Piston Slap: Modern Sleeper, Future Classic?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap modern sleeper future classic
TTAC Commentator Halftruth writes:

Hey Sajeev,

While watching the Mecum auto auctions recently, a beautiful Plymouth GTX came thru on the auction block. It got me thinking about the rash of brand-icide we’ve seen these past ten or so years. As they pass, others come in.

So my question is, are the newbies up to the task? I know Olds, Pontiac and Plymouth kind of slid into oblivion after the glory days but will there be a newly minted brand that you think will have staying power and be a “classic”? Or perhaps an already existing one?

Sajeev answers:

History is a bizarre thing: when my 1988 Cougar was new, it was quite the head turner. One person tangentially connected to our family was enamored with it. But, 10 years ago, nobody understood why I was pumping thousands into its resto-modification treatment. Why not do it to a Fox Mustang? It’s easier! Why not get an LT-1 Camaro instead? That’s a waaay better car, right?

But these days I drive the Cougar on the highway and necks snap to witness its sleek, quasi-aero 1980s monochrome red coachwork. Drunk guys at local bars yell out “COOOUGAR” when it rumbles out of the parking lot: as if somehow it knows Courtney Cox, etc. I like my damn car for my reasons…but I see how cars become moderately-desirable classics with inherent, unexpected future value.

Am I expecting the Cougar to be somewhat valuable 20 years from now? No, and I don’t care either. Ferrari, Corvette, Lamborghini, Mustang, Ford GT, Camaro, Viper, etc. They are the obvious future classics.

So here are some forgotten models from modern brands that I think will, unlike my Cougar, be hot auction fodder:

  1. Acura Integra: A fantastic machine in every respect, with a cult following. Definitely a car that will shine on in the auctions of the future. And if it’s a Type R? LOOK OUT!
  2. Subaru WRX/Mitsubishi EVO: these turbo-beasties will be great collector car fodder, and rare too! How often do you see a 5+ year old model that’s clean, low mile, UNMODIFIED in the used car market right now?
  3. V-series Cadillacs: they are the spiritual successor to the performance Pontiacs from the 60s and 70s. While an STS-V may be valuable like those Gran Prixs with the 8-lug wheels, the CTS-V is most certainly the next GTO Judge.
  4. Lexus Coupes, V8 sedans: See above, except change the Pontiac reference to Cadillac. The SC ad LS have a loyal following both in new and used car markets for their top drawer appointments and reputation for being the best of the best. That won’t change in the future, especially for the SC 300/400.
  5. Anything Hyundai Genesis: they look decent, are RWD, and have a chance to really make an impact to those displaced by Pontiac, Olds, Plymouth, Mercury, Lincoln, Cadillac, etc. Like Apple products’ mass appeal these days, they will get better as time marches on.
  6. Scion xB (first-gen) and FR-S: even if it doesn’t live up to the hype for you, these will be a hot commodity.
  7. Teslas, Fiskers: these proto-mainstream hybrid playtoys for rich people point to a future when Hybrids are more than just a trim job on a Lexus, or a boring Prius. Think about the star-crossed DeLorean’s appeal these days.
  8. Honda Civic CRX, Si: while all CRXs are cool, I’m referring only to the Si’s from 1990s. It’s hard to argue with their mass appeal and silly amounts of driving fun. Everyone loves them, and we never forgot their awesomeness.
  9. Any SRT/SVT product: collectors tend to wet themselves at the sight of a bone-stock, low mile, HEMI from the 70s these days. Expect the same from the SRT brand in the future. Ford’s SVT group will do the same, Focus and Contour aside.
  10. Toyota Supra, Mk IV: the positively heroic amounts of power made from tweaked Turbo Supras made this machine a God among men. Even clean non-turbo models fetch good money these days, and that will continue.
  11. 2013 Lincoln MKZ: just kidding. The Kia Optima has a better chance at being a collector’s item!
  12. Nissan GT-R: this will be the matching numbers, L-88 Corvette for the next generation.
  13. Lexus LFA: see above, except change L-88 to ZL-l.
  14. Anything HUMMER: yes, it’s already a dead brand, but SUVs will do well in the collector car market of our future. And there’s no better SUV statement than the Hummer H2 Alpha, especially in douchebag yellow.
  15. Any BMW M product: Most every M3 will command a high dollar in tommorow’s import centric collector car market. Who hasn’t loved driving one? Who wouldn’t want one when they have more disposable income? My favorite will be the E39 M5.
  16. Anything AMG: see above.
  17. Anything AMG Black Series: see above, and multiply by 5.
  18. Porsche Boxster/Cayman: they sell many more Porkers these days…which makes for a bigger following. Maybe not muscle car big, but you get the point. And with a more accessible market today comes a hotter collector market in the future.
  19. Mercury Marauder, anything Panther: okay, this is total bullshit. But if I say “PANTHER LOVE” enough for the next 30 years…right???
Food for thought. Have a great Christmas Day!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 52 comments
  • Weneversleep Weneversleep on Jan 02, 2013

    I know you said that the Corvette is obvious, but I'm still going to throw this one in there: C4 ZR-1. (yes, it has the hyphen) In my opinion, woefully undervalued right now, at its value bottom, and set to increase in value dramatically over the next 10-20 years. I'm thinking about putting my money where my mouth is and storing a good low mileage one.

  • Msquare Msquare on Jan 04, 2013

    Mid-1990's Impala SS's were collectible right out of the showroom. They've held their resale value from Day 1, like the late Buick Grand Nationals. One thing that gave the muscle cars a boost was the Malaise Era and the slow, sluggish heaps it spawned. It was the first era where the cars were inferior in many ways to their predecessors and kept getting worse every year. Even the Ferrari 308 GTS with its Magnum provenance is a dog in the market these days, especially when a V6 Camcord can smoke it. Same for Rolls-Royces and Bentleys save the Turbo R. A Silver Spirit may have been more expensive than a Mercedes S-class but was a vastly inferior car. Current Ferraris and Lamborghinis will have no problem in the market of the future. The latest Rollers and Bentleys will be fine as well, because they're once again something special. Corvettes? C4 ZR-1's and Grand Sports, C5 and C6 Z06's and the current ZR-1's should be safe bets. And of course, a well-kept standard car should hold its value well, as they always have. It's hard to predict what's going to be a hit especially when you see even standard 1960's cars in top condition commanding premium prices. A 1970 Chevelle SS LS-6 may be out of reach but a 350 Malibu hardtop of the same vintage ain't cheap, either. Sometimes a car has value because it's old and still runs.

  • YellowDuck Thank goodness neither one had their feet up on the dash....
  • Zerofoo I learned a long time ago to never buy a heavily modified vehicle. Far too many people lack the necessary mechanical engineering skills to know when they've screwed something up.
  • Zerofoo I was part of this industry during my college years. We built many, many cars for "street pharmacists" that sounded like this.Excessive car audio systems are kind of like 800 HP engines. Completely unnecessary, but a hell of a lot of fun.
  • DedBull In it to win it!
  • Wolfwagen IIRC I remember reading somewhere that the Porsche Cayenne was supposed to have a small gasoline-powered block heater. There was a loop in the cooling system that ran to the heater and when the temperature got to a certain point (0°C)the vehicle's control unit would activate the heater. I dont know if this was a concept or if it ever made it into production.