The 25 hottest collector vehicles heading into winter
If you’re obsessed with cars but not quite as enthralled with the idea of going toe-to-toe with overzealous Black Friday shoppers, sit back, relax, and do some online holiday shopping from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy. We have a few suggestions—OK, a lot of suggestions. Get ’em while they’re hot.
What better place to start your search for the perfect collector vehicle than the top of the latest Hagerty Vehicle Rating list? The HVR uses insurance quoting activity, the number of new policies purchased, sales data, auction activity, and other metrics to rank vehicles compared to the overall collector car market. Based on a 100-point scale, a vehicle keeping pace with the collector market will score 50. Ratings above 50 show above-average interest; vehicles with a sub-50-point rating are lagging.
The HVR is not an indicator of future collectability, but it says a lot about what’s trending hot and what’s not. And no collector vehicles are quite as hot as the 1993–2002 Mazda RX7 and 1973–79 Ford F-Series, which are perched atop the Top 25 with 93 points apiece. The two rides couldn’t be more different—or more alike. Both are experiencing an increase in values, insurance quotes, and written policies, and they’ve been hanging around the Top 10 for a long time. This is the first time that either has been #1.
“It’s not so much a case of them pushing their way to the top,” says Hagerty valuation editor Andrew Newton. “They’ve just stayed consistently high, and now it’s their turn.”
The third-generation RX7 actually had a higher HVR of 97 earlier this year without reaching the summit, and it has scored 89 points or higher 15 consecutive times. That’s not just hot, that’s sizzling.
“This generation is more appealing because it’s by far the most attractive, quickest, and most technologically advanced of the RX-7s,” Newton says. “It is also considerably rarer than previous versions.”
The final iteration of the RX-7 (known as the FD) was more exotic than its predecessors, both in its look and in the technology under the hood; a new version of the 1.3-liter 13B rotary engine (13B-REW) was twin turbocharged. The FD RX7 was also more expensive and sold in far fewer quantities. In fact, while about 750,000 RX7s were built from 1978–90, fewer than 70,000 third-gen models rolled off the line. They carry a #3 (good) median value of $25,600.
The sixth-generation Ford F-Series has also been a frequent resident of the Top 25. The ’73–79 half-ton pickups ride on a trusted platform, and while they’re mostly no-frills trucks, you can find them with four-wheel drive, A/C, sliding rear window, and even a CB radio. The trucks have a #3 (good) median value of $11,200.
“They’ve had a high rating for a while—with the exception of a dip at the beginning of this year,” Newton says. “Condition #2 (excellent) values are up 54 percent on average over the past year. I don’t know why this particular generation is more attractive to buyers than some of the others, but all other F-Series trucks—save for the 1957–60 models—currently have an HVR of at least 70.”
New to the Top 25 (which is actually the top 26 because of a three-way tie at 24th) are the 1973–91 GMC Jimmy, which is third with 92 points, and its older 1970–72 sibling, sitting in 18th with 86. “They have similar appeal to the mechanically similar Chevy Blazers,” Newton says, “but they’re rarer and less known.” The 1970–72 Jimmy has a #3 median value of $18,150, while the ’73–91 model has a #3 median value of $12,900.
Rounding out the top five vehicles in the HVR are the 2000–03 BMW M5 (E39) and 1989–94 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R, which are tied for fourth with 91 points apiece. Both happen to be among the most expensive cars in the Top 25, which is otherwise dominated by vehicles valued at $10K or less. The BMW, with a #3 median value of $29,950, was propelled by high quoting activity and a considerable increase in its Hagerty Price Guide values. The Skyline saw a similar price jump—it has a #3 median value of $37,100—as well as strong quoting activity and issued policies.
“The Nissan is the only gray market car in the Top 25, which means supply is increasing as more get shipped over from Japan,” Newton says, referring to the U.S. ban on imports until they reach the age of 25. “But given the rating, the demand still isn’t being met.”
Three Mercedes are in a group of five foreign cars tied for sixth with 90 points each: the 1996–2003 E-Class (W210), 1993–2000 C-Class (W202), and 1991–98 S-Class (W140). Plus, the 1984–93 Mercedes-Benz 190 is 11th. “For the most part, the newer Mercedes are still very cheap [four figures], so it doesn’t take a big move in price to make a big difference percentage-wise,” Newton says. “In general, Mercedes and BMWs from the 1980s and ’90s have been doing quite well the past couple of years.”
Another car to watch is the 1981–88 Volkswagen Scirocco Mk II, which jumped nine points (to 87) and rose from 75th to 14th on the list. “Other sporty hot hatches of the period are getting more attention, but I’m not surprised to see the Scirocco getting a lot of love,” Newton says. “It’s a cooler, rarer alternative to a Golf GTI.”
Meanwhile, the long reign of the 1966–77 Ford Bronco, the previous #1, came to a screeching halt. The Bronco, which has dominated the top of the chart for most of 2019, fell to 24th after a nine-point dip, but it remains strong with a solid 85. “Nothing can stay on top forever. It’s not a sustainable spot to be in,” Newton says. “All the metrics are still strong, but Broncos are cooling off. It’s inevitable.”
Speaking of an unsustainable run, of the 26 vehicles listed at the top, only 10 are trucks or SUVs—the fewest during the past year.
In all, Ford, BMW, and Mercedes each have four vehicles in the top 26, followed by Mazda (3), GMC (2), Jeep (2), Nissan (2), Toyota (2), Chevrolet (1), Cadillac (1), and Volkswagen (1).
Have you been in the market recently for any of the Top 25? Let us know below.