A Word About Prices - Part 1

Are Restored Retro Radios Too Expensive?

What Are These Restored Radios Really Worth?

Here's some interesting data points to consider. 

The GE Model pictured at the bottom of this ad is a 1952 Model 60. A very popular design:

Retail price brand new in early 50s was $39.95. Retro Radio Farm typically sells this model with Bluetooth MP3 upgrade for $299 plus $29.95 shipping and handling or $328.95 total. Here's one that sold end of last year. The Bluetooth MP3 upgrade is a $99 value if purchased separately. So, the radio itself is $199 restored plus $29.95 shipping and handling or $228.95 total on Retroradiofarm.com.

A simple cost calculator accounting for inflation shows $39.95 in 1952 is approximately $377.73 adjusted for inflation according to the US Inflation Calculator:

Or, $218.95 in May 2018 dollars is equal to $21.15 in 1952 dollars, or about half MSRP price:

Looking at this from another perspective, the average annual salary in 1952 was $2973.32 according to US Census:

A $39.95 radio was approximately 1.3% of the average annual salary income back in 1952 (=$39.95/$2973.32)

The average salary as of May 2018 in USA is approximately $51,272 according to Motley Fool.

A restored GE Model 60 from RRF is $218.95 in today's dollars and is approximately 0.4% of average USA income. In other words, 0.4% of average salary back in 1952 would have been $11.89 (=.004 * $39.95) or approximately 70% discount off the 1952 $39.95 price

A restored 1952 clock radio has not kept up with inflation by about 50%-70%.

A 1952 General Electric Model 60 that has been adjusted for inflation should be priced $407.68 (=$377.73 + $29.95) as opposed to $218.95 or roughly 86% more than currently priced.

Now, you can reasonably argue that a 1952 General Electric Model 60 clock radio no longer offers the same value in terms of product function, features, usability as today's technology.

What is the value of a 1952 General Electric Model 60 clock radio as a collectible?

To better understand value as collectibles, I use other collectibles as a measure.

This 1951 Ford Custom is on sale at Classiccars.com for $26,500. It looks restored.

Back in 1951, this car brand new MSRP according to NADA used car price guides (http://www.nadaguides.com/) was $1705.

Original MSRP was $1705. In today's dollars, this is $16,751.56 assuming high retail. Roughly, the price of a 1951 Ford Custom 2 door coupe has only kept pace with inflation. Indeed, some collectible cars have far outpaced inflation and are nose-bleed investment vehicles. Approximately, the General Electric Model 60 clock radio has not kept up with inflation. Even restored, the relative value seems to be between 50%-70% off its MSRP.

Let's look at another collectible: Electric guitars. Near and dear to my heart I admit. A bonafide collectible and investment from 80s-00s nonetheless. When it was first introduced in 1954, the Fender Stratocaster has a retail price of $249.50 for the vibrato model according to Fender's website. Adjusted for inflation, that's $2323.84 in today's dollars.

According to Antiques Roadshow, a 1957 Fender Stratocaster retails for $17,000 to $19,000. I've seen them typically priced at $30,000. Assuming $18,000 average retail price, that's 7745% return on investment on $2323.84 in inflation adjusted dollars (=$18,000/$2323.84)

If Retro Radios appreciated as much as vintage guitars, a 1952 General Electric Model 60 that was originally $39.95 would be priced $3097.72 today!

Let's look at median home prices, not considered a collectible but often considered an investment. The median house was $16,000 back in 1951. According to the US CPI Inflation calculator, $16,000 in 1951 would be $154,182.15 adjusted for inflation only.

According to Zillow, the current median home price in US is $213,146. Compared with $154,182.15, that's a return of 38% (=$213,146-$154,182/$154,182) over $16,000 inflation adjusted to today's dollars.

If Retro Radios appreciated as much as a median priced home, a 1952 General Electric Model 60 that was originally $39.95 would be priced $521.26 today!

Collectible values are inherently subjective. No amount of data will justify collecting an item if it is not something you want. But, the data seems to indicate restored retro radios lag other collectibles like cars and electric guitars by a wide margin. So, you would be buying inexpensively if you are considering these as collectibles. Also, restored retro radios seem to lag inflation adjusted prices if you were just looking for a reliable AM tube radio or clock radio. In other words, you are buying at about 50%-70% discount of 1952 inflation adjusted MSRP prices. 

What Are These Restored Radios Really Worth?

We will try to explore this topic in greater detail in our next edition:

A Word About Prices - Part 2. The Growth Of Retro Radio Prices in the Past Few Years.


DISCLAIMER: All examples used in this analysis were chosen for the purposes of making common comparisons among like or similar products not capture all extreme and exceptional cases or make unlike comparisons between products which are restored versus not, or modern versus antique. 



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