Is The Collectible Car Market Full Of Garbage And Destined To Go Bust?


When will this so-called "bubble" burst?

On CarBuzz, we have taken a few cracks at predicting which cars that aren't worth much today will turn into the next E30 M3. Some of our choices may pan out, while others may be a bit too optimistic. Either way, the topic of collectible cars is very complex. On the one hand, vintage car prices have been reaching all-time highs. On the other hand, no one really knows for sure whether this boom is really going to last. Like the housing and stock markets, the classic car market could easily burst.

The inherent value of a collector car is most easily explained by talking about shifts in generations. This is a very complex topic that we will boil down to the basics. Put simply, when one generation reaches the age where they make a lot of money, they begin to buy the cars they wanted as a youth. When talking about the current crop of valuable classics, you will hear a lot about the baby boomer generation. Born from 1946 through 1964, the baby boomers own approximately 58% of the estimated 5 million collector cars in the US (according to Hagerty Group). This huge age demographic buys cars because their parents loved cars. However, this may not be true of the next generation.

Darin Schnabel
Darin Schnabel

When the baby boomers start to die off, many people wonder what will happen to their cars. Looking through history, it is clear that some cars, like Duesenbergs and V16 Cadillacs will always be worth a ton. However, ordinary '20s and '30s cars like Buicks and Chevys aren't really shooting up in value. We may start to see a similar trend when Generation X starts to replace the baby boomers. Generation X typically includes people born from the 1960s to the 1980s. This generation is nowhere near as large as the baby boomer generation (51 million compared to 80 million). Many people speculate that Generation X is not nearly as enthusiastic about cars and may not continue the car collecting hobby.

Even though not all baby boomers loved cars, the sheer number of people in this generation helped bolster the high prices for collector cars. The next generation to be this large is the millennials, and no one seems to think that they like cars. However, when we look at cars that we think will become collectible, we keep the millennials and Gen X in mind. The baby boomers bought cars that they could only dream about as children. Perhaps future generations will do the same thing. That is why cars like the E30 M3 and Acura NSX are starting to go up in value. The children of the '80s and '90s who couldn't afford them can now help drive prices up beyond reason. Why? Because they can afford to!

We don't buy into the speculation that the classic car market is going to die off. We even have some fun predicting which oddball cars that no one even knows about will become the next million dollar rarity. Soon auction houses may be selling Toyota Supras for hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of old Mustangs and Camaros. The faces may start to change in the collector car market, but we are hopeful that collecting classic cars is a passion that never goes out of style.

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