A Car That Costs as Much as a House Is the Latest ‘Dream’ of America’s Upper Middle Class - Kanebridge News
Share Button

A Car That Costs as Much as a House Is the Latest ‘Dream’ of America’s Upper Middle Class

By Jim Motavalli
Tue, May 14, 2024 12:18pmGrey Clock 5 min

When Lamborghini announced its end-of-an-era Huracán Super Trofeo Jota last April, in an edition of just 10, it sold out immediately. No price was announced, though it was probably above US$400,000. That hardly deterred buyers eager to own one of the last Huracán supercars.

Lamborghini Huracán

Ferrari’s limited-edition 812 Competizione and 812 Competizione A in 2021? The 999 hardtops (US$598,567) and 599 targas (US$694,549) were gone very quickly, though maybe not in 60 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan “Blue Shadow Private Collection” cars that appeared in 2023, just 62 in number, disappeared within two weeks. Black Badge Series II Cullinans start at US$470,000 for 2025, but these special editions are pricier—more than US$600,000.

“The primary driver for Rolls-Royce Cullinan clients is not price, but a combination of lifestyle and personalised exclusivity,” says Martin Fritsches, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

The global supercar market was US$17.5 billion in 2023, reports MarketResearch.biz, but it could soar to US$24.9 billion by 2033. Supercars, Business Research Insights says, “are a symbol of luxury, performance and status, appealing to affluent buyers who seek exclusivity and the thrill of driving a high-powered machine. … With a growing global economy and increasing wealth, the demand for supercars continues to rise.”

In the U.S., the American International Automobile Dealers Association reported that luxury brand deliveries in 2023 were more than 2.6 million, accounting for 17% of U.S. light-vehicle sales. That was up from 2.2 million sales in 2021 (and a 14.7% share).

Supercar sales represent small totals, but big potential profits. It’s a niche with an increasing number of startups, including battery cars from companies such as Lucid and Rimac. Ferrari, for instance, reported a US$1.36 billion profit in 2023, a yearly record. That’s despite producing only 13,221 units in the year. Ferrari has typically produced between 8,000 and 11,000 cars annually, but it’s one of the world’s most written-about, admired, and sought-after brands.

And Lamborghini had its best year in 2023, with an operating profit of US$777 million. That’s on sales of 10,100 globally. But each sale was a big ticket: The Huracán buyer in 2023 paid between US$212,090 and US$340,690. Volume didn’t help Tesla all that much. The company sold 1.8 million vehicles globally in 2023 (and had the world’s best-selling car in the Model Y), but has been experiencing declining profits.

This year, the supercar and luxury carmakers are revelling in the power of special editions and the one-of-one “bespoke” commission. Without having to make major changes to their existing models, the companies are able to greatly increase the price—via distinctive colours, interior appointments, and personalisation. Perhaps Tesla would do better if it too delved deeper into accommodating its eager customers with vast personalisation possibilities. Who wouldn’t want a one-of-10 SpaceX Edition of the Model Y?

Meanwhile, established supercar makers are rapidly transitioning to electric and hybrid drive, motivated by international regulations that will ban internal-combustion engines by 2035. Maserati, for instance, is introducing electric “Folgore” versions of its GranCabrio convertible this year, and MC20 supercar in 2025. There will be a new electric SUV in 2027 and a four-door battery Quattroporte in 2028. Electrification is not likely to lead to either lower prices or lower demand, but there’s no certainty.

The Collector Market Is Cruising, Too

The market for collector vehicles above US$200,000 also remains quite healthy. The US$143 million paid for the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe in 2022 surpassed the results of any other car sold at auction by more than US$90 million.

This 1955 Mercedes-Benz coupe broke records when it sold for $142m in 2022

Critics who said that high-dollar buyers would never buy US$200,000-plus cars online (without seeing them in person) have been proven dramatically wrong, and the increase in online buying on sites like Bring a Trailer (BaT) and Cars & Bids has stoked rising values.

“March 2024 was the largest-volume month in our Premium Listings category since we launched it in 2019,” says Randy Nonnenberg, president and co-founder of BaT. “April 2024 followed on with 64 vehicles selling at over US$200,000 in value, with the top sale a Bugatti Chiron at US$3.075 million.”

Offerings in that price range from a US$250,000 1932 Ford hot rod coupe and a Lexus LFA to modern Ferraris and Ford GTs, Nonnenberg says. “The low transaction fees of our online platform make it very attractive for buyers of these expensive items when compared to other venues.”

Pre-owned supercars (and adjacent American muscle) often appreciate in the marketplace, with the rare (and most powerful) ones commanding huge prices.

“The strong US$3.5 million paid at our Amelia Island auction in March 2024 for a Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach—as well as many other strong prices for contemporary supercars—demonstrates the strength in this segment,” says David Gooding , president of the Gooding and Company international auction house. Seven cars priced at more than US$10 million were offered at auction last year, reports Hagerty, with as many as 10 expected in 2024.

McKeel Hagerty , CEO and chairman at Hagerty, says the US$200,000 price point is an interesting one in the enthusiast car market.

“With a budget like that, you can buy some fantastic classics with a rich history, late-model supercars, or you can build a wide variety of the latest restomods [older cars restored with modern amenities],” Hagerty says. “These are the dream cars of the American upper-middle class.”

Hagerty says that US$200,000 would buy “a great, early Porsche 911 S or Jaguar Series 1 E-Type Roadster.” A supercar car lover might also find a Lamborghini Huracán or Ferrari 458 with “weapons-grade performance” in the price range, or a Plymouth Superbird and ‘66 Mustang GT350, he adds.

A rare 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach supercar

Despite the demand, Brian Rabold, vice president at Hagerty Automotive Intelligence, says that high-priced cars don’t necessarily appreciate as fast as some others when they age.

“In the past five years, the 87 vehicle generations in the Hagerty Price Guide with an average value between US$200,000 and US$500,000 have seen an average value growth of 9.24%. This lags behind the 35% average value growth seen in the remaining 1,351 vehicle generations,” Rabold says.

Nevertheless, he says the future “looks bright” for the US$200,000 to US$500,000 segment. “These vehicles are becoming more popular among collectors. Surprisingly, Baby Boomers (who hold most of the wealth in the country) are not driving this growth.” Hagerty is seeing more queries from Gen-X.

“Owning a desirable car or truck that you can drive, or show is much more fun than storing your stock certificates in a safe,” says Craig Jackson , chairman and CEO of the Barrett-Jackson auction house. “Plus, it can offer a long-term upside if you research before you buy.”



MOST POPULAR

What a quarter-million dollars gets you in the western capital.

Alexandre de Betak and his wife are focusing on their most personal project yet.

Related Stories
Property
I.M. Pei’s Son Speaks of His Father’s Legacy of Creating ‘Places for People’ Ahead of a Retrospective in Hong Kong
By ABBY SCHULTZ 12/06/2024
Lifestyle
EV Trade War Could Spread to Luxury Cars
By STEPHEN WILMOT 12/06/2024
Money
To Find Winning Stocks, Investors Often Focus on the Laggards. They Shouldn’t.
By KEN SHREVE 12/06/2024

These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

By KEN SHREVE
Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .