By on February 7, 2017

2004 Dodge SRT-4

“Moving on, and getting over,” John Mayer just told us on his new EP, “are not the same, it seems to me.” I’ll second that emotion; I can think of a half-dozen times I’ve broken up with someone then spent months, or years, thinking about them afterwards. But when it comes to cars, some of us can’t even manage to move on. I should have sold my 2004 Boxster S five years ago, but it’s still taking up space in my driveway. I have two motorcycles — a CB550 and a VFR800 Anniversary — that I never ride because I have a CB1100 and a ZX-14R to do their jobs. Don’t even get me started on Danger Girl’s Tahoe Z71; now it’s being used solely to take me and my son to the skatepark once a week. Other than that, it doesn’t move. We could duplicate its functionality with a bike rack, thus saving ourselves all of the expenses that come with a 5,400-pound white elephant of an SUV.

Not everybody’s quite as sentimental and/or dilatory as I am, however. Take my old pal Nick, for example. About six months after my first wife and I took delivery of our 2004-model SRT-4, he bought one of his own. And he did it right, putting on the Stage 3 package almost immediately. When I sold our SRT-4, I made him a deal on all the goodies, including the Kosei wheels. It’s led a relatively charmed life in his possession, and it’s carried him through some of the best (and worst) years of his life, but now that his kids are married or off in their own careers, he’s decided to just let it go.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a particularly interesting decision; “Man Sells Neon So He Doesn’t Have To Put Any More Money In It” is one of those completely unsurprising stories, right up there with “Dog Bites Man” and “New GM Product Wins Motor Trend Award Of Some Type.” But this isn’t just any Neon. It’s a low-production, one-owner car that makes 339 horsepower at the front wheels and was equipped with all the right stuff from Day One. In other words, it’s the modern equivalent of a Superbird or Charger Daytona. Which leads us to a bit of a dilemma.

Nick’s selling his car for $7,500. That’s a lot of money for a Neon. But it’s not much money at all for a future Barrett-Jackson superstar. Consider, if you will, that at one time or another in history, you could get anything from a driveway full of Superbirds to a D-Type Jag to a Ferrari 250GTO for $7,500. All of those cars now command transaction prices that would buy you a small private jet or a home in Burlingame, CA. Yet there was a time when they were simply used cars, without much value to anybody.

More recently, we’ve had the air-cooled kerfuffle that has seen the prices of raggedy-ass old 180-horsepower 911SC Targas jump from $9,999 to $30,000 and the tag on 993 Turbos go from “$49,999 OBO” to “Price On Request.” I don’t think anybody saw that one coming, but it happened nonetheless. If you were one of the people who sold a 964 RS America for $25,000 10 years ago, chances are you’re now just trying to decide how many pills it will take to make the pain go away.

I could go on; 10 years ago, I turned down a Testarossa for $35,000. My pal Berg bought and sold nearly a dozen 308GTS and 308GTB Ferraris after the turn of the century, all for under $30,000 a pop. Everybody knows somebody who used to have a perfect E-Type Jag that they sold for lunch money. I walked away from a lemon-colored V12 four-speed back in 1999 because I thought $8,000 was too steep.

Surely, it’s plain to all of us by now that pretty much every classic car has a pricing history that is basically trough-shaped. The car comes out on the market, depreciates to “used junk” status, then after spending what Robert Bly, in Iron John, famously called “ashes time,” it ascends to the secular heaven of high-profile auctions and lovingly curated for-sale listings in the DuPont Registry. It’s very predictable and it’s worked this way with any number of cars over the past 60 years.

I feel confident in stating that, should you buy Nick’s SRT-4, it will eventually be the second-most-valuable SRT-4 in history, right behind the one that I, the Ernest Hemingway of the present era, briefly owned and occasionally drove at Nelson Ledges Road Course. The only question is this: will the SRT-4 ever be worth anything at all to anyone at all? Will it have an upside? Will it ride the pricing trough to the stratosphere? Or will it be valueless until the heat death of the universe or the arrival of mandatory autonomous vehicles?

Remember that a Superbird was once just a Plymouth full-sizer with a stupid wing, and that a 911 Carrera G50 Turbo-Look was just the car that everybody’s rich uncle was trading in on a Boxster S. Remember that people left Birdcage Maseratis to rot in barns and that probably more than one aluminum Shelby Cobra was sold for scrap value. There is always a time where the buyers give up on a car. Even the frickin’ Ferrari F40, a natural-born collector’s item if ever there was one, went through a period where the market had collapsed and you could get one for the price of a couple new 456GTs. You’d be a fool not to buy an SRT-4. It was a performance icon; a giant-killer that spawned a tidal wave of revived Mopar enthusiasm.

But remember, also, that a perfect four-speed Citation X-11 is worth … nothing. Remember that “aero” Monte Carlo SS coupes are still bought and sold using food stamps as a transactional currency. Don’t forget that the surge in mid-engine Ferrari pricing has mysteriously forgotten to invite the 348ts to the party. And don’t kid yourself that a pristine Porsche 996 Turbo will ever be worth anything less than five grand under the lowest 997 Turbo price on eBay. As the radio advertisements always say: you can lose some, or all, of what you invest.

The day will come when the Millennial classics cross the auction blocks and the numbers shock the crowd and thousands of middle-aged men slam their craft beer down on their hand-hewn peasant farm-door tables and gripe, “I HAD one of those and sold it for nothing.” I guarantee you it will happen. I just can’t tell you which cars will produce the worst heartburn. Will it be the Integra GS-R and Type-R? The MkV GTI, complete with “Fast” figurine? Or will it be a bright-orange SRT-4, capable of running a 12-second quarter but not quite capable of holding up to direct sunlight? You pay your money, and you take your choice. Or, like the song says, you can try moving on, and getting over.

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76 Comments on “Trackday Diaries: Stuck In The Middle With You...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    One could probably derive a formula tying the economic strength of the US at time of production/popularity with how much a car will appreciate (and use the age of the car’s fanbase to know WHEN said cars will take off).

    Late 60s/early 70s? We’ve already seen what happened there. Late 70s/early 80s? Miserable, awful time, and the cars of that era showed it (Citation X-11 LMAO). Late 80s/early 90s? Well, we could stretch that from the late 80s to the mid aughts……….. we’ve already seen what’s happened with Supras; Integra Type-Rs are trading hands in the mid teens but clean ones have moved for as much as $30-40K.

    So I do think this SRT-4, with a clean Carfax and maintenance records, will probably fetch some good money in like a decade or so. The question is whether or not it’s worth holding on to over that time. Most people don’t have a hangar to hold their cars in so I would probably let it go.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      If I have $7500 to invest, the NPV of this Neon seems intuitively less than the DCF of any number of interest-bearing investments for any time period and that’s assuming that there will be a market demand for the Neon in the future – which is questionable.

      Stranger things have happened, but buying this car as though it will pay off in the future is nothing more than a long-shot bet.

      • 0 avatar
        Malforus

        Thank you sir!

        If Jack is going to make the point from a “value of investment” perspective. He should be crying into his cornflakes every morning he didn’t take the approx $21k and put it into Apple back in April of 2004 so he could have $1.4 million now.

        Cars aren’t investments, they are depreciating assets that bring us joy and happiness. Only the rare or the lucky make money on car ownership.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          My father bought Apple in 2001, on my recommendation.

          No tears here.

          • 0 avatar
            notapreppie

            My grandparents asked me what I wanted for Christmas one year. This was towards the end of the Gil Amelio low-point so AAPL was around $13/share.

            I figured out the average monetary value of the last three years of Christmas and birthday gifts and asked for that much in Apple stock. I doubled-down and asked them for nothing for the next five years in lieu of Apple stock today.

            I got socks.

            In their defense, it wasn’t a smart move in 1997. My desire was mostly my teenage fanboi nature for all things Apple.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Used Neons on TTAC!

      Sweet!

      It’s getting quite dramatic, all the tension and vibes in the air.

      I feel a spectacular something in the offing. We’re on the edge of a grand cliff.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I test drove an SRT4 when they came out. It didn’t have cruise control but could have been added on.

    The thing that killed the deal was the seats. The upper bolsters were too narrow for my shoulders and I would have been driving with my shoulders constantly rolled forward. I cannot figure out how you would fit Jack?

    It was a really good handling car for FWD and had decent power. The paint had orange peel that looked more like a caricature of orange peel.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      it depends on your height. the seats fit me perfectly because my shoulders tucked into the curve in the side bolsters.

      god I miss those seats.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        I am 5’11 and 200#. I have seats out of a Dodge Stealth in the Cobra replica. They need recovered these days but they are comfy seats for the long haul. The seats in our Avenger are good for a trip from WI to NY and back. I couldn’t have done that in the SRT4.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I think sporty accord is on to something esp the last sentence, even if you have the cash for said car or two ( to spread the risk) you need the space to place it somewhere and the time to work on it, what is the sense of having a porsche turbo if you do not drive it, if your buying for just future dollars you would be better off investing in a index fund.

  • avatar
    Coopdeville

    “capable of running a 12-second quarter but not quite capable of holding up to direct sunlight?”

    This is beautiful. :D

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    +10 for working in the Iron John reference. I remember when Robert Bly was the latest thing.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    You also have to consider the individual car. Maybe an Integra Type R will be a valuable collectible some day, but only a good example will be crossing the block at Barrett-Jackson for big money. The typical one that’s been thrashed and used up will never be valuable.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think the SRT4 is closer to an Omni GLH or Typhoon than a Superbird or 308GTS.

    There’s some upside but I wouldn’t plan to retire on it.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Future Barrett-Jackson superstar”?

    This one statement illustrates the folly of looking at a car as in investment. It isn’t. Of course, if you get lucky and buy the right car, and maintain it correctly, there’s always a crapshoot chance that it’ll be worth money someday.

    But the problem is, the ones that end up worth money are usually the low-miles creampuffs. And therein lies the problem: a car like a SRT Neon was born and built to live it’s life as anything but a creampuff. Treat it like one, and you won’t be enjoying it.

    If you want a fast car, buy it, keep it up, and let the “future Barrett Jackson superstar” chips fall where they may. The “investment” you make with a sporty machine is in you, not your future portfolio.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Are GLH Omnis worth anything? They’re a decade older version of the Neon SRT.

    I think a nice, non-ratted out (super rare), certain body style Fox body Mustangs will be worth money some day.

    Like a clean, low mileage, deep emerald green, LX 5.0L notchback, with a manual transmission. Like the one I sold and still can’t get over. The LX 5.0L notchbacks were the best performing of all the variants. Nowadays, they’re not fast, but they still sound awesome, and those stainless steel dual exhausts are the coolest looking exhaust pipes ever put on a production car (IMHO).

    People thought the notchbacks were the ugly ones, but there are less of them than the hatchbacks, and they’re lighter and stiffer.

  • avatar

    Full disclosure: I’m not a Mopar guy. I don’t even like most American cars anymore, especially after owning over 20 of them LOL

    I really can’t fathom the prices of the SRT-4 skyrocketing at the same pace as the vehicles that Jack compared them to. Granted, those cars could be had for a song (compared for what they command now), but I feel like there’s a couple of things working against the Neon:

    1) There are (subjectively) better choices from that time period

    2) SRT-4s aren’t “aspirational” cars…most people that had them sold them off to get something “better” (also subjective).

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      This.

      Cars appreciate for nostalgia value. Ain’t no young person holding nostalgia value on a neon.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      too many people believe mods add value. they don’t, really, unless you happen to find that one person who wants a car exactly like yours. It took me about 8 hours to sell my SRT-4, partly because I never modded it.

      but it would take a lot for me to buy a car with significant performance mods. Just like on a Mustang, I presume a car with that much more hp than stock was beaten on and is worth effectively $0 to me.

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        I walked away from a ’68 Firebird that had been heavily modded for drag racing: roll cage, 455 instead of the stock 400, rear seat removed, oil filter location, transmission, etc, etc.

        My friend, who had came along to look over the car, was shocked that I didn’t purchase it. But it was the mods that stopped me from pulling the trigger – if I ever needed to fix anything, find the correct part to replace the non-stock one would have been a pain.

        Plus I wanted more a summer “let’s go to the beach” cruiser than a drag car.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        I agree that most mods don’t add value. However factory available mods can. I don’t know if they did in this case.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I think a Jeep SRT is a better “investment” if you’re collecting Chryco..

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Just to get everyone going.
    I remember 45-50 years ago, the 21-23 window VW vans were thought of as low powered hippie wagons or just another piece of self-propelled steel headed for the scrap metal yard.
    Up until the mid 1980s they could be bought for $3,000-8,000 in today’s money. Now anything that does not have rust, severe crash damage, or irreversible mods will sell for $80,000 to $200,000 or more.
    As above you could have made as much gain over that time in various ‘investments’, but knowing which ones were going to do that well is the same gamble as guessing which car will be an high priced collector item in decades to come.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “As above you could have made as much gain over that time in various ‘investments’, but knowing which ones were going to do that well is the same gamble as guessing which car will be an high priced collector item in decades to come.”

      No, S&P 500 Index fund would do you just fine. You won’t make money like a stock picker, but you’ll make out okay.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Pick a price the Neon might appreciate to and pick how many years from now that might be. Compute the CAGR for your investment and my guess is that it will fall short of any number of less risky opportunities by inspection.

      Or, satisfy yourself that a mutual fund, bond, or stock purchase will return something between 4%-10% annually over any time period you choose. Then compute how much the Neon must sell for at the end of the same time period to meet your alternative investment. My guess is that the required sales price for the Neon will be unreasonable by inspection.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      A Neon doesn’t have a single shred of the cultural status (at any point in its history) of the VW vans. None.

      The whole premise of this piece is absurd. Comparing a Neon, no matter how fast or “desirable”, to a Superbird stretches the very reality of the universe to the breaking point. Not a single non-car person will ever look at a Neon and see anything special. The Superbird, on the other hand, is so far out of the norm that, even to people who know nothing about cars, it is clearly extraordinary.

      To put it another way, there’s no way that any 1990s popular band is as important as the Beatles.

      The things from that time that will be really special in the future won’t be a repeat of past history. Both the Beatles and the Superbird broke new ground and then were gone. Anyone who lived through that era felt the loss as the age that produced both passed.

      • 0 avatar

        Bunkie I think it will depend on generation. While I agree the VW van will be more valuable then the Neon. The Neon does have a a cult following and has a very good rep among weekend racers. It really is the best handling FWD compact from America ever (well at least until they stopped making them). I would much rather have an SRT4 then a VW van. But I will admit to being a minority.

        On music being born in 81 I never got the appeal of the Beatles. I would say Nirvana, Pearl Jam, NWA, and other acts will be much more important in younger minds. Not to dismiss the Beatles importance but it’s all in the beholders mind.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Bunkie wrote: “To put it another way, there’s no way that any 1990s popular band is as important as the Beatles.” As baby boomers get old and die off, we’ll go through a period where few people have living memories of the 60s while plenty of people in their peak earnings years have fond memories of the 90s. New ground is broken all the time and people have nostalgia for their youth.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          True, but my point was that the next big breakthrough won’t follow the same pattern. We’ve spent 50 years looking for the “next Beatles” while ignoring that the real breakthrough had more to do with the emergence of new media and how those media were exploited. To convert this idea using Jack’s argument, the “next Superbird” isn’t likely to be a car at all, but something new and, as yet, unrealized. The best past example was the invention of the music video.

  • avatar
    omer333

    The SRT-4 as well as every Subaru Impreza, Legacy, and Forrester that comes in RS, GT, WRX, STi, XT, and Spec-B trims are going to command insane prices in another ten years, because it’s increasingly impossible to find an example of one of these cars that has not been molested in some way by a vaping vulgarian in flat-billed hat with a six-pack of Monster energy drinks.

    Now I must go curse at the heavens for being afraid of the maintenance fees associated with turboed Subies of the 2010 vintage, because I chickened out of buying a pristine Impreza GT from the original owner.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You could see it as the ebb and flow of the generations.

      Boomers loved V8 powered beasts that could go like heck but couldn’t stop or steer with a dang. Therefore they collected Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers, etc.

      Gen X and Millennials are used to turbo boosted WRX, STi, etc. That’s likely what they’ll lust after when they are 50 years old and have money to blow.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I think my B5 Blue Scat Pack Shaker is a good bet on being worth something, its pretty rare. But, I’m going to drive the crap out of it regardless. Better I enjoy it than someone else.

  • avatar
    ciscokidinsf

    My take is, if it was shown in Fast & Furious, buy it…. that apparently has been the biggest influence factor in pricing for Japanese and American sports cars in the last 10 years. People are paying stupid money for MKIV Supras, 300Zs, even for Preludes, some Celicas & 240s

    I failed to take my own advice when I bought and sold a 1996 3000GT VR4 Spyder – Bought at $12K, fixed it up…and two years later it went for….$9,500, despite being sold at Bring A Trailer + featured in Jalopnik – I had to sell it due to baby-on-the-way-and-i-dont-have-a-job yet syndrome, which as you know is lethal to car lovers

    But if the VR4 had been featured in F&F I would’ve raining in cash. So use that advice and thank me later.

  • avatar
    Ianw33

    I still regret selling my ’04 Srt-4. Out of all the vehicles i have owned (i have owned quite a few, i have automotive A.D.D), the Srt-4 is the one i miss the most. It was just a basic car with a giant engine and A LOT of character.

    now i am sad…

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    “10 years ago, I turned down a Testarossa for $35,000. ”

    That’s funny. I remember working with you back in 1999 and you mocking a colleague for buying a Testarossa because “it needs a valve job every 5000 miles!” Glad to see that you’ve come around. And that was around the time that I started eyeballing sub $30k 308s and 328s myself, none of which I ever ended up buying and every one of which I regret never owning.

    Still, I think that you’re a bit optimistic on the price futures of the SRT-4. I think that we’re in a bit of a bubble. Classic car prices have never been higher, and I think it’s driven in large part by baby boomer and GenX nostalgia (and disposable income). But what about Gen Y and the millennials? Do they love cars as much as we did? In another 30 years, will they feel the kind of profound connections with cars that we feel today? Some of them certainly will, but I think that we’re looking at a shrinking demographic here.

    Beyond that, predicting which car will be a highly valued collector’s classic in 30 years is a massive gamble, as is predicting the levels to which it will appreciate. I mean, if I dropped $7500 on the SRT-4 today and it turned out to be a collector’s item in the future, it might be worth $40k in another 30-40 years. Great. Can I beat that ROI any number of other ways? You betcha.

    If you’re going to buy the car, you have to do it because you love it and want to drive it. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      “….but I think that we’re looking at a shrinking demographic here.”

      I was talking to someone who said something similar regarding other lost hobbies like stamp collecting. It’s basically dying off with the people.

      Cars do not represent the same things to younger Generations, at least not in the same numbers. The collector car market 30 years from now will be nowhere near as big as it is today. I also think the eventual transition to electric vehicles will mean even less people will want to fool with older, gas powered cars.

      At least I hope so, there’s still some cars I have on my bucket list.

    • 0 avatar
      omer333

      Uh, Gen-X is broke too, dude.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    If I had a bunch of money in muscle/pony cars I would cashing out over the next 20 years. Once the boomers are finally gone I don’t believe those values are going to hold.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      Agreed.

      Look at cars from like 40s or 50s, except for some notable iconic examples, most people can’t give those cars away.

      • 0 avatar

        Some 50’s cars seem to do well. My father has a TR3 for years we said it wasn’t worth restoring as the restored cars were bringing 10-15K. Over the last 10 years they are suddenly worth 30k and more restored. Which means the body work his needs would be a lot more sound an investment then it once was.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    It’s still a Neon, and you can’t compare what were legitimate exotic cars like Ferraris or Porsche Turbos.

    It doesn’t mean it’s not a fair deal for what you’re getting or that it won;t have any upside, but I don’t ever see real hot money chasing after these.

    I’m still in the camp that says 99% of the time cars make terrible investments. And I also think there are some real bubbles in these markets that are likely to be popped.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “It doesn’t mean it’s not a fair deal for what you’re getting or that it won;t have any upside, but I don’t ever see real hot money chasing after these.”

      And that’s the rub. Maybe we’re right, maybe Jack’s right. There’s basically two ways to reliably make money from trading classic cars like this:

      1. Wait for the trough to bottom out and the prices to start going up again. Buy on the upswing and hold for 5-10 years to sell at a higher point on the curve.

      2. The “Wayne Carini method”, aka, the not-so-traditional used car salesman technique: Find someone who either doesn’t know what they have, or doesn’t have the time to extract maximum value from what they have, or who is happy just to get decent money from their late grandfather’s old project car. Buy it from them for significantly less than it could be worth, recondition it (lightly), then sell it at auction for profit (hopefully).

  • avatar
    BlythBros

    Even Sir Isaac Newton lost money in the South Sea Company. The only issue with Jack’s speculation here is that the “greater fools” in this SRT-4 scenario have already gone and bought MKIV VWs.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    An investment car that you can enjoy driving today: the E90 BMW M3 with a manual transmission. You can find an LCI (freshened, 2009-2011) car in the late $20’s to early $30’s right now. Why the E90?
    1. It’s the last of the normally-aspirated cars
    2. The last of the cars with hydraulic steering
    3. The last performance BMW without fake sounds piped into the cabin
    4. The classic formula of mid-3000 lbs. chassis, V8, RWD
    5. Revs – that sound!
    Like I said above, get an LCI car and choose the right color. Some colors are quite rare. White is not one of them. However, there were only about 35 LCI cars sold in North America with a manual transmission in red. Today, it’s just another used BMW with potentially expensive maintenance. In 20 years, how desirable is a practically bespoke, factory performance sedan with track chops that people aspired to own, but which BMW only sold 35 of in the US? You tell me.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    One aspect to consider is whether cars are “end of an era” cars, or buoyed by those that are. For instance, Porsche 911s, they aren’t making any more air-cooled cars, and the current models are increasingly complex, electronic, etc. So if you want an air-cooled car, and lost of people do, you can’t just get the current model. And lots of relatively crappy 911s (SCs and the like, decent cars but no one’s blue chip collectible) are brought along for the ride by the early 911S models, the last 993s, etc. Same with 3×8 Ferraris, they are gated cars, they’re still small and DIY-friendly, mostly; the later cars are increasingly computer-controlled and F1 and dealer service required. And the 348 was panned when new. Same with the NSX; it was basically a flash in the pan, a driver’s car like few others, and the new one is far more expensive and offends those who want a stick shift and few nannies. So early NSX values are silly high.

    Compare that to some of the other cars that don’t gain value outside of a few special models, like Corvettes and Mustangs. Can you really make an argument that a C4 Corvette is that much better than a C5/C6/C7? No, not really, they’re increasingly better-performing versions of the same concept. Would anyone take a 5.0 Fox-body Mustang over a new S550 5.0 for even money? Almost no one.

    Which brings us to the SRT-4; unless you absolutely HAVE to have an SRT-4, does it really do anything better than a current WRX/STi, FoST, FiST, Golf R, etc etc etc? I’d argue “not really”. There might be a few diehards who wanted an SRT-4 when they were kids or teens and will have the means to scratch that itch, but if you really just wanted an inexpensive fast econobox, it’s easy enough to just shift your focus to whatever the latest and greatest is, and right now they are pretty great.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “Same with 3×8 Ferraris, they are gated cars, they’re still small and DIY-friendly, mostly;”

      **cough** engine out timing belt service **cough**

      But yes, they are far more mechanical and less electronic, so in theory anyone with loads of time can DIY without needing thousands of dollars in specialist equipment. But then they’ve also already been through the pricing trough. The 348 is an exception to the rule, but the 355 is already on it’s way back up. I’ve seen excellent examples going for $120k or more. I think that you’ll start seeing values on the 360 start to trend upwards in the next decade as well, assuming that the bubble doesn’t burst first.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      The problem with a lot of later model cars from certain eras is they simply aren’t that fast or great anymore.

      If you were attracted to the car initially because of its performance, it sort of deflates the experience when something pretty generic would easily outperform it on nearly every metric.

      I almost bought a C4 Corvette on a lark, and it was sort of comical how my Lexus sedan basically owned it in every category.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        “I almost bought a C4 Corvette on a lark, and it was sort of comical how my Lexus sedan basically owned it in every category.”

        While this may be true from a technical benchmark standpoint, it also ignores certain things that are difficult to quantify in numbers. Yes, the Lexus is faster to 60mph, has advanced handling features, more horsepower, etc. But when you drive them, which one is more of a driving *experience*? I’ve said it before, a current V-6 accord probably outperforms 99% of the sports cars from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. But it doesn’t feel like a sports car when you’re driving it, and that experience is what makes the difference.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          Also, around a road course any C4 except a Cease-Fire automatic should drop any Lexus sedan without an “-F” on the badge.

          • 0 avatar
            whitworth

            Maybe heavily modified. But you can say the same for a lot of cars.

            Pre-Lt1 C4 Vettes were absolute dogs, a Lexus IS350 would be where I placed my bet.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          Does a C4 Corvette feel like a sports car? I haven’t driven one in probably 10 years, but I seem to remember the experience feeling kind of wooden.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I think you’re missing the point of an old sports car. Its purpose is to bring its owner back to his youth. From a driving standpoint, all the new cars are better than all the old cars. In some cases you’ll get a different driving experience, as the old cars are simpler and more direct as well as being a lot slower, but the new ones are all better.

      That Ferrari 308s are bringing as much as they do is a testament to this. I’ve always thought of the 308 as the Morgan Fairchild of sports cars, nice to look at but not much of a performer.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “I think you’re missing the point of an old sports car. Its purpose is to bring its owner back to his youth.”

        Yes and no. The question is, in his youth, did the owner really want THAT sports car, or A sports car? In other words, I can see how an owner really really wanted an air-cooled 911, and is willing to spend silly money to keep that dream alive. An air-cooled 911 is what I’ll call an “end dream” where the 911 is really what you want. OTOH, did someone really want an SRT-4, or did he want a hot hatch, and would be just as happy with a new GTI or FoST or something? And I have to think no one really fantasized over an SRT-4 as an “end dream”, he wanted it because it was a cheap way to go fast, and if you offered him a then-new Corvette instead he would’ve gladly had that. I can’t imagine the pool of owners who “just have to have” a Neon SRT-4 is really that big, gotta think most people who wanted one way back when would be happy to have an up to date hot hatch now.

  • avatar

    The market for post 70’s cars (minus European exotics) seems really variable. You will see Omni GLHS trade for decent money but also sometimes nothing at all. Alot has to do with condition. Unmodified cream puffs do much better. Jacks example of the SS aero wagon is a cautionary tale my father has 2 friends with low mile SS (one an Aero that was parked in 88 with 25k miles) they are worth something (about 8k last I checked) but not what you would have thought. That said the market for Typhoons and Cyclones seems to be doing well same with Grand Nationals. The mopar FWD performance seem to be making a bit of a come back, along with other FWD performance cars from the 80’s. But I doubt most will crest more then 10 to 20k for a while. I would say the SRT4 may become like the Integra R’s so many were modified to hell and destroyed by kids they may just be worth something.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “I would say the SRT4 may become like the Integra R’s so many were modified to hell and destroyed by kids they may just be worth something.”

      If you look at the pony cars of the 60’s and 70’s it’s a similar situation. Lots of them were modified and ragged. The ones that are valuable are either total restorations done back to factory specs with complete documentation (often worth less than the cost to restore them), or those that are completely original “cream puffs”, as you said.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Cars are depreciating assets. They are money sinkholes. If you expect anything different, you’re rationalizing, and setting yourself up for a rude shock.

    Sometimes they retain their value a bit better than expected and you get a nice financial surprise, like when my G8 GXP was worth more than two-thirds of what I paid new after almost seven years.

    But it’s only the unicorn car that does as well as a low-expense, broad-market index fund.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Truthfully, I wish there were some kind of national service in which I could pay a monthly subscription fee and have access to cars like this. I have no problem with driving a used car, especially if someone else is dealing with the maintenance. Regardless of how much we moan and deny stuff like this is why car ownership kind of sucks. I would pay $500 or whatever to try one of these for a month and send it away just for the experience. Tax and title alone would be way more than that.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I owned a 1965 Corvette Stingray for 11 years and sold it for about double what I paid for it. I probably put about 20,000 fun miles on it, and had relatively few issues besides a gearbox rebuild, but had to insure it and gas it up, so my net gain was probably close to zero over 11 years. If I had put the same money into the S&P500 index during the same 11 years, I would have slightly more than doubled my money, with no running expenses and also no fun. Cars are for driving and enjoying, but only rarely will they beat the stock market as an investment.

  • avatar
    St.George

    How about something like a Lotus Carlton?

    https://www.silverstoneauctions.com/1992-vauxhall-lotus-carlton-turbo

    Maybe a Sierra Cosworth RS500?

    https://www.silverstoneauctions.com/1987-ford-sierra-cosworth-rs500-6538

    Or for some Gallic flair, a Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9…

    http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C814938

    I think a great option would be a BMW E30 M3, but I believe the prices of those have shot up.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      Too late on the E30 M3. That ship has sailed. Honestly, it does not look like they are going to go way higher (other than minor growth that would be a wash after currency inflation), unless they have special provenance.

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    It’s tough to judge value in cars..especially with Front Wheel Drive vehicles. Look at the Shelby Charger and the GLHS. It is hard to find an example that sold for anything above it’s value adjusted for inflation. This fine example of a GLHS only sold for $7600.
    http://tinyurl.com/hed78n5
    If Shelby’s name can’t add value what can? I just don’t see the rabid enthusiasm and demand for FWD cars that see from RWD cars. I agree, I would have thought the Aerocoupe would have sell for more but it hasn’t. In 1993, I wanted to buy a BMW 2002 for $2500 but I couldn’t scrape enough money to together. If I had bought it might be worth over 20 grand today..after I put in about 17 grand to maintain it.

  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    “But it’s not much money at all for a future Barrett-Jackson superstar.’

    Comment deleted after thoughtful consideration. There is no predicting taste. People lust after the unattainable from their youth. There might be a handful of people who thought a tarted up 80s Daytona, a barely more than rebadged Simca, or even a rental grade 90s econobox with Konis snuck through the cost engineering phase were the cat’s meow when they were 17.

    I’m stupid in my own way: wagons and fragile-as-a-graham-cracker BMWs.

  • avatar
    monkeydelmagico

    barrett superstar? No

    Will it sell for decent money if stored away for 20ish years? Yes

    If history is any indication GLH and early 80’s Shelby chargers in pristine, low mile, unmolested condition are getting high teens/low 20’s at auction.

    ROI on this one is questionable unless you have a big free barn and really need to fill it. If so, I can think of better cars for $7,500.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    That Neon will appreciate about as much as an Omni GLH. It has not cachet. No status. It never was an aspirational vehicle. It was based on a platform and a vehicle that was considered disposable.

    Your trying to compare it to a Superbird is delusional. Although they did not sell well new, they soon developed a devoted following and within a few years were sought after and protected. Know of at least 2 that spent decades from the early 70’s on, garaged and under covers as an ‘investment’. And their owners were correct.

    People spend big money on cars, when they reach ‘a certain age’. And they want the car that they lusted after in their youth. Don’t know of too many who lusted after 4 door Neons, no matter how rare or how quick.

    And I speak as someone who has lost a retirements worth of money on vehicles. Made money on one. When I flipped a 1959 one owner Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible in 24 hours. I sold it for less than 10% of what it would have sold for 25 years later. But I was happy, I used the money to buy the rarest of beasts a brand new Corvette Stingray, in metallic green with a 4-speed.

    My recommendation for undervalued cars that will appreciate. Original AMX’s a 1960’s American muscle car that actually has some handling capabilities.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I suppose this hinges on there being a cohort in 20-30 years who has huge reserves of expendable income, and want nothing more than a really fast Neon. Except, if I’m grossly stereotyping, how many people who owned or wanted an SRT4 a decade ago have likely moved onto a Raptor or Cummins Ram or something?

  • avatar
    Meat

    I sold my MkV GTI after spending far too much $ and effort into making it a trackday scholar and daily driver doofus. Welded-in 6-pt cage, fixed-back Sparcos, 6-pt harnesses, PSS9’s, squeaky brakes, loud stripped interior, etc. I miss that car and it won’t shock me if a clean one with low miles can score $20k+ in a short while. I’d almost be willing to pay that. As far as the “fast” figurine? I still have him on my desk.

  • avatar
    Longshanks Hammer

    Vanity plays a big role in the collector market. Cars that make late middle age guys look good tend to do well in the collector market. The racy compacts are a lot of fun so they will always be desirable but guys past a certain age will feel a lack of status driving a somewhat tinny, buzzy, compact economy car. It will be interesting to see what is desirable to wealthy folks in the future.

  • avatar
    Dr.Nick

    I would put the Neon SRT well behind the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Evo in the future auction sweepstakes. Now if the bottom falls out of Nissan GT-R pricing at some point in the future…..

    Personally, if I felt like playing around, I think trying to pick up a good OG Acura NSX for less than $40k or so will pay off in the future.

  • avatar
    IwantmyEXP

    Excellent article! In regards to the Hemingway comment, I encourage the publication of “The Old Man and the SRT”:
    “A man is never lost in an SRT”

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    I just bought a fully loaded facelift Z4 Coupe for 23k… it is made to look like the never-built Alpina variant. (they only built Roadsters) I love it, the silly 19″ wheels, the dead steering and the meaningless Sport button. I _think_ I made a good investment, I don’t intend to track it, just need it to do weekend duty. I’ll comment in 10 years how this turned out :)


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