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Five car hobby predictions for 2016

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Photo by Matthew Ragan.

With another year in the record books, it’s time once again to dust off the crystal ball with an oil-stained shop rag and peer into the future to divine five predictions for the coming year. Like any good medium, I can’t give you specifics, like which year, make and model will deliver the highest return on investment, but I can give you seat-of-the-pants guesses on what 2016 may have in store for us.

First, though, let’s take a look back at my predictions for 2015.

  1. Prices for air-cooled Porsches (with the possible exception of the 914) will rise significantly over the next 12 months. It’s safe to say I called this one, as prices for these cars reached lofty levels in 2015. Whether it was a 356, a 911 or a 912, buyers seemed willing to pay whatever prices necessary to add these cars to their collection.

  2. Japanese cars will continue to gain respect, and interest, at auction. Scroll through the results of almost any major collector-car auction in 2015, and you you’re bound to see an ample selection of Japanese sports cars. While the Toyota 2000GT, the Mazda Cosmo and the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser really haven’t climbed in value, they’ve become an almost expected part of any international sale.

  3. The automotive industry will continue to be plagued by recalls. Check.

  4. Look for postwar cars to capture more wins on the concours d’elegance circuit. Not at Pebble Beach, where Best of Show went to a 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A (in my defense, a 1953 Abarth 1100 Sport Ghia Coupe was in the running, though). Not at Amelia Island, either, where both top awards went to prewar cars. Even our own concours d’elegance awarded best in show to a prewar Chrysler, so I completely missed the mark on this one.

  5. Don’t expect a big growth or a big decline in the auction market. Looks like this one was a miss as well, with many auction companies posting already reporting growth over 2014. Not all companies have released results, but it’s safe to assume that the majority of auction firms sold more in 2015 than in 2014.

Now, without further ado, my predictions for 2015.

1. Eighties cars will continue to grow in demand – and price. Have you looked at prices for Ferrari 308 models recently? After being the “affordable” Ferrari (along with the Modial) for years, clean examples are now climbing close to the six-figure mark. Even common cars from domestic manufacturers and imported brands are jumping in value as demand climbs and supply dwindles. The reason why is simple – these cars resonate with buyers who now have the disposable income to afford them.

1981 Datsun 210

This 1981 Datsun 210 sold for $12k in September. Photo courtesy Barrett-Jackson.

2. Look for Japanese family cars from the 1960s-’80s to climb in value. Call it supply and demand. The cars that a new generation of collectors grew up with are in demand, but few first, second or third owners thought to preserve inexpensive vehicles like the Datsun B210, the Toyota Corolla or the Honda Accord. As demand for original or restored examples grows, so will pricing.

Don’t expect the same result for common Japanese sports cars of the period, though. Datsun Z cars haven’t really climbed in value in recent years, and neither have Mazda RX-7s. Perhaps enough were preserved to meet demand, or perhaps the generation that feels the strongest connection to these models already owns an example.

3. Demand for vintage hot rods will increase. Events like The Race of Gentlemen have put bangers and flatheads in the spotlight among an entirely new generation, and that’s a good thing for the hobby. As more people decide Model As are cool, however, look for prices on project cars and completed builds to rise.

4. Expect an upswing in vintage motorcycle prices. Brands like Brough, Vincent and Excelsior-Henderson have been climbing in value in recent years, but bikes have never quite reached the stratospheric levels of certain collector cars. Look for rare bikes to take a significant jump in value in the coming year, followed by now-collectible bikes from the 1980s and early 1990s. If you want an affordable Kawasaki GPz 900A3, Honda CB900F, or BMW R100RS, now is the time to be shopping.

Hellcat Hemi V-8

An exploded view of the supercharged, 707-horsepower Chrysler Hellcat HEMI V-8. Photo courtesy FCA.

5. The glory days of the American V-8 are winding down. The first muscle car era may have died out around 1972, but the current availability of high-performance V-8 powered American cars means we’re in the midst of a new (though less affordable) muscle car era. As was the case the first time around, it can’t last forever, and increasing fuel-economy regulations will soon bring an end to V-8 performance cars. This won’t happen all at once, and it won’t happen in 2016, but I do expect that fewer and fewer models will have optional V-8 engines with each passing year. It’s no coincidence that Ford’s new GT comes powered by an EcoBoost six, or that both the new Mustang and the new Camaro offer turbocharged four-cylinder engines as a high-performance option. Chevy even displayed a Chevy II Nova street rod at SEMA with a modern turbocharged four, a nod to the future of performance builds.