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When Do Classic Cars Lose Value

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  • 19-04-2022
When Do Classic Cars Lose Value

When do classic cars lose value? If you want to invest in a classic car, you will want to know how long they retain their value. This article looks at how to keep your classic car as a good investment.

Some cars inevitably lose value over time; this can be said for both modern and classic car models. In general, the use of any vehicle reduces its value, although, for vintage or classic cars, the value drop may be less significant or non-existent owing to various reasons. 

Vintage cars that aren't considered rare, with incredibly high miles, or ones that are very poorly maintained. Vehicles that fit this description are likely to have poorer value retention agilities and be less attractive to collectors. 

What Qualifies As A Classic Car?

What's more, not all classic car prices experience a drop in value, but rather an increase in value over the long term, so long as the car is well maintained. To reduce the risk of buying a classic car for it to just drop in value, you should consider the following factors;

 Price When New What did the original owner pay for the car?

 Rarity How many were produced?

 Maintenance costs How much is it to maintain the car

 Car condition How well has it been maintained?

 Originality Is it a modified car?

 Cult Following Is the car already popular?

Tips and Risks when Investing in Collectible Cars

Here are some tips and tricks to mitigate risks when investing in a classic collectable car. They ensure you'll receive the best deal for the vehicle and don't miss any issues that could develop into larger problems. 

Over the decades, the overall level of disposable income has increased, allowing people to chase rare collectables, as a sort of trophy and piece of history. More recently, the vintage, classic car market has done much better than other collectable items such as stamps or coins, occasionally outperforming the broad stock index. 

The collectable car market is tracked by 'Historic Automobile Group International' (HAGI), which uses various indexes to measure the industry. The most comprehensive index is the HAGI Top Index, which observes and categorises vintage collectable cars such as Ferrari, Bugatti, Alda Romeo, Porsche and others. This index increased by around 33% during 2019, and although affected by the pandemic, values still increased in 2020 (6%) and 2021 (2%).

Likewise, insurance company Hagerty offers a classic car index. They use an open-ended inflation-adjusted market index based on the changes to the volume of the market and the value of the dollar. The Hagerty market index is up 21.49 points (December 2020 to December 2021). This value represents the current status of the classic collectable car market.

At the top end of the collectable classic car market, you'll find incredibly rare models being fought over by enthusiasts, often eventually selling for more than $1 million. 

Amongst the high-end collectable cars, you'll find models by less known brands like Hispano-Suiza and Delahaye and more modern brands like Jaguar or Rolls-Royce. 

Some of the less known classic cars haven't been produced for over 100 years, with manufacturing history dating back to the 1880s, making them incredibly rare and in demand. 

Even the brands not originally developed for high-end sale can become collectables, as seen with the 1967-1970 Toyota 2000GT, which can reach up to $1 million at auction. 

Cars can be collectable for various reasons, and the importance can depend on the collector's interests. 

A vehicle can become collectable if it pioneers new technology, increases consumer expectations and is beautiful (in whatever way). Furthermore, cars with historical significance or a racing history can be valued higher, as the car relates to a specific person, such as Carroll Shelby. 

Likewise, cars previously owned by celebrities can help them develop a collectable image, like Steve McQueen and the Bullitt Mustang. The most expensive collectable cars have a combination of these aspects.

A simple way to determine if a car is collectable is to consider if teenage boys or car enthusiasts alike would tape a picture of it to their wall. 

Vintage collectable cars are often bought as a form of memorabilia to let grown men, with new access to money, reminisce about their childhood dream cars. 

The collectable car market is a reflection of these dreams, and collectors can enjoy the aesthetically pleasing aspects of the classic models. 

Collectable cars are like any investment, and they come with fees and various other costs. If you plan to sell your classic car, you may be liable to owe capital gains tax if you make a profit, as the vehicles are regarded as tangible personal property. Along with this comes commission and consignment, transaction, and transportation expenses. 

Whats more, you should consider the costs of restoring a vintage seven-figure car; with the increased rarity of the models, repairing and replacing parts is just as expensive as the purchase of the car itself. In some cases, more to return the car to its original condition.

If you plan to restore the car in a workshop or rented space, you'll incur storage fees, not to mention the ongoing maintenance costs that older cars require. And as with any vehicle, you'll be expected to have insurance, which can be considerably higher for classic car insurance likely to not meet road regulations.

Purchasing a modern car in the hopes it will become a modern classic and collectable investment is a risky move, a significant rise in value is unlikely to happen in a short period. 

This can be seen with the 1990s Dodge Viper, which many thought would be a 'modern classic' and smart investment owed to its style and cult movie appearances, with an original cost of £38,400 (roughly $50,000). Unfortunately, this didn't happen, and you can still buy a 1990s Dodge Viper for around £35,100 (roughly $45,700). 

And with inflation and the cost of maintenance, the collector is unlikely to have made any kind of profit from their investment. 

However, they may have enjoyed joy riding their classic car with other enthusiasts, which is enough for some. Ensure you have knowledge about the collector car market before entering it to avoid poor investments. 

Whether you opt for a lower end collectable car or a high-end import, generally from Europe, there's serendipity across the entire collectable classic car sector. Within the higher-end collectable car market, investments can still turn sour, as seen with Ferrari's 1974 Dino line. 

The Dino 246 GT originally sold for roughly £10,755 ($14,000), and its peer Dino 308 GT4 originally sold for roughly £16,902 ($22,000) when they were first released in the 1990s. 

Today the cars are valued significantly different, with car enthusiasts' website Hagerty valuing the Dino 246 at roughly £36,887 ($48,000) and the 308 at £283,174 ($340,000) the same year. Proving the most expensive car doesn't always bring the highest investment return every time. 

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes the perfect collectable car. Over time the market changes as consumer demands shift and their interests evolve. Furthermore, it's hard to track private sales for collectable vehicles, and often the higher-end vintage cars are one of a kind with unique histories. 

At the top of the market is the Italian car maker's Ferrari, with a rare 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO selling for a cool $48.4 million at auction in California, USA (2018). 

This smashed world records and the previous highest price for a Ferrari whilst becoming one of the most valuable cars on the planet. The previous record was set in 2014 when the same muscle car model was sold for $38.1 million, owed to its previous driver being the famous Stirling Moss at the height of his racing career.

Be wary that high-end collectable cars should be regarded as an incredibly significant investment. It's important to consider the car market can fluctuate for various reasons, and you're once highly-valued collectable car can depreciate. 

So consider carefully often Europe brands are the most reliable, although they can also carry risks, and be wary of volatile markets. Prized Ferraris were bought up by Japanese car enthusiasts in the late 1980s, leading to an astounding price spike, bubble and eventually crash when prices drastically fell. 

Simply make sure you know the demographic and market factors. Most importantly, check that the market you are entering is definitely NOT bubble territory.

So Are Some Classic Cars Losing Value?

Generally, it's expected that the more money you put into a classic collectable car, the more you'll get back once it's sold.

This benefit has recently begun to subside since the collectable car markets peaked in 2015.

During this time, the market reached its highest rating on the Hagerty Market Index, at 71.95; since then, it has slumped to a five-year low of 58.95 last year (Sept 2021).

Although it has recently risen, with the current market rated 66.16 (2022). Auction prices also started to rise again after the pandemic began to subside, though not to its 2015 high. 

Finally, it's clear that owning and restoring a vintage car is certainly a labour of love and demands a high level of patience, auto knowledge and T.L.C.

Yet, the benefits and love for classic cars and their community far outweigh the costs for many car enthusiasts. 

 Are Some Classic Cars Losing Value?

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