MORE MODERN CLASSICS: Barrett-Jackson Docket Composition Signals Trends

Credit: Original article published by Barrett-Jackson.

Each year the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale docket has a plethora of Shelbys, GM greats and HEMI-powered golden-era muscle cars, along with vintage Ferraris and enough customs and Resto-Mods to tantalize the tastes of even the most discerning collector. Today, an increasing number of what have become known as Modern Classics join the vehicles you expect to see at Barrett-Jackson.

It has been said in automotive publications that Modern Classics are “Gen X vehicles for Gen X collectors.” In essence, these are vehicles that are past the Muscle Car era but preceding the last decade. The era is usually considered to range from the late 1980s on the older side, through the early to mid-2000s. Many other factors determine a Modern Classic as well, such as advanced technology, charismatic styling and resale values that have held steady over the years.

Those Modern Classics are clearly playing a role in terms of the docket composition at Barrett-Jackson. In 2022, the auction company’s Scottsdale docket was dominated by cars from the 1950s (14%) and 1960s (30%). The 2023 Scottsdale Auction showed some notable differences. It appears more collectors held onto their ’50s and ’60s vehicles, indicated by a 1% decrease and 2% decrease, respectively. Vehicles from the 1970s also decreased by less than 1% from 2022 to 2023. Those differences were made up for by increases in vehicles from the Modern Classic era. Interestingly, there was also a .5% increase in 1940s cars on the docket in 2023, perhaps a result of collectors often being attracted to cars outside their age range.

It wasn’t that long ago that vehicles from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s were thought of as just “used cars.” But as millennials get older and gain disposable income, they begin to seek out cars from their youth. Many of these vehicles have crossed the 25-year-old threshold and, as they are sought out, they may gain an increase in value and collectibility.

Of course, vehicles from Bugatti, McLaren and Ferrari will always be collectible – Barrett-Jackson’s highest selling vehicle during the 2023 Scottsdale Auction was a 1989 Ferrari F40 for $2.75 million – but other, at times surprising, makes and models are joining the ranks of collector vehicles from the Modern Classics era.

It’s important to note that automobiles had a considerable turning point by the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. Automakers had figured out how to make small, fuel-efficient cars that were fun to drive, while many vehicles of the 1980s and 1990s still had a somewhat raw, mechanical feel that is often lost in modern vehicles. However, they still provide modern comfort with standard features like air conditioning, power windows, power steering and safety components, with respectable power and performance. The early to mid-2000s featured remarkable advancements in vehicle technology.

Of course, this isn’t to say that every vehicle produced during this era is going up in value. Vehicles becoming collectible icons of the Modern Classic era are typically performance models, with some exceptions like pickups and SUVs. When you examine Barrett-Jacksons’ top 10 highest-selling vehicles at the 2023 Scottsdale Auction, you will notice all but three of them are modern performance cars. The outliers, in this case, were a 1966 Shelby Group II Mustang built for Ken Miles, a Resto-Mod 1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

As Barrett-Jackson turns its attention toward the 2023 Palm Beach Auction, April 13-15 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, it will be interesting to see if the trends reflected in the 2023 Scottsdale docket continue in the Sunshine State.