Baby boomers who splurged to buy vintage muscle cars that they loved as teenagers may have made a better investment than they expected.
The value of 1969 to 1971 muscle cars from Plymouth, Dodge, Pontiac and Chevrolet has spiked in value in the last 18 months, according to Dave Magers, CEO of Mecum Auctions. His firm recently sold a Plymouth Hemi Barracuda (known as a Hemi Cuda for short) for $3.5 million and another for $2.5 million in two West Coast auctions. Hemi refers to a Chrysler engine with a hemispheric combustion chamber and became the trademark name for that powerful V-8.
Mecum's biggest auction, opening today in Kissimmee, Florida, near Orlando, will sell some 3,000 collectible cars -- including at least five muscle cars estimated by the auction house to be worth $1 million or more. We'll take a closer look at two Plymouth Hemi Cudas plus a Dodge Hemi Challenger, a Pontiac Trans Am and a Chevrolet Camaro.
The base market for these cars is American baby boomers, Hagers told CBS MoneyWatch in an interview. "They come into some wealth, and they end up owning the car they have dreamed about since they were 16 years old."
European, Asian and Australian collectors have also begun bidding on muscle cars, helping boost their value into the same range as Ferraris from the 1960s, Magers said. But the rarest of Ferraris from before World War II still can bring in $25 million and up.
Magers expects 10,000 buyers and sellers at the auction, running through Jan. 24 at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimee. He also expects about 90,000 spectators (daily admission is $30). In addition, some of the proceedings will be televised on the NBC Sports channel.
Mecum, based in Walworth, Wisconsin, plans 13 vintage car auctions this year in various parts of the U.S. In addition, the firm stages auctions for vintage motorcycles and antique farm tractors.
Here's a closer look at five of the million-dollar muscle cars.