Muscle car values roar back to life

Muscle cars back in a big way

Even as classic Ferraris, Porsches and Mercedes hit new highs, American muscle cars lagged behind the collectibles boom for most of the recovery. Now, however, they're roaring back to life.

According to Hagerty, a collectible car insurer, muscle cars are now back to their 2008 peak for the first time since the recession. The company's "Muscle Car Index," which tracks 15 of the top muscle car models, is up nearly 50 percent over the past year, with much of that growth coming in the second half of 2014.

A 1969 Shelby GT500 Convertible, formerly owned by racing legend Carroll Shelby, could sell for $500,000 to $650,000.
Source: Barrett-Jackson

The average value of the top 15 cars is now closing in on $300,000. Muscle car values took off especially fast after a 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda was sold by Mecum Auctions for $3.5 million last June.

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The big test of whether the muscle car market can keep its strength will come in the coming days at auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hagerty estimated that more than $285 million worth of cars will be sold there, up 15 percent from last year.

The biggest dollar numbers will still mainly come from vintage European sports cars, like Ferraris, Mercedes and Lamborghinis. But there are loads of muscle cars that are expected to sell for a half million or more.

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So far, some of the sales results have been mixed. A 1970 hardtop Hemi 'Cuda in purple with a white interior, was sold by auction company Barrett-Jackson for $225,500—well below some estimates that the car would fetch between $325,000 and $400,000.

This 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda just sold in Scottsdale, Ariz., for $225,500.
Source: Barrett-Jackson

A 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Yenko 427 could go for $250,000 to $350,000. And a 1969 GT500 Cobra Mustang convertible owned by racing legend Carroll Shelby could sell for more than $600,000.

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American race cars are also on the move. A 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Race Car Convertible could go for between $1 million and $1.5 million.