2022 Classic Car News and Prices
Classic Car Market
The market for classic cars remained strong in 2022, continuing a multi-year trend of high demand from car enthusiasts who want to own a piece of motoring nostalgia. With a supply that seems endless, tens of thousands of vehicles were sold through private sales, dealers, and auction companies.
It’s through the latter transactions that year-to-year pricing can best be evaluated since most auction houses report sales results. To see how 2022 prices compared to the last two years, we evaluated the sale price of a selected number of cars, which we’ve summarized in the table at the end of this article. But first, we’ll take a look at auction news and cars that made headlines in 2022.
Currently, there are over 25 national classic car auction companies, each holding two or more live sales during the year. In addition, there are several more auction companies that hold remote-bidding-only events. Even with such a large supply of vehicles for sale, sell-through rates (percentage of cars sold at an event) were typically above 80%, with some well into the 90%s.
As in previous years, a significant number of vehicles were offered at no-reserve, which reflects the high confidence of sellers and is a good gauge of demand at this time. Also, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of remote bidders, both by phone and online. This has expanded the bidder pool considerably, resulting in more competition which has driven prices even higher.
Mecum’s Kissimmee Sale
Mecum holds its largest auction of the year in early January in Kissimmee, FL, where in 2022 it became the first company to surpass $200 million in total sales for a single event. This auction of almost 3,000 vehicles included many popular late-model 7-figure exotic sports cars, but perhaps the most memorable vehicles on the docket were two historical cars – the legendary 1951 Hirohata Mercury Custom and a 1965 Shelby GT350R Prototype.
The iconic Hirohata was built by Sam and George Barris and is arguably the most famous lead sled from the golden era of custom cars.
Selling Price: $2,150,000
The historically significant 1965 Shelby GT350R Prototype sold as the most valuable Mustang in the world. Originally driven by famous wheelman, Ken Miles, it definitely earned its moniker, the “Flying Mustang.”
Selling Price: $3,750,000
Arizona Auction Week
Following on the heels of Mecum Kissimmee, five classic car auctions were held in the Phoenix area. The most well-known was Barrett-Jackson, but RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co., WorldWide Auctioneers, and Bonhams also brought trailer loads of classics to Auction Week. RM Sotheby’s grabbed bragging rights with the sale of a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Aluminum Gullwing, a rare and highly-coveted car of collectors.
Selling Price: $6,830,000
Bonhams auction company featured another interesting sale during Arizona Auction Week. It was a co-star in the movie, Rain Man, starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Huffman. This 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible, which undoubtedly benefitted from its movie role, became the most expensive Roadmaster of its kind (selling for over four times the price for a comparable model, non-celebrity car).
Selling Price: $335,000
Amelia Island Concours Week
In late spring 2022, leading up to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, three auction houses brought over 400 carefully selected classic cars to the island. This year’s stats surpassed the previous year’s results in every category, including total sales volume. Gooding & Co. (one of the three auction companies), posted the highest selling price for a 1937 Talbot Lago T150-C-SS Tear Drop coupe. As a result, this rolling piece of art became the most valuable French car ever sold at auction.
Selling Price: $13,400,000
Monterey Auction Week (Pebble Beach Concours)
More records were set during the annual summer auctions in Monterey. A total of five auction companies amassed close to half a billion in total sales during the week preceding the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. RM Sotheby’s was a big winner, claiming more than 50% of the auction companies’ combined sales volume, and in the process setting yet another record for the highest total sales ($226.7 million) in a single event. It was a week full of highly-coveted Ferraris, many selling for several millions of dollars, and topped by RM Sotheby’s sale of a 1955 Ferrari 410 Sports Spider.
Selling Price: $22,000,000
Another significant sale during the week was a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante by Gooding & Company. A masterpiece of Italian design and engineering, only 17 of these supercharged coupes were built.
Selling Price: $10,300,000
The Most Expensive Car in the World
As if 2022 didn’t already have plenty of eye-popping sales, Mercedes-Benz held a unique event that resulted in the highest sale ever at an auction. The vehicle, one of two specially built 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR “Uhlenhaut Coupes,” had never been released from the German automaker but was held in its private collection until this auction. Open only to a limited number of bidders approved by the auto company, this was an invitation-only sale run by RM Sotheby’s.
A combination of factors – the car’s rarity, the probability that a car like this would never again be offered for sale, and that proceeds from the sale were donated to a charitable cause – drove the bidding to a staggering amount. This is a record that probably won’t be broken for a very long time.
Selling Price: $143,000,000
25 Vehicles in Price Comparison Report
Vintage Ferraris and Mercedes-Benz cars typically grab the headlines, but these cars represent only a segment of the classic car market – the uppermost tier. The vast majority of classics, which were once daily drivers, have become a nostalgic link to motoring fun in an earlier lifetime. These are the vehicles many of us have owned (and wished we never sold), or cars we wished we had owned. Using reported auction results, we compared prices for 2020, 2021, and 2022 that fall into this latter category.
All vehicles included in this study are blue-chip collectibles with similar options that appear to be restored to their original specs. For example, one of the classics used in the study is the 1969 Camaro Z28. However, if the Z28 has a special asset, such as cross ram setup or was an RS model, or if it has had celebrity ownership, then it was eliminated from this comparison report. Also, recognizing that many additional factors affect the sale price of any specific vehicle, five auction prices were used to calculate an average price for each model.
As shown in the below table, our Price Comparison Report shows that overall classic car prices in 2022 moved higher depending on the particular car viewed. The biggest mover in our study was the 1969 Dodge Charger R/T with a 42% jump in price, while the 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge was the only car in our group to fall more than 10%. Although our review covers only a limited number of classics, based on our personal observations of the enthusiasm level at multiple auctions, the high sell-through rates, and numerous auction records set during the year, this analysis supports an overall rising market in 2022. The interest in motoring nostalgia appears to be as strong as ever, and as the car auctioneers say many times to bidders on the fence, “Let your money buy you happiness.”
|Vehicle||Average Price||% Price Increase|
|in 2020||in 2021||in 2022||2021 to 2022|
|1955 Ford F100||$ 23,080||$ 32,538||$ 33,610||3%|
|1955 Thunderbird||$ 23,970||$ 33,850||$ 32,660||-4%|
|1957 Ford Thunderbird (D-Code)||$ 59,280||$ 59,583||$ 55,880||-6%|
|1966 Shelby GT350||$198,900||$204,760||$210,100||3%|
|1969 Mach 1 428 CJ (R CODE)||$ 74,400||$ 97,650||$108,900||12%|
|1970 Boss 302 Mustang||$ 77,880||$ 87,450||$ 85,680||-2%|
|1970 Boss 429||$234,850||$327,700||$302,500||-8%|
|2005 Ford GT||$327,600||$365,200||$434,400||19%|
|1955 Bel Air 2-Door||$ 46,920||$ 51,333||$ 53,460||4%|
|1957 Bel Air Convertible||$ 76,010||$ 76,267||$102,650||35%|
|1963 Corvette Convertible||$ 62,920||$ 68,200||$ 67,280||-1%|
|1969 Camaro Z/28||$ 74,750||$ 86,350||$ 95,700||11%|
|1970 Chevelle LS6 454 Coupe||$109,420||$126,500||$147,400||17%|
|1969 Dodge Charger 440 R/T||$ 67,375||$ 75,900||$107,525||42%|
|1970 Dodge Super Bee 440||$ 58,280||$ 58,475||$ 69,4920||25%|
|1970 Plymouth Cuda AAR||$ 92,040||$ 95,325||$110,990||16%|
|1970 Plymouth Superbird 440||$164,533||$178,375||$183,600||3%|
|1970 Plymouth Road Runner 440 Coupe||$ 54,450||$ 71,850||$ 68,640||-4%|
|1999 Plymouth Prowler||$ 27,620||$ 38,500||$ 36,700||-5%|
|1965 Pontiac GTO (389 Tri-Power)||$ 54,950||$ 65,816||$ 65,560||0%|
|1970 Pontiac GOT Judge 400||$ 68,800||$ 77,330||$ 67,060||-13%|
|1977 Pontiac Bandit Trans Am||$ 53,763||$ 58,150||$ 73,700||27%|
|1970 Buick GSX||$110,000||$111,100||$138,363||25%|
|1987 Buick Grand National||$ 29,408||$ 38,867||$ 48,620||25%|
|1970 Oldsmobile 442 W30 Coupe||$104,170||$110,000||$121,440||10%|
- The cars selected for this study were based on models that sell regularly (i.e. more data points to evaluate) and are typically found close to factory specs (fewer modifications).
- For the vehicle models evaluated, five sale prices were obtained from auctions in each of the three years. The price, noted above, is the average of the auction prices for that year.
- All prices include a buyer’s commission, which ranges from 8% to 10+% above the hammer price.
- Customized vehicles and Restomods weren’t included in this evaluation because of the extensive variations in equipment modifications, and therefore, the perceived value.
Photos of Vehicles in Price Comparison Report
For the Top Builds of 2022, click here.