10 Classic American Cars That Have Appreciated In Value
The second-hand classic car market has been doing the equivalent of an Olympic gymnast’s routine since the start of Covid-19. With a backflip there, and a dive here, it has become increasingly difficult to work out what the value of any car might be tomorrow, never mind next year.
One particular group that has seen these trends is the American classic car market, with the likes of the ’60s Mustangs, AMXs, and Chargers all seeing significant rises in the past year.
This article compiles a list of the biggest appreciations on the classic American car market, using the Hagerty valuation tool to look at changes over the past year. These cars may never come back down in price again, so it really might be your last chance to own one of these classics. If a train announcer were to say it, it would probably go something like this:
“Last call! Last call! Last call for these American classics before they depart for the collectors’ realm.”
10 1974 International (IHC) 100 Custom – 6.4%
There’s a lot to love about the idea of owning a ’70s pickup: the grumbling engines, vintage looks, and general class of the machines make for a great enthusiast classic. With the prices of the Bronco rising, more on that later, maybe it’s time to look at a fantastic alternative: International 100 Custom. The 100 series was introduced in 1974 to replace the 1010 series of years prior, and the trucks within were named depending on their weight rating.
Engines varied on the 100 series, ranging to a 6.6-liter V-400 V8 capable of producing 330 hp. There’s been an increased popularity in the 100 series – especially in the 100 Custom, which has seen a steady climb in the past year. According to Hagerty, the average price of the ’74 International Harvester 100 Customs rose 6.4% in the last year for a 100 Custom, which may not seem like a lot yet, but, if it were to rise at the same pace again this year, it starts to become a little scary.
9 1966 Ford Mustang GT Fastback – 7.2%
There are not many enthusiasts that would be surprised to hear that the price of 60s mustangs is on the rise again, but by just how much and how quickly the 1966 Ford Mustang GT Fastback is appreciating may cause many to take more notice than normal.
The ’66 Fastback is one of the most iconic Mustangs ever produced, its sleek design coupled with a roaring 225 hp 4.7-liter small block V8 created a legendary combo. While the ’67 Fastback is the absolute king of the Mustang ’60s era, many have now turned to the ’66 model due to ever-increasing prices. Because of this, Hagerty estimates the ’66 GT Fastback average price to have risen 7.2% in the last year, a steady climb, but a costly one.
8 1956 Chrysler 300B – 13.9%
The 50s was a time of great change in the car industry, even cars from the same manufacture ended the decade looking completely different from how they started. One of the standouts of the American classics of the decade has to be the 1956 Chrysler 300B, and the next few years may be your last chance to get your hands on one.
Not only was the 300B gorgeously styled, but it was also the first American car to produce 1 horsepower per cubic inch, resulting in a 5.8-liter 355-hp FirePower V8. Only 1,102 Chrysler 300Bs were ever made, and with even fewer on the road today, it’s not hard to understand why the price of one is on the up. Hagerty estimated an average price rise of around 13.9% over the last year, meaning if you still want to own the 50s classic, you better act fast.
7 1966 Ford Bronco Roadster – 15.1%
With the new Bronco bringing a wave of popularity to the classic ford 4×4, there’s more and more attention being given to the older models too. With the first of the Broncos rolling off the production lines some 57 years ago now, it’s no surprise that the prices of them continue to rise. The Bronco was aimed as a competitor to the International Harvester Scout and Toyota Land Cruiser, so there was a lot thrown into the little 4×4.
The 106 hp straight six was equipped with solid valve lifters, a 6-liter oil pan, heavy-duty fuel pump, and many more features to make the Bronco an off-road legend. The most captivating of the ’66 Bronco range has to be the iconic Roadster: an open-body, Beach Boys-esque, 4×4. Hagerty estimates that there’s been an appreciation of 15.1% in the summer of 2022 for the Roadster, so with the possibility of a similar rise this year, this is definitely a now-or-never scenario for buying the little ’60s icon.
6 1968 American Motors AMX – 15.8%
The American Motors AMX is sometimes lost in the shadow of the Mustangs, Chargers, and Cudas of the era, but due to it still being a fantastic muscle car of the ’60s, the AMX still suffers a great price hike in recent years. For a car that set 106 world speed and endurance records and is believed to have reached an unofficial top speed of 200 mph, the AMX sure seems like an underrated gem.
Although the car featured many engines over the years, those record beaters were powered by upgraded versions of the 4.8 and 6.5-liter V8s capable of putting out 225 and 315 hp respectively. The 60s classic muscle cars aren’t getting any younger, which is why the price of the AMX has risen by 15.8% in the last year. If you had the money to buy any car on this list, please, let it be this one.
5 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (Big Tank) – 18%
The C2 generation of the Corvette contains some of the most desirable corvette editions to collectors ever made, so it’s really no surprise that 199 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06s continue to rise in price. The C2 was the first to receive the Z06 treatment, and when made in such limited numbers so long ago, an almost half-million-dollar price tag was bound to happen sooner or later.
The special Z06 was powered by a 5.4-liter V8 using Rochester fuel injection, which, when combined with a bigger tank, larger diameter shocks, and springs, and much more, made the Z06 a track-ready monster. The first Z06 is one of the most sought-after Corvettes ever, and even just in the past year has seen an average price increase of 18%. To most people, the Z06 has been out of reach since the day it rolled off the production line, but even to collectors, the rise must be causing their palms to sweat just a little.
4 1962 Chevrolet Impala – 20.8%
The third generation of the Impala brought about a variety of changes that lt to it cementing itself as a classic American car of the era, and as an icon of The Beach Boys ‘409’. With the ’62 impala now being over 60 years old, a rise in price was inevitable, and a big one too.
60s Impala’s win the award for having the greatest engine names ever made, the Turbo Thrift I6, Blue Flame I6, Turbo Fire V8, and Turbo Thrust V8 were all options on the model, with the latter putting out 403 hp. The Impala was a real legend of its time, and with its age and expensive restoration prices, the 60s models have shot up in price over the last year by an average of 20.8%. If you want to own one for yourself, it’s a buy now or be left disappointed scenario.
3 1969 Dodge Charger – 27.9%
It’s probably to no surprise to anyone that the 1969 Dodge Charger makes its way onto this list, as with the R/T model now being out of reach for most, many have turned to the still greatly powerful younger sibling.
The standard Charger featured either the two-barrel or four-barrel 6.3-liter V8, producing 290 hp and 330 hp respectively. The standard model was no slouch, and while not as fast as the R/T, still had plenty of grunt to show. 89,199 1969 Chargers were sold, so luckily there are still a bunch of road-going cars still kicking. Despite this, the ’69 Charger has still seen a 28% average price increase in the last year, so if you’re looking at getting your hands on one, do so very quickly.
2 1956 Continental Mark II – 29.1%
The 1956 Continental Mark II is not only one of the most beautiful looking cars on this list but has suffered one of the worst price hikes last year of any ’50s American classic. This may unsurprising to some, as it was the most expensive American-produced automobile of the time.
The Continental II, owned by Ford, never did sell very well, but then again, that wasn’t really the intention. The mark II was an ultra-luxury coupé that featured all the bells and whistles anyone could ever ask for. Up front sat a 6.0-liter Y-block V8, which, when combined with a Turbo-Drive 3-speed automatic, created a cruising masterpiece. The Continental Mark II sells for quite low prices considering the luxuriousness of the car. However, in the last year, the model has seen an average price increase of 29.1%, meaning you may have already missed your chance to own the epitome of American luxury.
1 1953 Studebaker Commander Regal Starliner Hardtop – 51.1%
The 1953 Studebaker Commander Regal Starliner Hardtop not only has the longest name of any car on this list but also the most stratospheric price jump of any classic American car this year. As a low and striking car that resembled pretty much nothing else on American highways at the time, the Commander Regal Starliner became an instant hit for the now-defunct company.
Featuring a 3.8-liter OHV V8, the model was combined with one of the most advanced automatic transmissions of the time, making it a brilliantly smooth ride. The Hardtop model is one of the most sought-after variations, and it shows in the car’s eye-watering average price rise of 51.1% in the last year. You may not have even known this car existed before this article, and that’s ok, because now you’re equipped with enough knowledge to buy one for yourself.