1. The rarer a car, the more valuable it is: More often than not, this isn’t true. Your four-door 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger might have been the only one produced with a bench seat, a column shift manual transmission, and in a certain color with a vinyl roof, but that doesn’t necessarily make it desirable. There is the concept of “rare and should be” among classic cars. It takes rarity combined with desirability to get collectors to open their checkbooks.
2. Perfectly restored cars are the most valuable: Actually, this used to be the case; however, as the classic car world matures like the antiques market did many years ago, savvy collectors are seeking the best-preserved examples of totally original unrestored cars for their collections. High-end car shows known as concours d’elégance have set up special judging categories for these cars known as “preservation classes.” The best preserved examples of all-original cars can often bring double the price of a beautifully restored car.
3. “Name brand” cars are always the most collectible: Another common misconception. For every valuable Ferrari, Corvette or Porsche, there is a highly sought-after 1968 Iso Grifo or 1967 ASA 1000, plus scores of other cars that most people have never heard of.
4. All cars become more valuable when they hit 25 years old: It’s impossible to recount how often this fallacy appears in ads for 24-year-old vintage cars: “Buy NOW; next year it becomes a classic!” In reality, there is nothing magic about the 25-year-old mark. Some cars appreciate before that, some after and some not at all. An arbitrary date has nothing to do with collectability. (See below.)
5. No cars built within the last 20 years are truly collectible: Another absolute fallacy. Two of the hottest collectibles on the market today are well under 20 years old. The 1995-98 McLaren F1, which originally sold for about $1.2 million now trades for more than $8 million. The fantastic retro 2006 Ford GT sells for more than $160,000 against an original MSRP of about $140,000. Most collectors agree that 10 years from now, these prices will seem cheap. On the more affordable end of the spectrum, Pontiac Solstice GXP coupes are a good bet in the late-model collectible world.