11 October 2013

State of the Corvair Market – Fall 2013

The Corvair has never been a car tied to convention. A radical departure from the 1960s American automotive landscape, the rear-engined car proved to be too foreign a concept to garner sustained mainstream attention. What was it, after all? A sports car? A family sedan? A van? A Chevrolet, even? Of course, the answer was a damn fine car, even if period shoppers weren’t exactly aware of that fact.

This never escaped owners’ attention, of course. The car is fun to drive, easy to own, and something completely unique in the best possible way. To own one is to love one, and enthusiasts have historically been content to keep that fact a secret. Turns out, however, that the hobby has caught on anyway, possibly to the surprise of even longtime Corvair drivers. In case you haven’t gone shopping lately, values have definitely risen.

Big movers of late include special models such as the Yenko Stinger, with one selling at Mecum’s Indianapolis auction in May for $56,180, and Fitch Sprints, which still fly under the radar of the mass market but have been fully recognized by insiders. Hagerty has also observed an increased interest in vintage SUVs (65% by one count), and this has been loosely echoed in values for Loadside and Rampside Forward Control Corvairs.

Turns out that the broader Corvair market is also enjoying growth, with a 14% gain in the past 24 months. Prices are now approaching recent highs of 2009, marking a full recovery from the slump of the past few years.

Second gen cars have seen the most appreciation, with the collector’s choice in this group being the 1969 model due to the car’s “end of the line” status and low production numbers. Only 521 convertibles were built during this model year, and many were purchased as collector’s items as opposed to everyday transport, leading to a high survival rate today.

Among earlier cars, take note of the 1961-62 Lakewood wagons. Values of 1950s and early 1960s station wagons, particularly lesser known models like the Mercury Monterey, have seen substantial gains during the past few years, and the Lakewoods occupy a similar space. These cars offer more utility than a sedan, a lower price than a coupe, are rare enough to get noticed but not so rare as to be difficult to find, and look all the part of a classic car. Prices have ticked up nearly 50% during the past year.

The bottom line, for better or worse, is that the Corvair is no longer overlooked in the marketplace. And why not? Corvairs embody some of the best characteristics of owning a vintage car, including a unique and distinctive driving experience, and a lively and active club to make that driving even more enjoyable. While this means you might have to spend a little more to land a new one, it also means that the collector car hobby’s tastes are evolving as well, and that you will likely hear from more potential buyers when it comes time to sell.

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