Bill Stephens’ Muscle Car Lecture at Larz Anderson Museum

Last Thursday night I went to the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation in Brookline, MA to listen to a lecture by Velocity Network’s Bill Stephens.  Bill’s lecture was about “Understanding Auction Results and Market Trends” with a focus on muscle cars.  Many of you will know Bill Stephens from his commentary on the Velocity Network’s Mecum Auction Shows plus the show “What’s My Car Worth?”  It was clear from listening to Bill that he is very passionate about cars.

I enjoyed listening to Bill Stephens’ experience and thoughts about muscle cars.  Bill asked an interesting question of the audience to identify the first car that could be considered a muscle car.  After a number of guesses, Bill opined that he thought that the first post-war muscle car was the 1948 Oldsmobile Rocket 88.  Oldsmobile’s first “Rocket V8” had a 303 cubic inch, 135 horsepower overhead valve engine in a body that for those days would be considered lightweight in that era.  This car won a lot of NASCAR races and the first La Carrera Panamericana race.  It was one of the fastest cars on the road at the time.  Bill then went on to discuss the history of muscle cars up to their demise in the 1970’s.

Some of the notes from the Bill Stephens lecture covered the following points:

  • What initiated the “Muscle Car” phenomenon?
  • What were the cultural ingredients that fueled the high-performance craze in Detroit?
  • What cars were most responsible for launching this new market segment?
  • How much did these cars originally cost when new?
  • How much were these cars worth when the “Energy Crisis” arrived in the early 1970′s?
  • What was the event most responsible for touching off the collector car boom in the late 1980′s?
  • What were the values of the same Muscle Cars which had begun the “Factory Horsepower Wars” in the mid-1960′s?
  • What was the next economic shift which has recently impacted the values of the most popular Muscle Cars?
  • What can we expect to see happen to those values as we move forward?
  • What cars have the greatest investment potential in the current Muscle Car marketplace?

One take away thought that I got from Bill Stephens’ lecture on muscle cars is that the market for the truly significant or valuable cars is still fairly strong.  Some of the near great cars have seen some softening in prices, but not a significant collapse in pricing.  Bill Stephens believes that there are a few currently affordable cars that have potential to experience a good return on your investment over the years.  He offered his suggestions for our consideration; some of those cars are as follows:

  • Cobra Jet Mustang
  • 1965 K Code Mustang
  • 1969/70 Mach 1
  • Third & fourth generation Camaro
  • Early Mercury Cougars
  • C3 Corvettes
  • Early Buick Rivieras
  • 1962-1972 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • Oldsmobile Tornados
  • 1990-93 ZR1 Corvette

Of course, no one really knows for sure about the future values these cars, not even Bill Stephens, but given Bill Stephens’ experience and knowledge about cars, his thoughts are worthy of serous consideration.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening and very interesting lecture.  The folks at the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation made everyone feel very comfortable and atmosphere was great for a lecture about cars to a bunch of car people.

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