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Cars > vegavairbob’s Garage > Blog > How many 10 to 30 Year-Old Cars are Left - Guidlines and Surprises


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How many 10 to 30 Year-Old Cars are Left - Guidlines and Surprises

By vegavairbob

In the Invester's Guide to American Convertibles and Special-Interest Automobiles 1946-1976, published in 1979, there is a formula used for how many old cars are remaining.

How the numbers are arrived at: Numbers are based on registration figures, not absolute number remaining-its a general idea of a particular car's rarity.
Next, the findings- After 8-10 years, all cars tend to take a sharp dive in survival, some at a greater rate than others. It is not uncommon for cars past their fourteenth birthday to disappear at the rate of 30 percent (or more) of those remaining per year. Plentiful cars have a way of becoming scarce in a very short period of time.

Numbers from the book - a few samples with varying production levels:
10 year-old cars in 1979 when book was published:
1969 Chevrolet Camaro Cpe/Convt -
# produced: 243,100 # remaining in '79: 121,550
1969 Chevrolet Corvette Conv't -
# produced: 16,608 - # remaining in '79: 8,304
1969 Chevrolet Corvair Conv't -
# produced: 521 - # remaining in '79: 260

20 year-old cars in 1979 when book was published:
1959 Chevrolet Impala Convt -
# produced: 69,282 - # remaining in '79: 1,100
1959 Chevrolet Corvette Convt -
# produced: 9,670 - # remaining in '79: 200
1959 Cadillac Series 62 Convt -
# produced: 11,130- # remaining in '79: 280

30 year-old cars in 1979 when book was published:
1949 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Convt -
# produced: 32,392 - # remaining in '79: 65
1949 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Wgn -
# produced: 3,400 - # remaining in '79: 6
1949 Cadillac Series 62 Convt -
# produced: 8000 - # remaining in '79: 21

The 30 year old-car sample just above gives an idea how many 30 year-old cars are left, not many.

A Possible Glitch:
There is a glitch with the formula presented in the 1979 book, and it was touched on even then. More people are preserving and collecting old cars than in the past which could effect survival rates, but even so, this pertains mainly to very desirable Early Classics and 60s Muscle Cars. These are the cars really driving the Hobby, the Auctions, and the Aftermarket companys, going as far as offering complete new bodies for the most popular cars like the 69 Camaro presented above. This assures a marque's ability to survive in greater numbers. You can probably expect most to conform to the formula.

Numbers from the Bureau of Transportation:
2.6% of the vehicles in the US are estimated to be 30 years old or older.
Per Bureau of Transportation stats, the 2006 stat for number of vehicles registered was 250,851,833.
2.6% of the above figure is 6,522,148

I've had the book as a reference for many years. I found the BOT percentage today with a two minute Google search.

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 3 of 3

CorvairJim’s Profile Photo
Oct 19, 2012 at 3:14 am
These numbers have to be W-A-Y off! I can't imagine that there were only 200 1959 Corvettes remaining in 1979. I'd be willing to bet that there are over 200 1959 Corvettes regestered just in the state of California this year.
Crazyfast79TA’s Profile Photo
Oct 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm
There are examples of exceptions like me. My Trans Am sat unregistered for over 5 years. My Nova hasn't been registered since 1986. My S-10 has sat for 4 years unregistered. My wife has a Grand Am that hasn't been registered for 5 years or more. Just sayin'
alwaysakid’s Profile Photo
Oct 15, 2012 at 9:45 am
You're right about the increasing number of people preserving old cars and resulting increase in parts availablility affecting old car survival rates, and I've found that even the number of people in the old car hobby seems to keep growing, providing another variable. Then when you factor in the varying desirability of particular cars, such as the greater likelihood of someone preserving a 1957 Chevy over a 1957 Studebaker, and you're going to change the numbers yet again. I wonder how far the BOT breaks down the numbers of old cars registered?

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Cars > vegavairbob’s Garage > Blog > How many 10 to 30 Year-Old Cars are Left - Guidlines and Surprises

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