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note: this article first appeared in the October 2005 issue of Collector Car Market Review. C) Copyright 2005, VMR International, Inc. All rights reserved.
It wasn't too long ago that the "experts" were predicting the decline of the big national swap meets like Hershey and Carlisle. The web, went the convention, would be the new “virtual” swap meet. Instead of finding that obscure part on the Chocolate field, you'd find it on the computer in your den. Auction and classified websites would make things so easy: a couple of point and clicks, a credit card, and a few days later the part shows up at your door. Why would you want to trudge around in the mud and rain, likely coming home empty-handed anyway?
The web has become an important part of the hobby, and many of us utilize it to find and buy parts and cars. But it will never replace the swap meet. Mainly, well, because they're a lot of fun! The web will continue to grow and become ever more important, but it can't replace the human element, and that's why it will coexist with traditional swap meets and not replace them. Besides, it can't address the inspection problem. If you're like most people, you want to see it and touch it first.
We've had a presence on the web since 1997, back when the publication was just a price guide and known as Collector Car & Truck Prices. We've seen traffic grow over the years to the point where our website generates over 200,000 page views each month. We can generate site statistics based on user activity that tell us which areas are popular, which are not, how people find us, how long they stay, etc. We thought it would be interesting to compile that activity and present it to you. We did this exercise a few years ago, so we'll also compare today’s results with those to see if it things had changed.
Even stronger than last time, the overwhelming focus of visitors’ attention was on mid-sixties to early seventies vehicles . This strength came at the further expense of forties and fifties vehicles. Again this is very reflective of what we are seeing in the market in general.
The biggest change we saw since the last report was the almost total disappearance of cars from the fifties from the top 20 list of most frequently viewed models. In fact, only two, both Chevys, made the list. This is significant, and to us only underscores the current shift away from fifties and earlier collector cars.
Other notable web activity included an uptick in interest among imports. Although most didn't make the top 30 lists, as a group there was a measurable increase across the board. German and Japanese makes, in particular, made big strides. Although not even close to the leaders, they were way ahead of their showing in our last compilation.
Conclusions? This is just more evidence of a definitive shift in the collector car marketplace. Unquestionably, sixties and seventies iron is where all the action is right now. It is coming largely from the guys that had one in their youth and now have the money (or the equity line) to buy them again as a toy. A large percentage have been convinced it’s a good investment as well. It's a big group and right now this strong demand is driving up prices on a limited supply.