By on October 2, 2013

Photo courtesy of 69pace.com

In 1991, I came back from Operation Desert Storm with a pocketful of money from the several months I had spent aboard an oil tanker as a part of the USS John F Kennedy battle group in the Red Sea. Like many young men flush with cash I was determined to shoot the works as fast as possible and so before my jet lag had even abated I took my nest egg on a tour of the local low-end car lots in search of some real old-fashioned Detroit muscle. It didn’t take me long to find something I liked, a well used 1969 Camaro with small block and a four speed, and I was ready to deal but the price on the windshield, $3200, stopped me cold. It was outrageous!

My exchange with the salesman was brief and to the point. “Why is the price on this Camaro so high?” I asked, “We both know this is a $1500 car.”

The salesman smiled and wrung his hands. “That was true a few years ago,” he said, “They were $1500 cars, but they’ve gone up in value recently. It’s a collector’s item now.” He informed me.

I laughed in his face. “Really?” I asked, “People are stupid enough to pay more than twice what it is worth because you’re calling it a collectors’ item?”

“Well,” The salesman told me, “The baby boomers are looking to recapture their youth and they are willing to pay to get what they want. They aren’t making any more, you know, and in a couple more years even $3500 won’t buy this car.”

Convinced that the salesman was nuts, I took my bankroll and walked away but wherever I went, lot after lot, the story was the same. In the end, despite my fierce desire to waste the wad of cash in my pocket, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend so much money on something I knew wasn’t really worth the asking price. Of course, time has proved me wrong and today $1500 wouldn’t even buy a non-running, rolling wreck of a 1969 Camaro, never mind getting one that actually runs and drives. I just couldn’t understand what was happening and the days of cheap Detroit muscle slipped away while I was focused on other things. I had missed the boat.

jacar

Now, I think it is happening again. Last weekend, the 9th annual Japanese car show was held in Long Beach, CA and the internet is alive with photos of wonderfully preserved or restored classic Japanese machines. It looks like it was a great event and I am more than a little envious of those of you who had a chance to attend. I want to play too but I wonder if haven’t arrived at the wharf only to see this most recent ship already throwing lines and casting off. Just a few years ago classic Japanese cars were selling at rock bottom prices, the 1986 Nissan 200SX Turbo that I purchased in 2001 for just $500 and have so fondly recalled on these pages over the past few months is just one example of the great deals there were. Now, however, as those of us in Generation X go looking to recapture our youth, prices seem to be edging up. I wonder, is there still time to jump in?

Over the last few weeks, the Buffalo area Craigslist has seen a spate – if two or three random ads can be called a “spate” – of advertisements for turbocharged Dodge Conquest TSIs/Mitsubishi Starions in the sub $3000 range and I am watching them with interest. Realistically speaking, with my departure from the US more or less set for next year (even though I still don’t know where I will go), there isn’t much I can do about my desire for a classic Japanese car at the present time and so I fear this golden time, too, will pass me by. But I wonder, just how much do I need to worry?

Prices on classic Japanese cars are going to rise, that’s for sure, but I after thinking seriously about it for all of ten minutes, I don’t believe they will go entirely into the stratosphere. It has nothing to do with these cars’ desirability, hell they are glorious, but the reality is that the recent economic crash and the achingly slow recovery we have continued to endure while Washington chases its own tail means money doesn’t flow as freely for Generation X as it did for the Boomers. Many of us have endured long periods of unemployment or have lost much the equity in our houses, one of the things the prior generation relied upon to finance any number of indulgences, and we have learned to be more careful with what we have left. We’re not going to waste what we have and, in the end, I believe that we just aren’t going to spend so much money on something we know isn’t really worth the asking price. At least that’s what I think. Of course, given my track record you may want to get another opinion…

01313_2jL1nYG94dB_600x450

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

90 Comments on “Missed Opportunities: Forever A Day Late And A Dollar Short?...”


  • avatar
    noreaster

    I’m afraid you may be wrong this time too. While you’re right about the economy, the fact is that a low-end “classic” car is still cheap relative to other mid-life crisis treatment like a spur-of-the-moment job resignation or a divorce. Look around at your next car meet. Sure, there are rich guys who buy top-end and warehouse them, but I think you’ll find most owners are working stiffs like you and me who somehow found money and time to lavish on a favorite ride.

    • 0 avatar
      misterbrister

      Good point. In this instance the substitute for a “classic car” is not a different kind of car but another kind of life experience. And you’re right; compared to the cost of a divorce, golf trip to Scotland, etc., the cost is very low.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    The stories my dad tells about the cars he drove when he worked at a foreign car dealership in the early sixties, E-Types, 300SLs, etc., always makes me jealous. The story he told me about being offered a Cobra for a couple of grand back in the early seventies was the best, or maybe worst, though. He just thought they were ridiculous cars. He said nobody really cared about them back then.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I went thru the same thing with my father when he had the Chevy dealership. The interesting things he brought home, had he kept just one or two. 1953 Corvette #14 off the line, fuelie ’57, fuel injected Sting Ray, ’62 Impala SS 409, etc.

      Later in life he finally explained to me why. “They were nothing special. They were units to be sold. Period.”

      Dad was a salesman, not a car enthusiast.

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        @Syke, even with cars that are special, when you are working on this side of the rabbit hole, it’s just a matter of moving the metal. For the factory workers and engineers they are units to be produced. The customer is waiting with its money for them.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      My dad always like the 289 Cobra his friend had in High School, but could never justify buying one (at half off, the dealer in Denver couldn’t get rid of them in winter) because he was 6’4.

      Instead, he bough a ’65 Suburban that he picked mom up in for their first chaperone’d date (Grandpa didn’t like his long hair but he was a Chevy fan), drove home to Wisconsin from a honeymoon in Mexico through violently bad weather, traded to a friend for half Jeep Wagoneer and a used Beetle when he had kids, bought back from the friend when he sold the Beetle, and I got to learn to drive 30 years later in ’99. I expect that had he bought the Cobra, things would have gone differently.

      Then again, Grandma made Grandpa sell the ’56 Corvette when they started dating (she didn’t like that his first Wife had sat in the car, and it wasn’t appropriate for the kids they were going to have) so maybe Mom and Dad could have earned his blessing with a sports coupe…

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I find it sad when I hear that a wife requres the sale of a cool car. I consider myself lucky that I was able to “Vette” my wife and she is down with muscle cars and fun rides.

    • 0 avatar

      Thomas,

      the $1500 you thought the Camaro was worth in 1991 is $2575 in current dollars.

      mike1dog,

      That 2 grand for the Cobra, if in say, ’72, is $10,800.

      Always inflation adjust your dollars (just google inflation calculator)

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I couldn’t agree with you less, Thomas. The evidence that these cars are going to rise astronomically is already there. Look at the E30 M3 values. Look at early 70s Alfa GTV prices – just a few years ago I was looking at them in good condition for well under $10k. The same thing is going to happen to Japanese cars. The cars from the 1970s were untouchable up to about 6 or 7 years ago. Nobody wanted them. Now, look at Datsun 510s and Z cars in that time. 1st Gen Corollas and Accords/Civics are 4 or 5 times more expensive than they were.
    The economy is no longer holding car values back. In 1991 we were right in the middle of a fairly major recession. So the current economy will be a distant memory in a few years and the prices of these cars will be well into the stratosphere.
    About 4 years ago I began telling anyone who would listen that the Conquest/Starion would be one of the most collectable cars of the 1980s. I was seriously looking for a Fiji Blue example with black leather for a while, and I would still pick a nice one up if the price was a bargain right now. But it has all the ingredients for a buying frenzy – turbo, RWD, manual, quintessential 1980s looks. But I’m going to hessitate too long and miss my chance.
    I’ll regret it just like when I could have bought a recently restored 1966 Chevelle in 1994 for $3,500.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I remember you mentioning this Camaro before, thanks for sharing the story. I too recall the renaissance of the muscle car. As a kid into cars, I liked muscle cars, but really dug 50′s chrome. Nice 50′s cars were the high buck rides in the 90′s, then the muscle cars began to climb until their peak in the 2000s.

    What will be next? I find it hard to get really enthusiastic about any 80′s cars, including the Monte Carlo SS I had as my first car. There are some fun rides from the era to be sure, but not much that is lustworthy.

    That being said, the collectability of cars from that era is on the rise. Clean Japanese pseudo sports cars, Turbo Dodges, IROC Camaros and 5.0 Mustangs from that time are definitely headed up in value. Buying a nice one and keeping it that way won’t net you a loss. They’re done depreciating, so why not?

    The stratospherically priced cars will be more modern iterations of the earlier high priced cars. The rare, performance optioned, expensive when new models. The FD RX7, the 2JZ Supra, SVO Mustangs, 1LE Camaros, Twin Turbo TAs, Grand Nationals, GNXes. As with the ZL1 Camaros and Superduper Ultra Cobra Jet King of the Road Mustangs, they were never really all that affordable, even when demand was comparatively low.

  • avatar
    Syke

    It’s not only cars. You should see what vintage (aka, ’70′s ten-speeds) bicycles are going for compared to five years ago. I lucked into picking up a few Rossin’s at reasonable prices three years ago – now they up there with Colnago’s and the non-Confente Masi’s.

    If it’s pre-1970, expect to pay big money. If it’s a ’70′s Schwinn Paramount, hang on to your wallet. A ’60′s Schwinn Sting Ray variation? Second mortgage.

    Another example of, “if its part of a boomer’s childhood, expect to pay stupid money.” I think that’s the ultimate rule of thumb.

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      Of course, a 70′s Schwinn Paramount was a really expensive piece of kit back then too. There remains the fact that the really expensive bikes of the 70′s (10 speeds included) were some of the best made bikes and a pinnacle of framebuilding technique. It really hasn’t gotten much better since then – it’s still a perfectly valid method of framebuilding. Of course, now there are other options, such as Tig, and it’s become more automated.
      Your average functioning ’70′s department store bike is still only worth $50 tops, unless you live in/near a big city, in which case all bikes are expensive, which has little to do with collect-ability.

      • 0 avatar
        bill mcgee

        IIRC the Paramount was priced something like $ 600 or more in the mid seventies and had top of the line Campognolo equipment and was meant to compete with the very best Italian racing bikes of the time .I seem to remember an aluminum frame . Also recall the Schwinn Stingray I got for Xmas when I was 12 or 13 y.o . It was candy apple green metallic with the knobby tires and a white tuck and roll look banana seat . Back in those days of laissez – faire parenting I would ride it all over the place .I kept it in beautiful shape until I got a ten-speed in high school – too bad Mom gave it away to some Mexican yard guy years ago .

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      With two in college and the payments on a nice house there is nothing left over for a classic car. Classic cycles and so many fun new bikes like 29ers, cycle cross, single speeds, carbon road, cruisers are my way to go. They are comparatively cheap, fun and you get some fresh air and exercise. Sure beats collecting stamps!

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    1986.

    Drove it two days on the good graces of the owner, who thought it was worthless enough to let a complete stranger do this. Gas guzzling, vapor locking, poor handling, paint fading, surface rusting, upholstering splitting.

    Settled on a price of $2,500, but I decided that was crazy expensive for a 16 year old car.

    Do not EVER ask me for investment advice.

    Numbers matching Hemi Cuda with original 4 speed.

  • avatar

    This is an opportune article as something similar is happening in Brazil. People my age (42) have the money and apparently the will to go after the 80s cars of their dreams. As far as I can recall, this is the first time that middle class people are doing this in any great numbers. It’s different this time ’cause car collecting has always been a rich man’s preserve in Brazil and prices for 70s and earlier metal can go very high. They have also always shown a great predilection for buying imported cars. This time it’s different as it’s people who have some money but are not rich and they’re also going after Brazilian cars from the 80s. I for one hope to get things in order and get on this train.

    As a sure sign of these things, pecialty shops have arisen and some people offer themselves as car hunters who can hunt down a clean car of your dreams. I think prices right now are still manageable but are on the way up. As an example I put the links below. The Del Rey has crazy pricing while the Escort are still doable. Such cars are collectible and there are other opportunities out there, though these seem to be very clean.

    http://www.pastorecarcollection.com.br/veiculos/detalhe/253/ford-del-rey-ghia

    http://www.pastorecarcollection.com.br/veiculos/detalhe/33/ford-escort-xr3

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That Del Ray looks a lot like a BMW, ha.

      But I like the Diplomata! http://www.pastorecarcollection.com.br/veiculos/detalhe/126/gm-opala-diplomata-se

      • 0 avatar

        My problem with the Diplomata is that I’m not a GM guy :)!

        Pretty amazing collection they have there and they’re charging top real for it. Since the cars are so clean, it’d probably be worth it though. I’m hoping the guy won’t find any buyers for it! That way I’ll be ready to take the plunge in a couple of months.

        The Del Rey, BMW? Now that you say it, yeah I see it. Somehow though I always thought its shape is mre reminiscent of a Cadillac.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Though I will say the Diplomata looks MUCH older than 1990. I checked the year when I saw a remote on the key fob, and a standard CD. I guess this was an executive-level car back then?

          In Brazil did they just badge things as Chevy/Opel interchangeably?

          And they want $31,000 USD for that car?! WTF

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah, things were different back then. The Opala was an Opel Reckford (IIRC) and was introduced in Brazil in the 70s (or late 60s?). It soldiered on for decades until finally being substituted by the Chevy Omega in the 90s. They are collectors cars and rich old dudes will pay top real for them, though I don’t get it. By the time I started driving, Opalas were terminally ill and for the old and infirm. I think you have to go up a couple of years is age to get to the group that covets them. Of course, the Opala I6s have a broader following.

            Yes, the Opala was the executive car of choice. I had an uncle who had quite a few, over many years as he was a director in a big company. The crazy thing is that the car came with a chauffeur and two doors! It’s a Brazilian thing…

            All Chevy cars in Brazil, until recently when the Daewoo-GM cars appeared, were rebadged and slightly reworked Opels. They always carried the Chevrolet name. Interestingly, though are called Chevrolet, most everybody refers to them as GM.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Thanks for the info – this is the type of stuff you don’t know unless you live there!

            Two door chauffeured vehicle, sort of like the two door VW Beetles used as taxis in Mexico for decades.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      You’re joking about the Del Rey… seriously, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Did you guys lose your marbles?

      What’s next, a Monza?

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    I paid $3000 for a yellow 1979 Camaro once…in 1981! And then felt ripped off as I had to replace the 2.63:1 rear end almost immediately with a salvaged 3.08:1 axle because the car had been so abused it appeared to be using silver paint for diff fluid. How much hoonery did it take to do that to such a giant chunk of steel parts in such a short time? The car got written off in exactly one year, and I moved up to a nearly new loaded red 1981 Z28. As a boomer, I look back now and sometimes think “I had more fun in that car than in any other I’ve owned, wouldn’t it be cool to buy and restore one?”. Then I remember the repair hell that car put me through year after year, and just get into my new Genesis coupe and put the throttle down hard.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Odd considering that unless this was a base V6 or small V8 car it would have had GM’s much more stout 8.5 inch rear end which was very hard to kill. And there is no such thing as a 2.63 rear gear. Perhaps you meant 2.73:1.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    where i am there’s a certain community that likes classic japanese cars but for most the market has a price cap

    something like $20,000 will get you any number of widebody starions, classic skylines, mazda rx7s etc.

    of course i’m not talking about 1970s Skyline GTRs which the Japanese know are worth six figures

  • avatar
    mikey

    Its all about supply, and demand. Personally I believe that any convertible of all makes is worth keeping.

    The Challenger V8, the 05 -10 Mustang unmolested V6 and V8, and the Camaro equipped with a V8. Preferbly with a manual.

    C.A.F.E will kill the V8. The “safety at all cost crowd “will kill the rag top. I see less, and less, people driving a manual.

    The skill of predicting the future, isn’t one of my talents. So I guess the best plan,is to go with your gut.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m telling you guys, Jeep Cherokee and 5.0L Explorer.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    90s flat six Land Cruiser. Get one in good condition now!

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      FJ80s? FJ60s in good condition are already appreciating.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Indeed, FJ80s with no rust and their great engine, before they became behemoths – value.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I don’t know why Toyota didn’t make that fantastic inline-six longer…it had torque figures close to the venerable Ford 300 but with better efficiency.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Check the MPG ratings on an FZJ-80 and there you will find your answer. The 80 series is a great rig and as the last hardcore off road cruiser (solid front axle, etc) they are appreciating, however should it break or need something bring your credit card. I loved mine but just couldn’t afford to daily drive it anymore. I don’t think it has a part on it that is less than 250 bucks.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I think the argument “Gen X wants to recapture its youth” may partially hold to be be true, but I doubt it will be as voracious as the “Boomers” lust for Detroit iron of their youths. This is due to both deteriorating economic conditions and general lifestyle differences (Boomers are a “me me me” generation). Couple this with the genuine lack of power from anything out of the 80s, and I could see the decade skipped altogether save a few choice models (Supras, Datsun Zs, RX7 etc).

    Actually the car you’d want get in on would be one of those choice models who also had a reputation for disintegrating (true “jap scrap” as it were). My reasoning is from the start they didn’t outnumber their US counterparts (i.e. Z28 Camaro sales vs Z) and over time the number of available examples would have dwindled due to natural attrition and a higher-than-average rust condition. Your salesman wisely pointed out “they aren’t making any more”, and the ones they did produce I’m sure have significantly dwindled even in the last twenty years, this trend will continue.

    Additional: The more I think about it, with the exception of a cheap toy, as a rule you want to stay out of the 80s. Chrysler Conquest/Mitsu Starion? Pwleease. The turbo wave of the 80s is here today with better build quality. You want to get in on the ground floor of [realistic] future Japanese classics (as is not cars out of Grand Turismo)? Gen 1/Gen 2 Acura Integra, Gen 1/Gen 2 Acura Legend Coupe, Gen 1/Gen 2 Nissan 300ZX, maayyybe 240SX. Integra’s are already hot among ricers, but I imagine unmolested examples will command nice prices for those who want to buy them and either (1) do their own tuning or (2) simply drive an attractive coupe in a sea of tall sedan station wagons. 300ZX same deal, the Legends to a lesser extent.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      As with anything else, collectibility is the nexus of desirability and rarity, so all the iconic Japanese sports (or sporty) cars will eventually show up.

      Left-field alternative: clean Cummins 12v-equipped Dodge trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Styles79

      I’d agree with the Integra, and probably the 300ZX too, but I don’t see Legends becoming hugely valuable, they just aren’t that special. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a great car, I used to own a KA8 Coupe, but they just don’t have the desirability or performance image that would push their values up. Keep in mind though, this is from a New Zealand point of view, where when I had my Legend my friends were rolling in 180/200SX’s, Skylines and Aussie V8′s, and my Legend was seen as somewhat of an old man’s car!

      240SX’s will definitely be a future classic. I have a friend who bought a low mileage, NZ New 200SX (same as JDM 180SX) for about $8k back in the late 90′s, a few years later, after the drift scene took off he sold it for a profit. Prices have stabilised somewhat, but I think that there will be people in 10-20 years time that will be reminiscing on that particular model, and they will increase in value. Of course a major factor in this is that there just aren’t any original ones left anymore, and they are rapidly being taken out of the gene pool by drifters.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The more I think about it you’re on the money on the 240SX, I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve even seen one in this part of the US. I would imagine JDM spec examples of it and the other cars we mentioned to be worth even more.

        200SXs, Skylines, and Aussie V8s… my the New Zealand of yesteryear sounds like a wonderful place.

        • 0 avatar
          Styles79

          Yep, they’re still around here, but rapidly disappearing, and the majority of the ones that are here are in terrible shape, there’s probably not a single original one left!

          Yep, NZ in the late 90′s and especially early 2000′s was a great place, add Pulsar GTi-R’s, Mazda Familia GT-X’s, MR-2 Turbos, Supras, 300ZX’s, RX-7′s (and all the other RX’s), we had em all. The illegal drags on weekend nights were epic.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I never understood collectors cars. If I’ve got it I’m going to drive it. If I ever win the lottery what I buy and drive will get more stupidly expensive. If I had a Superbird, I’d drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Collectible anything is doing very well right now. Some have speculated that the low interest rate environment is playing a role – there isn’t much opportunity cost when investing in collectibles vs traditional investments. Perhaps there is some element to that, in which case a return to the traditional interest rate environment would have a negative effect on the value of collectibles.

      I am also in agreement that if you buy a car you should use it. For me, that means not paying too much – therefore collectible cars are out of the question. Hopefully there are still cool old cars out there that collectors don’t want.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Nice suggested cars all .

    Don’t forget those Motos and old trucks .

    I agree , if you own it , _drive_ the damn thing or you’re not a true Vehicle Lover / Collector , you’re a tosser .

    I don’t own any moderns cars and I drive the wheels off whatever I own .

    Sunday I was in rural New England and stopped at a Toyota Dealer when I spotted a 1969 Toyota Corolla .

    It was nice , not restored , no price .

    I rather like those old boxy Sedans and coupes , they still pop up in VGC in Southern California junkyards all the time ,never for sale though =8-( .

    Nike I need anymore old cars to save from the crusher .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    To me there’s no point speculating what cars will appreciate and which ones won’t–one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. Just buy what you like, if you can afford it.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    For now, ’60s muscle cars get all the attention, but the ’80s version of ‘muscle’ came with fuel injection, 4 wheel disk brakes and power everything. Gone were leaf springs, points/condensers, carbs and crank windows. Plus a ’80s muscle came wrapped in a smaller/tighter/lighter package that handled. And they were closer to the ground with Recaro or similar seats. Looks are subjective, but there was everything from sleek to Origami.

    If I was a Lotto winner, it’d be a fleet of all ’80s muscle averaging 500 modded HP or complete engine swaps of modern V8s/6 speed manuals and Eco’d turbos. I wouldn’t waste any of it on supercars/exotics. Yuck! I’d take a mint GNX with zero miles off the collector’s hands and drive it like it’s stolen, right in front of him. Smokey donuts, everything. Money is wasted on the rich.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Sold my 65 Mustang in ’91 for a thousand bucks, guess I missed the boat. Of course, the fact that my brother had recently introduced it to a telephone pole didn’t help. Honestly, aside from looks, 60′s Detroit iron doesn’t have much going for it. I was driving an 83 Accord when I sold the Mustang, and it was a much better car in just about every respect. Although I’ll admit girls did like the Mustang better, so it had that going for it.

  • avatar
    raph

    This all reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend some years ago. He wondered why didn’t go out and buy a real classic like his 68 Camaro versus dumping money in a 91 LX V8 Mustang.

    It would never be worth anything he said, just a piece of forgettable junk from the 90′s. My response to him ( he was about a decade older than me) was it would be worth something to my generation. The first SVT Mustangs Grand Nationals, Firehawks, there were cars we grew up with and lusted after so they will become the muscle car classics of our generation.

    He probably still doesn’t believe me. I’ve since sold the LX and I’ve got the Shelby now which I’m told will never be worth anything by Terminator (2003-2004 SVT Mustangs) guys and ”real” Shelby owners ( who consider the only real Shelby cars to be the 65-70 models). Not that it matters much, it might mean something to whoever inherits the car after they shove me in the clay otherwise me and my Shelby won’t be parting ways.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If a car has two doors and a performance pedigree, and if it carries a respected nameplate, then it will eventually become collectible. However, for most of us, it probably won’t be worth the wait – it takes decades for this to happen.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Agreed. The other thing to remember is the amount you will spend maintaining it while the value is going up. Without question, a good F355 will appreciate, but if you plan to drive it, you will likely be sinking in more to keep it running.

      Of course, most cars simply depreciate, so collectible cars can provide value overall if you are going to keep it for awhile.

      The recent jump in prices is, I think, a bit of a bubble. When the boomers start dying or getting too old to drive, my guess is that the bubble is going to burst.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    During the summer of 2007, I was shopping for my retirement present to myself, a car worth keeping until I am too old and feeble to continue driving. I looked at a lot of stuff from the mid 1960s to the present. Some examples were Jaguar XKE, Lotus Elan, Mercedes 230/250/280 SL, Porsche 993 and Cayman, BMW E46, Audi TT. In the process, I learned a number of things.

    Prices for desirable 1960s cars are sky high. They now cost as much as their brand new successors. However, their performance is mediocre by modern standards. The sweet spot is models from 1980 to 2000. They are still regarded as old, used cars instead of collectible classics. Therefore, they are still bargains at least until you start fixing everything that a 10 to 20 year old car needs.

    I ended up with an Infiniti G37S coupe. Compared to the older alternatives, it is faster, handles and brakes better, is more comfortable and more reliable. The one alternative, that I still think about now and then, is the Porsche 993. By modern standards, it’s still a pretty good car to drive. In 2007, it was still a bargain. Since it is the last and best of the air cooled 911s, I knew it would become collectible.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      You’re too late on that one. The 993 has had collectible status for a few years already. Even dying off of the Boomers will not cause them to depreciate again.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        Agreed. If I really wanted one, the time to buy was 2007. It’s too late now unless you are willing to pay through the nose. At current 993 prices, I would rather have a Cayman.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’ve done OK with my Triumph Spitfire that I have owned for nearly 20 years. It’s worth about 3X what I paid for it, maybe 2X what I have in it. I probably could have done better with some luck in the stock market, but stocks are not nearly as much fun on a lovely Fall day like today. I have every intention of blowing off work early and going for a drive.

    For the 80′s stuff, as much as I complain about my PITA project ’87 Porsche 924S, the reality is that it will likely NEVER be worth less than I paid for it, and once it is done it will do nothing but appreciate. To add to the 80s cars that are likely to be gold-plated – Saab and Volvo Turbos are ALREADY shooting up, BMW 325i’s are a solid investment too. ’80s Porsche 911s stopped depreciating ages ago. I doubt that a Saab Turbo will ever make a million bucks at Barrett-Jackson, but I bet a nice original SPG will be a $50-75K car in not too many years. The best cars are already selling in the $15-20K range.

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    The part that is kind of sad here is that since that Camaro was for sale you have probably spent much more than $3500 on Fisher Price, Playskool, Little Tykes, Huggies and Pampers. And all of that ended up in the middle of the Pacific ocean when you could have had a classic in the driveway. Almost makes one who likes cars want to cry.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I just looked at one of the online “cost to raise a kid” calculators. In New England, for someone at my income level who plans to send the kid to a public college, it is about $363,000 for 0-college. That is if I have a kid today. $393K for private college. They figured almost $15K just for the first year alone. And going by a couple of friends who have recently had kids, I believe it, every penny.

      Cars are WAAAY cheaper than kids. The species will have to go on without my DNA.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      On a somewhat related topic, Toys that Gen X, grew up with …like Fisher Price, Hot Wheels, early video game consoles …. are quite collectable and can have suprising values. Maybe that nostalgia will translate well into cars eventually…. or maybe not.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        That might be true but most of those toys are going to end up swirling around in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Thomas, in most of his posts, somehow brings up kids in almost everything he writes, as if to say he is a “complete man” because he has children and I just like telling him that he could have everything he ever wanted if he had not bred.

        Oh, I did forget to mention Atari and Intellivison, there are probably some of those in the middle of the ocean too.

        • 0 avatar

          I think you may be reading into that some…

          I bring up kids because I most often write about the world through the lens of my own personal experience. My own personal experience involves kids. I don’t believe I have ever said that everyone should follow my example or that anyone else’s life was less complete because they don’t have children.

          So long as I am writing stories based upon my own life experiences, those stories are going to have kids. That’s just how it is.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey Thomas, don’t mind them. They have no idea. Having kids is something that just cannot be expressed in dollars or arithmetic. Like you, I say let them think what they want, but for those who choose to embark on this marvellous adventure of parenting, well, we know what we know very well the ROI is unquantifiable.

          • 0 avatar
            jeffzekas

            Well put, Marcelo!

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        I am amazed at the prices my childhood junk commands from today’s collectors. Advice to modern parents: When your kid loses interest in a toy and it is in decent condition, put it away to become part of his inheritance.

  • avatar
    Styles79

    Some great comments here. I’m firmly in the “80′s Jap cars will become classics” camp. I think that people of a certain generation will, in a few years time, want the cars that they had when they were teenagers. Japanese classics are already starting to appreciate, but not ridiculously yet and entry cost is fairly low if you are willing to do a bit of work. I doubt it’ll ever get as crazy as the muscle car boom, but who knows?

    I’ve got an ’82 Celica XX (JDM version of Supra) and managed to get a sub 100,000km example, that is possibly the most original and one of the tidiest in the country. I probably paid a little more than I should have, but for me this was the one that got away. It was what I wanted for my first car, but could never find a decent one, even then they were hard to find in good condiition. Fast forward to 2011, and I inherited some money, and decided to buy a toy. Of course the XX was on the radar, along with turbo MR-2′s, and GT-Four Celicas. In the end I had a couple of auctios I was watching, and got a little carried away on the XX! I’ve since put a fair bit of money into it, paint, new suspension components etc. A few modifications, but nothing that can’t be easily reversed, originality is key for keeping value.

    Ultimately I bought my car to enjoy and drive. I do think that it will increase in value, likely in 10-20 years when people of my generation have a little more spare time and money in the bank, but who knows? It may never increase in value, and I’ll be OK with that, as long as I can still get fuel for it I’ll keep taking it out on nice days. I think that ‘s key with something like buying an “investment” car, or art, or any tangible object that you hope to perhaps make a profit on. Don’t buy for return, but because you like it, then if you have a return it’s a bonus, but if you don’t you’ve still ahd the enjoyment of ownership for the time you’ve had it!

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I think there will be a rise in value of the those types of “classic” cars, but I don’t think it is going to be stratospheric by any means. The problem is that there are no parts available for these cars, and the cars have way too much plastic and electronic crap that is not going to age well and be extremely difficult to repair and replace. Pre-70s American classics don’t have those problems, they have a huge following, lots of companies making parts for them, and there were a ton of them. They also aged well. The 70s/80s/90s Japanese cars do not age well, there are really not a lot of them even left now.

    Even today, people are hoping and praying that late 70s and early 80s American cars are going to eventually rise, but I don’t think we will see a significant rise like the 60s cars, for the same reason. Not enough people remember them fondly, and the generation that does is just different, not as nostalgic and not as rich. That doesn’t mean that some really special cars will be worth a lot, but if you don’t already have one, in mint condition, with crazy low miles and needing no repairs, then you already lost out. And even if you do, its still a gamble that costs money and time to keep something just hoping it’s someday worth something.

  • avatar
    ruckover

    I have always loved the old Datsun Roadsters; though, not many people seem to share my admiration. Could anyone explain why the Roadsters never caught fire? If the 510 was the poor man’s BMW, why wasn’t the 2000 seen as the MG/Triumph/Sunbeam that actually ran?

  • avatar
    TrenchFoot

    I keep hearing how vintage SUV values are outpacing every other segment of the vintage car market. The first gen Broncos and old Toyota FJs are now commanding crazy prices. Folks in the Wagoneer community (of which I’m one) tend to use this as proof the old Jeeps are next. I’m not holding my breath since these Jeeps were made with the same sheetmetal for 28 years, but examples from the last few years actually sell pretty well.

    I think you can safely buy an older, more unusual SUVs and feel good you could sell it years later without losing your shirt. Maybe not a K5 (again, too common) but definitely Scouts and Travelalls should be considered.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    I sold my 1971 restored VW Beetle for a good price this year and replaced it with a 1991 Mazda Miata BRG showing only 70,000 miles. This car sold new on the window sticker for almost $23,000.00 (sticker price + what the dealer added)for less then $4,500.00. Car was in excellent condition with all of the dealer accessories. The car in New York State cost me only $300.00 a year for full coverage and is a great weekend driver. If i wish i could sell this car next spring for a lot more then i paid. Of course i will not sell it until i can find another fun car that is better then this one. My wife loves to ride in the car going along the back roads of the North Shore on Long Island. During the week it is parked in the garage. Have not put up the top all summer. For the record we are both retired and own two new cars.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I would snag up a first gen Miata. They are still cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      A good buy, for driving fun on the cheap. I doubt they will ever be collectible though – they simply made too many of them. Further, subsequent generations did not differ enough to make the early cars extraordinary.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I just bought my late grandmother’s 1995 Mercury Sable from my parents for the “good son” price of $500. It’s been garaged it’s whole life, is utterly pristine and only has 60,000 miles. I’m putting about 90 miles a week on it driving back and forth to work, and in 6 years it will qualify for a “never-got-to-renew-it” antique vehicle plate. I think someday it might actually be collectable. It’s got all sorts of interesting styling cues, from the wraparound rear glass to the flat rear wheel opening that hides part of the rear tires to the “Sable only” front light bar. It’s also cheekily ROUND by modern standards, almost up there with a Beetle or 911.

    I hardly see any Tauruses or Sables from that generation driving around, as they all seem to have been used up by people with kids and then newly minted teenage drivers. The ones I do see are battered all to hell, so I think nice ones will be rare.

    People forget just how important these cars were to both Ford and the American auto industry. I started driving in 1992, and a great many of the kids I went to school with drove these cars, and I think the nostalgia might be there. My 2nd and 3rd cars were a ’90 and ’93 Taurus respectively. Most Gen X’ers like myself were able to get established in the job world before the current economic kerfuffle really took hold, and we potentially stand to directly inherit some of that vast boomer wealth. We’ve also tended to have fewer kids. I think the money will be there for trips down memory lane.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Those cars were a revelation in ’86. Absolutely amazing. Such a shame that Ford let it all go to pot in the late 90′s. And they are all GONE now, never see them anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      I am going to say no, a 95 Sable will not be a collectible, not our lifetime.

      Boring sedan, nothing special about it. Totally outclassed by a 95Camry or Accord, which themselves are boring sedans.

      50-75 years from now, sure. But not our generation for that car.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “the $1500 you thought the [1969] Camaro was worth in 1991 is $2575 in current dollars. ”

    Now, a 1991 F body is in the same category. Get them while you can. Same with “survivor” Fox body 302 Mustangs. It’s not true the 80′s cars were slow, the 86-89 EFI 5.0′s were quick, yet had “only” 225 net HP. The 60′s gross HP #’s are overrated. Secret was less ‘road hugging weight’.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Well Principal Dan, I’ve driven a Superbird. You know what it feels like? A 1960′s Dodge. Sure, its got power, but those cars weren’t designed to be quick off the line. It has a perfectly usable well-appointed back seat. Radio. It has that kind of 1960′s power steering where the wheel doesn’t feel like its connected to anything.

    I think that’s kind of a problem. This is the golden age of automobiles. Not the 1960′s or the 1950′s. A Z car might be fun. Or a Supra. But a Turbo Conquest? (I remember they listed at $17,500 in the mid-eighties. I can think of any number of new cars I’d like to own for $35000 or less today (inflation adjusted).

    P.S. I can I can certainly understand the sentiment though. I googled up images of cars from the year I got my driver’s license, 1970. Man o Man! Just type automobiles and the year in the google box.

  • avatar

    oops, seems I was browsing BaT and stumbled across this;

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261296589530

    Please, discuss…

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      For that money I could have a running (if barely) Soarer with the 2JZTT engine or a V8. So excuse me if I’m not enthusiastic with your Mitsu.

    • 0 avatar

      The pinkish looking one at the bottom of the article is on the local craigslist for $2500. Admittedly, it isn’t as nice as the one you’ve found but I notice that yours is at $3500 “reserve not met.”

      Yeah, if I wanted to pay $5K for an old car, I think I could find a really nice CSX Shadow or Daytona Turbo Z. They aren’t making any more of those either.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “Realistically speaking, with my departure from the US more or less set for next year (even though I still don’t know where I will go..”

    Wherever you go…pleeeeeeeease, don’t stop writing!

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m fairly sure that I will still have the opportunity to keep writing no matter where we end up. It would be nice to go somehwere that the cars are interesting but we’ll see. Thre are some interesting places tio choose from and I am not so obsessed with returning to Japan like I once was.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Kid haters huh ? .

    After my wretched childhood I didn’t want to have any kids for fear if being a bad parent but my ex wife decided otherwise and it’s bee great ~ I was able to share my love of everything motorized with him , he’s a good racer and a Journeyman Mechanic , I’da rathered he finished College but , he’s happy and stable , no dope , tattoos , bastards etc. and gets along well with everyone .

    He comes over to help me out with the heavy lifting things I can’t do anymore too plus we can spend hours to – gether driving , working on things or just figuring out the maladies on all those junkers that follow me home =8-) .

    If you don’t want kids fine , no need to take childish pot shots at those who do , remember this : one day one of those kids you yelled to get off your lawn , will be changing your diapers and rolling you to the dining hall , hopefully before the fruit cups are all gone .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      KayeStar

      Is that your version of a threat?

      What is it with the idea that no elderly person can care for him or herself? My great-grandmother is 94, and lives with only her dog. Hell, she’s healthier than my 41-year-old mother!

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally would not want to live past an age where I couldn’t care for myself. Should I ever become incapable of caring for myself, the only thing I would want help with is a suicide.

      That “threat” is very old and tiresome. At least, be original.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Judging by the numerous engine issues several friends had with there Starion’s and Conquest’s with Mitsubishi’s head gasket popping 2.6, I wouldn’t give you 2 cents for one of those cars.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Why didn’t I buy the 396. SS c Camaro convertible for $1800. …. In 1974.? Or anyone of the merc 190 Sl’s for $599 ? Oh well hind sight is 20 – 20


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India