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Monterey Verdict: Collector-Car Market Surprisingly Strong Page 2

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Kinney said that it's nothing like the early-1990s collector-car market crash, "when they were unsaleable and values cut in half, or even less."

1957 BMW Isetta - RM Monterey 2009

1957 BMW Isetta - RM Monterey 2009

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Even given a market reset, according to McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty Insurance Agency, a major insurer of collector cars, classic American cars from the 1950s and earlier aren't going significantly down any time soon, because "The cost of doing a proper restoration on a fifties American car has dramatically gone up…just to do the chrome is 20 or 25 thousand, and that's starting to get priced in with the cars at auction."

Hagerty had himself been hoping to get a bargain on a sharp-looking '57 BMW Isetta, then was disappointed to see the price driven to $42k—much higher than its estimate. "People are figuring out that it's not only about going fast or having a red Ferrari."

"You have to be disciplined about it," said Hagerty. "We've not even since the beginning of this recession seen distressed selling."

Buyers once had to wait up to a year to receive their new cars – now it’s closer to six months

Buyers once had to wait up to a year to receive their new cars – now it’s closer to six months

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Hagerty said that there was one especially memorable instance of distressed selling. "RM had a bunch of VW-credit owned Lamborghinis," he said, adding that they were liquidated from a dealer who got into financial trouble, with the credit company circumventing them. The new 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 models were selling at about $180k each—that's almost ten percent off sticker—"a smokin' deal" for a brand-new, full-warranty car, according to Hagerty.

As for the muscle-car market, there wasn't anything like that happening. The market has adjusted slightly but it hasn't been hurting either—which is a bit more surprising as some who has a muscle car in the garage count on it as a big portion of their assets; and many aren't even retired yet.

From all the lost jobs, "you'd think their value would be cut in half" as owners are forced to part with muscle cars, but that's not the case, said Kinney.

Kinney said that he's hearing a similar story from a lot of collectors and enthusiasts: "I didn't understand my stock market account and I trusted somebody else. You know what, I understand classic cars and if I buy one of those and put it in my garage, it doesn't disappear into the ether like my 401k."

"And having that in the portfolio is much more interesting."

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