Investing in Automobile Collecting Through the Eras

Introduction: The Road to Wealth

Investing in collectible automobiles has become an increasingly popular avenue for diversification and profit among investors. Unlike traditional investments such as stocks or real estate, vintage and classic cars offer a unique blend of tangible asset appreciation and personal enjoyment. This article explores the various eras of automobile collecting, from the early brass cars to modern supercars, and discusses their potential as investment vehicles.

The first in a series of articles, this one will briefly discuss some of the notable eras and how they differ from one another. Future articles will delve into some of the nuances, and include some of the marques you might want to consider, and some you might want to stay away from.

The Brass Era: Dawn of the Automobile

Approximate Years: 1890s to 1915

The Brass Era marks the birth of the automobile industry, spanning from the late 19th century to the early 1910s. Cars from this period, characterized by their brass fittings and simplistic engineering, represent the pioneering spirit of automotive design. As investments, Brass Era automobiles are highly prized for their rarity and historical significance, offering substantial returns for well-preserved models.

The Steam Era: An Alternative Path

Parallel to the Brass Era, steam-powered vehicles emerged as a significant, though less enduring, segment of early automotive history. These vehicles are sought after for their unique propulsion method and are a niche but potentially lucrative investment for those interested in the technological diversity of early automobiles.

Approximate overlap: Late 19th century to the early 20th century

Pre-War Classics: Elegance and Engineering

The period leading up to World War II is considered the golden age of automotive design and craftsmanship. Pre-war classics from American and European manufacturers are celebrated for their elegance, innovation, and the introduction of features that would become standard in later cars. Investment in pre-war vehicles is often driven by their beauty, historical importance, and the increasing scarcity of surviving examples.

Approximate Years: 1919 to 1939

Post-War American and European Classics

The post-war era brought about a renaissance in automotive design and technology, with American and European manufacturers taking divergent paths. American cars of this period are known for their bold designs and powerful engines, while European cars focused on performance and luxury. Both segments offer strong investment potential, with particular models showing significant appreciation due to their iconic status and technological advancements.

Approximate Years: 1945 to 1970s

American Muscle Cars: Power and Performance

The American muscle car era, spanning from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, is defined by high-performance vehicles with large displacement engines. Muscle cars have a dedicated following due to their power, style, and role in American automotive culture. As investments, they are accessible to a wide range of collectors and can offer excellent returns, especially for rare models in pristine condition.

Approximate Years: Mid-1960s to early 1970s

Modern Supercars: The Apex of Automotive Achievement

Modern supercars represent the pinnacle of automotive technology, design, and performance. These vehicles, produced by both established and niche manufacturers, are highly desirable for their exclusivity, technological innovation, and extraordinary performance capabilities. Investing in modern supercars can be highly profitable, particularly limited-edition models, which often appreciate in value due to high demand and low production numbers.

Approximate Start Year: Late 20th century to present


Automobile collecting offers a unique and potentially lucrative investment opportunity across various eras, each with its own appeal and investment profile. Whether drawn to the historical significance of Brass and Steam Era vehicles, the elegance of pre-war classics, the cultural impact of post-war American and European cars, the raw power of muscle cars, or the cutting-edge technology of modern supercars, investors can find valuable assets that appreciate over time. As with any investment, thorough research, expert advice, and a passion for the subject matter are crucial to success in the realm of automobile collecting.

Sign Up For A List of Events

Oh sure, you could come back here week after week to look for a list of car stuff to do, but why bother?

Our Basic email program is simple: Just tell us the State where you live, and we’ll send you a list of the events in that state. Simple.  And if that’s too many events (which is possible) you can opt for our Premium email program which is designed to send you a list of only those events withing 30, 60, 90 or 120 miles of your zip code.

That should leave you plenty of time to polish the car.