In terms of values, the cars we generally think of as classics today tended to follow a certain pattern. Their value would depreciate significantly after a few years or after the next better, faster car came along, then they would be out in the world for another 20 years or so before being “discovered” as collectibles and seeing their values soar. There were exceptions of course, but this pattern of big depreciation followed by a 20- to 25-year lull in interest before resurgence and collectability is in general how things have worked for quite a while. It’s a pattern, though, that appears to be changing. For some cars, at least, that cycle of depreciation and collectability is happening much more quickly. Just look at the air-cooled Porsche market, where cars that are less than 20 years old have seen their values explode over the past couple of years. It’s a similar story with certain later model Ferraris as well.
Part of the reason for this is that as cars from the 1960s and 1970s have seen massive price increases, they’ve become harder to justify compared to their modern day equivalents. For years, cars of the 1960s and early 1970s often had an appealing performance advantage over newer cars, but that’s no longer the case as we are currently in a golden age of high-performance. Now that an older air-cooled 911 with needs and shortcomings has become a much more expensive car, it’s no longer the obvious choice when compared to a quicker and more reliable Cayman S. And because so many newer cars come with build quality that is far superior to what we had 50 years ago, even some of the most hardcore old car people are being tempted to forego another old car purchase in favor of a late model machine. Another confounding factor is the manual gearbox, a feature that car enthusiasts covet but one that is nevertheless slowly disappearing in newer cars. Late model cars that happen to be equipped with proper manuals are already commanding premium prices over their paddle-shifted counterparts. The newer “modern collectibles” aren’t mass-market cars and will continue to be in the minority, but they are soon likely to become an increasingly important part of the conversation about collector cars.
Porsche Cayman GT4
When Porsche introduced the 2015 Cayman GT4 with its detuned 3.8-liter 911 Carrera S engine, GT3 brakes, active suspension proper six-speed manual, it seemed like Porsche was finally allowing the Cayman to be as good as it could be. Its sharp looks don’t hurt, either, but what’s likely going to turn the Cayman GT4 into an instant classic is its focus on an involved, pure driving experience and, yes, its manual gearbox. Those are admirable but increasingly rare traits in performance cars these days, so this Porsche’s combination of modern technology and performance with a more analog driving feel make it a standout, the kind of standout car that appeals most to people who collect cars.
Dodge Charger/Challenger Hellcat
Dodge’s Charger and Challenger Hellcats won’t go down in history as the prettiest things on four wheels. They don’t represent any kind of design breakthrough or technological advancement. They definitely aren’t the most refined, either, but none of that matters. Two numbers, 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, caused a media firestorm when the car was released and are enough to make these cars future classics. Their throwback, good-old-fashioned American muscle thanks to their supercharged V-8s have really resonated with car people, and they’re not the kind of car you can just walk into any old Dodge dealer and buy. (Click here for the current value of a 1970 Dodge Challenger.)
Any late model Ferrari with a manual transmission
The open gate shifter of a Ferrari is one of the prettiest and most instantly recognizable trademarks in the world of car interiors. The trouble is, Ferrari doesn’t make them anymore. It’s all paddles these days, because demand for proper manuals gradually diminished to the point that developing a new one just wasn’t economical for the company. That means that the last of the Ferraris that could be had with a third pedal, cars like the F430 and the 599 GTB, are exceedingly rare. And the word “rare” in the world of Ferraris means collectible and valuable. In March of 2015, RM Sotheby’s offered a 2007 599 GTB in Amelia Island. Its distinguishing feature was that even among all the carbon trim and buttons and switches, there was a shiny open gate shifter and a clutch pedal, making it one of only 20 six-speed 599s were sold in the U.S. The final price? An eye-watering $682,000. When it was new, this car would have cost closer to $200,000.
Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06
The Corvette is such an enduring model and there have been so many built that no matter what your budget is, a Corvette is almost always an option. Most Corvettes can and do experience the usual depreciation curve before becoming collector cars but, like the Nissan GT-R, the Z06 version of the C7 is groundbreaking and it appeals to die-hard speed freaks that don’t care about cupholders or infotainment systems. With an even 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 comes in less than three seconds and earlier in 2015 the C7 Z06 famously blitzed Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap test, beating a McLaren 650S and a Lamborghini Huracán in the process. That kind of world-beating performance makes it an important car, and importance translates to collectability. (Click here for the current value of a 1963 Corvette Z06.)
Late Model Shelby Mustangs
The recent Mustangs that Shelby has been turning out are pretty incredible. They look great, they sound better and they handle surprisingly well. They also have a big options list, which includes the Super Snake package that brings the blown V-8 to 750 hp. Like Dodge’s Hellcat, it throws caution to the wind in favor of insane, tire-smoking speed. Unlike the Hellcat, though, it has the Shelby name attached to it, and that’s a name that has traditionally counted for a lot in the collector car world. (Click here for the current value of a 1967 Shelby GT350)
Only about 6,000 BMW 1Ms were built, and less than 1,000 made it to the U.S. It therefore has rarity going for it, and as a real BMW M car, it has pedigree and name recognition going for it as well. As the smallest and lightest M car in recent memory and with its twin-turbo straight-six, the 1M really appealed to the BMW faithful and many felt that it was a more rewarding car to drive than BMW’s darling M3, and at a significantly cheaper price to boot. With that kind of appeal and because there are so few to go around, don’t expect the 1M to be depreciating much.
Older versions of Nissan’s “Godzilla”, the Skyline GT-R, have already passed the threshold from future classic to full-blown collectible, and the current R35 version is a sure future classic as well. The first of Nissan’s all-wheel drive monsters to be available in the U.S., it was a total game changer in terms of performance, shaming much more expensive and less practical supercars with a speed per dollar ratio that had previously been the territory of the Corvette. It has also captured the imaginations of tuners across the country, so seeing a clean, low-mileage stock example at a future collector car auction won’t be a surprise.
Tesla Model S P90D
The Tesla is without a doubt a car of huge historical significance that has sent shockwaves across the whole car industry as the first all-electric car with real mass appeal. It’s unclear how the batteries and electric powertrains in cars like this will fare in the long run, but the car that tomorrow’s collectors will want from the current crop of Teslas is the P90D. It makes the equivalent of 762 hp and 713 lb-ft of torque, and its sportiest driver setting is called “Ludicrous” mode, which is quite a novelty.
Alfa Romeo 4C
There was a long time when Alfa Romeo wasn’t really making any interesting cars, and that’s a shame. The 8C at the end of the last decade was a breath of fresh air, but that was a low-volume, very expensive Maserati-based car that nobody ever actually sees in person. The 4C is another story entirely. While still more expensive than most of us would like, it does come at a price that mere mortals can afford even though it looks like a million bucks. Overall, it’s a gorgeous home run from a historic company that was really overdue for one.
Third Generation Dodge Viper
Just because Chrysler is having a hard time selling Vipers now doesn’t mean that people won’t want them in the future. It’s always been a true bare bones American sports car, which is a critically endangered species in the kingdom of automobiles. Even though a similarly equipped Corvette has for a long time been a better car for cheaper, the Viper was always extremely exciting and just plain cool. As was revealed in a 2015 labor contract, though, Viper production will cease after the 2017 model year and there don’t seem to be any plans to start up again. If they won’t be making any new ones, then anyone and everyone who wants a late model Viper will have to look to these third generation cars.