5 August 2015

Ten Emerging Collector Vehicles

Some short-sighted prognosticators in the classic car world have gone on record as saying that nothing built post-1972 will ever be collectible, but the unmistakable popularity of 1980s and 1990s cars in the market has illustrated the fallacy of that statement. Here are five up-and-comers to consider:

  1. 1984-89 Toyota 4Runner: Legend has it that the first-generation Toyota 4Runner came about as a way to avoid the infamous “chicken tax” that levied a 25 percent duty on all imported goods, from brandy to light trucks. Put a shell over the bed of a Toyota light pickup, install some seats in the bed and voila — a passenger vehicle. These days, the quirky 4Runner seems to be the off-road Toyota of choice for entry-level collectors now that they’re priced out of the FJ40 Land Cruiser market.
  2. 1990-96 Nissan 300ZX: Trolls will continuously spout the nonsense that the rot irretrievably set in for Nissan sports cars the day the last S30 (280/260/280Z) rolled off the line. And while Z-cars did get progressively more luxurious as time went on and Turbo models of the 280ZX and Z31 300ZX had some merit, the Z32 model that was introduced in the U.S. in 1990 was a brilliant car. Two-seater, 2+2 or convertible, they were all gorgeous and handled well. They’re still a great deal, but likely not for long.
  3. 1992-95 Porsche 968: Those looking for up-and-comers in the air-cooled Porsche world will find little. The train has left the station for the 911, 912 and 914, so it’s the water-cooled cars that savvy buyers are looking hard at now. The 968 is the much more scarce successor to the 944. With a massive 3.0-liter four-cylinder engine and variable valve timing, the 968 was no slouch in a straight line and one of the best balanced and sweetest handling Porsches of all time. Fewer than 13,000 were built with just under 4,700 coming to the U.S.
  4. 1992-2001 Mercedes SL600: The R129 SL had the unenviable task of replacing the much-loved R107 series, which ran from 1971-89. At least Mercedes didn’t bring a knife to a gunfight. The 6.0-liter V-12 model was added to the range in its third model year. With just shy of 400 hp, it was light years ahead of any previous SL performance-wise. R129 SLs are now showing up at auctions, a sure sign that they’re hitting the radar of collectors.
  5. 1995-99 BMW M3: The E36 M3 spelled the end for the edgy four-cylinder M3. The smooth BMW straight-six in the new M3 put out just shy of 250 hp in U.S. spec and was a wonderfully balanced handler. E36 M3s were offered in coupe, sedan and convertible body styles. Bright throwback colors like Techno Violet, Dakar Yellow and Estoril Blue are particularly sought-after but prices have yet to skyrocket for any but the rare 1995 lightweight model.
  6. 1981-93 Ferrari Mondial: The Mondial has been the perennial underdog Ferrari along with the V-12 400i/412. Both are having the last laugh, but Mondial prices in particular have been climbing. Offered in 2+2 coupe and convertible body styles, the Mondial shares the revvy 308/328 flat-plane crank V-8 with all of the visceral thrills that entails. Striking Pininfarina looks, decent reliability, Ferrari sounds and room in back for the kids? What’s not to like?
  7. 1992-95 Volkswagen Corrado VR6: Looking a bit like a grown-up MK I Scirocco, the Corrado VR6 was regarded as a legitimate cult classic before it even left production. While a front-driver, its handling can’t be faulted and the narrow-angle V-6 addresses the shortcomings of every sporting VW that came before it. Good ones are rare indeed and worth keeping.
  8. 1998-2006 Audi TT MKI: The first-generation TT is a sure-fire emerging classic. With unmistakable styling courtesy of Freeman Thomas, it’s reminiscent of a 1950s Porsche 356 in some ways. The Bauhaus-like interior is a design freak’s dream as is the optional baseball glove interior. Now is the time to snap up a V-6 Quattro coupe.
  9. 1971-76 Cadillac Coupe de Ville: Chalk this one up to the perennial favorite status of Martin Scorsese films, but the full-size Cadillac de Ville of the early to mid-1970s is gaining in popularity with Gen-Xers in both the U.S. and of all places, Sweden.
  10. 1982-92 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am: “Smokey and the Bandit”-era T/As are now sought-after collectibles. Waiting in the wings are the “Knight Rider”-era third-generation cars. With the generation who grew up glued to the TV to see what the Hoff and KITT were up to now coming in to some disposable income, it’s only a matter of time before these cars see a serious increase in value.

53 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Jerry Tinton Falls, NJ 07712 August 5, 2015 at 16:50
    I have an 86' Vette, coupe with original 34K. I am the original owner. Car is pristine and all original, radio etc. What is it worth on the auction as in Barrows etc?
  • 2
    Mike Miami August 5, 2015 at 16:53
    Where is the Detomaso Pantera in this mix? Prices seem to have doubled in the last several years.
  • 3
    Tom Johnson Mahomet, IL August 5, 2015 at 16:59
    I "LOVE" the prognosticators. When I was in high school in the 70's all I heard was that no one would collect post war cars. Now it's getting hard to find a prewar car at many shows. Think about it, if a car is 25 years old and was considered stylish when new, someone will be interested in it. Value will vary but any old car is collectible.
  • 4
    Russell Lake Tahoe August 5, 2015 at 17:12
    I don't understand why half of the cars shown are even in the discussion, but to each there own and I respect that. Since Audi TT 's were included thru 2006 I'd like to suggest the '02-'04 SLK32 AMG, with outstanding performance, and only 4000 made world wide, plus the original SLK design.
  • 5
    Ralphie il. August 5, 2015 at 17:27
    A 1986 corvette with 34k will bring about 5---7k at auction.
  • 6
    kein ersatz Maryland August 5, 2015 at 17:31
    Seems to me Datsun 240Z's are starting to emerge as "collectible".
  • 7
    Charlie Pye Louisville, KY August 5, 2015 at 17:59
    My sense is that people either collect the cars they wanted in high school/college or the cars they drove in high school/college. One of my cars is what I drove, a 62 Mercury Comet with three on the tree, the other is what I wanted, which was a VW convertible. Every time I drive either of them, I feel like a kid again. So, the value of cars of any era start to rise as the people who want them start to have a little more disposable income.
  • 8
    Rich M Cleveland OH August 5, 2015 at 18:11
    I predict the 8-series BMW -- in both V-8 and V-12 versions (840 and 850) will come into their own very soon. Rare to see anywhere, the very last years of the 1991-97 model run are the rarest. Design chops to spare; decent-to-good performance...buy a good one today for around ten large.
  • 9
    DMcG Boise, ID August 5, 2015 at 18:21
    I went to my senior prom in my Mom's new '75 Coupe deVille. What a land yacht! I hated everything about that car, except that other people seemed to like it. Just amazing to me that it would be considered "collectable." But what the heck! Gen 2 ('70-'81) Trans Ams are one thing. The Smokey and the Bandit cars are really '77s and '79s. Gen 3 ('82-'92) Trans Ams are something else, something much less in most cases. As I recall, an '82 Trans Am with 4-speed was not quite able to keep up with an '82 Nissan Stanza from 0-60 (check Car & Driver). I agree the Gen 2 cars may have some attraction; the Gen 3 cars maybe not so much at this point.
  • 10
    jeff northern california August 5, 2015 at 18:32
    The 84-89 Nissan 300ZX Z31s are a really good value, especially the later models. I bought one for my son for $1800 with less than 40k on the rebuilt engine a couple of years ago, which was a really good deal, but you can still find a good one for under $4,000. Good cars...quick and reliable, and the T-Tops are nice too.
  • 11
    Anthony Oakland, California August 5, 2015 at 18:35
    Enjoy the tidbits of information
  • 12
    Catherine Klimenkov North Las Vegas Nevada August 5, 2015 at 18:55
    I wonder weather the box style Ford Crown Victoria's will get classic car status as try and find one in good condishion for sale at a reasonable price. I own a 1990 Ford Crown Victoria and yes I have had people approach me to ask will I sell the car I tell them no.
  • 13
    Fred Bowers Asheville N.C. August 5, 2015 at 19:09
    Only #9 and #10, never any of that foreign crap!
  • 14
    Andy Melderis Ontario Canada August 5, 2015 at 19:35
    What no Mustangs?? The SVO Mustang comes to mind. It was no slouch and had features that eventually was passed on to future Stangs. You might even consider it the father of eco-boost performance.
  • 15
    Phil Murray Brookeville, MD August 5, 2015 at 19:57
    Don't overlook the 1991-1997 BMW 8 series
  • 16
    John Grudzien Livonia, Mi. August 5, 2015 at 20:20
    I've even had people tell me my 86 Aries K-Car is collectable. idon't know about that...I enjoy it as my daily driver too much to even consider it more than a very nice older car.
  • 17
    Jimmy Brown Olympia, Washington State August 5, 2015 at 20:31
    I have a frame up restoration # matching 1964 Mercury Comet Cyclone with bucket seats, factory 4-speed and a "Super Cyclone 289/225 HP engine. Stock 9" rear end )approx. 350 produced and no one seems to recognize it's value or importance in the "Muscle Car" class significance. The car is as close to showroom condition as one could imagine!! Anybody know why or care? No one even is able to give me a value!
  • 18
    Joe Central VA August 5, 2015 at 20:43
    Just cannot see the Caddies being collectible. Glad someone loves those bloated and gutless '70s things. I'll take an earlier Coupe de Ville, please. I do second the rest of the picks, esp. the VW. I just loved the stance of those cars.
  • 19
    Larry Greenville, SC August 5, 2015 at 20:51
    OK, I still own that 1973 Datsun 240Z that I purchased from the dealer, and I am refurbishing a 1992 Nissan 300ZX for the Wife!
  • 20
    mintier Lake Geneva WI August 5, 2015 at 21:59
    Don Draper did more to make the Caddy a gotta have than Scorsese, or at least more recently, and he GAVE it away to a kid !?!?
  • 21
    MichBC3 Port St. Lucie, FL August 5, 2015 at 22:03
    I'd say that you'll have a hard time getting anything for an '86 Corvette. I tried to help a friend sell one of those - a convertible - in 2010 and could not even get $6,000. Nobody likes that "overstep" you have to do to get in and out of the car.
  • 22
    Allan Franz Defiance,Missouri August 5, 2015 at 23:05
    Do the 1976 Eldorados belong with No. 9 cars or are they in a separate class by themselves?
  • 23
    Edward Lisicki Las Vegas August 6, 2015 at 01:25
    Where is one of the most beautiful cars made, only 7300 in the three yrs of production the 89-90-91 Chrysler TC by Maserati
  • 24
    Nolan Pahud Santa Rosa, CA August 6, 2015 at 14:53
    How about the Cadillac Allante or Buick Reatta, or Chrysler Crossfire?
  • 25
    EDWARD KOSIS PENNSYLVANIA August 6, 2015 at 15:03
    I am the original owner of a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado 2 door convertible. Driven 50,ooo & never in snow. All original equipment except for roof. How can i get an appraisal of it's value? In excellant condition.
  • 26
    Ross Schwyhart Colorado Springs, CO August 6, 2015 at 15:17
    I'll ask the question, when was the last time you saw an unmodified 1979 to 1985 Mustang? Some day people will realize that these Mustangs were the end of an era yet they get about as much appreciation as a Mustang II!
  • 27
    Leonard Schacher Kent Wa. August 6, 2015 at 17:19
    I have a 1978 Dodge XE I bought new, do these have any value?
  • 28
    gary sattur spring hill, florida August 6, 2015 at 17:34
    1963 and 1967 corvettes are classics
  • 29
    gary sattur spring hill, florida August 6, 2015 at 17:37
    1963 and 1967 corvettes are classics
  • 30
    Rick Gaskill Hartford, KY August 6, 2015 at 06:20
    Time will tell but I'm not really impressed with any of them with the exception of the 4Runner. I can't see Trans Ams with under 200 hp becoming that collectible. Tom, how do you define collectible? Many cars are declining in value. Many would have restoration costs exceed their value. Jerry, here's what '86 Corvette coupes are bringing at auction. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/default.aspx?carID=237&i=8&bsID=553#auctionResults
  • 31
    john porter Hilton Head Island SC August 6, 2015 at 08:17
    I remember when you could buy a used Vw convertible in the 80's for less than $500.00. now they a 57 Vert is selling for (Restored) for over $25,000. This is the market to watch.
  • 32
    Larry Shults Norman, Oklahoma August 6, 2015 at 10:09
    I have a 1978 280Z in reasonably good condition. Original air conditioning still works, minor body dings and pretty good paint. Daily driver capable with 146,000 miles on it. How collectable and/or valuable would you say this car is?
  • 33
    Jwff Ga August 6, 2015 at 11:17
    I have a 65 cyclone with 289/4 spd freshly restored. $18-22k
  • 34
    Dale Brown Louisville, KY August 6, 2015 at 11:45
    I agree with John regarding the VW Beetles. My mom had her first new car that her dad purchased for her in high school (1967 Beetle Coupe) up until about 5 years ago. I listed it on eBay for her and a guy from Orlando brought a trailer up and took it home. It was a great car and I now wish that she hadn't sold it. I saw a nice early 1970's model Bug for sale on the side of the road here in Louisville a few days ago for 6k. As more and more young people look for stylish economical compacts, these old Bugs will become harder to find. I would also like to recommend the 1970's era Lincoln Marks. I own a 1971 Lincoln Mark III, triple black with the rarely seen cloth and vinyl interior. It has the 460 V8 and is really powerful and gets good gas mileage. They are roomy, comfortable, and a joy to drive (great road trip car). The styling of the Mark III, IV, and V is beautiful and you can still find these in very nice condition for 10-12k. I get more compliments and thumbs up while I am driving it than a vintage Corvette.
  • 35
    Ted Flint Elverson, PA August 7, 2015 at 14:59
    Edward Lisicki is right.....Why not the Chrysler TC by Maserati....The mysterious Maserati connection only adds to the collectability.
  • 36
    Adam Canton, MI August 7, 2015 at 11:00
    Certain 80s cars are experience dramatic increases but there are definitely still some out there to be had before the climb. Sure Testarossa's, 308/328's, 911/930s, and 560SLs are the hot cars but very low mileage IROC-Z Camaro's, Grand Nationals, and Turbo Trans Ams are definitely cars on the rise. Some very low mileage and great conditioned GNs are starting to crack $35k and Turbo TAs starting to crack $40k... clear signs that these cars are getting a lot of attention from Gen Xers with some extra cash.
  • 37
    Matt Pennsylvania August 7, 2015 at 11:09
    Jerry, That's a nice car you have there, but it will not bring much, $6800-$7500. They built a ton of these cars, they were very popular. Over 51,000 corvettes built in 1984 alone! The only real collectable from C-4 era was the Monsterous ZR-1. Some others might be Anniversary cars or pace cars. I owned an 84. These are fun, fast, affordable cars and I like them much more then the C-5, which I found to be to Bloated looking. Have fun.
  • 38
    Allen Snyder Houma, La. August 7, 2015 at 12:05
    The 1970-73 caddy with the 500 cu. in engine ran good for a real hunk of iron. The power plant had real low end torque. I have one of the engines, I built, and installed in my 1935 Caddy LaSalle, 2 door sedan. Only 3 known to exist. It is a beast!
  • 39
    Mike Pereira Providence, RI August 8, 2015 at 12:28
    No one will ever be pleased with these lists.. That is FACT.
  • 40
    Roger eldean Macatawa, Michigan August 9, 2015 at 03:46
    How bout my 1975 Pontiac Grandville Convertible with 33,000 original miles. Original paint & everything else except tires.
  • 41
    Tom Johnson Mahomet, IL August 9, 2015 at 16:39
    Rick, I define ANY car that someone wants to keep is collectible. That doesn't mean that it has to be valuable or rare. It means that someone likes it. In the 1930's few saw the collectibility of a Model T and some of them can be found for quite reasonable prices but there is little question that they are collectible. The same would be true for a Type 1 VW. I own a plain Jane 1964 Rambler American 4 door sedan with a 90 hp flat head six, 3 on the tree and no factory options other than a heater. It receives as much if not more attention than some of the tricked out Mustangs and Novas at a car show. It will never be valuable but it clearly is collectible if for no other reason than I haven't found another one exactly like it. It's a piece of automotive history. Why wouldn't it be collectible?
  • 42
    Jon Mariettta, Ga August 9, 2015 at 10:55
    It's nice to see the e36 M3 on the list. They were severely underpriced for a long time. Many of them became the victims of high school kids, or turned into dedicated track cars. Clean original examples are getting hard to find.
  • 43
    KDD Oregon August 10, 2015 at 18:37
    I'm weeping for the loss of my wonderful 968 cabriolet. Lost in a blood bath divorce. She didn't even like the car-she took it because it had the Tiptronic in it and she couldn't drive a stick. What a wonderful machine. If you have one, keep it. If you don't, try to find one. I have looked and looked-many are hammered to death and not cost effective to bring back. Mine was a #1 car. Boo hoo hoo!
  • 44
    Jason Wisconsin August 25, 2015 at 13:51
    I will be the 3rd to recommend the BMW 8-Series as a future classic. Incredible handling, power, and looks. Cost almost $80,000 when introduced in 1990. You can get a nice one today for less than $18,000 and they are already on an upward swing in price.
  • 45
    Gwin Savannah, GA August 25, 2015 at 11:39
    What do you think about Pontiac's since Pontiac no longer exists. I am thinking that a lot of them may become collector vehicles.
  • 46
    Cameron Arlington, TX November 17, 2015 at 20:59
    What about the Nissan 240sx that were discontinued in '98
  • 47
    Bil Nj January 23, 2016 at 02:28
    I just picked up an e36 m3 with 37k on it in stellar shape. I feel the market for good examples of these is shooting up like crazy. When they were cheap, you had folks racing and modding them. Good ones are getting really hard to come by
  • 48
    Charles Hess Dunnellon, Florida January 31, 2016 at 08:28
    Great choices
  • 49
    Tony Florida February 17, 2016 at 19:52
    Look to the past at what happened already...the guy who had a base Mustang back in the day now wants the Mach 1 or Boss 302 he wished he had. The guy who had a 6 banger 3rd gen firebird maybe gets into the market now with the cash to get an '89 Turbo Trans Am. Every generation has it's desireable cars.The exercise of this article is to call out what hasn't caught on ...YET...but probably will
  • 50
    Ken Bucks County, PA February 18, 2016 at 13:41
    Here's a another nod to the BMW 8 series. The designers took a cue from the M1 and in my opinion, used that look to make an awesome cruiser. To top it off from a collector standpoint there are very few around. Top pick or not it's my choice.
  • 51
    Kaj H Northern California May 11, 2016 at 21:56
    AHHH...the Porsche 968. The always undervalued, under appreciated water cooled car that never made it big in the early nineties is now a "collectors car" in the new Century........gotta love it...I own one!!
  • 52
    Rob A Texas May 22, 2016 at 09:32
    I've owned my 968 for several years and can attest to its amazing balance. These Porsches never received the recognition for their scarcity and engineering....until now. Mine is a prime example, but others are falling by the wayside because of neglect and the high cost of repairs when neglected. If properly maintained, they very reliable and affordable to own. Great to see them receiving attention!
  • 53
    Rob A Texas May 22, 2016 at 09:34
    I've owned my 968 for several years and can attest to its amazing balance. These Porsches never received the recognition for their scarcity and engineering....until now. Mine is a prime example, but others are falling by the wayside because of neglect and the high cost of repairs when neglected. If properly maintained, they very reliable and affordable to own. Great to see them receiving attention!

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