These Are the Classic Cars Americans Can’t Get Enough Of
It’s a tale as old as time: A gearhead gets to a certain age or place in life where they have a little bit of time and money to play with and wants to invest in a classic car. They want their dream car — the one they lusted after as a kid but until now never had the means to afford. They want it in the perfect color, with the perfect powertrain and the perfect options. It’s their car — the unique one that represents them like no other car in the world could.
And if they’re American, there’s about a 90% chance all they want is a Chevy Corvette.
The classic car world is vast and endlessly fascinating. From historical oddities, such as the Tucker 48 and the King Midget, to mass-market muscle cars and overbuilt European classics, you could spend a lifetime studying old cars and still come across something you’ve never seen before. But even with all that variety out there (it is the spice of life, after all), most gearheads would really just be happy with an old Corvette.
How do we know this? Because Hemmings, the authority on classic cars, analyzed every classified ad it ran since 2010 and came up with the most advertised classics in every state. Overwhelmingly, the answer came back Corvette. To make things interesting, it excluded America’s sports car from its other searches. From Maine to Alaska, here are America’s most popular classic cars.
1. Chevrolet Corvette
Not all Corvettes are created equal, but Chevy’s halo car has offered something for almost everyone over its 64-year production run. From the space-age optimism of the ’50s cars, the timelessness of ’60s-era C2 and C3s, or the wild excess of ’70s and ’80s C3s and C4s, more Americans want to relive the good old days from behind the wheel of a Corvette than any other classic. In its first analysis, Hemmings found the Corvette was the most popular car in 40 states.
Next: From America’s sports car to America’s ponycar
2. Ford Mustang
If the Corvette is America’s sports car, then the Mustang its truly America’s sporty car. Like the ‘Vette, the Mustang’s distinct generational changes means each model has its own set of fans, including the much maligned Mustang II. Ford’s ponycar was the favorite in six states, enough for Hemmings to exclude it from further analyses. Once the Corvette and Mustang were eliminated from the running, the field really started to get interesting.
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3. MG TD
You might have never heard of it before, but without it there would likely be no Corvette or Mustang. The MG T-Type cars remained in production with incremental changes from 1936 to 1955, but the TD was something special. MG’s excellent-handling sports cars were popular with GIs stationed in Europe, who then shipped them home and raced them back in America.
The TD was the first model officially sold in the U.S. And though they were ancient looking (even in the 1950s), they almost single-handedly kicked off and legitimized the sports car in America. It’s no coincidence that by mid-decade, Ford and Chevy were offering Americanized interpretations of their own, in the form of the Thunderbird and Corvette. Oddly enough, in virtually every search run by Hemmings, the TD was the most popular classic car in Wyoming.
Next: This early Corvette competitor is one of the most sought-after cars in America.
4. Ford Thunderbird
Once the Corvette and Mustang were eliminated from Hemmings’ search, the Thunderbird quickly came to the forefront. The first-generation 1955 to 1957 models were practically classic cars the moment they rolled out of the factory. And they are still some of the most desirable cars of the 1950s. But the T-Bird remained in production for nearly 60 years, and almost every generation has some collectable cachet. Late ’50s and ’60s models are a particularly fun and affordable way to get into classic cars.
Next: This model was instrumental in making Chevy what it is today.
5. Chevrolet Bel-Air
Like the MG TD, the Chevy Bel-Air was the favorite car of one state in every metric Hemmings ran. Apparently Alabama’s favorite classic, the Bel-Air sat at the top of the Chevy line from 1950 until the mid ’60s. But its glory days were 1955 to 1957, when the “Tri-Five” Chevys revolutionized the brand and introduced the world to the immortal Small Block Chevy V8. Today, Tri-Five Bel Airs can command six figures if optioned right. If you’re looking for one, you should probably head down to Alabama.
Next: Astronomical prices aside, this car just isn’t as popular as we expected.
6. Porsche 911
No classic has experienced as meteoric a rise in value as the Porsche 911 in recent years. A decade ago, it wasn’t impossible to find a running but tired classic model (built largely unchanged from 1964 to 1989) for under $10,000. Today, good luck finding one for under $30,000. Despite a rise in both value and demand, the 911’s stronghold was limited to Washington and California once the Corvette and Mustang were omitted from contention.
Next: This Depression-era classic has a lock on New England classic car culture.
7. Ford Model A
After an 18-year run, Model T production came to an end in 1927. Ford’s next act was the Model A, a thoroughly modern car for the era. Featuring a safety glass windshield, drum brakes at all four corners (the Model T only had rear brakes), and a top speed of 65 miles per hour, it kept Ford on top of the automotive world through the early days of the Great Depression. By the time production ended in 1932, Ford had sold over 4.8 million of them. According to Hemmings, they’re a favorite in Oregon, Nevada, and all of New England.
Next: This muscle car icon is loved in our nation’s capital.
8. Pontiac Trans Am
Once the Corvette and Mustang were removed from Hemmings’ searches, one result came through was too good not to report. In our nation’s capital, the Pontiac Trans Am jumped to the forefront as its most popular classic. Offered from 1969 to 2002, the Trans Am was one of the few unapologetic muscle cars to survive into the ’70s and ’80s. With its unexpected popularity around D.C., we feel like a special thanks to former Vice President Joe Biden might be in order.
Next: One of Ford’s biggest rivals wins in this popularity contest.
9. Chevrolet Camaro
In the mid-coastal states, the Camaro shined as a favorite. Like the Mustang, every generation of Chevy’s iconic muscle car has its fans. But if you’re a die-hard Chevy fan and must know, the Camaro beats the Ford in this popularity contest eight states to six.
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10. Ford Bronco
Ford’s iconic off-roader was the favorite in one state. Unsurprisingly, that state was Colorado. With its timeless good looks, serious off-roading potential, and almost limitless customization options, the Bronco is fast becoming one of the most popular collector cars in the country. We’ve got a pretty good feeling when the new Bronco debuts in 2019, it’ll be a hit in Colorado, too.