There are a couple of classic cars that seem to be at the top of the list when it comes to rising prices (which means rising demand and popularity). Me personally have always gone with the general rule of thumb that if you can stick to sports cars, then there is a higher likelihood to see your classic car investment grow. This is obviously is just a generalisation and subject to many factors such as originality, history etc so don’t shoot me down before I get started.
There are a huge amount of factors that contribute to a cars value but… we can obviously also look at patterns in the market. SOOOOOO… to give you a summary, here are just some personal observations about cars I think are nice little investments. Remember this is my own opinion and feel free to share yours in the comments below.
Firstly, the Corvette Stingray AKA the second generation Corvette. Ok I believe this is one of the most under-valued and under-appreciated classic American sports cars. I don’t need to say more about this one … to me it is the classic American sports car to be collecting right now. (I also love the 3rd Generation as well but the original Stingray is the top of my favourite American list. It is small and sporty and big and muscly all at the same time).
VW Beetles, Kombis and everything VW. Now the interesting thing that makes VWs collectible is that they have such a modern support network for parts, events etc, and there is a huge community of VW maniacs. With modern engine and hardware conversions (brakes, suspension) you can easily have a reliable, low maintenance, fuel efficient and more powerful car than what originally came out of the factory (*I know that some of you purists are cringing but remember – horses for courses). Therefore classic VWs make great classic car daily drivers. You can now also launch some pretty powerful engines and running gear into these machines for very little cost. (eg original VW beetle engines ranged from about 25 horse power. Now you can get a brand new race gearbox, a 140+ horsepower new engine (brand new) with muffler, shipped to your doorstep anywhere around the world, ready for install…all for under 10k). Hence what makes them an increasingly good investment. Especially if you have the original engine and parts for originality but put a more reliable engine and running gear for daily driving purposes.
SL Mercedes-Benz roadsters. Seems everyone at the moment wants an SL. They are in high demand in Europe, the States and also Down Under. At Sydney's Autumn Classic Car Auction in May there were guys fighting over 2 SLs on both the floor and by people from overseas(on the phone). AUD $91,000 (roughly USD$91,000 and 70,200 Euro) was fetched for a cream Australian-delivered 190SL and AUD $89,000 (USD $89,000 and 69,000 Euro) for a red 1964 'Pagoda roof' 230SL. All these auctions around the world seem to all have one common outcome - SL Mercedes are comfortably beating their pre-sale estimates.
…AND FROM THE ASHES…. THE REVIVALS. OK, a good example is the revival of the Mini Cooper which has made old Minis very desirable. (yes, the VW Beetle is there too). In fact very quickly when the new models of the Mini were released, old Minis, especially the Cooper Ss, almost doubled in price. (I cringe at personally knocking back a Concours Cooper S before they went ridiculous). I have to also suggest that most classic or rare cars that have a revival or continue to produce a classic badge or model have a pretty good chance of being a collector car in the future (sporty cars though). Examples include: Naturally Porsche 911s, Mini Coopers, VW Beetles, VW Golf GTIs and now the VW Sirocco, Mercedes SLs, BMW M series, Fiat 500 as well as older sport models. Also note that the revival of the Abarth spec Fiat also has added a lot of value and interest in the old Abarth models.
In relation to revivals, classic Audi cars have also seen a resurgence given the success of the modern Audi models. I think that old Audi Quattro’s are going to be the next hot thing (they kind of already are).
OLD FAITHFULS… There are generally a couple of classic cars that you can’t go wrong with. These cars will continue to be collectible and consistently increase in value each year no matter what. They include most sport car editions of desirable existing makes. For Example Jaguar E-Type Convertibles, Porsche 356s and early 911s, M Series Beemers, the Volvo P1800, Mercedes SLs, Ferraris (everything but the 400 series) etc etc. I would actually be curious to hear from you what you consider to be the Old Faithfuls.
Special editions. Obviously limited sport or limited editions hold a much greater desirability than standard models. If you can, it is often worth spending that little bit extra, get the limited edition version of the car – it will often pay dividends in the long run.
The Classic Japanese sports cars… YES THAT IS RIGHT.. those bad boys. OK this is interesting. Now the Japanese cars of the late 60s, 70s and 80s are really climbing the classic car ladder. There are a couple of reasons this. Firstly, most of them have existing editions and are great cars, fast, economical etc etc. There is also a huge scene for racing and replacement parts. The other thing, and maybe the most important when it comes to the increasing value of these cars, is that Japan had a very strong policy of recycling/upgrading their cars in order to fuel their local car industry. (I can’t remember the details, but basically the government would give you incentives to change cars every couple of years). That is why so many of the old used Toyota Celica’s, MR2s, Supras, Hondas etc were exported (which in the States and other countries became popular as street performance vehicles – ie Fast and the Furious). Funnily enough, now the Japanese are now trying to import them back as there is a very limited supply of these cars remaining in Japan. Me personally would love to own a 70s Toyota Land cruiser.
OK I hate to say this but there are also the MOVIE STARS. The cars you can associate with a popular (better yet, cult) movie or TV show the more likely it is to be a good investment. You name it there are a million examples, Dukes of Hazard, Smokey and the Bandit, Bullitt, The Saint etc. When you think about this it makes sense. Let’s use Magnum PI and his rossa corsa (race red) Ferrari 308 GTS (they used 3 different models between airing from 1980 to 1988. A 1978 308 GTS, 1980 308 GTSi and 1984 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole). OK so you are born in the 70s and grow up in the 80s watching Tom and his big handle-bar mo driving that car. He is cool, he is handsome and he gets all the hot chicks… and he drives that car. It is for maybe a couple of years your dream car or one of your dream cars. You may even have posters pinned in your room of that 308GTS. At some stage 30 years or so go by and Tom gets old, the hot chicks are no longer hot but that car is still as beautiful as the first day you saw it. The difference is now you know how to drive, the car is no longer superdooper expensive like it was when it was new and if you are lucky you have made some money along the way. Hell it maybe you want to spend your inheritance or even are having a midlife crisis and decide that the kid’s education is not worth it. So you jump on the net and check out the prices. BUT! Here is the big but… There are only a billion other grown up kids that also had the 308 GTS pegged as their dream car. So what happens… the price starts going up.
Things to avoid. At the moment I would have to say that the muscle car scene has kind of stagnated in recent years. A lot of the muscle cars, unless they are special editions or original sport specs, were produced in massive numbers (such as the Mustang) and a lot are being restored. So there are a lot of vehicles in the market both good and bad. There is also the consideration that some of these cars require you to own your own oil field if you want to drive them as a regular driver. I also found something really interesting… the new Fast and the Furious movie trailer (Number 6 and apparently there will also be a number 7) shows not classic muscle cars, but rather sportier and smaller classic cars. In the preview I think I even saw an old Jensen. That brings me to also the Jensen. That to me is a candidate in this list.
Finally in my book the most undervalued car is the Ferrari Dino. When you consider bang for buck, I find it very strange that a Porsche speedster is now fetching well and truly above 200k and you can pick up a Ferrari Dino GTS or GT for around 150K. You don’t get much in a Speedster at all. Hell it does not even have windows. …. It’s a Ferrari for crying out load! It also, not being a V12 makes it a great classic daily driver…if you have a good mechanic of course.
Now as cars become increasingly complex, increasingly “consumerable” I think that anything classic will be a good investment one day. But hey, that is just my opinion… let’s hear yours
The rare old guy
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