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History and emotion play a huge role in the world of classic cars, determining not only what is collectible, but also what is valuable. And whether or not you buy into the notion of classics as investment opportunities, their potential is impossible to deny. However, even in the sphere of rarefied vintage wheels, some stand out above the rest: top notch classic cars. But, what are they exactly?

From poker chips to stocks to collectible classic cars, a “blue-chip” item always retains its value.

The Lamborghini Miura is often referred to as a top notch classic car | John Keeble/Getty Images

First, the term “top-notch classic car” has nothing to do with semiconductor chips or paint colors. But it has everything to do with the market value of a specific car. And you can thank the stock market and the game for that.

Historically, blue chips were the most valuable in poker. Now, investing is not gambling, although some might say otherwise. But investing has borrowed at least one poker-related term. In financial jargon, a “blue chip security” or “blue chip investment” is one that has a long track record of stability and high value. These are the “sure values” of the financial world. No matter what happens in the stock market, these stocks will always be the most valuable.

Here’s where we come back to collectible cars. Although some aspects are not retained, investing in classic cars has some similarities to investing in the stock market. Thus, some of the terminologies have been carried over, including the first-order designation.

In short, top notch classic cars are not only the most valuable collectibles, but the ones that are always highly prized. Even though tastes and major buyers change, these cars will still fetch big bucks at sales or auctions.

Which classic cars are considered top-notch collectibles?

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Because top-notch collectible classic cars are meant to be immune to the vagaries of the market, the membership list is understandably exclusive. But there are general conditions of entry and a known list of certain members.

In terms of market value, there is no “official” minimum price for a car to be considered a premium collectible. For example, Car and driver considers cars worth more than $500,000 to be prime investments. However, HagertyThe annual Blue Chip Index, which measures the average value of the 25 “most wanted” classic classic cars, is deep in seven-figure territory. And although it has faltered somewhat, it has topped $1 million in the past decade.

Certainly, HagertyThe Blue Chip Index is not the complete list of top notch classic cars. But it’s a good starting point for at least a partial global list:

Can any vintage vehicle become one?

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Note that there are also high value classic cars that are part of Hagerty‘s Blue Chip Index which are not necessarily widely regarded blue chip investments. Air-cooled Porsche 911s, for example, are big right now, but only a few, like the original Carrera 2.7 RS, are considered premium models. Remember, it’s stability and great value that give it premium car status.

As a result, it often takes years for a specific classic car to break into this elite circle. So just because some cars, like the ones on Hagerty‘s Bull Market, rising in value right now, doesn’t mean they’ll get top notch labels. As seen with the new and used car market, it is not uncommon for car values ​​to suddenly crash. This is why blue chip status is not given willy-nilly.

However, while it is difficult for a classic car to enter the blue chip club, it is not impossible. All it takes is a special combination of historical providence, low production numbers and cultural impact. The trick for potential investors is figuring out which cars have the ideal mix. After that, you just have to drop the chips where they can.

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