The cars not to buy if you’re only in it for the money

We have good news and bad news for fans of classic Mercedes-Benz SL models. First, the good news: The 1955–63 190SL has not only escaped the dubious honor of holding the bottom spot in the Hagerty Vehicle Rating—at one point, the 190SL floundered in that unsettling position three rating periods in a row—it has escaped the Bottom 25 altogether. Now, the bad news: The 1968–71 Mercedes-Benz 280SL, 1972–80 350SL/450SL, and 1986–89 560SL have not been so fortunate.

The Hagerty Vehicle Rating tracks a vehicle’s performance relative to the rest of the market, based on a 0–100 scale. A 50-point rating indicates that a vehicle is keeping pace with the market overall. Ratings above 50 indicate above-average appreciation, while ratings below 50 indicate vehicles that are lagging. The rating takes into account the number of vehicles insured and quoted through Hagerty, along with auction activity and private sales.

Let’s be clear here: These are not bad cars. Well, not all of them. But solely on the basis of value, this list is comprised of the coldest metal in a fairly warm market.

1977 MGB
1977 MGB Gabe Augustine

Unlike the Mercedes-Benz 190SL, the 1968–71 280SL has been trapped in valuation purgatory for six consecutive rating periods. The last time around it was tied for third in the Bottom 25, and this time it sits right at the top (bottom) with 7 points. The 280SL is joined by the 1966–70 Oldsmobile Toronado, which was tied for ninth last time and has been in the Bottom 25 the last two rating periods.

The 1972–80 350SL/450SL is all alone in third with 9 points, while the 1986–89 560SL—also a member of the Bottom 25 for six consecutive rating periods—is tied for 12th with 128 points. That’s actually a move in the right direction, since the 560SL was No. 1 in the Bottom 25 last time.

Hagerty valuation expert Andrew Newton says the SLs seem to be following a similar pattern. “All of them saw big value increases over the past few years, then prices fell off. It began with the 190SLs going up in value, then the 230/250/280, then 350/450/560. Then they fell off in the same order, essentially.”

1961 Pontiac Bonneville
1961 Pontiac Bonneville Mecum
1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SE
1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SE Mecum

Newton is surprised to see such a low rating for the Toronado, but he says the models frequently underperform at auction, which accounts for their recent fall. “Despite the styling, luxury, and level of engineering that went into the Toronado, it seems that people still aren’t able to get over the fact that it is front-wheel drive.”

Another surprise: the 1970–92 DeTomaso Pantera is tied for 18th place with 20 points. “I figured prices and interest would remain high as people continue to be priced out of things like 512 BBs (Belinetta Boxers), Countaches, and the like,” Newton says.

Among newcomers to the Bottom 25, the 1965–67 Dodge Coronet is tied for 20th after seeing its HVR tumble from 37 points to 21, mostly due to several poor auction results.

1966 Shelby GT350
1966 Shelby GT350 Mecum

The highest-valued cars in the Bottom 25 are the 1965–70 Shelby GT350 ($221,100 in #3 condition) and 1976–89 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo 930 ($150,563 in #3 condition), which are tied for fourth with 11 points.

Lowest-valued car on the list is the 1970–74 MG MGB ($7520 in #3 condition), sitting in a tie for 20th with 21 points.

Here’s a full rundown of the Bottom 25:

1966-1970 Oldsmobile Toronado 7
1968-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL 7
1972-1980 Mercedes-Benz 350SL / 450SL 9
1965-1970 Shelby GT350 11
1976-1989 Porsche 911 Carrera (Turbo 930) 11
1946-1950 MG TC 11
1968-1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu 15
1994-1999 Ferrari F355 15
1975-1985 Ferrari 308 17
1969-1979 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ55 17
1950-1953 MG TD 17
1969-1974 Ford Galaxie 18
1961-1964 Pontiac Bonneville 18
1986-1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL 18
1962-1969 MG MGB 18
1964-1967 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu 19
1954-1956 Oldsmobile 88 19
1970-1981 Pontiac Trans Am 20
1970-1992 DeTomaso Pantera 20
1965-1967 Dodge Coronet 21
1965-1970 Oldsmobile 88 21
1963-1966 Plymouth Valiant 21
1968-1973 Opel GT 21
1957-1959 Ford Custom 21
1980-1998 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit / Silver Spur 21
1970-1974 MG MGB 21
1971-1978 Cadillac Eldorado 21
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