What to Expect from the 2018 Classic Car Market

Consistency and Stability Prevail

Welcome to the new year. Same as the last. Cynical? Perhaps, but at least it is giving some the confidence that the impending “crash” isn’t about to happen anytime soon. My prediction for the 2018 classic car market is one of consistence and stability, so fear not.

Of course, until the first rounds of auctions have come and gone, and the money counted, it is always difficult to say how the market is reacting, but I do believe that the days of double percentage rises in values have been left behind for now. Salon Retromobile in Paris at the start of February is usually the best gauge, and of course for the American readers, the Arizona auctions give a clue to how the US will fare in a still unpredictable political environment.

2018 Classic Car Market - Porshe 993
Source: RM Sotheby’s

Not All Badges are Equal

What will become more apparent as the year progresses, however, is that whilst all cars are created equally, some are more equal than others. Throughout 2017 it became noticeable that sellers were hanging off the coat tails of successful prices achieved for cars with provenance and condition. This cannot survive through 2018 as the buyer is savvier than some give credit. Carrying the same badge does not, it must be said, give you automatic access to the VIP circle of values, and this must be recognized. Just because that 1 owner, 20,000-mile Porsche 993 GT2 achieved a seven-figure price, don’t expect your 80,000 mile 993 Targa Tiptronic with patchy history to command big money just because it has the same badge on the nose. Too many times I’ve heard the phrase “yes, but everyone knows air-cooled Porsches are only going one way….” in the past 12 months. Not so. It’s time to get some perspective people.

Cars are now built in significantly larger numbers than they were in the past, and so, there are more out there for the buyer to choose from. It’s a simple case of supply & demand. If your car isn’t good enough, there will be another along in just a minute that is. The buying market is now wise to this, and simply won’t be fobbed off with a sub-standard car at an over-inflated price.

Crowing a New Leader for Values

That being said, I can see certain cars rising to the top of the 2018 classic car market, and it will be to the benefit of the lucky few.

2018 Classic Car Market - McLaren F1
Source: McLaren

I think it is now a given that the McLaren F1 is the new Ferrari 250 GTO as far as values are concerned, and given the low volume of build, coupled with the fact it is still THE king of supercars, will keep values rising. Of course, there will be different levels of value given history and provenance, but once a car is in that rare stratosphere of 8 figure sums, what’s a couple of million here and there……

The Safe Bet

Back to the stable of the Prancing Horse; it continues to be a safe bet for most people’s money. The exquisitely simple and in-demand F40 is helping the value of its inferior replacement, the F50 to achieve greatness, and this will continue. As always, anything built before 1970 with Enzo’s input just seems safer than a bank vault for holding money.

2018 Classic Car Market - Lancia
Source: TopSpeed 

Keeping an Eye on Competition Cars

Whilst I remain to be convinced that the 1980’s hold anything of greatness that will be setting new auction house records, it is heartening to see some great cars back in dealers’ showrooms making good money. I’ve noticed a few sporting greats from that era such as Lancia 037s and Integrales crop up with suitably great price tags. Remember, rallying was a phenomenal sport back then, and with the premature abandonment of Group B, many cars found their way onto the Rallycross circuits only to be modified and damaged beyond redemption. Survivors of this spectacle of speed from the forests and deserts of the world are rare, and so we may see these competition cars rise in values just we saw it with the racing GT cars from the ‘60s. Perhaps keep a close eye on this.

So, there we have it. A smooth ocean ahead I predict for the 2018 classic car market, with only the odd squall to sail through. A level playing field, however, does not apply to all cars, so be aware if you are buying, and be realistic if you are selling. Observe this, and all should be well with no surprises in store.

Related Blogs

A Guide to Buying a Car at Auction

2017 Car Market Review

Tips For Consigning Your Car to Auction

About the Author:

Bryan McMorran is a car industry specialist and is Abbeyfield Sports & Classic’s Founder & Director.