Last week, I wrote an article entitled “Don’t Invest In These Investment Cars.” I expected the usual: at least one commenter would ask why I didn’t include a Panther derivative (which happened), my parents would ask when I was going to get a real job (which also happened), and life would otherwise continue along normally.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, I received a phone call from everyone I’ve ever met asking how I dared to include the Buick Grand National on such a list. (“They’re like $30k! And they used to be like nine! Are you an idiot?!”) So this week, I’m going to play it a little safer and instead write a piece on good investment cars. Feel free to provide your feedback, as long as it doesn’t include the words “Crown Victoria.”
DISCLAIMER: Do not actually attempt to use cars as an investment. You have a better chance of getting into the NBA as a white guy from French Lick, Indiana.
Without further ado, here are my nominations.
Acura Integra Type-R
Acura sold about 3,800 Integra Type-R units here in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001. (Presumably, they skipped 1999 to annoy people who wrote about them later.) Of those, 2,700 were stolen, stripped of any important parts, and stashed in a warehouse in North Jersey. And about 1,000 more were lowered by people who think modifications add value.
That means just 100 clean examples are left for people who a) appreciate the Type-R brand, and b) park in a locked garage.
The original Audi Quattro is a rally legend that probably won lots of races when driven by people from Sweden. Today, you can be just like them by purchasing a used street version, which seems reasonably priced until you bring it to a mechanic. Best just to buy one and treat it as garage art, watching the values soar around you.
E30 BMW M3
It’s actually impossible to create a list like this and not include the E30 M3, so here it is: I’ve done it. This is what we know: the E30 M3 is a seminal car for BMW enthusiasts everywhere. Like later M cars, it included a lighter curb weight, more power, subtle modifications and, apparently, no turn signals.
As I’ve said before, the only downside to buying one is that you have to deal with the kind of people who are selling them. Really, it’s stunning just how many of these are “the best example in the world.”
Ferrari F355 Berlinetta
I called out the 308 and 328 in my last article. This time, I wanted to include a Ferrari whose value will increase. As a result, I did not pick the 348.
Instead, I’ve chosen the F355 Berlinetta, which is annoyingly uncommon. Seriously, check AutoTrader: of the four zillion listings sure to pop up, three point nine zillion are for Spiders, aka convertibles, which no one wants. A few are open-roof GTS models, and about six are Berlinettas (good!) which have F1 transmissions (very, very bad). Finding a well-sorted F355 Berlinetta with three pedals is as almost difficult as finding a desirable Chevrolet SSR.
1993 Land Rover Defender 110 (NA Spec)
From 1994 to 1997, Land Rover sold a lot of Defender 90s to people who wanted to cruise along the beach after a nice hard day of watching their investment account. But an even rarer version came stateside in 1993: the Defender 110.
Only 500 “NA Spec” Defender 110 units came to the States, each equipped exactly the same: white, four-door, rust. Because of that last one, most were subject to five-figure restorations undertaken solely by people who live in Nantucket. These days, they can go for $60,000 or more, which is lots of money for a truck that leaks water on its occupants even when it isn’t raining.
1993-1995 Mazda RX-7
Anyone with even the slightest automotive knowledge is aware the RX-7 has reliability issues. Seriously, this is like the second day of car guy school, right after you learn the names of all the GM brands and before you cultivate a love of diesel-powered station wagons.
Because of its troubles, many RX-7s have been the victims of sloppy engine swaps. Still others have been “stanced” by the kind of people who find green wheels attractive. That means pristine examples will start increasing in value, if only because they’re among the most beautiful cars of all time.
If you think the Panamera was the first four-door Porsche, you’re solely mistaken. It’s just the ugliest. Behold, the Mercedes 500E, which was built in extremely limited numbers by Porsche at a time when they desperately needed help keeping the gates open.
That help came from Mercedes-Benz, Porsche’s neighbors in Stuttgart, who asked Porsche to build the car. The resulting 500E was subtle, handsome and high-class. Clearly, it had no influence on the Panamera.
Although I don’t see most SUVs climbing in value (sorry, International Scout owners), two models clearly stand out. The famous “FJ40” Toyota Land Cruiser will go up, simply because the wealthy cannot be seen cruising private beaches in a mediocre vehicle. And the original Ford Bronco will gain in value, marking the first time in the Bronco’s 31-year history it will ever be known for anything besides leading the LAPD on a tedious car chase.
This should be obvious, especially with the recent (and mostly inexplicable) rise in values for 1960s and 1970s 911 models. But I’m calling out three in particular that I think will steadily go up in the next few years.
The 930 is, to me, the most obvious. For you normal people, that’s the 911 Turbo sold from the late ‘70s to the late ‘80s. There’s absolutely no reason the values for these haven’t taken off yet, except maybe for the fact that not enough have been exported by Europeans looking for a good deal. Give it time.
The 993’s values are also clearly trending upwards. That’s the 911 sold from 1995 to 1998, which makes it the last car for annoying purists who will only buy air-cooled. The 993 will always be revered by enthusiasts for this fact, and for the speed at which it kills bugs.
My “out on a limb” 911 pick is the 996 GT3, which was sold in 2004 and 2005. Not only is it a track monster, but it’s way too cheap – especially as purists start hanging on for dear life now that they’ve killed the 991 GT3 by making it faster.
1993-1998 Toyota Supra Turbo
Values of the “MkIV” Toyota Supra are only going to go up, which is annoying since they’ve already been going up ever since Vin Diesel lived his life a quarter-mile at a time. These days, a clean example with reasonable mileage can pull $50,000 or beyond, which is approximately the same money private sellers ask for Land Cruisers from a similar era.
So there you have it, folks: my picks for cars we’ll see at Barrett-Jackson in 20 years selling for multiples of their current value. Of course, that’s meaningless, since many cars at Barrett-Jackson today sell for multiples of their current value.
How wrong am I? Who’s going to call me out for not including any American cars? How many people will mention the GMC Typhoon? I’m eager to find out. Just stop calling me about the Grand National.
Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.