It Sold For What?! – Classic Car Edition

Hello! Welcome to the Magnusson Guessing Game, It Sold for WHAT?!

In this game of trivia, you are shown images of two similar objects. Guess which item sold for what between the given options. All sales took place in the secondary marketplace. We know about classic cars… but DO YOU?

Ready? Set? Go!

Classic Cars; A Quick Guide to Depreciation

Nearly 90% of Americans own at least one automobile. The average American car is 11 years old, and is driven 12,000 miles annually. These statistics tell us that most vehicles in this country have well-over 100,000 miles as they pass their first decade on the road. Nonetheless, the secondary market for vintage and classic cars continues to grow in appeal amongst Americans looking for an enjoyable and appreciable physical asset that is older than the typical car.

Like most physical assets or investments,  the value of exceptional classic cars typically exhibits a “J-curve” while it ages onward from it’s primary sale through the next 20-25 years of ownership (and appreciation). The start of the “J-curve” illustrates the primary retail sale price (MSRP), typically followed by severe depreciation in the first ten years. Condition, rarity, and mileage considered, the value curve tends to appreciate after this point until it reaches its MSRP value once again. After 15 years of age, exceptional classic cars can usually expect their value to pass their original MSRP until peaking at 25 to 35 years of ownership.

It should be noted that the vast majority of cars never regain even 1/2 their MSRP from primary sale. Some models follow the “J-curve” model to a certain point then fall short or bottom out. The old adage about “driving off the lot…” still rings true in most cases. For the vast majority of buyers, cars are a poorly appreciated asset, but a necessary one in the modern economy.

SO…can you guess which of these classic cars sold for a higher premium?

QUESTION 1: 1980’s MERCEDES-BENZ

A.

B.

One of these Mercedes regularly sells for $20,000. The other can fetch $125,000. Which one of them is more valuable?

B! Amongst classic Mercedes collectors, the 1980’s era coupe called the 560SEC is a high-grade investment with plenty of solid, low-miles examples to be found. But the 1987 6.0 SEC widebody featured at right is one of only 25 produced worldwide! The 6.0 SEC features special bodywork, a larger engine, custom interior styling, and improved mechanicals. Recent sales records for $125,000 and $110,000, were auctioned at Bonhams and Sotheby’s respectively.

At left is the 560SL Roadster, a V8 convertible commonly held by classic car enthusiasts and collectors alike. One of the best-selling cars in Mercedes’ history, the many high-grade examples of the car available can fetch between $12,000 and $28,000 depending on the production year and factory options.

QUESTION 2: 1990’S FERRARI

A.

B.

One of these Ferraris is an ultra-classic, the other; not so much. So which one is worth $140,000?

A! Featured at left is a late model Ferrari Testarossa (TR), a V12-powered supercar produced from the mid-eighties until 1994. Late-model TR examples typically sell for sums near $80,000, with low mileage, high-optioned examples reaching recent prices of $110,000-$140,000. TR values continue to climb and the model has been hailed as one of the ultra-collectible Ferraris from this time period.

B is the Ferrari Mondial, produced during the same period as the TR. The V8 powered 2+2 coupe did not sell well during its production run, but modern collectors are changing their tune. Recent auction results show that prime examples of late-model Mondials are very much in-demand, with several realized prices nearing $75,000.

QUESTION 3: 1970’s DODGE

A.

B.

Both of these Dodge coupes are great drivers, but only one of them fetched a cool $900,000 at auction.

A! At left is a NASCAR-prototype Dodge “Plymouth” Superbird. Created as a homologation series for NASCAR qualification, the Superbird is arguably the most highly-sought after American muscle car. With only about 2,000 units built in 1970, the model sold very poorly and was not particularly interesting to collectors. But the surge in NASCAR’s popularity since the late 80’s caused values to skyrocket. In 2015, a Superbird crossed the block at Mecum’s Auction where it realized a hammer price of $900,000. Several months ago, a barn-find example unregistered since 1984 traded hands for nearly $100,000.

B is a 1970 Dodge Challenger, another limited production run from Dodge. The market for early Challengers is steadily increasing with models commonly reaching premiums of $40,000. Unlike the Superbird, the Challenger models sold very well, and were particularly well-used as road racers for American youths of the time.

QUESTION 4: 1960’s BENTLEY

A.

B.

Only one of these midcentury Bentleys can be yours for $575,000. So which one is it?

B! This 1960 Bentley S2 features custom coachwork from Wendler. Nearly 2,000 S2’s were built during the model’s run from 1959-1962. A very limited number received custom coachwork from aftermarket coach builders like Mulliner, Park Ward, or Hooper. However, this one-off example received custom coachwork from Wendler, a German coach builder which only did work for Mercedes-Benz customers. This special S2 is currently listed at Hyman Classic Cars for $575,000.

A is an ex-factory standard S2 saloon from the same model year as B. Though produced in extremely limited numbers, the standard S2 bodies without custom coachwork typically don’t fetch more than $40,000 at auction or private sale.

Whether you’ve already got a full stable of classics, or are just tinkering with the idea of getting a vintage weekend driver, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading and learned a little bit about the market conditions for classic cars.

To find out more about the services we can provide to classic car collectors, please feel free to call our team at 973-425-1550. From appraisal to consignment or collector advisory services, The Magnusson Group is HERE to help you find solutions to your personal property questions.


Co-authored by: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA and Kollin Handler, Communications Director.

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