2015’s Biggest Losers in the Collector’s Car Market

Source: BMW
Source: BMW

If there’s anyone left out there who doesn’t know: The collectible car market has gone nuts over the past few years. Well-used classics that could be had in the high four-figure range just 10 years ago (we’re looking at you, Porsche 911), are now selling for five times as much, and cars that were once niche curiosities (at least in the collector market), like the Toyota 2000GT now sell for millions.

If you’re on a budget, lack the resources for a high-grade restoration, or just plain love old cars, this is a pretty dark time to jump into the vintage car market. It seems like world’s greatest cars have become commodities, relegated to the ultra-rich to gobble up, locked away for a few years, then sold again as the market climbs even higher. Luckily, it looks like some daylight is beginning to finally poke through, giving working stiffs like us a shot at some classic iron again.

On top of being a powerhouse in collector car insurance, Hagerty is also a tireless reporter on the pulse of the vintage car industry. Its valuation teams scour the market and update the values of thousands of classics daily, offering gearheads the most accurate picture of the collectible market at any given time. With 2015 drawing to an end, it scanned its database and found the 5 models that saw the biggest drop in value this year, creating a list that’s as surprising as it is lust-worthy. Proving that there are still deals to be had in the collector car market, here are Hagerty’s five biggest losers of 2015.

5. 1955 – 1957 Chevrolet 150

Source: General Motors
Source: General Motors

Chevy’s “Tri-Five” cars were sleek, beautiful, and the first from the Bowtie brand to offer a V8 under the hood since 1919. The American public ate them up; 25% of all cars sold in the U.S. in 1955 were Chevys, and when all was said and done in ’57, Chevy had sold nearly five million of them. Despite their massive production numbers, they’ve always been popular with drag racers, hot-rodders, and collectors, so while you can still find basket cases on Craigslist for a few thousand dollars, Concours-level Bel Airs can fetch over six figures at auction. For years, prices for the base-model 150 cars have been carried along on the top-trim Bel Air’s coattails (seen above). In 2015, the bubble seemed to burst for the 150 — they’re changing hands for an average 27% less than they were in 2014.

4. 1957 – 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk

Source: RM Sotheby's
Source: RM Sotheby’s

The ’50s were the last golden era of independent American automakers, and the last full decade for the Studebaker brand. In 1956, the South Bend, Indiana-based company launched the Hawk, a “family sports car” designed to take on the Chrysler 300B, Ford Thunderbird, and Chevy Corvette. Don’t laugh — its liberal amounts of chrome, tail fins, and plush interior may not look particularly sporting, but the 1957-’58 Golden Hawk’s supercharged 289 cubic inch V8 pumped out 275 horsepower, and could sprint from zero to 60 in 7.5 seconds, and top out at 125 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest production cars in America. The Hawk carried on until ’64, but the supercharged ’57-’58 Golden Hawks are the best of the breed. While this car was sold by RM Sotheby’s during October’s Hershey, Pennsylvania auction for $52,250, there are bargains out there to be had. Golden Hawk prices fell 30% in 2015.

3. 1976 – 1986 American Motors CJ-7

Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Vintage 4×4 prices have caught fire over the past few years, with well-preserved Land Rovers and Toyota Land Cruisers fetching eye-watering prices at auction. Old stock Jeeps haven’t been as costly, but since so many got trashed after years of abuse, or were modified beyond recognition, they’ve seen a real boost too. Seen as the last of the line that can trace its roots back to the World War II-era Willys MB, the CJ-7 saw a number of improvements over its CJ-5 predecessor, namely more creature comforts and a revised wheelbase to reduce rollovers. Despite its rugged, timeless appeal, and being the most inviting daily-driver of all the vintage Jeeps, CJ-7 prices fell a surprising 32% this year.

2. 1968 – 1975 BMW 2002

Source: BMW
Source: BMW

The biggest shocker to make this list is the evergreen 2002. Among its many superlatives, the 2002 is the car that helped save BMW from financial ruin, established the brand in the U.S., kicked-off the sport sedan segment, is considered to be one of the best driver’s cars of its era, and comes about as close to a universally beloved classic as we have seen in the automotive world. But BMW also made over 300,000 of them, there’s an active and extensive support network for them, and a quick search of eBay and Craigslist is sure to turn up a handful of cars in any condition within a few hundred miles of anywhere. It’s far from a bad thing that people are saving as many of these as they can, but as a result, their value has fallen 33% this year. Get one while you can, you won’t be disappointed.

1. 1946 – 1952 Hudson Commodore

Source: Barrett Jackson
Source: Barrett-Jackson

In 1954, Hudson merged with Nash to form American Motors, and disappeared for good in 1957. If it’s remembered at all in pop culture today, it’s because of the animated Doc Hudson in the 2006 Pixar movie Cars. And that’s a shame; in 1948, Hudson turned the automotive world on its ear with its “step-down” bodies, placing the interior within the car’s frame rails instead of on top of it. While this made its cars significantly safer in accidents, it also created a lower center of gravity, making them some of the best-handling cars the U.S. had ever seen. On top of that, its inline-six and straight-eight engines made an impressive amount of torque for the era, making them a favorite for tuners and racers. Hudsons dominated NASCAR in the early ’50s, though by the time the AMC merger went through, the magic was gone.

The range-topping Commodore isn’t as sporty as the more popular Hornet, Wasp, or Jet models, but its combination of luxury and power have long made them popular in collector circles. This 1949 model was used in the 1990 movie Driving Miss Daisy. It crossed the block at Barrett-Jackson’s 2014 Scottsdale auction for $66,000. In 2015, it probably would’ve sold for less — Commodore prices dropped a whopping 36% this year.

Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.