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How COVID-19 continues to affect muscle car sales

Australia’s muscle car market is booming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as Chrysler, Ford, and Holden enthusiasts – and investors – look to park a classic in their garage.

Auction houses including Grays Online and Shannons have reported record numbers in the category over recent months, citing the death of local manufacturing as the main driver behind the increase.

The Shannons summer auction saw a 97 per cent clearance rate and a combined $10.7 million worth of capital change hands with some models selling at more than 40 per cent over expectations. Shannons says the lack of travel options is seeing more people turn to vehicles as a recreational pastime or weekend getaway machine.

A recent sale at Grays Online saw four top results go to Aussie muscle cars, including a 1978 Ford XC Falcon Cobra (which sold for $194,000 and a record-setting 1985 Holden VK Commodore SS Group A once owned by Peter Brock fetch an eye-watering $1,134,000.

The Blue Meanie by Brock’s Holden Dealer Team is the third Holden in recent months to surpass the $1 million mark at auction. A 2017 HSV VFII GTSR W1 Maloo was snapped up for $1,050,000 in January of this year, the model overtaking the previous record of a 1971 Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III which went under the hammer for $1,030,000.

Even ‘regular’ Chrysler, Ford, and Holden models from the ‘chrome bumper’ era are reportedly fetching higher prices since the COVID-19 outbreak with Ltd reporting average prices for V8 models up on average by more than 17 per cent.

Lloyds Online Auctions is also seeing a spike in locally produced muscle. It currently has a 1974 Holden LH Torana L34 SL/R 5000 sitting at $240,000 and climbing, and a 2003 Holden V2 Monaro 427C (7.0-litre) raced by Peter Brock at the Nation’s Cup at $79,000.

And it seems the phenomenon isn’t restricting to the Australian market. British auction sites including Car & Classic and Collecting Cars have also reported a hike in prices since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to recent statistics, the British classic car market has seen auction sales double since mid-2020 with 1980s and 1990s cars the highest risers. Head of Car & Classic editorial Chris Pollitt says buyers are looking for “the cars that they either lusted after as a kid with the bedroom poster scenario or had as a young professional and want to cherish again”.

It’s a sentiment echoed by both Grays Online and Shannons who say nostalgia is a prominent factor in the higher prices seen at auction since the start of the pandemic. Both auction houses suggest that demand in the marketplace is far outstripping supply and that anyone with a classic Aussie muscle car who might be waiting for that rainy day is in the ideal place to “sell now and sell high”.

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