When ACC's staff isn't out drag racing our cars or going to shows, we're tracking the collector car market via auction sales. And probably the most frequent question we're asked has to do with which cars are the new hot ticket in the market at large. What cars should you buy right now before prices move up? How much should you expect to spend?
Time to dust off the crystal ball - with that question in mind, here are five cars I'd buy right now, and why I picked them:
1965 Chevrolet Impala SS 409 convertible
GM built a lot of full-size cars, and I think this is the best of the bunch. Why? Because only a handful were built in ’65 with the 409 before the 396 was introduced several months into production. So you get the later (and prettier) Coke-bottle body with curved glass and the iconic W-motor. These cars are still relatively cheap, but interest is growing. Find a well-documented example with as many original components as possible and a 4-speed.
What should you spend? $30k–$37k.
1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS 396
The introduction of the fifth-gen Camaro drummed up a lot of interest in the first-gen cars, and of them, I've always liked the ’68 the most, thanks to its subtle changes over the ’67. The 396 was the hottest factory-built car available to the masses in ’68, and thanks to attrition, they aren't as easy to find as they once were. Plus, for the same money as a new SS, you can have a very usable first-gen big-block car that won't depreciate like a 2013 will.
What should you spend? $30k–$40k, depending on options.
1968 Dodge Charger R/T
I've always loved the shape of the ’68–’70 Charger. These cars are nowhere near as easy to find as your typical Camaro or Mustang, and thanks to a handful of iconic screen performances, they've become a halo muscle car to a new generation of collector. Mopar was hit hard with the market crash of ’08, but it's recovered well, at least for cars that are all-original and documented. Find a 440-equipped car with a 4-speed.
What should you spend? $30k–$40k.
1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302
This is on my list for the same reason as the Camaro - both have seen renewed interest thanks to modern incarnations on the showroom floor. I'd pick one of these up for the same reason as well - the original Boss has already lived through the majority of its depriciation. The new ones? They've only just begun. Plus, these cars are really fun to drive, with explosive power from relatively small displacement solid-lifter engines paired to 4-speed manual transmissions.
What should you spend? $32k–$54k.
Post-war Ford and GM pickups
I've written before about the booming market for classic American trucks. If you can find an original well-optioned rig from the blue-oval or the General, I'd snap it up. But watch out - it'll be easy to pay too much here. I'd only look for well-worn but completly stock originals, unless you want to pay for a restoration. Rust is a deal breaker, as are any aftermarket components.
What should you spend? Up to $20k.
What do you think? This is a pretty short list. What else would you add to it? Let me know in the comments below.
Jim Pickering is the Editor of American Car Collector magazine and has been the Managing Editor of Sports Car Market magazine since 2006. As proficient with Snap-On tools as he is with a keyboard, Jim began his career as a professional mechanic while still in college at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where he earned a B.A. in Creative Writing. He can often be found at Portland International Raceway at the Late-Night Drags, behind the wheel of his 12-second big-block powered 1966 Chevrolet Caprice. He is also currently restoring a 1972 Chevrolet K10 Cheyenne Super longbed in his spare time.