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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Big-block Mopars, GM star in hottest muscle-car market since 2008

For more than a decade, it seemed like the muscle car's best days-at least in narrow, collecting terms-were behind it. Following the cratering of the collector car market alongside the Great Recession, muscle cars more or less recovered, but then remained stuck in neutral even as other segments blasted ahead.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/market-trends/hagerty-insider/big-block-mopar-gm-star-in-hottest-muscl...
59 REPLIES 59
hyperv6
Racer

This is mostly a case of the next car up. 

 

Mopars for a long time were depressed in price but the  Hemi and big blocks took off. Today the small blocks are the next car up as you can still get a decent price for now but as demand grows. 

 

Same for the late 70's Trans Am. The early cars were doing well as a 455 SD or TA was a big buck car. The 75 and later cars were not in big demand. Today they are the next car up for GM. 

 

I expect the late 70's Z/28 will come into play before long as they are much lower than they should be. My guess for the next car up will be a Monte SS Aero before long. Same for the GP 2+2 but it will be a while. 

 

At Ford the 70's were not good. The Mustang II just never has excited many and only a rare few special edition V8 models hold much interest. But give it a couple years and the market for un molested stock Fox platform Mustangs will come with a vengeance. The key will be un modified models just as the GN will demand top dollar. 

 

The coming wild card is the Indy Pace Car GTA Turbo. This car is one for the ages with the model and the engine in low numbers. A tough car to restore so stock low mile cars will be key. 

 

As for the market when ever the market gets volatile the collector car market moves as people more their money from the market. They look for investments that they can maintain till the market returns. We may see some action for a couple years as the economy to return. I expect three years before we see much change. 

 

As for many of these new more modern cars Unrestored and low miles will be key. Also if they are modified are the parts highly desirable parts from the era that are hard to find today in good shape. Things like a Herb Adams VSE suspension on a TA would be a good find. These kinds of mods are going to be the Shelby like things of this era. Era correct Paxton for a Mustang Fox body will be popular too. The 80's Mopars will struggle unless it has a Shelby tag. Then it still will be a good value.  A late 70's Little Red Express or Warlock would be a good find in good condition. Also easy to restore vs many cars. 

 

Just my take. 

Greg_I
Hagerty Employee

I think that is a valid view, but I agree with some of it and see a different perspective on other parts, and some of it is old news to the close watcher.

 

I think that we are seeing a legitimate resurgence (how long it'll last is a big question mark though). Yes, rising tides raise all ships, but it is a hard argument to make in my mind that a 318 or 360 MOPAR is primed to pop because 383 and 440 cars are up... 340s are a different story, those have some performance pedigree and they have seen growth because of it.

 

I've been watching the market very closely for years and some of the cars noted have been on the rise for a while. Late 70s Z/28s already saw a boost, just not as much as Bandit T/A's, which are a bit more "muscly" anyway. But mid to late 70s T/A's (especially 77-81) have been as if not more expensive (in certain configurations) than the early 70s for a few years now and 89 Turbo T/A's have came up in value a few years ago and have been bouncing up and down for a while.

 

Now the Monte Carlo and Grand Prix aero cars... I think there is some validity there. I think they're a bargain given what they are.

 

But really, everything is up. Some of it might be a rising tide, other side is that it is newfound recognition.

Padgett
Advanced Driver

ps the '89 Turbo TA was a boosted 3800 (as in the Grand National) and may have been the fastest ever but few were made. No relation to the turbo 301. Problem with the GM Aero cars (Monte & GP) was that they had rather gutless 305s. Nothing a crate engine won't fix but not in stock form.
BMD4800
Gearhead

These cars in stock form are slow. Perfect for restomods
97Cobra
Detailer

Still gutless with crate engine
BMD4800
Gearhead

L-O-L
KDL
New Driver

I agree with you on the GM's and late 70's Z/28's coming into their own. I bought a 100% stock (as it was in 1979) Z-28 only 5 months ago and the value has shot up 30% already! Always had a soft spot for the late 70's GM Camaros and Firebirds (recently owned a 79 Formula as well) and it's paying off big time.
97Cobra
Detailer

Long winded
Davidb
Intermediate Driver

Speculation! The best high-octane rating there is. Prices are driven by speculation, and nothing else! Rumors effect speculation more than any other factor. Want to effect prices? Get into the rumor market and watch the fun begin.
Smasher
Intermediate Driver

I do have concerns when a 79 firebird is rising 30% in one year. I have been checking what winning bidders bought and commonly you can clearly see people are dropping their investment money into vehicles. With the surge of new money into vehicle collecting, it won't take much of a hiccup to see everyone list their "collection" all at once.
4wheel2wheel
Intermediate Driver

You betcha, Muscle cars are a commodity now trading on the auctions circuit rather than the Dow Jones.
BMD4800
Gearhead

They’ve been tangible hedge against market correction for quite sometime. Also, exceptionally good vehicle (no pun intended) to hide and/or launder wealth.
pbr400
New Driver

Buick Gran Sports, not Grand Sports.
Hacksaw
Intermediate Driver

Grand is better.
acooper529
Advanced Driver

The early year GTOs (pictured) always seemed to have a better feel as far as build quality, especially on the road, and very similar to the Buick GS. Long time Chevy guy, but they never felt as solid as far as body and suspension. I am talking about driving them when they were still new (3-5 years?).
gfviperman
Detailer

Electricity is causing the spike ... not everybody onboard ...
VictorK
Pit Crew

Re: Ford, it seems like Mach 1's & especially Boss Mustangs were already ahead of MOPAR values before 2022. That would suggest that Fords' collectable ceiling was closer to it's peak with fewer cars available at an attractive price to create this rush that article points to.

There's a parallel to this in British sports cars as well. Pricey 'Big' Austin-Healeys and Sunbeam Tigers prices have held steady since 2020, even slipping a little, while the lower cost Triumphs and A-H Bugeye Sprites are exploding with MG B, TC, TD & TF prices also rapidly increasing.

Demographics and economy I think, have a lot to do with what is "hot" at a given time as much as the actual product.
Gary
Detailer

Plus one can afford to drive them
Studenorton
Instructor

"Hemis relatively restrained" is a beautiful piece of headline japery. Great writing, for the genre.
A restrained hemi has to be a historical first. Pince-nez on nose-tip: "I have never seen this."
sherman824
New Driver

Isn't this really about "coming of age"? When I was in high school (early 80's), the "older guys" had the Camero, Chargers and Mustangs. We coveted those but our cars were the remnants of the muscle era, the Montes, the T/As and Z28s along with the Vettes, 442s. GM and, to a lesser degree, Dodge was preferred over Ford during this time. These were our cars of choice. Later, as Chrysler boxes took over, we looked toward the "money" foreign cars - Porsche, Jag, etc. At 55, my generation is now coming to the point where we've disposable income and are buying the cars of our youth. As the previous response said, Demographics play huge into this. It would be interesting to see the age breakdown of these cars moving up in value. I'd expect them to be Gen X buyers, by and large, and the Fox body and many of the foreign models that were coveted in the late 80s, early 90s, my guess, are next.
Smilodon
Detailer

Yes. I kinda agree, graduated in '78, from an Indianapolis school where cars, and what cars, determined one's status. My father spent his entire working life at the GM Delco Remy plant in Anderson, Indiana. My '60's childhood was filled with Dad's big, big block Impala SS models. But my Mom's youngest sib, the only brother of five, six years older than I loved Pontiac. GTOs, to be specific. He attended a private Catholic High School (Brebeuf Academy), and was my ride to my secular private school, Park Tudor, Indianapolis, Indiana. At a school where kids arrived in limos, Imperials, Caddys and Lincoln's, (they were rich, I was a hillbilly scholarship kid), my Unk's deep aqua built '67 GTO, with the obligatory air shocks, staggered tires, headers&straight pipes made me a hero. Every time I was called to the office, my rich friends loved it- when my Unk pulled out of the "limo line" and hazed tires bellowing all the way- old school Pontiac motors sound good- the harsher the words, the more status I had. My grandparents had enough money that unk was never in any danger. It's 50 years later, I'm still a GTO guy. Have a 2004 Holden/Pontiac 40th Anniversary GTO in TorRed with the no cost option 6spd Tremec crunch box. It's on its third LS, now a 7.0L naturally aspirated 12.75:1 ripper. But I can't see a '66-'67 GTO without tearing up. Yeah, there's quicker and faster, but they're not GTOs, are they?
hotshoe17
Pit Crew

I grew up in a Chrysler Dodge Plymouth Dealership. My Father told me to never talk down on anybody's Car. He said "They liked it when they bought it". Be respectful So, if he traded for it, and he didn't like it, he sold it to a Wholesaler. So now in this Stage of my Life, I have learned to appreciate every bodies Car. Listen to their Story, but like mine the Best.
Smilodon
Detailer

You rock.
BisbeeKid
Pit Crew

Great article & very valid information and points. The high point cars of each division are out of the reach of the most basic collectors. The Shelby’s, ( stratospheric Cobras) the Corvettes & the Hemi Cuda’s have brought the second tear cars into line for the “if I can’t have that then this is close & the imagination makes the rest” value.
The dreams & memory of youth stokes the passion for a particular make/model. The hyper value of the pinnacle cars, beginning scarcity of good solid 2nd level care and an increasing number of people with financial means and dreams drive the market. As a long time collector I have seen the movement as expected ( 3 former owned Cougar Eliminator’s surpassed the $150k average range @ Mecum Kissimmee).
The view that I see is the current generation muscle cars (2010-2020) from all 3 being the best future investment value. Prices have generally decreased per usual and have reached their near bottom lows and stabilized. They are a much better driving vehicle than first generation muscle cars of any division and can be found with low mileage sometimes original owners and parts availability is generally still in stock.
I look to collect one of each of the three, 13/14 Shelby GT500, LT1 Camaro, C7 Z06, Hellcat Challenger and Charger when the time opportunity comes. There are many others out there knowing the market and opportunity value is the important side for both collecting something that you enjoy. It should peak your heart strings and have long-term significant appreciative value. Each person has the answer their own question of WHY then become an expert on the answer to that question. There will always be people of a very like minds to answer that as well. That’s where the value comes in, not only financially but also esoterically when you walk out in the garage & see, smell, touch & drive, feeling the smile & experiencing the satisfaction of enjoyment. Much better than holding a print out of a stock certificate.
fotogmike
Intermediate Driver

Don't overlook the 2014/15 Z/28. Low production numbers, expensive compared to other versions of the Camaro, and most got modified and abused.
BIS_Appraisal
New Driver

I see this as well in my work as an appraiser. 1) The new collectors wanting to stay close to home during and after the pandemic are spending generously for #3 condition cars. The funds they might have spent on travel or time shares is being put in to classic cars, watches, etc. I see this across every vehicle except pre-war/pre-depression era.
2) - Costs to repair, restore, paint, ship a classic car is up more than the values in some cases. The new collectors have already purchased cars and shops are full of projects thus making the wait longer for a car to be completed. A new collector sees this and spends more on a finished car than they planned on spending. Spending more today avoids the 1 year plus wait for the car. Most #1 condition blue chip cars are up or flat because those are typically traded between seasoned collectors. Rumors and words don't raise values - aggressive buying by new collectors moves values.
havnaer
New Driver

It was ever thus. Unless you stumble on the one-in-a-million Garage find, the cost to restore or customize a car up to only the next level will always be more than buying a finished #1. I've seen owners put $80,000 and years of work into a car only to sell at $26K. I can't get $10K for the $20K and 5 years invested in my '79 El Camino SS. So the question is whether you want to spend you time and money WORKING on your ride, or do you want to SHOW it? Both are valid positions. At least now I can park my car next to that $250K Mustang GT500 at the next show and get a respectable 24th place. But if I'd spent $12K for a #1 instead of $3K for a #4, I'd have had much more fun.
Smilodon
Detailer

Sir, I most respectfully disagree. There is no world where I could recoup the money for the 7.0L LS based motor, much less the aftermarket computer now in my 2004 Holden/Pontiac GTO. They were considered overpriced and underperforming in 2004, so in the three year run didn't sell well. And the 7.0 is the third engine I've built for this thing. The original leather is tattered and split seamed. The carpet is, well, ruined. But all the exterior lamps are European aftermarket LEDs, the suspension is the best that Hotchkiss and Bilstein has to offer, I have infrared projectors in the fog lamps so I can run dark with the headset and have sustained GPS documented speeds of 155+ on street (Goodyear Eagle) tires. At Brainered International Raceway, on tires intended for cornering, I put down a sub-13 second 1/4 mile through the mufflers and full exhaust, with the handicap of an Aussie copy of the B&M Ripshifter. The paint is original, and tired. The glass is scratched and pitted- hit stuff at 140, the glass isn't made for that. But I care nothing for the cats that nitpick me- I love this car. I'm certain that it will either bankrupt me or kill me, I'm ok with that. Looking at my receipts, I could have bought a decent mid 2000's 911 or a better house for what I have in yon GTO.
I didn't want those things. I have what I want. And those who sneer? Meet me, with money in hand. I'll blow it up before I lose- and then I can build a new motor. Bring it. I bought a #4 because I wanted a solid base. What do you like- going fast or looking good? For me, going fast IS looking good. The fun is in the doing. Picture the look on the owner of a 75k+ Shelby as I run away. The ripped leather and pitted glass? So? A win is a win. And the snotty bucks crowd always feels worse when beaten down by a home built whip. Really. Your Ferrari smoked by a Bugatti? Ok. Your Ferrari smoked by a beat up GTO? Trauma.
Always liked the ElCo SS. Do you have the Monte SS aero add ONS?
BMD4800
Gearhead

Too much TV.

Buying a basket case to flip and make a profit is as real that monkey show on Discovery.

Yell Whoo and drink some donkey whizz beer.

The REALITY is this:
Some buy classics to enjoy, some to invest, and some buy a pile because it’s all they can afford up front, but can fund a resto, or their build is sentimental.

I got a 63 that will require far more $ than it is worth. But it isn’t about the resale. It’s the memories. New or old, that comes with a classic car.

And that, my friends, is why the market ebbs and flows, but never dies.
El-Oscuro
Pit Crew

I have a 1992 Camaro. Malaise era cars aren't known for their speed, but this one has it. I saw an ad on our (paper) bulletin board at work for it in 1994: Camaro V8 with 5-speed: $8,500. Half the MSRP on a 2 year old car. And not many Camaros had V8s with sticks. I had to check it out. There must be something really wrong with it for that price.

When I saw it in the driveway, I was sold even before I knew it ran. Absolute show room condition. I'm still not sure why the price was so low. It was my daily driver throughout the 90's and most of the aughts.

But gradually, I started having a lot of problems with the malaise era EFI and emissions equipment and it barely ran. By 2019 before the pandemic, the clutch had failed and I was ready to get rid of it. But my wife suggested I take it one last time to a local performance shop to get it fixed for good.
I listened to her, and they tried to fix the OEM EFI but couldn't, even replacing the the ECM module. Nothing worked. So they proposed replacing everything with a Holly Sniper EFI system, which I agreed to. As they did the work, the pandemic hit and shut everything down - except fortunately auto repair shops. It was a tough conversion and they had to undo a lot of previous mechanics mistakes, but it was worth it. I have almost 30 years of memories with this car and my kids have known it their entire lives.
hyperv6
Racer

The 79 TA will do fine if it is a Pontiac 400 with 4 speed. Limited numbers here are key to the last of a kind. The Olds engine cars not so much.

 

The RAD Wood deal is growing and this will help the 80’s cars.

Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Not surprising. GM cars tend to have the biggest representation at car shows. Lots more of the "lesser" models are becoming popular it seems.
Padgett
Advanced Driver

Interesting what people have forgotten. Seems as if Roadkill has made shredding tires popular when back in the day "going up in smoke" meant going slow. Are slider clutches still around or are all drag cars automagics now.
The first gen SS Camaros are another forgotten item. The two bolt Chev 350s in 67 are the reason 68s got bigger bearings and four bolt mains. What was strong enough for a 283 and 327 wasn't when stroked to 350 and crank failures were common. But then I also see quite a few early "Z-28s" missing a mandatory option no-one cared about, rear bumper guards. Also forgotten are the 70 Pontiac 455s which also suffered from crank failures. Fixed in 71 and 71-72 455 HOs are great engines but back in the day it was hard to give a 455 away. Does anyone care ?
Smilodon
Detailer

Yes. Was a year behind in highschool from K.B., who had a real '69 DZ302 Z28. Muncie close ratio crunch box, real 4.11 12 bolt axle, real cowl hood for the staggered twin 4bbls. No muffs, chambered pipes, thing sounded like someone shot a Ferrari, spun to 6800 and looked good, dark blue white stripes & white interior, black carpet/dash/headliner. No bumper guards cuz no bumpers. No rear seat, no heat/ac, no radio. Rubber mats inside. Mandatory bumper guards must have been assigned to cars that had bumpers. Kurt's Z didn't have bumpers. And when that 302 wound up through those chambered pipes? Well.
67CougGuy
Intermediate Driver

From the standpoint of a Big Time "Cougar" fan, it's great to witness the recent increased appreciation for the early model years of the Mercury Cougar. Hagerty's valuation data shows that the average value of '67 & '68 Cougars has remained flat for years. 

Although the summer sighting of an early model Mustang is quite commonplace, the sighting of an early model Cougar is a rare occurrence indeed. Seems to me that their relative rarity would eventually translate into greater appreciation for this "personal luxury" pony car. 

Since my first viewing of a 1967 Cougar  --whilst walking to school--  I've considered the early Cougar to be a Mustang 'with class'. I suppose this represents another example of "to each his own".

"Go Cougar Go!!"
Smilodon
Detailer

I graduated '78. A good car friend, Shawn E., had a '70 Cougar Eliminator. Bright orange, white vinyl top, 351C/4spd, white interior with orange carpet and trim. Not the fastest nor quickest car, but comfy and with A/C, the girls loved it (him? Maybe). But a very cool car.
Gary
Detailer

First off am I the only one who has trouble signing in? When you finish reading the article and get to the comments I can never sign in there or anywhere in this email. I would think you could just sign in when you get to the end of the article under comments where it says you need to sign in. Or maybe they don’t want my comments.
Sajeev
Community Manager

@Gary I have heard from a few of user with the same issue. Most of the problems stem from the user's web browser, so if you could please log out, clear your browser's cache, log back in, and see if that helps! 

OkJustOneMore
Intermediate Driver

I predict that the less popular cruisers and pickups will keep increasing in value. The average person can't afford these extravagant prices. The hobby has become a rich man's portfolio.
Padgett
Advanced Driver

Depends on your tastes. Lately I tend to buy two, one nice, and a second for parts. This backfires sometimes, now have two of the "more powerful" 4.5 Allantes, one 3+ and other 3-, and paid under $7500. For both. Both drive and stop well, have hardtops, and cold AC. Manuals and parts are available. (I would avoid a '93 because can be a money trap, the 89-92 not so).
R-170 Merc SLKs are the same as are the "same chassis" Chrysler Crossfire. Both can be found with manual transmissions but the 5 speed auto is also good.
Point is there will always been interesting cars, some driven up by popularity but more that are essentially unknown and can be cheap even as nice presentable drivers.
BMD4800
Gearhead

One can get decent financing on a collector car. Don’t tell me you’ll drop $50k on a depreciating Tupperware transport pod, but won’t drop $50k for a car you’d enjoy.

Sure, I would have loved any of the 3 GNXs in Scottsdale, but a nice Grand National that had some miles is perfectly acceptable.
AZMG
New Driver

How much of the market is being supported by easy money? Seems as if all the auction houses have a relationship with a finance company. Having never tried to obtain a loan from any of them, I've got to wonder what their underwriting criteria is. Not much different than the cheap money that has supported the housing industry and driven prices up 20 to 30% in the hotter markets.
Padgett
Advanced Driver

Has always been two main variables, time and money. You trade one for the other. Back in the day we had more time than money. Today many seem to have the money but lack the ability to use time.
There is always the factor that I recommend if people are buying just one, get the best one you can find, that way you can enjoy it now and not later. Also either way the total cost winds up the same (nice car is often less than the total cost for a finished project).
Personally, I tend to fixate on a make/model, study up on all available information, often have a shop manual before the car. Then I start looking. And when I look, it may take months, but usually find.
Fortunately for my wallet I prefer unknown or ignored oddballs. Of course also tend to keep ones I like for decades. One I acquired thirty years ago has reached a 10,000% increase.
BMD4800
Gearhead

We were pre-approved for $150,000 before attending BJ in Scottsdale and I’m not rich. Easy money is relative. I don’t like debt, so any of it is suspect, but 120 easy monthly payments sounds like a prison sentence.
Gary
Detailer

Well if it comes to putting money in buying a collector car or putting it in crypto coin it’s a no brainer. I can go out to the garage and look at my cars, even take them for a drive, or look at my bitcoins and wonder
Mike_B
Intermediate Driver

Regarding the Cougars being the highest FoMoCo movers...

I track and document Eliminators for the CCOA and Eliminator Registry, and the '70 Eliminator sales have far outpaced the '69 Eliminators. Currently the availability of a '70 Eliminator for purchase is almost non-existent, whereas there are about a dozen '69 E-cats on the market at various price points and conditions.

I would say that the '70 351C Eliminators are moving up the fastest, gaining about 50% in value in the last few years. The laggards in the Eliminator crowd seem to be the '69 CJ's. You can still pick up a nice '69 CJ Eliminator for around $60k or so.

However, Eliminators in general remain a "rare find". As I mentioned, there are only about a dozen of them currently listed publicly. So if you are looking for a specific color or drivetrain combination, you need to be patient. When one you want does come available you need to be quick because there are 50 other guys who also want that '70 Boss 302 SDP in Comp Orange and Houndstooth.

~Mike B.
CCOA #9557
https://classiccougarcommunity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16053
https://www.facebook.com/groups/473220306059769/
munron
Pit Crew

I find it interesting that the 04-06 Pontiac GTO doesn't even get a mention. I realize they're not quite the same era as the others, but they can keep up with and in most cases blow the doors off most of the ones that made the list. Not that I'm complaining. I'm happy for them to be flying under the radar. cause its fun surprising people at the lights with my "bloated Lumina".
Smilodon
Detailer

Yay! Actually, they were called bloated Cavaliers. Read my prior comments, my '04 40th Anniversary TorRed 6spd with the aftermarket 7.0L is my baby, split leather and 12 second 1/4s n all.
munron
Pit Crew

Very nice.  The '04s did need a little something more.  The 7.0 upgrade was a nice touch.  Here in Canada these cars are really rare which makes them even more of a surprise to unsuspecting Camaros.