coupes and even V8s, possibly due to high maintenance and repair costs.The keys to top prices across the market are condition and originality.
Rory Johnston at the Throttle Shop, North Sydney NSW
Rory offers further insight into European and British makes, his speciality. He’s also finding the earlier Porsches – 356 and pre-1973 911s – and Aston Martins are doing well now. In fact, his top sellers recently were a 1970 RS Carrera and a DB6. The Mercedes-Benz 190SL and other sports cars are moving up, along with the 230-280SL Pagoda models. MGBs show no sign of losing ground as the favourite British classic, either maintaining their value or gaining.
The current trend for original, useable classics, ready to drive and affordable to maintain, offers insight into why some models are dropping in price. European 4-door sedans and Jaguar saloons, convertibles or not, have lost out because of maintenance costs and scarce parts. Likewise, earlier, vintage car prices have fallen. But what local collectors are most willing to pay for is high quality and are looking overseas when they can’t find it here. Average or poor examples and modified cars that will cost a buyer to restore will continue to lose.
Rob Rowland at the Healey Factory in Melbourne finds his specialty in British sports cars is buoyant. Certainly Jaguars, especially the E-types, and Austin-Healeys are increasing in value as are most sports cars except Triumphs that may be stagnating a little. His most specific comment is that quality will always sell best and fastest. The same goes for exotica, which have taken a sudden upturn
Overall, Rob believes the market is on the way up. Well restored and well presented classic sports are selling easily, even those models that aren’t seen as desirable as others, while poor restorations are quite hard to sell. Unrestored cars are still available but in declining numbers.
Don Cabban at Nepean Classic Cars, Penrith NSW reports that business in his own specialty in MGs is very active and he finds it hard to get enough stock to meet demand, especially for the MGB M2 Tourer and other Bs. Sales of both cars and spares are lively right now.
Brian Wheeler at JagDaim, Moorabbin Vic deals only with Jaguars and Daimlers. The market for these cars overall has picked up over the last few months after a slow period. Models like the XJ-S Convertible are selling well again and drawing enquiries. In fact, ‘anything collectable’ is moving now, especially the E-type. Equally, restorations are doing just as well.
We will update the Classic Car Price Guide online at www.ccar.com.au. Please look up prices and contribute information you have encountered on the classic car market. All comments are welcome.