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Slightly morbid statistical question on "classic" car values

Illustration for article titled Slightly morbid statistical question on classic car values

That Mustang on today’s NPOCP got me thinking about how we could predict the future crash of the classic car market.


Cars have really only been consumer goods that the average middle class person could collect of around a century and realistically only post WW2 did they become truly ubiquitous.

So while the baby boomers weren’t the first generation to collect classic cars they were born around the time cars were really picking up steam in the 50s and obviously idolize the cool metal from their teens in the 60s.


This means that the biggest wave of car collectors in history is shortly going to drop dead! ⚰️

Classic car prices have been going bananas for years driven (I suspect) by a bunch older folks with free time and lots of disposable income.


Since they can’t take it with them (barring those who accelerate uncontrollably into Costco) and minus the % hung onto by their kids the vast majority of these cars will hit the market.

The truly rare and collectible numbers matching stuff will still command some kind of a premium but all those semi restored Sunday drivers like today’s Mustang Mach 1, no way they’re fetching multiple tens of thousands any more.


Even we who like cars can’t afford for spend 10k+ on a toy and increasingly people don’t have garage space. Eventually the kids/estate will just run out of storage or get sick of the Craigslist scammers and cut bait to the first person who actually shows up with a wad of cash that isn’t insulting and will get them most of the way to Disneyland. I reckon $5k is enough money to make someone who doesn’t care at all about cars think “good enough”

But all this is speculation: how do we measure the glut.

First, how many “classic” cars are there out there? Does Hagarty or any of the other specialist insurers publish annual data for how many vehicles they insure?


Are there industry publications that track this sort of thing - demographic size for sale of SBC parts, white new balance and crying dolls quarterly etc

I’m sure state vehicle registration data is available but that feels too cumbersome and many of these may be off the road already.


Once we know how many there are approximately total you could extrapolate by generation and give the boomers some extra weight.

Then we’d need to know the volume of churn in the classic car market today: maybe there’s transaction volume or listing data on something like BaT.


Then assume they all hit the market within a 10-15 yr window and crank up the supply line while the demand line drops too.

What are we looking at? A classic car-tsunami, a high tide or just a ripple?

Anyone care to take a stab at the math? Or find someone who already did? My economics skills are very creaky and frankly I already wasted too much of my precious free time on writing this post when I have many more projects to work on.



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