Monday, January 11, 2016

The value of a 1967 Corvette Roadster vs a 2011 Corvette ZR1 Coupe in 25 years. Which one wins?

I have posed this question to a number of my car friends, so I am putting it here for everyone's consideration.

I currently own a 1967 ("C2") Corvette convertible with the 350HP 327cid small-block, a 4-speed manual transmission, Marina Blue exterior and White/Blue interior with White top. It is in excellent condition, with a complete nuts-and-bolts restoration having been completed in 2008 (I bought the car after that, in 2009).  In today's market, I'd say the car is worth approximately $60,000 - $65,000.

Meanwhile, a used 2009-2013 era ("C6") Corvette ZR1 goes for about the same price or a bit more, around $70,000. Keep in mind, this was a car that sold for over $110,000 new and was the flagship supercar for GM during the period before the newer C7 Corvette Z06 came into being. This was a no-holds-barred shot by Corvette at all the world's top performance brands and it was a pivotal point in Chevrolet's strategy to really bring the best of automotive technology to the Corvette, which was seen as a bit "plastic" and cheap compared to some rival supercars. It ushered in the next wave of upgrades which became more standard on the redesigned "C7" Corvette Stingray in 2014.

I have considered selling my 1967 and purchasing a C6 ZR1, possibly a 2011 model, assuming it would be close to an even trade in value. I could keep both, but space becomes a little tighter if I do.

So the question is this: in 25 years, which will be worth more?

Arguments for the 1967: the 1967 Vette is a classic sports car, the best in the U.S. in it's time. It may always be seen as a hallmark of design and performance for that era. Muscle cars from the 60's will always have a strong following because they are of an iconic age that will always be important and because they are easy to maintain, relative to the complex machinery of today. The design if the 1967, as the last of the mid-year Corvette C2s, remains as beautiful today as it was then.  Everyone who sees the car loves it, just as they do iconic cars like a 1961 Jaguar E-type convertible.

Arguments against the 1967: The buyers for those cars have typically been men who lived in that era and who have the disposable income in their 50's and 60's today to go back and collect that dream car from their youth. In 30 more years, those buyers are dead or out of their car buying period. The most collectable cars will always be the big-block 427s, and this car I have is a nicely optioned small-block, but there are too many of them that have now been restored relative to the number of buyers.  Every car auction seems to have an endless supply of C2 Corvettes for sale, and eventually the market will have been satisfied. If we look at the market for cars from the 1940's and 1950's, maybe there is a lesson there for the 1960's cars. Just a couple examples would be the 1953 Packard Caribbean or the 1955 Chevry Bel Air.  Both were considered highly desirable as collector cars, but in the last 5 years values have been flat to down. The people who lusted after them are just no longer driving the market.  About all they seem to benefit from now is general inflation. This is just my opinion and I would love to be proven wrong here. Highly specialized cars from the 1950's still do well (Ferrari, Aston Martin, Continental Mark II, early Corvettes), but I can't necessarily claim that my 1967 327 convertible fits that description.

Arguments for the 2011 ZR1: In 25 years, this car will likely be desired by those in their 50's that lusted after this car as a 20-year-old today when it came out in 2011. Note that there were just over 4600 ZR1s built during the 5-year production run, with about 400 built each of the last two years 2012 and 2013, so those are the more rare years.  People in 25 years may pay a premium for a nice example that hasn't been thrashed or tracked, something that will likely happen to many ZR1s today, because they have been pushed aside by the newer, shinier C7 Z06. The ZR1 is a limited production car, and although GM probably over-produced them for the current market, there will probably be more buyers than sellers in 25 years. Also by then, cars may be dominated by EV drivetrains, hybrids, or other alternates. Manual transmissions will be a thing of the past. Everything will be turbocharged for better fuel efficiency. And the next ZR1 in 2017 is rumored to be (gasp!) a mid-engined car!  So the 2011 ZR1 could represent the "pinnacle" of this second muscle era of the early 21st century. This type of naturally-aspirated V-8 with 638HP from an internal combustion engine will be like a long-forgotten dinosaur that may be worth much more money due to their place in auto history. 

Arguments against the 2011 ZR1: The 2011 car is a complex piece of technology that is not as easy to maintain as the 1967 and parts availability is unknown today. Repair and parts may become more expensive than the older car. The design was not considered revolutionary, although the car's overall performance was. 

Of course, with inflation over 25 years, if an average sedan will cost you more than double today's prices (say, $100,000), then it will be easy for both these cars to increase in value.

So, which one will be worth more in 25 years?  I'm actually starting to believe the answer will be the 2011 ZR1, if for no other reason that my arguments for and against above seemed to weigh in that direction.  But maybe one single argument is just looking at the cars... I mean, who doesn't love the 1967? 

So, there are 5 possible scenarios.

A. The 1967 will be worth more than the 2011 ZR1
B. The 2011 ZR1 will be worth more than the 1967
C. They will both be worth less than they are today, so either one is a bad "investment"
D. They will both be worth more than today, but will be close in value to each other
E. Impossible to tell, it depends on inflation

That is the multiple choice question to which I can't quite figure out the answer.  Maybe I just need to go for a drive to clear my head...