Nostalgia is one of the more powerful forces in the collector car market. Not even designers, marketing departments, and new-car shoppers are immune. Just look at the current crop of retro-styled pony cars like the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. Or look back to the previous decades with the Ford Thunderbird and Plymouth Prowler, or the first revivals of the VW New Beetle and Mini Cooper. They’re all clear examples of trying to enhance a company’s image in the present by borrowing from the past. But does it work in the other direction, with fresh interest in a successor boost values for the original cars?
Two of the most recent (if not slightly off-beat) revival efforts come from Europe. Renault has made a big show of bringing back the rally-bred Alpine A110, while a more boutique Lancia Stratos descendant (which isn’t actually built by Lancia but by an independent outfit, using Ferrari F430 platform) is also headed to production. On this side of the Atlantic, Ford is finally having another go with the Bronco after an absence of over 20 years, and rumors continue to swirl about a Chevrolet Blazer successor.
Looking at the Bronco, early versions have clearly gotten more expensive and have indeed been one of the hottest vehicles on the collector car market over the past few years. The start of their rise, however, predates Ford’s official announcement of an all-new Bronco. The news of the Bronco’s return may very well have helped push up prices of the old one, but it’s not the spark that lit the surge in interest. At best the upcoming Bronco only accelerated a trend that had already started.
Case in point: the Toyota FJ Cruiser of the mid-2000s harkened back to the rugged world-conquering FJ40, had some off-road chops, borrowed lots of styling cues from the original and developed something of a cult following, but it was ultimately a different type of vehicle. The FJ Cruiser is plusher, quieter, and more comfortable. Plus it has 30 years of technological advancement over the old FJ. They’re apples and oranges, and the typical FJ40 owner is a different sort of person than the typical FJ Cruiser owner. And while the original FJ40 famously shot way up in value with over-restored examples even fetching six-figure prices at auction, this happened about 10 years after the retro FJ Cruiser was first introduced. Incidentally, the FJ Cruiser is holding its own in resale value, but given the difference between new and old, it’s safe to say the two trends are unrelated.
The new Fiat 124 Spider is another example of a revival model that, under the skin, has little in common with the original. First and foremost it’s built in Japan on the Mazda Miata platform. But unlike the Bronco and the FJ40, which seem to be somewhat independent of the revival models in terms of value, the original Fiat 124 Spider raised buyer interest, asking prices, and Hagerty Price Guide values following the announcement of the new 124.
As for the Alpine and the Stratos, it’s too early to tell what’s going to happen, but it doesn’t seem likely that prices for the originals will do anything drastic as a result of new ones coming out. The original Stratos is very rare and valuable on its own, and it already saw a huge value surge between 2012 and 2015. Plus, only 25 examples of the New Stratos will be built.
The Alpine will be much more widely available, taking aim at the Porsche Cayman and Alfa 4C. But the Alpine badge doesn’t have as much cachet here as it does in Europe, and the new A110 isn’t even coming to the U.S. market. The only recent transaction for an old A110 was at Gooding’s Amelia Island sale this year, when a race-prepped 1963 model in #3 (Good) condition sold for $82,500. That is consistent with its current Hagerty Price Guide value (almost to the dollar), suggesting interest in the car was totally unaffected by the model’s revival across the Atlantic.
As is often the case, there is no universal truth here. The answer isn’t exactly straightforward, but a revival doesn’t necessarily translate to big growth for the original.