Prices in the collector car market, on a large scale, experience more steady change than sudden jumps or plummets. But just like the stock market, there are occasional shifts that do happen in a short time span, and it always hurts to miss the boat on a car you’ve wanted for a while.
Hagerty insurance quote activity and the frequency a vehicle is added to our insurance policies are the closest thing we have to a crystal ball. They’re essentially helpful indicators of how in-demand a car is at a particular point in time. So when signals are there telling us a car is about to get hot, but prices are even-tempered for now, it’s a good time to check the bank account and figure out how much financial latitude you have. Here are six cars that you might want to jump on now:
Average values are $51,000 for a #3-condition car.
‘90s Ferraris in general have a solid long-term outlook for collectibility with raw, high-revving naturally aspirated engines paired with gated manual shifters that became increasingly rare in the 2000s and today are gone. Who could say no to a 300-hp, four-cam V-8 with a dogleg five-speed? After the Mondial and the 1976-89 400/412, the 348 is among the cheapest ways to get into Ferrari ownership. And, they’re currently worth less than 308 and 328, despite being far better performers. Values for these cars have been flat these last two years, and there is some room to grow, although their fate is somewhat linked to how popular the 355 gets in the future. Still, 348s will remain the cheaper of the two. And plus, people who don’t know any better will think you’ve got a Testarossa.
Average values are $14,700 for a #3-condition car.
When looking at insurance quote activity, this is just about the hottest thing on the market, be it car, truck, or SUV. These GMCs are very similar to the Chevrolet 3100 “Advance Design” of the same era in terms of look and build, but right now the Chevys are tracking even higher—you might be able to score a good little deal on the GMC version. These trucks were the first major redesign of GM pickups after WWII, and the new design’s fresh looks, bigger cab, better visibility, and better build quality compared to the previous AK-generation trucks made them highly successful. If you drive around in this old beast on a weekend, people will want to be your friend. Fact.
Average values are $14,700 for a #3-condition car.
The first M3 to be fitted with a straight-six following the original M3’s racing-derived inline-four, this E36-generation M3 is the most affordable way to get an M car in your garage. It was extremely well-received in its day and sold reasonably well, making E36 M3s fairly easy to find. However, it’s long been perceived in the U.S. as an underpowered pretender M3, because North American versions (excluding the run of 45 Canadian M3s) got a warmed-over 328i engine instead of the proper European M engine with individual throttle bodies and continuously variable valve timing. The word is already out about the potential for the later E46 M3 to be a future classic, so if you just want an old-school M3 and don’t care about the E36’s black sheep reputation, find a clean one and enjoy the ride. Just stick to examples that are as close to stock as possible—E36 M3s are popular candidates for modification and track antics.
Average values are $13,400 for a #3-condition car.
Want a classic roadster that looks like an MGB but is more reliable, quicker, arguably better-looking, and certainly more of a rarity? Don’t sleep on the old Datsun 1500, 1600, and 2000 Roadsters. Quote activity is high for these lovely top-down machines. No doubt the 135-hp, 2.0-liter 2000 model is the most desirable of the bunch, but you’ll pay a premium compared to the 1500 and 1600, which have plenty of pep and can be found in Good condition for under $13,000. Especially as Japanese classics come more and more into vogue, you can make the argument that these topless Datsuns represent the beginning of the Japanese sports car craze that many people later associate with the brand’s Z cars. A car worthy of being called a Fairlady, indeed.
Average values are $13,300 for a #3-condition car.
In general, huge 1950s cars like this with such expressive styling aren’t on the upswing, which makes the Belvedere an interesting case. Still, quote activity is mysteriously very high, so the long-term potential for the Belvedere to remain in demand is not as clear as with a lot of the other cars on this list. But there’s no denying the Belvedere has a presence that will draw attention, and with a V-8 engine it is more than capable as a driver in modern traffic. Expect to pay a bit of a premium for the harder-to-find convertible, and keep an eye out for rust on the later models.
Everyone wants trucks, and that doesn’t change when it comes to the ‘80s Ford F-Series. Despite solid interest in terms of quote activity and vehicles being added to policies, F-Series prices are relatively flat for the moment—and still very much affordable. Later versions of the 1980-86 F-Series mark a return to form following the fuel-shortage induced performance drought that was leftover from the 1970s. By 1984 you could get a high-output Windsor 351 V-8, and 1985 marked the introduction of electronic fuel injection for the 5.0-liter (302-cu-in) V-8. But no matter which one you get, it’s hard to go wrong with a Ford pickup, and prices have nowhere to go but up. People are starting to realize it, too.
1977 marked the arrival of a smaller Thunderbird that was almost 1000 pounds lighter than before, and it still has all of the late ‘70s vintage clichés—think vinyl roof, opera windows, and huge bird badges on the covered headlight doors. These cars are still extremely affordable, and that’s bringing in interest from people who realize they can’t really get any cheaper. Even the most expensive T-Bird of this type—the ‘78 Diamond Jubilee in primo condition—is worth just $17,000. Don’t expect prices to reach for the stratosphere or anything, but if you pick one up now you almost certainly won’t lose money.