By on January 29, 2016

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I wish I had $100 for every time someone told me their rare car was going to shoot up in value. If I did, I would invest it in the stock market, which is something that actually might shoot up in value. Their rare car, of course, will stay behind, largely due to the old adage that just because something’s rare doesn’t mean it’s valuable.

I remember the first time someone told me their car was rare and so it would increase in value. I was in high school, and a classmate of mine had just bought a Jeep Liberty Freedom Edition, or some such bizarre Jeep special edition where they change the wheels and add two-tone seats in an attempt to get people to buy it.

Even though the Liberty was only a couple of years old at this point, anyone who had any sense already knew it was shit; smart people were buying RAV4s and Escapes and CR-Vs even then. So I asked her why she did it in a very non-accusatory way, and she told me something I still remember: her particular Liberty was a Freedom Edition (or some similar special edition), it was the only Freedom Edition her dealer was going to get, and it would probably keep its value a lot better than the other Freedom Editions.

I wish I knew where that car was now. My guess is in a scrapyard with the rest of the 2004-ish Jeep Libertys, being harvested for its only usable parts — namely, tires and whatever fuel was left in the tank.

Since then, I have been approached countless times by countless people who have discovered I’m a car enthusiast, and they’ve insisted they have some unique and rare car that’s going to shoot up in value. And invariably, this car is often unique and rare, but just as often unlikely to shoot up in value. I once had someone say this to me about a Chrysler 300M. What I wanted to say back was that yes your car is unique and rare, but that’s because it’s one of the few 300Ms still left on the road. The others all suffered transmission problems back when Facebook still had a “the” in front of it.

What I want to say to these people is what I’m saying to you right now: there is absolutely no chance of these cars going up in value.

I’m sure you’ve heard this too. People who bought 2002 Thunderbirds are convinced their car will become investment-grade someday, when the Thunderbird market comes back and people realize just how cool they are. Uh, no. That isn’t going to happen. The 2002 Thunderbird is a Lincoln LS with better PR, and no, you don’t need to “hold on to it for your kids.” Your kids don’t want it. Your kids are going to have to explain on Bring a Trailer how they came to own a 2002 Thunderbird with 89 original miles.

I have a former neighbor who made a similar decision about the Chevy Camaro. Nostalgic for Camaro models of years past, he purchased a 2002 Camaro right at the end of the model run, thinking the “last year” would someday be worth something. Then he preceded to daily drive it for years. Now, it’s sitting on steelies and hubcaps year round (maybe he preserved the “original” wheels), Chevy revived the Camaro eight years later and made 40 zillion of them, and his 2002 model — a convertible V-6, by the way — is worth approximately as much as a new television.

Nice investment.

Now, I admit that occasionally these people are right. In the 1980s, a lot of people predicted the surge in popularity that would someday wash over the Buick Grand National market, so many people bought Grand Nationals and stored them in an air conditioned garage bubble, planning to keep them for the rest of time. Admittedly, those people probably made some money: a nice Grand National was worth, what, $30,000 back in the 1980s? And it’s maybe $40,000 today? Good going! Strong investment!

Only, there’s a problem: $30,000 in 1988 money is $62,000 in 2016 money. And I don’t even want to tell you what you’d have if you had simply put the thirty grand in a stock market index fund. Of course, then you wouldn’t have been able to bring your friends out to the garage and show them your Grand National-in-a-bubble.

So, on the off chance that someone who isn’t interested in cars reads this; someone who doesn’t know too much but knows enough to believe that they have something in their garage “worth keeping,” I have this to say: stop keeping it. Get out and drive it. Have fun with it. Unless it’s actually desirable and rare — ask your local car enthusiast — you probably won’t hurt its value. And for God’s sake, stop coming up to me and telling me you have a car you “can’t wait” to pass on to your kids one day. Because when the words “2009 Mustang California Special” come out of your mouth, I’m going to stop listening.

[Photo: Jeeps Unlimited]

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118 Comments on “Doug Drives: No, Your ‘Rare’ Car Isn’t Going To Shoot Up In Value...”


  • avatar
    vtecJustKickedInYo

    I’m sure my 2003 Ford Ranger Level II Twin Stick in Sonic Blue will shoot up in value after a couple more years of abuse and getting the odometer past 200k. Wikipedia says its the Holy Grail of Rangers so I should see a triple return on investment.

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    Agreed! I have the same issue with motorcycle sellers. There’s “rare & valuable” and “rare & interesting.” Most (including my old Ducati thus described that I saw on Craigslist last month) fall firmly into the 2nd category.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      My friend’s dad had an actually rare and valuable motorcycle, a Rickman-tuned Honda.

      But did he ever ride it? Nope. It sold for a decent amount of money but his Virago was actually used on a semi regular basis.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        I agree with advice from DeMuro. I have to assume hell is about to freeze. Never heard of a Rickman-tuned Honda, but my old 750 Virago cost $2650 new in 1981 and gave me 2 years of trouble free riding and zero depreciation. The only bike I ever had accomplish that feat.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        Don’t you mean Rickman-Framed Honda? I don’t remember Rickman doing motors, just building complete frame and bodywork packages that used the stock motor and electrics from a CB750. The frames were cool, being nickel-plated café-racers. The frame/bodywork combo cost more than a new CB750, if memory serves.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I remember the first time someone told me their car was rare and so it would increase in value. I was in high school, and a classmate of mine had just bought a Jeep Liberty Freedom Edition, or some such bizarre Jeep special edition where they change the wheels and add two-tone seats in an attempt to get people to buy it.

    God you are so young…

    The next time someone says that they have a rare car Doug, tell them I’ve got some “ZIA EDITION” badges to sell them.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Almost Completely Off Topic:

      The 2002-2006 (but not later generations) Jeep Liberty was a GREAT, SOLID, off-road capable (true low gear 4×4), way-more-friendly-livable-on road-than-Wrangler, reliable, did I mention SOLID?, all around excellent compact SUV.

      These things had the heat flowing within a minute even in °Fahrenheit weather, were brutally capable in deep snow or mud, yet rode WAY better, without road or wind noise and as tight as a drum compared to the Wrangler or most other such vehicles.

      It’s only two downsides as far as I’m concerned: 17mpg mixed driving, and they did break OEM tie rods if really pushed (there was aftermarket fix).

      Jeep should’ve kept building the 2002-2006 version with an updated transmission, and a more fuel efficient motor. They had a massively stout body structure.

      I loved them.

      • 0 avatar
        Coopdeville

        +1 to this. Am I that far off base on the reliability/durability of early model Libertys?

        I was under the impression that, like the old Cherokee, they may have generally fell apart but otherwise kept running forever. But unlike the old Cherokee, they actually still felt put together with a bunch of miles on them. I haven’t looked up reliability figures on them in years. I used to buy and sell them as fast as I could get them, and family put 100k on 2 of them without so much as a window switch going bad (anecdotal), so I really don’t know anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          frozenman

          In 2006 they coughed up a 6 speed, stability control system and a Renegade trim package! Swapping in a 4.7 can cure the 3.7 blahs. I think many thoughts of this.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Liberties are somewhat typical chrysler, with a smattering of annoying issues and mediocre build quality (window regulators, front end suspension components, premature brake warping). They rust quite readily too. Having said all that, it wouldn’t be hard or expensive to keep one running, and I’m not aware of any truly catastrophic Achilles Heels that these have.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Deadweight,
        The Liberty was sold here as the Cherokee.

        It was terrible off road. It did have the mechanical bits for off roading. The problems started with the positioning of the lower control arms that seems to get destroyed on the slightest tree stump or rock.

        Ramp over was ridiculous as was wheel travel/articulation.

        They would of made a great dirt road vehicle because of the 4×4 traction, but you could use a CUV to do pretty much what the Liberty is capable of.

        Sorry, but it sold to suburbanites who thought they could off road.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          I have a friend that had a CR-V for six months and traded it for a new 1st gen Liberty. The problem was the CR-V was worthless out at Glamus in the sand and the Liberty would go everywhere they wanted. They also used it to trailer their Manx buggy to the dunes.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    A few years having passed now, these first generation Liberties are actually looking not-half-bad as fairly capable weekend canoe haulers/mild offroaders. Available with a stick shift, cheap to buy, and there’s even a growing aftermarket. An XJ they are not, but they at least have a more solid chassis to build on than most new fwd based crossovers. I’ll take mine with unpainted bumpers and steel wheels please!

  • avatar
    threeer

    Sigh…don’t I wish. My 2004 Lancer Sportback Ralliart was only sold for one year, and (as best I can tell), Mitsu only sold just over 2,000 of the Sportbacks combined (base and Ralliart variants). So, I have one of something less than 2,000 in the entire country. Doesn’t mean diddly. Sometimes, “rare” and “unusual” does not equate to “worth anything.”
    My father-in-law thought much the same when he purchased his 2002 Firebird Firehawk as an investment he could pass along to my son. I somehow don’t see them selling down the road for as much as the Pontiac TA’s I just witnessed selling for at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction this week (Richard Rawlins picked up one for mid $70s…but a silver 1979 went across the block for something like $170k, but it had all of 7 miles on the odometer). But try telling that to him. Being the final year of the run, it just has to go up in value, right??

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      There was an awful long time that the only reason people had ’78 and ’79 T/As was to be ironic, like some sort of proto-hipsters. I don’t know that 2002 Firehawks will ever be more than used cars, but it wasn’t that long ago that people finally gave up on BMW 2002s ever being worth restoration costs. Now you can spend $40K on one with a carburetor and non-original seats. Long-hood Porsche 911s used to get updated to look like bumper car all the time. Now long-hoods are so valuable that they’ve dragged up the values of the least desirable mid-70s cars and the 911 SCs. I figure C4 Corvettes will be worth something as soon as the ones that are changing hands for used Hyundai money are scrapped.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I think this is a great piece and you’re on target. The only bone I have to pick is on the Grand National and price citation. I feel as if you need to dive deeper, say also include an MY84 C4 (the “collectible” first year) and say a period Celica/Z etc and then compare them to some Barrett Jackson data on something more valuable to discern the “why”. My .02.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    So Wolfsburg Edition Jettas aren’t appreciating?

  • avatar
    neit_jnf

    Can I get financing on investments? Say, $100k loan financed at 2% to invest and get 7% returns so a net 5% return?

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    So my manual Veran… never mind.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      While I never expect it to “shoot up” in value, the relative lack of depreciation of my RWD 6spd BMW wagon has been amusing to watch. One of the guys I work with paid $30K for an older one a few months ago with 2X the miles on it as mine. I only paid $39K for mine new 5 years ago.

      Rarer than unicorn poop and the enthusiasts who desire them wouldn’t buy new back in the day. And BMW won’t sell you one now.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I was about to make a comment about this. While few if any cars are going to appreciate, a number of cars hold their value stupidly well.

        Tacomas. G8. S2000. Suzuki SX4, for some reason?? Etc. Even the FX4 Level 2 Rangers that one guy mentioned in this thread, are holding on pretty well (not Tacoma levels, but still).

      • 0 avatar
        motoridersd

        Yup! Same here. I would never expect it to shoot up in value, but I actually paid the previous owner the exact same amount he paid for it a year earlier. Not losing money on a car is not something everyone can brag about.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I do not understand why people think this way, I was the 2 nd owner of a 1986 Saab 900 turbo convertible , they only made about 300 of them for the first year of those 60 or so were 5 speed which I had on of them. So it was a rare car indeed but was it ever gonna become super pricey doubtful, yeah I could have parked it in a AC storage center it only had about 60 K on it and waited and waited and well I would still be waiting, instead I drove it for about 7 summers and loved it, sold it to someone in France who spent a small fortune buying it and getting it there. Did I make any money on my investment, nope but I came out OK and had a ton of fun driving it before it was sold and replaced by another Saab convertible. Maybe he thought it was gonna be a 100,000 dollar collectable, good luck to him.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I give credit to the first muscle car boom in the mid eighties. At that time, muscle cars from the sixties shot up in value like rockets. Among the buzzwords was rarity, as cars like the Hemi Mopars and Buick GS Stage 1s became household names.

      Of course, we now know that the reason for that boom was affluent baby boomers coming of age and spending their massive disposable cash on the cars of their youth. However, many missed that 500 pound gorilla in the room and assumed speed and rarity were the reasons. So, over the next 20 or so years, a lot of people saved all types performance cars and limited editions, thinking they would explode in value.

      Of course, they never did. Today, you can buy a 2003 Mercedes E55 AMG for like 12 grand with low miles, even though it’ll blow the doors off almost any sixties muscle car. With a few exceptions, the car from the eighties and nineties and aughts really are not worth anything. As the writer says, just take the car out and enjoy it. You can capitalize on the bad decision of that 1989 IROC owner and have a fun 80s-tasitc car for peanuts.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Try buying an E30 M3.

        I don’t think the muscle car phenomenon was just down to baby boomers being at peak earnings. They were also incredibly common and taken for granted only to vanish because of the end of leaded premium fuel and the gas crunches. There was probably some psychological scar left from their disappearance that made people want to recapture their fleeting youths more acutely than normal.

      • 0 avatar
        Chan

        So much right here.

        It’s not the cars, but the appeal they generated at their original release.

        The kids who couldn’t afford them then, eventually grow up, make money and now they want those cars back.

        Which is why the exotic cars always get some demand as they hit rock bottom. They have the most universal appeal to impressionable kids.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “The kids who couldn’t afford them then, eventually grow up, make money and now they want those cars back.”

          Just look at the 1990s Japanese “supercars” ie Supra Turbo, FD RX7, 300ZX TT, 3000GT. These went through a phase of just being used cars with a lot of potential that Civic driving kids lusted after and a few managed to get their hands on some worn out poverty spec version of, now those former burger flipping Civic drivers have some money to throw around and prices are climbing ever higher as many of said cars were ragged out and driven to death. Actually the same applies on a lower monetary scale to any of Honda’s revered sporty models of the 80s-90s. CRX Si, GSR, Type-R, all appreciating. A clean low mile CRX Si can and will sell for more than $11-13k. Speaking for myself, when I get the space and time for it, I know I’ll be on the prowl for a third gen prelude Si, a car I lusted after when I was driving my automatic Civic Wagon in high school and crunched numbers endlessly seeing if I could afford to snag a rusted out hulk of a Prelude and still have money for insurance.

          • 0 avatar
            Chan

            The Japanese turbo cars were so mod-friendly that an unmodified one (or one with limited, reversible mods) is actually rather difficult to find. That was another factor in desirability.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            One of the maintenance guys at work has a super clean, white Supra turbo. Stock looking down to the factory five spoke wheels, but it looks slightly lowered, and has a huge aftermarket intercooler peeking out from behind the front bumper, and one of those big angled exhausts in the back. It’s really nice looking/sounding.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I wish someone would explain this to the E30 M3 and Supra owners out there. They just don’t seem to get it.

    Seriously though, I keep convincing myself that some day my 07 Legacy GT wagon will be worthy of Saturday night Mecum. It is certainly rare, and maybe one day it will be. Unfortunately by then I’ll have had to have it for 30 years and I will have had to stop driving it 20k miles ago. And find somewhere to put it so it doesn’t deteriorate in my driveway. And then it got damaged a couple months ago, so it has an accident history. And now, I’ve got a low mile used car for all time.

    But I will always have my 06 GTO! Which is an automatic….

    Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I know nothing about Supras, but E30 M3 values passed stupid a few years ago. Ratty track rats go for $20K+, and if you have a minty low-miler that has never seen a track? I wish I did… I agree with many that it is a bubble, but get while the getting is good if you have one.

      See air-cooled Porsches as well.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        My roommate had a pristine E30 M3 20 years ago. I spent a lot of time in that car. OK for short trips but NOT a road car at all – engine is almost at 4K rpm IIRC on the interstate. He sold it before prices really took off on them, but he still did OK.

    • 0 avatar
      bills79jeep

      College buddy bought an NA Supra in the early ’00s and made a small profit when he sold it 6 years later. It was a high mileage example, but fairly clean and no dumb aftermarket stuff. Then again, he also turned a profit of a 4 door, purple Ford escort after that, and then a ’90 Miata after that. He is the only person I know to ever make money on a car and he did it three times. Some people have all the luck.

  • avatar
    Ian

    So very true. This is why I drive the wheels off of my California Special. Car speculators are odd birds, buy and drive what you love. If eventually it becomes rare and expensive, good for you…otherwise, you’ll wish you drove the crap out of it instead of letting it sit in perfect condition with 13 miles on it for 40 years.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Cars are so commoditized these days I think the future barnyard finds stopped being built maybe by the late 90s with the end of the Japanese car bubble. Other big issue is cars are so durable nowadays anything worth keeping will exist in some form forever, if the electronics don’t conk out.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “Only, there’s a problem: $30,000 in 1988 money is $62,000 in 2016 money. And I don’t even want to tell you what you’d have if you had simply put the thirty grand in a stock market index fund.”

    About 250 large, assuming it tracked the Dow. Not too bad.

  • avatar
    Fred

    My neighbor had a non-running late 60s Plymouth Road Runner, 383 ci, automatic. Nothing special, but he thought it was. Apparently Richard Petty sold his personal RR with a Hemi for big money and that is what he valued his car. After so many years of sitting you would think he would understand the valuation, but he never did.

  • avatar
    Acd

    My favorites are the Special Editions that the marginal European makes American sales arm would come up with in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. It seemed like British Leyland always had something awful like a TR7 with a chrome trunk rack and multiple tape stripes of questionable taste.

    BL wasn’t alone in offering “improved” (?) versions of its slow selling cars, Alfa Romeo wanted a part of the action too. The first one I remember was the Spider Niki Lauda Edition in 1978. It followed the usual formula: take 1 otherwise ordinary red Spider, add alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and black and white tape stripes down the sides and even more garish stripes flanking the hood and down to the nose proclaiming “Niki Lauda F1” and “Alfa Romeo”. If I actually had a Nikki Lauda Edition Spider the first modification I’d make would be to remove the tape stripes.

    A few years later they came out with the GTV6 Balocco: another red car with huge black stripes down the sides, a four leaf clover emblem on the sides and a dash plaque proclaiming you car is “#56 of 350 that had been sitting in a field near the Port of Newark, New Jersey for 9 months before some genius thought up a way to dress them up and unload them”. Voila a highly desirable special edition!

    In 1984 they did the Maratona Edition: a silver car (they must have finally run out of red ones at the port), no stripes, different wheels and an aero package (this was the 1980’s–everyone needed and aero package). Supposedly the aero bits were available though any Alfa dealers parts department; I can’t imagine they actually sold that many.

    Now when these show up for sale on Craigslist or eBay the owners all make sure to explain how special and rare they are and deserve a premium price no matter what the condition and I just laugh.

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      Did the Niki Lauda editions only come with one side-view mirror?

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        I think they all only had one mirror back then. They began using the big black square Vitaloni Turbo mirrors around 1978 but the back of Road and Track and Car and Driver were filled with accessory companies that could sell you a matching mirror. I bought a set of them for my 1981 Fiat Spider because Fiat didn’t make a matching RH mirror.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    My old employer in Albuquerque in ’79 had “The Last American Convertible To Be Built – Ever” in her garage. ’76 Eldorado convertible, black w/ red interior, 22 miles on the clock, was registered as a company vehicle for tax purposes of some sort. It’s probably still sitting there waiting for some appreciation to come its way.

  • avatar
    Chan

    The only cars that have known investment boom-and-bust cycles are exotic boutique sports cars and supercars, and even those can only make you money if carefully timed and very lucky.

    They tend to depreciate to the bottom and stay flat for a few years. Then all you can do is hope the nostalgia kicks in, your particular model becomes desirable, and people start punting them.

    Everything else just depreciates.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I’ve seen guys buy high-mileage two year old cars, keep them a few years and drive them very little, and then sell them as low-mileage used cars.

    It only works if the car was clean when bought, and if they didn’t add to the mileage, and if they didn’t wreck it while they owned it.

    Still, it’s far easier to put your money in the stock market.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      I’ll admit to doing that, but I have no delusions of doing so with the expectation of making money when I sell the vehicle. Having two vehicles and a company car, I seldom rack up more than 4,000 to 5,000 miles on one of my personally owned vehicles in a given year. If I can find a pristine, one-year-old vehicle with 18,000 to 20,000 miles, I have a vehicle with average mileage after owning it for one year, and after that it is a “low mileage vehicle” for its age.

      Even better when I can find a low-mileage car to begIn with. As an example, I bought an early production 2012 in mid-2013, with 10,500 miles (so technically, it was two years from date of first being sold and registered). Today, it sits in my garage with just shy of 21,000 miles…extremely low for a car that’s four model years old.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    This thread is dead on target .

    I’ve known so many who were so sure their craptastic mobile would be their retirement egg , anyone who tried to explain reality to them was just ‘ trying to rip me off by getting it cheaply for resale purpose ‘.

    That said crapmobile is still sitting in a dusty garage with flat tires and mouse poop every where means nothing .

    A sad thing .

    luckily I’ve been on Road Rallies where Joe Harding blew past me in his W.O. Bentley or ’39 Lagonda Race car , ’64 (IIRC) Ford factory race car (_after_ he’d blown second and fourth gear but completed the rally anyway) like a rabbit in a thicket ~ true Enthusiasts always drive them and enjoy them .

    I’ve owned several one off or low production vehicles , as long as I enjoyed driving them I did , if not , off they went to new owners .

    Anyone who is ” saving ” a vehicle they don’t want to drive , is a 1,000% jerkoff .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Smeeder

    I had a ’79 5 liter Mustang with 140 ground pounding horsepower that I was SURE would become a collector’s item when the 5.0 was discontinued in ’80 for the 4.4L. That is, until the GT was introduced in ’82.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The guy who owned my Z must have thought it would (could? should?) become valuable. Because in the nearly 10 years of its garage queen life it only gained 18K miles. However I purchased it for 1/2 what he paid, so not exactly a good investment. Granted this was about $2K more then a “normal” Z but since almost all of them are trashed badly this was worthwhile premium. Of course now its like every other Z, gaining tons of daily driver and track miles along with various mods. I didn’t buy the car for its value… I bought it to have FUN with NOW!

    My point of reference any 350Z is one that might actually be valuable. The first “new” 350Z sold in the US when it was relaunched in 2003 VIN #00001. This perfect example with only 100 miles was sold by Barrett Jackson back in 2012 for $47K. Brand new the car stickered for $38K tops. Maybe in 20 more years it might be worth some more but you gotta hang on for a LONG time that to pay off.

    I do wish I had purchased a “rare” Dodge Dakota. By rare I mean I could have order mine in what became the least likely paint combination ever sold: Patriot Blue over Desert Rose (read: tan) two tone. At one point someone claimed (unverified) there were only like a dozen with this paint combo.

    My wife’s Volvo C30 is rare… and getting parts for it proves that. After it got rear ended (minor damage) the body shop guys were amazed because they NEVER seen one. Given how few of these were sold (relatively) and the many choices of paint colors, I’m pretty sure there are some 1 out 10 like samples out there. The old P1800 ES are kind of becoming collectors items so maybe the C30 will gain that status one day. But once again I wouldn’t bet on it, and there is no way my wife’s car will be one of those.

  • avatar
    robc123

    Appreciating value of cars is BS, sure they may incrementally go up but a bond, or a property is much more sound investment.

    Sure a 308 may have been 25-30k back a couple yrs ago but maintenance, insurance, storage costs are fixed- plus the way those things were built- waterpump is garbage, plastic timing belt cogs- all waiting to kill your engine. just basic storage $60 plus $100 insurance over 6 yrs is $11,520 plus inflation at 2.2% yr is 13% more. Sunk cost with zero (ha ha ha) Ferrari maintenance is $38k but with realistic $3800 (ha ha very low) a yr you are now sitting at $60k which is about the price now for a half decent one.

    Investment is another word for justification.

    The only way to invest in a car would be to buy something that scales like a old 60’s Ferrari worth at least $450k that needs nothing.

    DO NOT DRIVE IT EVER, park it inside your place of business so that your business insurance covers it.

    Write it off as business expense, and pray that your loan at 3.5% doesn’t eat up the profit you hope to sell it for in the future as over 10yrs you would be paying $184,000 in interest.

    Bringing sunk cost up to $634,000, not figuring for inflation.
    To get over the “hurdle” you would need that car to be worth at least $885,000 just to make a simple 3.5% per year.

    You would be FAR better buying corporate rated bond paying that same rate.

    Oh ya, forgot you have to pay tax on this stupid car “investment” as you cannot put it in any tax free accounts- were as your bonds are 100% tax free.

    Buying a car for a long term investment is a very long term dumb ass move.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    I bought an M3 Lightweight used in 2001 for about double the price of a regular used M3 at the time but bought it to drive, which I have. I expected it to hold its value or perhaps increase slightly over a long period of time. It has, and might be worth the same as in 2001 in inflation adjusted dollars. I’ve enjoyed driving it and it still puts a smile on my face with every shift. Perhaps it’s worth 40K now, while a similar mileage and condition regular M3 is $12,000, so it cost me less to own than a regular M3. Losing less to own is not the same as making money.

    Even a rare car needs something special or super about it to be worth anything to a collector. Rareness alone does not do it.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Two sides of the coin, you might have the last and most perfect 1971 Pinto on earth, but no one will pay you a plugged nickel for it. The only time I ever knew I was 100% right on this kind of stuff was in 1968 when my dad and I were spending another Saturday wandering around used car lots (some people golf or whatever, we shopped for cars), and in the back of the Doxon Toyota/Mercedes dealership was a red car with about 2″ of dust on it that the salesman told us to buy rather than the 230sl we were looking at. A 1955 300sl gullwing for $5500. I begged him to do it, but eh. Why he with his massive $18k a year job didn’t pop for an expensive garage queen, I’ll never know…..

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    I don’t think a “Special Edition” of anything really does much for its value. Ether the model of car itself is hot, or it’s not. The only exception might be genuine, significant performance enhancements, such as a Hemi engine. Two-toned seats? No. Sorry.

    Cars as a whole make lousy investments anyway. Buy ’em to drive ’em.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    Somebody on my local Craigslist this week was offering a “Final 500” 2004 Olds Alero. Let’s just say it was thoroughly used, and the asking price was all of $1200. I can’t wait to find out if those are going to become collectibles in 30 years or so, if I live that long….

  • avatar
    Verbal

    “Rare” is often a synonym for “unpopular at the time.”

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    depends on the car, the condition its kept, and the nostalgia factor. Even then, its more a matter of maybe getting your money back.

    clean, original aircooled VWs sell for at least what they cost. same with samurais, some cabrios. pretty sure first gen xb’s are going to hold some value. clean neon SRTs? maybe. wranglers and minitrucks tend to hold value.

    when young people turn old and get some extra spending money, one of the things they want is stuff from their youth they couldnt afford the first time around.

    i dont have nostalgia for t-buckets, harley choppers or rat rods, but a nice clean under 100k mile samurai? thats what id want.

    same year hyundai excel? noooooope.

  • avatar
    Jay Lauer

    My dad is still convinced that his 1984 SVO Mustang will shoot up in value…..

    I keep telling him that the ship has sailed.

    • 0 avatar
      old5.0

      Fox parts prices have been going through the roof the past couple of years, and an 84 anniversary convertible just sold for 71.5k at Scottsdale on Wednesday. Don’t leave the dock quite yet.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The cars everyone thinks will skyrocket in value rarely do. Everyone overlooked Hemi ‘Cudas and horded Corvettes. Too many horded vintage Corvettes and their prices hang low.

        I don’t know about SVOs as investments, but I enjoy the hell out of driving mine! But SVOs are the holy grail of early/mid ’80s Mustangs, except maybe Saleens or Mclarens.

  • avatar
    lastwgn

    This is an interesting topic because I just purchased a Mazda Miata British Racing Green Special Edition. It is production number one out of 3,000 total for the edition, and was priced consistent with any similar used Miata of that vintage. I wanted that color in particular. The uniqueness of the production number is just a side benefit, though I would expect that down the road if I do ever sell, it would probably hold a little extra interest. I certainly did not buy the car as an investment, but it was priced right and it had enough of a unique character that it was worth grabbing when it turned up.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The only Liberty worth anything these days is the diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Well, unless you have to fix one. Nothing can take a $10K example down to a $2K vehicle like a mechanic that doesn’t know how to work on that motor. I just witnessed this firsthand a few months ago, where the vehicle probably had an immobilizer issue to start with and it went through three different mechanics, two starters, and a botched timing belt job that crashed the valves, with one ticked-off unpaid mechanic that kept half of the dealer-only fasteners from the engine compartment that he didn’t reinstall.

      Watch out for failed torque converter lockup clutches as well.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    Oh, I too have had some “rare” cars in the past. I had a ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC… spring feature edition… 1 of 117, so pretty rare as far as production goes. Did I think I’d get more money for it when I sold? Nope… (and I didn’t) I just liked it because it was different. Funny thing is, the only thing “unique” about it was the paint… medium gold metallic… a pull-ahead color for ’98. That said, you CAN make money on cars if you buy right & sell right. I had a 427 Cobra roadster which I just sold a few months ago. I owned it for 8 years… sold it for $8500 more than I paid for it… not bad… but that’s more the exception than the rule. I made money because I BOUGHT it right, moreso than selling it right.

  • avatar

    While a 2009 California Special Mustang may not go up in value, based on the track record of previous California Specials, the ’09 will be collectible.

    There’s a difference between collectible and valuable.

    The truth is, with a few rare exceptions, just about every good restoration ends up costing more than the car is worth, and almost nothing appreciates from new. The very rare ones that do, like the Ford GT from last decade or some of the Ferraris, probably don’t appreciate as well as investing in mutual funds.

    More annoying than the folks who think their relatively mundane cars are investments (they just don’t know enough about the collector car market), are the ones at car shows with signs that say something like:

    “One of one!450,000 of this body style were made. 18,876 had this color paint, and 7,385 of those had this color interior. Of those, 4,509 had bucket seats and a console. 2,127 of those had the optional Sport Instrument package that included a tachometer, but only 989 of those customers also opted for the auxiliary gauge cluster in the console. 438 of those had the factory installed 8-Track player. 257 of those cars also had the optional remote side mirrors. Just 49 of those came with a vinyl roof, of which only one had the houndstooth pattern.”

    It’s not like those are engineering specials or executives’ cars that were special ordered and specially equipped, or something genuinely rare like the J52 and J56 brake package equipped early Camaros. Just a statistical quirk that makes them “unique”.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    I actually sort of *like* the Reborn Thunderbird.

    But I have no belief one will ever be worth anything.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Just don’t take your investing advice from me. In 1976 I bought a white on white, one owner 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible for under $7,000 Canadian. For my money the most beautiful of all post WWII automobiles. I flipped it within a week for a profit of just over $1,000 which I then used to buy a new Corvette Stingray L-82.

    Sold the ‘vette within the year.
    The ‘vette is probably worth just over what I paid for it.

    Similar Cadillacs are currently being sold for over $200,000.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Ouch! The one that got away . . . but you gotta have a pretty big garage to store that Caddy . . . and keeping a ‘vert outside is out of the question.

      I could have had a really clean two-owner 1977 Lincoln Town Car for free from my dad. It was a beautiful car, but 20 feet long. My garage? Barely 20 feet deep. I passed and don’t really regret it (still have the memories).

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      My dad’s “one that got away” story is of a very nice blue 1953 Buick Skylark that was always sitting next to a car wash on Henderson Hwy in Winnipeg in the late ’60’s. The owner of the car was willing to let it go for only $300. When dad asked my grandfather if he could buy it, the response was, “It’s 14 years old. What do you want ~that~ junk for?”

      At least our family kept the ’67 Newport Custom. A white on red 4 door hardtop with factory buckets and console. Rare, but ultimately still nearly worthless.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Doug DeMuro the stock market expert. Doug’s probably investing all his savings in a DRIP stock fund now and has been since 1998!

    Out of every 100 people I meet with serious wealth, 0 have made in “the stawk market,” and curse the “market.” If you don’t believe me, ask any physician in practice for 10+ years how they are targeted by stock brokers and, if they invested, how’d that work out for them.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I’m very curious then, how did the wealthy people you know make their money?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Saul – Hate:

      My work necessarily brings me into constant & close contact with high net worth individuals (and their personalities and dispositions range from charitable & humble to arrogant & crass).

      Here are the following ways they make their money:

      1) Closely held businesses (technical services, professional services, real estate development, medical services, manufacturing auto/marine/aviation/plastic injection components, etc.).

      2) Venture capital. We’re talking real risk/reward w/out government backstop type operations (see Mark Spitznagel).

      3) Inherited wealth in conjunction with 1 and/or 2 above. Some of these are do-nothings, but some took what parents/grandparents left them and ran with the ball.

      4) Catch all category but this has disproportionate number of people who are inherently tied into government (defense contractors, gov’t staffing services, gov’t procurement firms). These are, with some notable exceptions, the new, rude, crude, impersonal “expected/entitled class” of a$$holes who are extremely inefficient yet rarely if ever accountable for gross incompetence yet never seem to have contracts canceled and oddly more often than not have family-political connections).

      3

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Saul & NATE -sorry (autocorrect!)

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          Appreciate the reply. I’ve almost certainly known fewer people that you that were very wealthy, but the one’s I’ve known typically owned their own successful business, invested successfully in real estate, or had very highly paid careers and got shares in the companies they were working for/invested their excess income in a diversified manner, most frequently real estate and big name, dividend paying stocks.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Upper tier executives at publicly traded companies with compensation doled out in large part vesting shares have made out like smooth criminals during turnouts 7 years of easy-peasy monetary policy by the federal reserve (where corporations, even junk-rated ones, can sell debt at low, low interest to fund share buybacks) whereby said corporations have paid out more for their own share buybacks (thus driving up the price of those shares) than actual capex.

            So, yeah…that’s another type.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    I have owned a few cars that have gone up in value. A black ’68 Caddy convertible. And a baby blue ’69 Caddy convert. A turquoise ’64 T-Bird. A’62 Jag Mk II. But these are exceptions. I have owned over 100 cars and so I batted less than .040 .The reason that old cars from an earlier era were high-dollar items was usually because so many older cars were scrapped during World War II. The ones I cited, which I wish I still had, were exceptional for their style and assumed high values due to attrition. But anyone could have bought one. The trick is to pick one correctly, and hope that the other examples rust away or are owned by lousy drivers.
    True collector cars are ones of which 500 or less were made.

  • avatar
    old5.0

    An actual phone conversation that occurred back when I flipped musclecars for a living:

    Me: “Hello?”

    Some guy: “Yeah, are you the guy that buys classic cars?”

    Me: “Sure.”

    Guy: “I’ve got an old Malibu I want to sell. I’ll take five grand for it.”

    Me: “Uh, okay, what year is it?”

    Guy: “77.”

    Me: “What kind of shape is it in?”

    Guy: “Rusty. I think it’ll run, though.”

    Me: “Your car is worth 300 bucks, max.”

    Guy: “Gotta be worth more than that, it’s a classic. Says so right on the side.”

    As for rare vs. desirable, an acquaintance of mine summed it up thusly: it’s rare that I sh*t my pants, but it’s never desirable.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    All these comments have convinced me that leasing and getting a new ride every three years from now on is the way to go.

    I’m also going to drive the wheels off the pristine ’95 Sable I inherited from my grandmother.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Saul ;

      Leasing is a suckers bet , DON’T DO IT ! .

      They’ll KILL YOU on the mileage , every time .

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        My wife and I live super close to our work places and have the aforementioned Sable to put miles on as well as my wife’s truck, which we own. I’m not so worried ’bout the mileage, and am tired of owning and maintaining old cars. I was broke for a long time, now, not so much.

        The Sable is an anomaly but again is pristine and low mileage and seems to putt around town reliably with little more than an oil change and tire rotation now and again. Any major repairs will likely send her to the scrap yard.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          O.K. Saul ;

          My ex wife tried this and asked me first , she hates to drive but still managed to put too many miles on it and got hosed badly .

          YMMV , best of luck etc. .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    Sketch

    On the other hand, sometimes you get lucky. I bought a higher mileage NSX because I planned to drive it, not try to make money off of it. 12 years and 80K miles later, I could probably sell it for what I paid for it.

  • avatar
    viper32cm

    I prefer the term “Redneck IRA” for most of these cars. For instance, it seems like there’s always a 1994-95 Cobra for sale somewhere with less than 1,000 miles on it and the factory plastic everywhere. The Grand National also qualified as Redneck IRAs, but now that they are becoming valuable, the myth continues.

  • avatar
    sfvarholy

    So when’s my Citation X-11 going to be worth more than $500?

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      LOL ~

      L.A.P.D. had one , it was pristine until one of the cowboys smacked a curb with it breaking the Factory alloy wheel .

      Imagine how I felt when I had to cut an $850.00 Purchase Order for the damned wheel on a worthless car like that ? .

      =8-) .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    “Your kids are going to have to explain on Bring a Trailer how they came to own a 2002 Thunderbird with 89 original miles.”

    This may be the best (and laugh-worthy) sentence I’ve read on the Internet in quite a while.

    Living in an area with a relatively large percentage of the nouveau riche, I’ve lost count of how many guys have told me they’re holding onto a last-generation Thunderbird, with hopes of one day cashing in.

  • avatar
    sirbunz

    I had one of these “rare” examples… In 2008 I bought a Honda S2000 CR and specifically wanted it in white and with the “deleted” options. My salesman located one in Colorado Springs and had it shipped to me. I raced it for the next 4 years (or didn’t race but drove spirited on weekends if you ask Bark M). This car ended up 1 of 7 for the year. 1 was built in 2009 but immediately shipped to Japan. Maybe one day we will see pictures of it amongst the other rare, white Hondas in a little know warehouse? To my knowledge 1 of the 7 ’08 CRs was totaled and eventually crushed after a BMW side swiped it and a Caravan going 120 in CA, 1 totaled in the Northeast, auctioned off IAAF, repaired and sold to an eager buyer, 3 of them were driven and accumulated lots of mileage while mine and the other were purpose driven and well maintained. When the time came where I needed money, this car had to go. 4 years and 8k miles later, I put it up for sale for a little less than I bought it for only to receive numerous inquiries within the first hour and people threatening to come over to my house with cash right away. I immediately took it off the market, cleaned/detailed it to near mint condition (9.5/10) and relisted it at a much higher amount, eventually selling to a collector in TX who now owns 2 of the 7. I agree with the author 100%. Although I sold this car with no depreciation despite wear and tear and age, the overall cost to own and maintain is killer. Nobody in their right mind buys a new car to collect unless they have way too much money, a fanboy, some other motive, or maybe all the above. I bought this car for another purpose and lucked out when demand for it skyrocketed. On a side note, I tried selling it a couple years prior only to have zero interest and asking Edmunds fair market value.

  • avatar
    donutguy

    Doug, I wished I still had the 73 Maverick 2 door I bought used in 1977.

    Sure, nobody thinks much about Mavericks, but this one was powder blue with a tan interior, the 302, the Luxury Decor option and pretty much every option Ford offered that year.

    If it was perfect….it might be worth 10 grand today, but it was the only car I ever owned with a V-8……..yeah, just kill me.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    I’ve got a E60 M5 with the manual six-speed. V10 engine with manual transmission is novel, and the SMG versions have an unfortunate reputation (earned or not), and are the far more common, less reliable version.

    I do think the car will appreciate over time if I keep it pristine as it currently is. but whoever bought it new ($102K) was permanently underwater on it a nanosecond after they signed. Nobody knows what the future classics are going to be; I saw a ’71 Hemi ‘Cuda go for $2.7 million on auction this morning. No way guy who initially bought that ‘Cuda “knew” it would be so sought after forty years later.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    OK Doug, what about my 1971 911? I guess it isn’t really rare though.

  • avatar
    Scottie

    True story, that is actually my old liberty. And it just proves my point Doug does no research, all freedom editions were 2003.

    I had just waxed it right before this picture

  • avatar
    irieite

    I’ve always wanted a diesel version of this vehicle, in white.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    A good friend and neighbor bought a 2005 Roush Stage 1 Mustang with 27,000 miles on it around 2008. He insisted (and still to this day believes) this car will hold or increase in value. Even though it his daily driver and part time kid schlepper. Of course this car now includes a list of “upgrades” including a slew of suspension parts that have worn out and been replaced by non-OEM third party manufacturers.(yeah but they’re better parts!) The latest one was the fantastically awful LED headlight units he installed. These didn’t come with the required connectors or converters. Once installed they promptly turned into a brightly lit aquarium upon the first good rainstorm. Of course the headlights didn’t quite fit right anyway and required some mods(stripped wires) to the car to fit and connect to the electrical system. I haven’t even gotten to the faded/pealing paint on the spoiler of this non-garage kept soon to be classic. But hey Jack Roush signed the dashboard with a paint pen, so when the he departs this Earth I’m sure it will double in value in short order. yeesh.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Interesting .

      My buddy bought a Saleen Mustang drop top and enjoyed it for a while , was able to get back out of it without losing his shirt and so was a happy man indeed .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    bapcha

    Every bloody Porsche owner thinks that their car is “rare”. Including the owners of 2006 Cayenne-S “Titanium” edition (worth four digits tops)


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