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.
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.”
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.
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: