When electric vehicles are everywhere, these gasoline cars could become valuable

Credit: James Lipman

Credit: James Lipman

At about 8:30 in the morning on Feb. 27, 2020, the last Chevrolet Impala sedan rolled off the assembly line at the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

GM then shut down the line and has spent $2.2 billion and nearly two years to retool it to build just electric vehicles there starting later this year under the new moniker: Factory ZERO.

The Impala was a modest car starting at about $31,620. Oh, but that particular cherry red Impala that rolled off the line that day could end up worth a whole lot more in the future, car experts said.

“It might be a collector,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, a Traverse City-based specialty car insurance provider and a classic car enthusiast brand. “I think the last gasoline version of certain models will be highly collectible and highly sought after … just like the first year models are.”

GM and several automakers have vowed to transform nearly all of the world’s cars to electric over the next few decades — or sooner. The transformation will not only change daily commutes, but there will be shifts in the collector car world, too, creating opportunity as well as a few challenges.

“The presumption 30 years from now is we’ll be about to go tour in our cars except for the question of where are we going to get the fuel?” said Harry Clark, a classic-car enthusiast who founded Classic Promenade in Phoenix. “Think of it like today, it’s not very easy to get propane, you have to really have your act together to find it. Gasoline will ultimately be that difficult to find.”


GM has vowed to bring 30 new EVs to market by 2025. CEO Mary Barra has said the company aspires for all its light-duty vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2035.

Similarly, Ford has said it expects EVs to comprise about 40% of its global sales by 2030. Stellantis has said 96% of its nameplates to be sold in the U.S. will be low-emission vehicles by 2030.

But despite those lofty EV goals, there are millions of internal combustion vehicles on the roads today and those won’t evaporate any time soon.

“We’ll be in this blended world of internal combustion and EVs existing next to each other and the view from the collector vehicle space is we’re not worried about it,” Hagerty said. “If anything, we’ll embrace it and if it brings more people who want to drive for fun, that’s a good thing.”


The impending EV invasion does raise a new debate: Are you better off having the first car of the first model year ... or the last of a gas model?

“Car companies are very smart marketers, they’re very good at understanding their data, they’re very good at introducing things,” Hagerty said. “The Ford Mach-E — obviously done in the design styling of the Mustang, but it’s an SUV-style vehicle. Is it a Mustang? Well, they’re just trying to introduce that design language going forward in an all-electric platform. That’s what you’ll start to see happening as some of the car companies will sometimes stop a model and then reintroduce it later.”

Take the Corvette, which has been the most collected car in the world since the 1950s, Hagerty said. When the C7, which was the 2019 Corvette front-engine model, ended production to be replaced by the C8, the 2020 mid-engine car, two different types of collectors emerged.

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

“Some, certainly wanted the mid-engine — newest, latest-greatest Corvette,” Hagerty said. “But there were an awful lot of people who said, ‘I want to get one of the last C7s because I want the last front-engine Corvette.’ "

The final C7 rolled off the line at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky on Nov. 14, 2019, a little after 3 in the afternoon. It was a Z06, purchased at Barrett Jackson auction for $2.7 million by Dan Snyder, according to the National Corvette Museum website. The second-to-last C7 assembled is housed at the museum.

But the first C8 to roll off the line in January 2020 with VIN 0001, wound up in car dealer and NASCAR race-team owner Rick Hendrick’s garage in North Carolina. Hendrick paid an eye-popping $3 million for the car. The money is donated to the Detroit Children’s Fund.


“In the car world, the car still has to be attractive and be a limited edition” for it to be a collector though, it can’t just be first or last off the line, Hagerty said.

That means not all of the last-gas-vehicles to roll off the assembly line will end up being collectibles, only the ones with premium options and in good condition will hold their value, Clark said.

“A specific Porsche model or an American car that is specific like a Corvette or Camaro — but not all of them, one that is beat up or not with the right options or the right years, they’re going to find it difficult to find a home for that vehicle,” Clark said.

Here are a few internal combustion vehicles that Clark foresees as collectors in the EV future:

Porsche cars, especially with a manual transmission

Any Ferrari

Most Corvettes that are fully-loaded with low mileage

An early model Toyota Prius that’s in pristine condition, similar to how the early Tesla roadster is very collected now

Mercedes Benz SLR, SLS coupes and roadsters

Ford Bronco SUV

Ford Mustangs, including the Shelby versions

Dodge Hellcats and Demons — the high-performance version of the Challenger

Cadillac Escalade, full-size SUV that is fully-loaded

Cadillac CTS-V high-performance sedans

But the high-volume daily driving cars likely won’t have much value because there will be a surplus of them, unless they are historic in some way, such as a last Impala rolling off the line of a plant that will never build gasoline cars again. Only people with a direct connection to typical high-volume internal combustion vehicle might appreciate it years later.

“Ford made countless Model T’s and Model A’s and those are difficult to find a new owner for because you need to find an 85-year-old to feel any attachment to it,” Clark said.


Then, there are the challenges to driving, Clark said. In the future, fuel will likely be delivered to your home because there won’t be an abundance of gas stations, he said.

Then driving the gasoline-car may require a special-use permit if autonomous vehicles start to populate urban roads, he said.

“Society is based on computers interacting and organizing and suddenly a person is driving a 1957 Chevy that has no computers on it, so now you’re the wild card,” Clark said. “It may require you to stay away from certain streets within that urban area.”

Still, the rare beauties such as a Bugatti or Rolls-Royce, even 75 years from now, will be valued by collectors, even if finding gasoline to drive them is a challenge.

“They are the Monets, the Rembrandts and Van Goghs,” Clark said. “There are always buyers for Monets, Rembrandts and Van Goghs.”

But the sad reality for most of us driving our mass market cars is they will cycle through their life and once they hit maybe 150,000 miles, head to the crusher or be recycled for parts.

“During the next 15-year period, all the gasoline cars will have to get recycled,” Clark said. “But if you have a Corvette now, maybe you keep it and that becomes your weekend car” in an all-electric future.

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