Understanding our Aus & US Muscle Car Buyer Guides 2020-2021

By: Cliff Chambers

Presented by

valiant valiant

So, what does all this Condition 1, 2 & 3 mean? And how do we come up with the prices?

SCREEECHHH!!! Did you ever experience that awful noise then glance in panic at a threatening shape filling your mirror?

Nowhere to go, nothing to you can do, just brace for the inevitable crash. Then, by some miracle, catastrophe is avoided and your precious classic leaves the scene unscathed.

To those who own special interest vehicles and/or work in the vast industry that supports this movement, 2020 was shaping as the worst year of our collective lives.

Back in April, every automotive event of any consequence had been cancelled. In some places you couldn’t get a tyre fitted, and across major markets the dealer yards and parts suppliers ran down their shutters while the finance industry closed its books.

Owners enduring lockdown sometimes could not work on their vehicle because freight channels relied on for parts shipments had ceased to operate.

New car sales brought no encouragement at all, with some of the worst results in living memory being recorded. Those in the market for a classic model couldn’t travel to view cars for sale and those selling were left wondering how far the values of their vehicles would fall. But then, like the sudden end to a bad dream, the worst of it was over. Unless of course you lived in Victoria.

Auction sales were the first to report the ‘green shoots’ of a receptive market. Even though their salerooms were empty and the thump of the gavel was replaced by electronic pings as online bids were registered, cars were selling again.

Once a couple of local online-only auctions had been conducted, the trends were becoming pretty clear and the news was better than anyone might have contemplated. Clearance rates mirrored those achieved when vehicles and bidders were all in the same place and prices were matching those from 2019 sales. On the international market, the records began to tumble.

Despite a terrifying human toll being taken by Covid-19, European and US auction houses were reporting quite staggering results. Most were for very high-end lots as people whose wealth was unaffected by lockdowns - or perhaps bolstered - showed a determination to invest in automotive rarities, perhaps before the world as they knew it came to an end.

Cars that entered territory where their ilk had never sold before included a stunning Lamborghini Miura SV that topped A$5.2 million and several Bugattis which found new owners after multi-million dollar internet battles.

Local vendors did well too, albeit with some quirky results. One high point in a memorable auction year did not belong to a restored car with competition history - although several fitting that description did sell.

Instead the car that headlined national television news broadcasts was a ratty (literally), rusty and faded XA Falcon GT that made a staggering $303,000 (thanks to its RPO83 performance additions) and overshadowed the $750,000 spent on an ex-HDT Monaro GTS350 in pristine condition.

With no mainstream motor industry any more, Australia might seem a forlorn automotive outpost. Not true. Locally and globally we are affiliated to a movement with many millions of participants which generates billions in revenue and provides employment for vast numbers of people.

Many influential people own and appreciate specialist motor vehicles. The next President of the United States is a long-term Corvette owner and Prince Charles still has an Aston-Martin that runs on cask wine. Even without their patronage, the importance of our hobby socially and economically is immense and it will remain strong even when confronted by politicians who under-estimate its influence.

(Ed’s note: this guide covers Australian and American muscle cars, plus American family cars.)

Cliff Chambers
December 2020

 

UNDERSTANDING THE GUIDE

Market Review Assessments focus on market movements for various vehicles during the past 12 months and they provide, where possible, guidance on realistic pricing for the different models available.

The average values shown at the end of each vehicle review are based on surveys of cars offered for sale privately and through licensed dealers in metropolitan markets throughout Australia and on the internet.

Note that the number in brackets following each average price represents the number of vehicles surveyed. Any average based on fewer than 20 vehicles is not necessarily representative of the market position of that particular model at the time.

Where I/D (Insufficient Data) or N/S (None Surveyed) is shown against a model designation, it indicates that no vehicles fitting the description were found during the survey period for this 2020-21 Buyers Guide.

How to read the Price Charts

The values shown in the charts are based on advertised asking prices and reported sales from all parts of Australia, using data supplied by dealers, private purchasers and auction houses. Usually, the values quoted reflect prices being achieved by vehicles sold by private vendors.

Where a model is rarely offered on the Australian market, estimates are based on overseas value guides and auction results.

Careful reading of the Condition Category descriptions below is vital to effective use of the Price Charts.

Note: Price tracker boxes indicate price movements of that model since 1998.

Example:

Model Average price of vehicles surveyed Number surveyed
VF Pacer $35,450 [2]

 

What Condition 1, 2, 3 & Concours mean

CONDITION 1

BODY

Should be free of dents, rust or obvious repairs. Minor stone chips are permissible, major blemishes or mis-matched paint work are not. Brightwork must be complete and show no evidence of damage.

INTERIOR

Seats should be covered in original pattern material free of rips or other damage, floor covering should be complete, clean and of correct material, headlining clean. Dashes – especially timber or veneer – should be free of cracks or discolouration.

ENGINE BAY

Clean with no water, oil, fuel or battery leaks. Hoses and belts need to be in sound condition. The correct engine, or one which was optional to the model, should be fitted. Authentic components are a must if the car is to be upgraded to concours standard.

UNDERBODY

No dents or damage to underseal, exhaust system complete and undamaged, no oil leaks from the differential, transmission or shock absorbers. All suspension components should be in good working order.

WHEELS & TYRES

Original wheels with correct hubcaps or aftermarket wheels in keeping with vehicle style and age should be fitted. Tyres need to be correct size and speed rating, with at least 50 per cent original tread.

 

CONDITION 2

BODY

No serious rust or large areas of body filler evident. Minor bubbling in non-structural areas permissible. Paint should be good quality but may show evidence of repairs, chips and scratches. Brightwork should be good generally, but areas of dulled or scratched chrome are likely.

INTERIOR

Seats may have been re-covered but should be in good general condition. If the trim is original, areas of wear and broken stitching are likely. Floor coverings should be complete, carpets and hoodlining preferably to original pattern. Cleaning may be required.

ENGINE BAY

Engine should be of original type although original engine is unlikely. No major fluid leaks or discolouration. Cleaning will be required.

UNDERBODY

No serious damage, however scrapes and chipping likely. Minor oil leaks are common, exhaust should be complete and free from holes or burning around joints. Suspension components such as kingpins, ball joints and shock absorbers need to be roadworthy.

WHEELS & TYRES

Wheels should be the original rims or legal-sized aftermarket units. Tyres should have at least legal tread depth left.

 

CONDITION 3

BODY

Moderate rust is inevitable, although chassis, firewall and other structural areas should be sound. Minor body damage is common. Paint likely to be faded, with uneven colour. Body filler usually found in panels but unacceptable in structural areas. Brightwork should be basically complete and major components like the grille must be fitted. Re-chroming or polishing of most parts will be required.

INTERIOR

Seats need to be structurally sound but will normally need re-covering. Floor coverings likely to be damaged or missing. Door trims should be fitted but may need replacement.

Vinyl dashboard tops usually cracked or warped.

ENGINE BAY

The engine should run but work will be needed, with the engine bay likely to be dirty and oil stained. Hoses and fuel lines may need replacement for the vehicle to be reliable.

UNDERBODY

Will show signs of neglect and damage (dents, stone damage, etc) but should be free of major rust. Chassis and structural members need to be straight. Suspension components and exhaust systems will usually need replacement.

WHEELS & TYRES

Wheels should be free of major damage, but tyres will normally need replacement.

 

CONCOURS

Vehicles in genuine concours condition will be completely original or rebuilt to the highest standards. Generally they are better than when new. Some cleaning or replacement of minor components may be required but anything more than minor blemishes will significantly reduce the car’s chances of success.

Cars with the potential to achieve Gold standard (90 per cent or better) in open judging can cost 50 per cent or more over Condition One values.


DISCLAIMER

The author and publisher have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the 2020-21 Unique Cars Market Guide, but we do not accept responsibility for any loss or inconvenience caused by errors or omissions.

Values are subject to change due to social, political or economic circumstances within Australia or elsewhere.

This magazine provides useful guides on trends, but they are always subject to change. We suggest any purchase like this should be done with your eyes wide open and treated as a personal reward rather than part of a retirement plan.

To determine the value of a specific vehicle, inspection by an appropriately qualified specialist is strongly recommended.

 

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