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The classic car market may slowing. But a wave of younger collectors are driving up the prices of recent model cars, upending the traditional market, according to a classic car expert.
Overall auction sales of classic cars in the first quarter fell 11 percent to $472 million compared with a year ago, according to Hagerty Group, the classic car insurance and valuation company.
The high end is hurting the most. Sales of cars priced at $1 million or more fell to $109 million from $143 million.
The main reason for the decline is fewer cars are being offered for sale. The total number of cars for sale at auction fell 12 percent, according to Hagerty.
McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, said the top end of the market has "plateaued" after huge price surges in 2014 and 2015.
"The market has been so strong for so many years, many of the best examples have already come to market at the auctions," he said. "Once all that frothiness chewed itself up in the auction market, many of them have gone to a private sale environment."
The weakness at the top obscures a surge in demand and prices for lower-end cars and more recent models that give newer collectors an on-ramp into the market. Hagerty said a 2008 Lamborghini Murcielago, that sold new for around $300,000, is now worth around $225,000.
But based on interest from younger, new collectors, the value in 10 years "it will easily double," he said.
"Lamborghinis have been hot for the past few years," he said. "The Countachs, the ones from Cannonball Run and the Diablos, these were the first cars that had Italian style but German engineering."
He said a 2002 Pontiac Trans Am would also appreciate significantly in value. They sold new for around $25,000. Now good condition, Trans Ams from the period are selling for as much as $35,000.
"Most cars depreciate to some level, and many of them just go down and disappear," he said.
"What distinguishes a collector car, it develops a curve where it depreciates and starts making its way back up to the purchase price and then it goes up from there. We call it the J curve. Both the Murcielago and the Trans Am have terrific J-curves."