Muscle cars accelerate back into popularity
Experian analysis highlights purchasing patterns of American high-performance vehicles
Jun 30, 2015, 08:30 ET
SCHAUMBURG, Ill., June 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In the spirit of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, Experian Automotive reviewed the resurgence of the American muscle car — six high-performance models that were born in the United States. According to the study, new registrations of American muscle increased 35.4 percent over the previous nine years. In terms of registration volume, the Ford Mustang took the top spot (77,000 new registrations), followed by the Chevrolet Camaro (66,000), the Dodge Charger (55,000), the Dodge Challenger (50,000), the Chevrolet Corvette (32,000) and the Dodge Viper (1,000).
"The love of the Mustang combined with the reintroduction of the Camaro, Challenger and Charger has sparked a resurgence of the muscle car," said Brad Smith, Experian's director of automotive statistics. "While the growing popularity might run contrary to conventional wisdom, consumers are continuing to show their appreciation for a part of American history and not steering away from raw horsepower to focus solely on fuel efficiency."
Purchasing patterns of American muscle cars also are interesting. The study found that consumers who purchased a Corvette or a Viper were more likely to pay in cash than those buying one of the other four models. As many as 40.3 percent of Corvette and 34.5 percent of Viper buyers paid with cash, which is a 101.8 percent increase over the next highest model. In terms of leasing, the Charger was leased most often, with 12.3 percent of consumers choosing that financing option — a full 64 percent increase over the next model reviewed in the study.
The study also found that of the models that were purchased with a loan, the Charger and Challenger were the most likely to have been bought with extended terms. Nearly 52.4 percent of consumers who purchased a Charger and 49.6 percent of consumers who purchased a Challenger had loan terms between 73 and 84 months. Furthermore, both models had the highest rates of borrowers in the subprime risk category, with 22.8 percent of consumers who purchased a Charger and 18.3 percent of those who purchased a Challenger having credit scores 600 or below.
"With the Viper and the Corvette being on the higher end of the muscle cars reviewed, it's not that surprising that a higher percentage of consumers paid for them in cash. Our findings show that those buyers had the highest credit scores (with the average a full 26 points higher than the other models), which could indicate that they have more disposable income," said Melinda Zabritski, Experian's senior director of automotive finance. "Alternatively, what was surprising is the picture that emerged around Challenger and Charger buyers. With so many of those buyers falling into the subprime category and such a high percentage taking out longer loans, these consumers were probably offered higher interest rates, which motivated them to find ways to help keep their payments low."
From a regional perspective, Texas was the biggest supporter of American muscle, with Texans being 79 percent more likely to buy these cars than consumers in other areas. The next highest-ranking states were Oklahoma (75 percent), Louisiana (67 percent), New Mexico (63 percent) and Nevada (53 percent).
On the other end of the spectrum, Vermonters were the least likely to buy an American muscle car, indexing 70 percent less likely to purchase. The other states that shied away from the high-performance vehicles include Maine (68 percent), Massachusetts (67 percent), Connecticut (61 percent) and New Hampshire (59 percent).
"Given the regional disparity between the top and bottom states for muscle-car preference, one could deduce that weather played a significant role in the buying process," continued Smith. "While I am confident that there are people in those states that have love for American muscle cars, the slippery winter roads of the Northeast and the rear-wheel drive of muscle cars does not make for a safe combination."
American muscle car buyers also were found to be most likely male, indexing 21 percent more likely to buy than females. Additionally, their age is more likely to be under 40 than the general population (11 percent more likely), and individuals earning less than $100,000 per year are 7 percent more likely to buy.
About Experian Automotive
Experian Automotive provides information services and market intelligence that enables results-driven professionals to gain the fullest possible understanding of the market, the vehicles and the people who buy them. Its North American Vehicle DatabaseSM houses data on nearly 700 million vehicles and, when combined with Experian's credit, consumer and business information, provides an integrated perspective into the automotive marketplace. Experian Automotive's AutoCheck® vehicle history reports provide dealers and consumers with in-depth information, allowing them to confidently understand, compare and select the right vehicles. For more information on Experian Automotive and its suite of services, visit our Website at http://www.experian.com/automotive.
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