We’ve all seen the shady click-bait articles touting some obscure penny stock as the next Apple. Sure things rarely turn out to be sure things. That’s why we’re not sticking our neck out and predicting automotive sure things, but you could do worse than to invest in these five cars that were inextricably intertwined with ‘80s pop culture. Why? Because the Gen-Xers who grew up with such television landmarks as Magnum P.I. and movies like Back to the Future are going to hit their peak earning years in the next decade, and you know what they’re going to want. Time to grab a warehouse and start stockpiling these:
1. Pontiac Trans Am- The third-generation Pontiac Firebird is kind of the forgotten Firebird at the moment. Forgotten by everyone but the fans of a rather cheesy TV series Knight Rider that starred a pre-Baywatch David Hasselhoff and a specially modified black and gold T/A called KITT (“Knight Industries Two Thousand” if you must know). Exactly how revered is this car? Well, a few years ago, Hagerty posted this video about a gentleman who built his own KITT replica—it’s racked up almost one million views as of this writing. Currently, the Trans Am flavor of the month is the Smokey and the Bandit-era T/A of the 1970s. Over the next 10 years, interest will shift to the KITT-era cars with predictable appreciation.
PRICE TODAY- Around $15,000 buys a fantastic one, for now.
PRICE IN TEN YEARS- $30,000 to $40,000
2. DeLorean DMC-12- Everyone knows (or thinks they know) the DeLorean's story. Rushed into production with a limp 130 hp Renault-Peugeot-Volvo V-6, it had the looks of an exotic supercar but a Toyota Celica’s performance. For years, the DeLorean was the butt of bad cocaine (due to the company founder and CEO’s legal issues) and flux capacitor jokes (watch Back to the Future and you'll understand), nobody thought much about its innovative construction, with engineering expertise provided by Lotus. And in the era of 700 hp plus production cars, everything old is slow in comparison to what you can walk into a showroom and buy, so who really cares if the DeLorean won’t get out of its own way? Thanks to the Back to the Future trilogy, it’s a certified pop culture icon.
PRICE TODAY- Around $35,000 in any color as long as it’s brushed stainless steel.
PRICE IN TEN YEARS- $50,000 to $65,000
3. Toyota Hilux Pickup- Before it was the darling of insurgents everywhere, the Toyota pickup was the darling of suburban 1980s high school kids. Instead of fifty-caliber machine guns, the preferred accessories were lift kits, off-road tires, and chrome light bars. Most endured hard lives or split in two after succumbing to the patented Toyota frame rust. Surviving unaltered Toyota pickups with the full McFly package (again, see Back to the Future) are already showing up on sites like BringaTrailer.com. It’s only a matter of time before they start showing up at big time live auctions all shined up and ready for a big night at the lake.
PRICE TODAY- About $15,000 to $18,000 for an original paint, rust-free truck.
PRICE IN TEN YEARS- $30,000 to $35,000
4. Ferrari 308 GTS- The 308 is desirable even without the connection to the Hawaiian detective sporting a porn ‘stache and Tigers cap. It’s beautiful, sounds fantastic, and despite its Ferrari pedigree, isn’t a maintenance nightmare. It’s one of the last thoroughly analog Ferraris that a competent DIY mechanic can look after. But it was Magnum P.I. that made the car a legitimate pop culture icon. Nearly every Rosso Corsa 308 that shows up at an auction has a Tigers cap casually tossed on the passenger seat. With nearly 12,000 built, by Ferrari standards, the car is a belly button car—everyone has one. But in reality, it’s far less common than an E-type or Porsche 911S. While prices have spiked (and calmed down), they’ll be quite sought after over the next ten years.
PRICE TODAY- About $75,000 for a carbureted late 1970s 308 GTS.
PRICE IN TEN YEARS- Probably double the current value
5. Mercedes 350/450/380/560SL- The R107 SL was nearly everywhere on TV and in the movies of the 1970s and 1980s. Nearly always driven by the small-town girl who meets a shady rich guy in the big city. In the days before Lexus and BMW convertibles, the SL was THE automotive status symbol for people who really didn’t care that much about cars. The not-so-dirty-little-secret is that every Mercedes SL eventually appreciates. And that’s exactly what the R107 version is doing now. Dallas and Dynasty fans rejoice.
PRICE TODAY- About $35,000 for a nice but not perfect 560SL in good colors.
PRICE IN TEN YEARS- $65,000 to $75,000