At the “Art of the Automobile Auction” from RM Auctions and Sotheby’s this afternoon, a 1970 Plymouth Superbird – one of 58 built with a Hemi and a four-speed, with just over 16,000 original miles – sold for $330,000, falling $97,000 short of its LOW pre-auction estimate of $400,000 to $500,000.
In 2003, you couldn’t touch a 1960s-era Mopar with a Hemi and a four-speed for less than a million dollars, let alone one with a wing and a nosecone. Today? A whole different ballgame. It’s the same across the board with muscle cars from Ford and GM, but Hemi-powered Mopars were off the charts for years.
Case-in-point: Several years ago, Barrett-Jackson – which has staked its entire business on hammering Mopars at wildly inflated prices – transferred ownership of a 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible for $1.32 million. When you can purchase a wing car for $330K, 2014 might just prove to be a lean year in Scottsdale.
What fueled this market was the Baby Boomer, with his never-ending supply of ready cash. In 2011, Craig Jackson alluded to it in an interview with the East Valley Tribune: “You are seeing a lot people who worked their whole life now making age old dreams a reality,’’ he said. ‘‘People’s money is doing nothing in the stock market. At least they can enjoy the cars.”
The cash pipeline that stoked the muscle car furnace is closing, though. Boomers are faced with the double barrel of looming retirement – for which they’re ill-prepared because they’ve been spending money on muscle cars – and a generation of younger people that seem not to be able to get much further than the bedroom they grew up in.
Today, 10,000 Baby Boomers a day hang up their spikes and look forward to 25 years without a job. Low yields in stocks and Treasury notes mean that a retiree with $350,000 in a 60-40 portfolio made up of stocks and Treasury notes could deplete his entire savings in 25 years.
The good times are over for muscle car sellers, and it’s reflected in prices like the one realized today. If you’re a muscle car fanatic who has always wanted one of the upper echelon cars like the Superbird, now might just be the time to buy.