Thursday, July 7, 2016

If We Knew Then What We Know Now...

The old postulate that you don't make money when you sell a car but, rather, when you buy it, is evident when I read old Corvette magazines.

The October/November 1976 issue of Corvette News had a couple of interesting articles that talked about Corvette values.

For example, Bob Wingate, a used Corvette dealer, talks about buying his first "classic" Corvette in 1965, when he purchased a 1954 Vette which he flipped for $1,000. That same car, according to the article, was worth $9,000 in 1976—or about $40 grand today.

The average price of a 1954 Chevy Corvette today is around $62,000 according to Hagerty. So, if you had invested that money back in 1976  to buy a 1954 Corvette, and you kept it for forty years, you would make roughly a $20,000 profit.


Of course there are lots of "invisible" costs associated with owning a car, such as maintenance and insurance, to name a couple. So in reality that "cheap" car, which was not that cheap back in the day, would return a not-so-great ten grand, after factoring in all related expenses.

In other words, there's absolutely no guarantee that just because you purchased an old Vette forty years ago, that this categorically means your original investment will grow exponentially. In some, if not most cases, you'd be lucky to get your money back.

A 1976 dollar is the equivalent of $4.25 (assuming an annual inflation rate of around 4%) to $4.50 (based on contemporary standard of living), today.

In other words, just because a 1976 used car price sounds cheap by 2016 standards, it does not mean that they were any more affordable back then.

In 1976, the median value of a new home in the U.S. ranged from a low $41,600 in January, to a high of $50,600 in December of that year. Using a 4% annual inflation rate, the average 1976 U.S. home price of $45,000 would equate to around $190,000 to $204,000 today.

This means that a brand new 1976 Corvette, with a price tag of "only" $6,800 (base model price), translates to almost $30,000 in 2016 dollars. Have you checked prices of 1976 Corvettes today?

In that same issue of Corvette News there's another article relating the story of a Seattle, Washington Corvette salvage yard that purchased a 1967 Corvette L88, "with functional 427 hood." The car, which had been originally purchased with the plan to turn it into a race car, only had 11 miles on the odometer!

That car was quickly snapped by a Corvette collector from Minneapolis for an undisclosed amount, although, the story goes, "He wants $12,000 for it — if he decides to sell."

Now that car was the deal of a lifetime, when $12,000 in 1976 dollars (roughly $52,000 today), translates into $3,850,000—which was the price one of these cars sold  for at a Barrett-Jackson auction in 2014.

Needless to say, 1967 L88 Corvettes are extremely rare, with only twenty of them built by Chevrolet.
Where is Doc Brown and his DeLorean time machine when you need him?

Thanks for reading.