25 October 2012

Modern classics to buy now - before they skyrocket in value

Coulda, woulda, shoulda is a popular refrain among those who watch televised auctions like Barrett-Jackson and Mecum. Those of a certain age can remember when million dollar-plus Hemi ‘Cudas were $3K used cars. The kicking of one’s self multiplied by 500,000 or so backsides when one of these cars crosses the auction block on prime-time TV registers on seismographs. Is it too late? Are all of the good ones mega valuable already? Probably not. Here are five performance cars all built within the last 20 years that have a fair shot a big-time appreciation.

  1. 2002 Pontiac Trans Am Firehawk: Sadly, the beloved Trans Am kicked the bucket (along with the Camaro) in the 2002 model year. And while the Camaro is back with us, the Firebird Trans Am is homeless, given that Pontiac expired in 2009. At least the T/A went out with a bang rather than a whimper. The ’02 Firehawk had a whopping 345 hp and was produced in very small numbers. That end-of-the-line status combined with rarity and high performance should prove intoxicating to future collectors. Its current price of approximately 20 grand will seem like a gift 20 years from now.

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  2. 2000 Mustang Cobra R: Overshadowed by the Shelby Mustangs built on the latest generation (2005-present) Mustang, the 2000 Cobra R has yet to be surpassed in many ways. For example, unlike the newer Mustangs, it sports an actual independent rear suspension that makes the car corner nearly as well as its 385 hp quad cam V-8 will propel it in a straight line, and real attention was paid to making it lighter in weight. Only 300 units where built —all with side exhaust — and in the tradition of cars like the L-88 Corvette, it totally lacked street amenities like A/C and even a radio. Already starting to appreciate in value at around $40,000, when these are $250,000 cars, don’t say we didn’t give you a head’s up.
  3. 1993 Mustang Cobra R : Sort of the bookend to the 2000 Cobra R, the ’93 was built in far different times. The automotive performance recovery was just starting to solidify after the end of the malaise era (1973-87) when the ’93 Cobra R was introduced. Like the 2000 Cobra R, it was race-oriented and came without radio, A/C and — most importantly —without a warranty. Just 107 were built, and it’s a sure bet that a good number of those got soundly thrashed back in the day. Survivors in good condition are excruciatingly rare.

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  4. 1993-96 Mazda RX-7: The last generation of the RX-7 was a twin-turbocharged, lightweight and gorgeous sports car.  For a number of reasons — not the least of which was the fact that the target market couldn’t afford the insurance — the car never sold in large numbers in the U.S. Vintage Japanese cars are  currently a hot little niche in the collector car world. Cars like the RX-7 and the next one on this list will be among the most desirable future collectibles.
  5. 1993-98 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo: A bit bigger and heavier than the RX-7, the last iteration of the Supra to date showed that when it was so inclined, Toyota could compete with nearly anyone on the planet in building kick-ass, ultra high performance GTs. Capable of 0-60 in less than five seconds and with world class brakes to haul it down, the big Supra is revered by the “Fast and Furious” crowd. It’s already the Holy Grail of Japanese performance cars of its era and, sadly, this has led to the demise of many examples — too much car for inexperienced drivers of limited judgment.  The sky is the limit for future appreciation.

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4 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Dhruv Pandya Chicago October 30, 2012 at 12:37
    I recently purchased a 2011 SAAB 9-5 Turbo 4. Apparently only less than 10,000 SAAB 9-5s were produced before the plant in Sweden was shut down, and only 600 of these cars made it to the US shores. As a true Saab enthusiast, it was sad to see the brand die out. Hence I decided to make this purchase. Would you be able to tell me if vehicle has a chance of appreciating in the future?
  • 2
    Serge Matulich Orlando, Florida December 10, 2012 at 11:03
    I own a 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass station wagon which I bought new. Despite its age, the car has only 113,000 miles, runs well, no rust, always serviced and garaged. It would make a great restoration, and I would like to sell it, but I'm afraid to waste money on advertising it because it seems to me collectors and restorers only want sports cars, muscle cars, and convertibles, and are not interested in a stogy old family car like a wagon. I would certainly like an opinion from your readers about restoration of a 36 year old station wagon.
  • 3
    Serge Matulich Orlando, Florida December 10, 2012 at 11:04
    I own a 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass station wagon which I bought new. Despite its age, the car has only 113,000 miles, runs well, no rust, always serviced and garaged. It would make a great restoration, and I would like to sell it, but I'm afraid to waste money on advertising it because it seems to me collectors and restorers only want sports cars, muscle cars, and convertibles, and are not interested in a stogy old family car like a wagon. I would certainly like an opinion from your readers about restoration of a 36 year old station wagon.
  • 4
    Dylan New York January 12, 2013 at 03:14
    I own a 2000 Firehawk. My particular combination is one of less than 10 built like it. I had originally set out to buy a pewter WS6 model but fell in love with this particular low mile Firehawk. I bought the car to lightly modify it and enjoy it at car shows, summers and the occasional track day. It turns heads everywhere i go. People love to see a Firehawk in person as very few are ever encountered on the road. I've managed to put about 20k miles on it in the 4 years i've owned it and i've cherished every one of them. I doubt anyone could convince me to sell this car and I plan to hold on to it for a long time to come. I'm glad I'm not the only one to see the future value in this last of the breed top spec model. I'm glad that the TransAm didn't die a neutered shell of its former self but rather as the ultimate incarnation of what made the TransAm the ultimate pony car of its era.

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