“Right now, there is little movement with the Third-Gen Firebirds, aside from the ’89 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Ams, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon,” Ames says. “We put out a catalog for those cars, but we eventually had to pull it because it wasn’t a money-maker.”
On the positive side, Steve believes the forces that are causing such instability in the stock market are having little effect on the collector-car market, other than sending people to it. “The grass-roots economy is driving the collector-car market—not the stock market.”
Jim Mattison, President of PHS Automotive Services
Jim Mattison’s PHS Automotive Services provides factory documentation on Pontiacs built from ’61 to ’86. He’s a longtime Pontiac hobbyist, who attends most of the auctions around the country. Jim has had a very impressive number of collector cars pass through his collection. He currently owns a black ’65 Tri-Power GTO, a ’67 Ram Air GTO, and a ’67 Ram Air Firebird, as well as a loaded ’67 Firebird 400. He has an optimistic outlook for the Pontiac market right now.
“The market is beginning to rebound,” he said in a recent phone interview. “Good quality cars are doing well and junk is still junk.” He adds that while there is quite a bit of activity in the under $75,000 range, the market above that is not moving well. “The big money people are sitting on their hands.”
“The recent up-and-down stock market has also had a positive effect on the collector-car market, and that trend will likely continue,” he adds. “Tangible markets are up right now—stamps, guns, and old cars.”
From his perspective, he sees that ’71-’81 Trans Ams are picking up. “First-time collectors are going after the cars of their youth—SE cars are particularly hot,” Mattison says. “Four-speeds are better yet.” He has also seen an increase in interest in the ’80-’81 turbo cars, particularly the ’80 Indy and ’81 Daytona pace-car replicas from that era.
Mattison concluded by saying that it looks like 2011 will be a good year. “I’m seeing a lot of new buyers at auctions lately,” he reported. “This is still very much a hobbyist-controlled market. The speculators are, for the most part, out right now.”
Joe Bortz, Dream Car Collector
In addition to his longtime passion for GM Motorama cars and Ghia-bodied Chryslers, Joe Bortz has been very active in the auction world in the last few years and attends nearly all of the collector-car auctions around the country. He has recently started a consulting business catering to both buyers and sellers of collector cars. His new company, TakeYourCartoAuction.com, advises collectors on both sides of an auction transaction, private sales, and will even act as a broker if the customer wishes.
His view of the collector-car market is cautiously optimistic, though he sees some potential problems looming that could affect the entire economy.
“The market for Pontiacs right now is spotty,” Bortz says. “I’ve seen both positive and shaky results for them. Ferraris and exotics are very strong right now, while Duesenbergs are stagnant—the prices for those haven’t moved in the last few years.” He added that ’50s and ’60s non-musclecars are solid, but musclecars from that era have bottomed out. Mopar muscle-cars were hit especially hard, dropping from 25 to 50 percent. Similarly, Corvettes dropped hard in 2010 but are now coming back up.
“It’s difficult to tell going forward what is going to happen,” Bortz explains. “If this recovery is a real one and continues, then things will improve. My concern is if the bottom falls out of the commercial property market—shopping centers and malls—there could be another collapse, like the housing market in 2008. If that happens, the economy will take another hit and it will take another year or two to recover.”
Bortz makes another interesting point—that many new people are stepping into the market who are not collecting for the car’s sake, but investing in it as a commodity. With the volatility of the recent stock market, there has been a shift toward tangible-asset markets, with collector cars taking a vital role in that capacity.
The $300,000 price paid (plus...
The $300,000 price paid (plus auction fees) for Arnie Beswick’s ’69 GTO Judge D/Stock racecar represents the high-water mark for cars like this, even with its racing pedigree. While it may be a few years for this car to start moving again in value, it is an incredible piece of racing history.
This ’66 GTO was advertised...
This ’66 GTO was advertised as an original Tri-Power four-speed car, yet couldn’t even be considered a parts car. Without a tail panel (it was cut out), a usable body panel, or a transmission, it was nonetheless for sale at $7,500. Rather than trying to resurrect it, we recommend a finished car, like the gold one with red fender liners pictured here. Whatever the sale price was for that car, it would be cheaper in the long run.
While the turbocharged ’80-’81...
While the turbocharged ’80-’81 Trans Ams have been non-players in the collector car market in the past, they are now starting to increase in value. If you are considering one of these cars, look for perfect, low- mileage examples, preferably the pacecar replica editions. Serious restoration costs for these vehicles will negate any investment potential.