2023 Muscle Car Market Review

By: Cliff Chambers

holden torana 5 holden torana 5

What are they worth now?

Market Review 2023

Those with long memories will recall that big gains made in the speculative car market have traditionally been followed by spectacular downturns. It happened during 1990-91, as Australia and the world slipped into recession, and again during 2006-07 when the ducks aligned – unbeknown to most of us – ahead of the Global Financial Crisis.

Now, after the meteoric uplift in demand that accompanied Covid-19, we see untenably low interest rates disappearing and money flooding out of cars and into other investment streams.

As has happened in the past, this change will bring good tidings to mainstream car enthusiasts. They, for now anyway, need to spend a little less and compete against fewer ‘price is no concern’ bidders when trying to acquire desirable models.

Vendors need to participate in the process as well, and it was enlightening to see auctioneers at late-2022 sales, ‘awaiting instructions’ from vendors who were suddenly confronted by a market undergoing its first major reboot in 15 years.

How savage the decline will be depends on when the car was acquired and just how cavalier the most recent buyer had been when deciding how much to spend on that ‘must have’ motor vehicle.

Where a car has been in the same ownership for some time, the pressure to sell will be less intense than where a big slab of debt has recently been added to the home mortgage and an urgent sale is now required at whatever price the market is offering.

Not all vehicles will suffer downturns and there will always be competing buyers for extraordinary cars. These will have been preserved in close to original condition, with low and documented distances travelled and verified ownership going back to the date of the initial sale.

Even if the paint on an older model shows some wear and the stainless has tarnished, a car that has spent its past 50 or 60 years in devoted ownership will have greater appeal than one left to rust in a shed before being treated to a mega-dollar restoration.

It was interesting to see, though, while surveying for this year’s Guide the numbers of restoration projects available and how quickly they seemed to find new owners. In the past, resuscitating a car long past its prime would quickly exceed the ability of most amateurs. Now, with repair panels being made for myriad models and spares throughout the world accessible via the internet, their task has become easier and more affordable.

Some potential restorers, not to mention current owners, might look nervously at the short-term future for special interest models, but attacks on such a major economic catalyst are in nobody’s interest.

The classic vehicle industry is worth many billions worldwide and employs thousands of people. Even in countries that are moving to ban sales of new, hydrocarbon-fuelled vehicles, the future of historic models is not under threat.

The disappearance of familiar brands and fundamental change to others is significant, though. If you are in the market for a fairly recent Australian-made Holden or Ford Falcon or yearn for the rumble of a front-engined Corvette, don’t be surprised if demand for the cars we call ‘classic’ remains fierce.

Cliff Chambers
December 2022


| Read next: Understanding our Oz & USA muscle car value guides

From Unique Cars #473 Dec 2022/Jan 2023


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