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The Classic-Car Frenzy Is Over for Skittish Collectors

  • Years of growth have left market over-saturated and pricey
  • Lower-cost cars are booming as younger collectors pile in
Vehicles at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Vehicles at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Updated on

The classic car market is coming to terms with a new reality, as years of climbing prices and spirited buying give way to a new era of more discriminating collectors wary of overpaying in unpredictable times.

Demand for cars costing more than $1 million collapsed at the 2019 Monterey Car Week in California last month, according to Hagerty, which compiles an index tracking collector-car prices. The sell-through ratio -- a gauge of the success of auctions -- slumped to 48% from 67% for these elite vehicles, while sales rates held up for cheaper models.