26 June 2012

Why are these cars still so reasonable? We have no reasonable explanation

At some point in late 2011, the collector car market fully got its mojo back. Fueled by websites like Bring-a-Trailer.com, some of our favorite oddball and overlooked cars started to gain a fair amount of attention. In short, it’s getting harder and harder to find anything that doesn’t seem fully priced, particularly in collector cars from the 1960s and 1970s. Here are our picks for cars that still inexplicably trade under the radar. For how much longer, though, is anyone’s guess.

 1. 1979-80 Lotus Esprit S1/S2 and Giugiaro Turbo: Maybe the most significant design of the 1970s by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the most significant Italian designer of the post-war era. Last Spring, I bought a nice one for under ten grand. That’s MGB money, folks, for a mid-engine exotic with 007 provenance. Simply unbelievable. $11,600*

2. 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7: The Cougar was the grownups’ Mustang—a real attempt at an American GT car. The first-year XR7 had it all, including what might have been the finest-looking American interior of that year, with gauges and toggle switches and a wood dash that totally mimicked British sports cars of the era. Sweet car for little money. $15,100*

3. 1963-64 Studebaker Avanti R2: Perhaps the car on the list that confounds the most people. It comes with Raymond Loewy styling, a supercharged V-8 and an available manual transmission plus an interior that’s as arresting as the outside. We’ve been waiting for years for this car to take the expected jump in value. $19,700*

4. 1965-69 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Coupe: Back in the day, revered motoring scribe David E. Davis Jr. was as enthused about the second-generation Corvair as he would be about the BMW 2002 just a few years later. Today, the 2002 is hotly sought after by enthusiasts; the Corvair, a little less so. Inexplicable, it’s gorgeous in coupe and convertible form, a brisk performer and easy on the wallet. Leno loves them, too. It should at least get the love the 2002 gets. $9,900*

5. Maserati Khamsin: Bertone’s one true masterpiece from the 1970s, doesn’t have a bad angle, with sharp creases, subtle flowing curves and a unique glass panel under the rear hatch, there wasn’t anything like it before and hasn’t been since since. Khamsins deserve to be trading at twice what they generally do. $37,800*

6. Alfa Romeo Montreal: Fresh from designing the Lamborghini Miura, Marcello Gandini created the Montreal, which shares a few of the Lambo’s styling cues and a couple of the wild color choices. A quad cam V-8 from the T33 race car completes the package. It’s simply nutty that decent ones can still be bought in the high-thirties to low-forties. $41,200*
 
7. 1966-69 Alfa Romeo Duetto: The Alfa of the sixties (as far as most Americans are concerned), the Duetto is remembered by baby boomers as Benjamin Braddock’s graduation gift in the film “The Graduate.” Sublimely rewarding to drive and great to look at (particularly in pre-1968 covered-headlight form), they still pop up in the low twenties and even high teens—half price as far as we’re concerned. $22,800*

8. 1966-76 Jensen Interceptor: The big Interceptor picks up where the Facel Vega left off. Styled by Carrozzeria Touring of Italy with tweaks by another well-regarded design house, Vignale, the car’s power is provided by a torque factory outlet otherwise known as a Chrysler 440. The wood, wool and leather interior is a bonus. Hell, an indifferently put together Dodge Coronet 440 will generally pull more money than this rare, handmade Aston Martin competitor. $18,900*

9. 1966-67 Buick Riviera GS: The first-generation Riv gets all the love, but here’s a secret: The second-gen car is ever better looking. A classic fastback from the Bill Mitchell era, it’s a totally overlooked design from the days when Flint wasn’t a ghost town and Americans really would rather drive a Buick. The GS was the high performance version. $16,600*

10. 1976-79 Porsche 930: I just picked up the latest issue of Panorama (the Porsche club magazine), and I was shocked to see a trio of seemingly well-cared-for 930s in the $18,000 to $40,000 range. This was the performance car of the era; in fact, really the only performance car of the malaise era when laws, lack of creativity and general bad  karma nearly killed automotive performance for good. Sure, a bad one can inflict shock and awe on your bank account, but we’re not going to buy a crappy one, right? Have an expert check out any potential prospect and enjoy what could be one of the best under-$50K automotive investments out there. $33,700*
 
*Prices are for #3 Condition cars according to Book 18 of the Hagerty Price Guide

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