Jim’s Blog: What do you call Collectible?

I’m working on hunting down our profile cars for ACC #19 right now, and one of the things I’ve noticed from combing through recent auction sales is a lot more later-model cars offered at collector car auctions in recent months.

Don’t get me wrong — buyers have been turned on to performance cars of the ’80s and ’90s for a while now. We’ve seen 5.0 Mustangs and Grand Nationals bring decent interest and money at auction for years. But it seems like all of a sudden we’re seeing the more mundane stuff being appreciated, too. Cars like mid-’80s Ford Broncos, Chevrolet pickups from the square years (1973-1987), and more. Mecum just sold a few extremely low-mile Dodges — an ’84 Caravan ($7k hammer), an ’86 Lancer ($5,500 hammer), and an ’87 Daytona ($9k hammer) — at its Dallas auction last month. When’s the last time you saw really good examples of any of those?

I didn’t really think much of all this until this past week, when my dad called me from our favorite junkyard. He’d trekked out to their row of first-gen Camaros so he could see how their floor-shift automatic setups were assembled at the factory (his ’68 project car was a 4-speed originally but now has a TH400 auto). Not only were the Camaros more or less picked clean, but a bunch of ’80s stuff has moved in — and this is at a place that specializes in collectible American cars. It’s clear that their market has already changed. Either the supply of traditional collectibles has dried up, or the demand for ’80s stuff is rising. That place is pinning some of its future business prospects into a number of cars most of us would probably ignore at a car show.

Have cars from the Reagan years have really matured to the point of being collectible, or are we looking at isolated results from a handful of really low-mile examples that have hit the market? It’s hard to say. But I do think that as Gen Xers and Millennials get older and start hunting for those cars they knew as kids, we’ll see the collector market change pretty significantly. Maybe it’s time to start buying up all those really good K-cars and Broncos?

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.