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Muscle Car Market Melt Down?

It was nice to see a recent Wall Street Journal story about muscle cars that didn't include quotes from Barrett-Jackson. The focus in this case was "modern" muscle cars and overall the report seemed to be very objective. It's one thing to say that muscle cars are a good investment because you have carefully studied the market niche. It's quite another thing to push muscle cars as an investment when you are making money by selling them.

While muscle car articles in non-hobby publications get wide exposure and help the hobby, the "word on the streets" (or at least at car shows) is that broad-based muscle-car interest is very strong, but the super-high prices are leveling. At lunch, the Old Cars Weekly staff was discussing a particular LS6 Chevelle convertible that just sold for $90,000. While that seems like a lot for a Chevelle to me, I know that car would have brought several times that price a year or two ago.

There's really no way to tell whether the "street talk" is right or whether we're seeing a leveling trend. One expert says this and the other says that. In the long run, only the future will reveal the truth.

Last week at The Masteripece of Style & Speed in Milwaukee I ran into John Arps III, a collector I had not talked to in years. Back then, he was showing a beautifully-restored Packard (which he still owns). In Milwaukee, he was showing a Hemi 'Cuda that he had restored by the same shop. Vintage Vehicle Company of Wautoma, Wis., did equally great work on both cars. They are both fantastic machines.

I did not grow up in the Gatsby era. I grew up in the muscle car era. I listened to Mike Lamm touting muscle cars as future classics in Motor Trend. The muscle car books I have researched and compiled sell extremely well. Muscle cars are great. But if you ask me which of John's cars has more intrinsic value, I would pick the Packard.

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