We often find ourselves using the overall experience that a car provides as a good indicator of its future potential...
There are many factors that should be taken into consideration when assessing the future collectability and value of a classic or collector vehicle. The dynamics at play can be seasonal or emotionally driven, influenced by larger financial markets and currency exchange rates along with a host of other factors. Often times however it comes down to a much more guttural car guy/gal intuition. In simplest terms, if it was cool back then, it is likely to be cool and collectible now and in the future. We often find ourselves using the overall experience that a car provides as a good indicator of its future potential. We routinely get behind the wheel of a car and ask ourselves, “Is this a $25,000 experience or could it be a $50,000 experience?” From there we can then delve further into scrutinizing collectability. Factoring in production numbers, a brand’s cachet and pedigree, the originality of a specific example, the cost of ownership, as well as historical significance. All of these factors are ultimatley considered in determining the future collectability of an example.
When assessing trends in the classic and collectible car hobby it is impossible to ignore the glaring rise of the “modern collectible” category of vehicles. As generations of car enthusiasts age and grow into the ability to have discretionary income, they look towards the vehicles they lusted after during their younger days. We are currently seeing the millennial generation developing a strong foothold in the collector car world and bringing with them the cars that graced their walls and minds as they came of age in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Along with the vehicles they lusted after, they are also bringing a more relaxed and carefree attitude towards the hobby as evidenced by the prolific rise of events such as RadWood and the countless Cars And Coffee gatherings that have sprung up world wide. As we continue to move forward this generation and the cars they appreciate will progressively grow stronger and more influential in the collectible car market.
Despite the fact that we feel the classic car hobby has an extremely bright future ahead of it, it is impossible to not factor in the current state of world affairs into the collectability equation. As we write this blog post, we are deep into what could only be the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and financial markets around the world are feeling the wrath of mandatory “stay at home” orders, small retail business closures, and a general low moral. These are truly unique times for society and it is unknown what effects this will have on the collectible car market as we have never experienced the effects of a viral pandemic as it relates to collectible markets. So far, prices have seemed stable and cars have been finding new homes. However, if stimulus plans which are currently being implemented in various countries worldwide, do not do enough to boost their respective economies and the pandemic causes a recession, judging the direction of collector car markets becomes a bit harder.
During the last recession in 2008, we saw a reallocation of wealth into hard assets as people lost faith in conventional markets which caused vintage and collectible car prices to skyrocket. During times of uncertainty, tangible assets, such as collector cars, have and will continue to provide an asset that is better insulated from market fluctuations. People took this idea and ran with it following the 2008 recession and pushed the collector car market to unseen heights over the next 12 years. Will this same dynamic play out again? Unfortunately, only time will tell. For now, we encourage people to stick to what you like. Purchase well kept, clean examples of cars that speak to you and consider the potential financial gains secondary. Buying a car for the experience it provides will mean that no matter the future monetary value, you have something that puts a smile on your face, and in times like we are experiencing currently, a little happiness is truly invaluable.
In keeping with that mindset, below are four cars, picked by our specialists, which we are extremely enthusiastic about, love driving, and which have all the makings to rise in value if you are considering a 5-10 year hold period.
One unlikely brand comes to mind; Subaru. Behind the cute, creative dog commercials, is a brand that has built its reputation on the total dominance of the World Rally Championship scene. The ferocious pit bull of the rally circuit has won 6 WRC championships between Constructor and driver wins. Much like Ferrari’s win on Sunday, sell on Monday approach with road racing, Subaru takes this same approach with their off-road capable, AWD pedestrian cars applying their advancements in rally car development. Subaru’s brand is synonymous to Rally championships much like Ferrari’s name brand is with road racing wins and it all began in 1988 with Subaru’s motorsport division, Subaru Technica International (STI).
With respect to current trends, STI oriented cars are undervalued. Subaru’s long standing motorsport tradition solidifies them as a historical force that directly relates to that race-bred technology being applied to their road cars, some of which are really homologation cars in a way. STI Oriented cars from 2.5RS and 22B era cars through the original Millennial poster car, the 04/05 WRX STI, Hawkeye, and all the way up through S209. Plant the seed of the idea and maybe touch on the S206, S202 cars we didn’t even get in the US that people don’t even know about. These low-mileage examples (sub 25K mile) cars can still be bought for under $30,000. With the WRC relationship and the reality that Subaru is ending EJ25 engine production means that an era/chapter is over, solidifying these cars a group not to be missed. They are undervalued, and I think you have to ask yourself the question of “why can’t this 10,000 mile 04 STI be $60K instead of $30K?
For a large group of enthusiasts/millennials with discretionary income they will go after cars of their child-hood (same old story) and I think these are totally undervalued. MK IV Supra’s are exactly 10 years older than the First STI in 2004, which is relative to the generation that is buying them and pushing the pricing up, so I think we will see the same thing happen regarding value within the next 5 years for 04/05 STI’s. By association, this opens the door to other STI oriented cars as well. With over 14,000 2004/2005 (Blob eye) STI’s produced, we would venture to say that a mere 10% of them are in collector quality condition i.e unmodified with low mileage.
If you want an extremely rare car that has awesome looks, is engaging and rewarding to drive offering reliability but is new enough to have airbags and proper creature comforts; the BMW M Coupe is the car for you! Not only is it the complete package and my choice for a “one car garage,” the Z3/Z4 M Coupes also have investment potential.
These cars came in two forms, the Z3 from ‘99-‘02, and the Z4 from ’06-’08. You can’t go wrong with any variant, but the race-bred S54 engine that were in the ’01-’02 cars and then all of the Z4’s are the ones that really strum our heart strings. These are some of the most engaging cars to drive that so few have experienced. They offer great reward for the performance driver at the limit, yet are still engaging and a joy to drive for a simple stroll through the countryside. Easy maintenance and reliability is about as good as it gets for a car this capable and rewarding. These cars become an extension of self once acquainted with them.
They only made 1,112 units of the S54 Z3 M Coupe worldwide. Sales of the Z4 M Coupe were up to 4,581 units worldwide, but this is still a very small number for a newer production car, and only 1,815 of those were made for the US market. When we look at cars that have gone up in value over the years, it’s often a reflection of the age of the market audience. The early muscle market cars hit strong once their enthusiasts were financially able to attain the one’s they had always wanted. The same goes for SL Mercedes and Porsches. The unique thing about the BMW M Coupe though is that they have had a following of all ages since day 1. Enthusiasts who have seen how special these cars are have brought up the values of these cars steadily over the years. What has not yet affected these values greatly are the enthusiasts who had posters of these cars on their walls as kids.
Having owned 20+ BMW’s, it is my honest opinion that the M Coupes are the most rewarding, best all-around driving, and certainly the most unique cars ever to come from the BMW brand. Being developed initially in secret by the BMW M GmbH engineers out of the love of driving, they emphasize a pure driving experience in a way that so few cars ever have. Owning an e30 M3 was a wonderful experience, but it really needed to be in the right element to feel special and rewarding. Any M Coupe does the job with ease and joy no matter what type of driving is involved.
Partner & Specialist
The Carrera GT (CGT) is not just one of the most iconic cars to come out of the 2000’s, it is arguably one of the best sports cars ever built. It used advanced technology for the time, including a carbon fiber monocoque/sub-frame, harnessed a V-10 (603bhp) engine that was originally designed for Formula One, and was mated to a six-speed manual transmission, no paddle shift here. It’s widely regarded as one of the last analog supercars, sounds divine, and drives incredible, making it extremely desirable. Add to that a limited production run, 1,270 built, only 671 in the US, and combine the mid-engine layout, and you have a car that will never be duplicated by Porsche.
The original MSRP was $448,000. Since then values have climbed, peaking when most of the market did 3-4 years ago, at or just above the $1M USD mark. Production numbers of the CGT comparative to other highly appreciated supercars is on the higher side, which is why we think they have yet to consistently reach the million-dollar mark. However, as time goes on and technological advancements sterilize driving experiences, this analog V-10 powerhouse will only become more attractive to collectors. Given all the attributes and cult status, there is no reason to think that this will not only hit, but will surpass that $1M price threshold again. With good, lower mileage examples available for $700k-$800k, it is a must-buy for anyone building a large collection or looking for alternative investments/tangible assets with strong buy-now/hold potential in the current marketplace.
Co-Founder & Specialist
My car would have to be a 75-77 3.0L Turbo Carrera. They are extremely significant in many different ways particularly when you consider the fact that they were Porsche’s first production Turbo Charged car as well as the fastest production car in the world when released.
2,819 3.0L Turbos were produced but how many are left? Narrow that down even further to how many “good original” cars are left? I would venture to say a quarter of the production was lost due to inexperienced drivers (these were the “widow makers” after all) and careless owners who added vents, larger turbos and doing slant nose conversions which utterly destroyed the car’s potential future value. At the height of the recent market spike in 2015-2016, an unmodified, low mileage 1976-1977 finished in an interesting color would fetch nearly $300,000. Today, that same car could be had for half or even less! The 1975 model year cars (only 275 cars were produced) will always be the most valuable of the series but be prepared to pay about a 70% premium over the 76-77 model years. The key would be to find a sub-25,000 mile example with mostly original paint, interior, with no sunroof and finished in an interesting pastel color.