By on December 28, 2016

1973 Ford Bronco

Investing in the classic car market is like investing in the stock market. The biggest difference is that, when you buy a car, you actually have something to enjoy, regardless of whether you accrue wealth. However, negotiating the minefield of vintage automobiles can be treacherous and an investor can use all the help available to them — especially now that Baby Boomers don’t dictate the entirety of the marketplace.

Hagerty, an authority on classic car valuations and insurance, has offered some guidance for the best classic cars to buy next year. The list fixates on cars it believes to be strong investments in terms of value growth while remaining pleasurable to own. So, if you’re planning on placing your retirement on rolling rubber or just want to test the waters without spending a lot of money, these are cars to consider. 

Used C5 Corvettes have maintained flat pricing over the last two years, meaning that deprecation has ended and the car is about to start earning you money. While you can still snag a C4 for roughly the same price, 1997-2004 Vettes are inarguably better built machines. Superior performers in every respect, the C5s come with the all-aluminum LS motor that everyone and their grandmother has tried to swap into their project car. An LS1 mated to a Borg-Warner T-56 6-speed transmission will likely appreciate better than the 4-speed automatic variants. However, the torque converter will save you roughly ten percent on the $15,000 average C5 price tag. Expect to lay down much more for higher trims and later model years.

Speaking of American supercars, Dodge Vipers are also becoming quite collectible, and third generation snakes are at the profitability tipping point. 2003 SRT-10s are available at under $40,000, while cars from only a few years earlier can easily set you back another ten to twenty grand.

Hagerty suggests that collectors take a look at some of Mopar’s other famous ilk, too. When the “financial flexibility” of Boomers took a hit in 2008, muscle car prices took one right to the groin. Still unrecovered, you can pick up some of the most sought-after vintage American iron for a lot less than before. Good condition 1971-1972 Dodge Challengers can be had for $18,300 with a mid-range 318-cubic-inch V8. 1968-1970 Dodge Chargers are also on the rise. Modest examples can be found for $26,100, with the expectation that the value should only increase over the coming years. Base models with automatic transmissions should drive that price, and overall desirability, down. Similarly, anything original with an R/T badge or the right paint scheme can dramatically raise a vehicle’s value.

However, if you have gobs of money to spend and are a Mopar loyalist, why not invest $233,000 into a 1970 Plymouth Superbird? While they can be found for less, spending more for a pristine and complete unit will save you from hunting for expensive rare parts and place you in a better position once you decide to auction it off. Classic Chryslers, Dodges, and Plymouths are all appreciating more swiftly than the other domestic badges and this is one example you might be able to flip for a colossal profit in only a few years.

While Hagerty recommended a 2003 Ferrari Enzo as a confident investment worth making, I’m going to wager you don’t have the $2.3 million required for a low-volume European hypercar. Instead, might I suggest the much more reasonable 2000-2006 BMW M3? Bavarian M cars always hold their value with a certain crowd and E46 M3 coupes are at the bottom of their pricing scale. It’s safe to assume they will only increase in value in the years to come.

Thanks to decades of hooning and its resulting fame, twin-turbo MkIV Toyota Supras are set up to become one of the most explosively valuable cars money can buy. For a certain age group, 1993-1998 Supra turbos were car culture royalty during their formative years — guaranteeing the model’s future desirability. However, the Supra’s prominent role as a tuner car also endangers its very existence. Videos featuring 800 to 1000-horsepower over-boosted Supras are common, meaning that good condition cars are not. That rarity indicates the current $40,000 asking price will only shoot upward as more cars are destroyed.

Possibly the smartest buy on Hagerty’s list is the 1966-1977 Ford Bronco. Considering that younger buyers are driving the used market for even mediocre SUVs from the 1980s, snagging a genuine classic that also appeals specifically to Millennials and Generation X isn’t a terrible idea. Bronco values have been creeping up steadily for the last few years but can still be purchased for under $20,000.

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73 Comments on “Classic Cars to Purchase and Hang Onto in 2017...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Like a house doesn’t rot fast enough.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The C5 is so lame looking compared to the C4 or F-body though.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    The examples cited are probably good investments but when it comes to newer cars, if it’s marketed as a FUTURE collector car, too many will be mothballed or treated as a collector car from day one to make good examples rare enough to appreciate or even hold their value.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    There are already a ton of c5 z06s that are sky high. Of course you can probably snag a deal here and there but you can tell people are comfortable sitting on their c5.

    Aged 4runners and land cruisers are all the rage but still attainable if you’re willing to patch it up.

    Agree on the M3 coupes. I think anything E46 and older is as sure a bet as you can get.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I completely fail to get the C5 love-fest.

      The C7 Stingrays is so far an advance over the C5 (or C6) Vette that it’s literally as if the C7 Stingrays was produced by a competent, advanced, wuality- and performance-focused truly different manufacturer than the old-GM that produced the C5 and C6.

      Just the interior, alone, is a decade better in every way in the C7, and the improvements don’t stop there.

      • 0 avatar
        jrhmobile

        $55-80K > $15-20K. I can’t express it any more simply …

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        Do you really think collector cars are about ability and interiors? They’re usually about what you really wanted but were denied when you were 20. Or on the super-high-end, it’s about buying investment grade art.

        • 0 avatar
          Paragon

          Agreed. Maybe even when you were 16-18. Or maybe you were 30-40-something if you were married with children.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          MrIcky, what 20 year old wanted a C5 Corvette in 1996-2004? For that generation, start by looking at the cars that appeared in The Fast and the Furious like the Toyota Supra. Other possibilities for that age range of collector include the Acura NSX and BMW 3 series coupes.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I did, as did most of my buddies. When I watched Fast and the Furious, We groaned at the dressed up FWD cars on rubber band street tires with 200 lb worth of stereo equipment in the back, and wondered when a stock C5 Z06 was going to come along and waste them. Lingenfelter Vettes were the pinnacle of street car performance to us, and our favorite car video was of a modded C5 showing its taillights to a modded Talon TSI whose passenger claimed they’d “rip (him) out of the hole” only to find that the C5 “pulled like a raped ape”. They were respectful and appreciative of the C5 driver. Definitely young car guys rather than just show-offs with rich parents.

            The NSX, 3-series, and Supra were certainly desirable as well. The more attainable cars we desired were things like F-bodies, 5.0 Mustangs, and AWD Talon TSIs.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            I think you are projecting your own wants on to the rest of the world. The cars you like can be collector cars too. I don’t know where you’re from but in middle America, there are a LOT of Corvette fans of all ages.

      • 0 avatar
        Trucky McTruckface

        To my eye, the C5 hasn’t aged well. The styling that seemed fresh in 1997 was really just another riff on past Vettes and period GM cheapness lurks throughout.

        I’d rather have a C4, honestly. Either a ZR-1 or a ’96 with the LT-4.

      • 0 avatar

        The new C7 is bigger, weighs more, and doesn’t perform appreciably better. The C5 Z06 is still a competitive autocross car, to this day, with much newer stuff. At 1/3 the price.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Using internet dollars C7, but I can get an extra clean later C6 for 30Kish or less. The C5 is too old at this point to not go C6, C4 is a whole other (but valid) argument IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Yeah, but the C7 suffers from the ugliest styling of any Corvette in history. The rear end of the C7 makes me dry heave every time I see one.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    So you guys decided to piggy back off another website’s content, but couldn’t bother to provide a direct link to the article so we could actually see the complete list? I had to dig through Hagerty’s website to find the referenced piece.

    I get that this is the slowest, laziest week of the year for most of us, but this is bush league work.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      If you don’t like the content here, why do you continue to read it?

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      The information was not provided through Hagerty’s website via any specific article. The company was good enough to share the list with the automotive press directly.

      I get that this is the slowest, laziest week of the year for most of us, but this is a bush league comment.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I can’t stand vinyl roofs on older muscle cars. That old Mopar would look so much better/cleaner with paint on the roof. Tear that $hit off!

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      so you want to make it worth less for your personal sense of aesthetics. got it.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        Well duh, of course I wouldn’t change something to meet my personal tastes if it meant de-valuing a rare expensive car.

        That car in the photo may be nothing all that special anyways, who knows.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Most 68-70 Chargers came with vinyl roofs. The one on my very first car (a red ’69 with a mighty 2-bbl 318 and an A904 slushbox) had a white vinyl roof that I never could get completely clean.

      I marvel at what people pay for these cars these days. I don’t get it. And, no, a bigger engine would not have made up for the horror that was the electrical system. I still think it’s the prettiest Mopar of all time, but I have no desire to own one again.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Its all about reliving the glory years when you couldn’t afford them.

        I suppose in most instances people would go for a lightly resto-modded car. Original to the eye but with significant improvements under the skin.

        A quality aftermarket electrical system is probably light years ahead of the original factory stuff so its not a negative to the value of the car except for the concurs guys who go in for NOS parts and paint marks even where you cant see them.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          As for the resto-mod thing, I’d go all the way: aftermarket chassis, modern hemi, custom interior, the whole nine yards. The problem is that, having done all that, as you’ve mentioned, you’ve ruined the classic value of the car, so it had better be exactly what you want as you will never get your money back out of it.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            better candidates for resto-mods are the lower-spec versions, e.g. the non-500 or non-R/T Chargers with 318s or Slant 6s.

            though I’d be wary that even fewer of those are available, having been junked.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          “Its all about reliving the glory years when you couldn’t afford them.”

          Never meet your heroes.

    • 0 avatar
      namesakeone

      As you probably know, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird came standard with a vinyl top. It was there to hide the welding seams that came from changing the standard Plymouth Road Runner roof to the fastback of the Charger 500.

      • 0 avatar
        BigOldChryslers

        The ’69 Charger 500 had a welded-in flush-fit rear window area for aerodynamics, but IIRC the Superbird was even more cheaply done than just not bothering to fill in the seam. They made a fiberglass plug to reshape the rear window area, riveted it to the existing body and covered the whole thing with the vinyl top.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Looking over their list there is nothing I’d be interested in. I’m not going to enjoy driving them or working on them. My point is to buy what you like, not what you might make money on.

  • avatar

    I can’t fathom why someone would buy a car just because it’s likely to go up in value. Any car will go up in value, if it’s old and rare enough. An early 70’s Plymouth Duster in fair condition, which was worth $300-400 when I was in high school, will set you back 10 times that much now. But other than a guy who also hoards LeBarons, who wants to “collect” a Duster?

    Buy what you love, take care of it, and appreciate it. It will appreciate you back by going up in value.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      It’s crazy what garden-variety grocery-getters from the 1960s and 1970s will fetch these days. I can remember when something like a Plymouth Valiant, Chevy Corvair, or Rambler American would be a $50 or $100 beater.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        Hell, I bought a ’69 Mach I Mustang for $400 in ’77. It was missing its front valance, had a red drivers door and passenger fender (which stood out against the Highland Green of the car). But it had a decent interior, a 351 and a top-loader. I was nearly broke, living on a buddies couch and used the car to move to Boston to re-start my life. It served me well for about a year until the cam chain went. I traded it for a ’71 Challenger with a 440 that had no transmission. A few months later the guy who I traded with traded me a ’70 GT6+ straight up for the Challenger. It had the benefit of being a runner.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      I never buy cars as investments, so I don’t expect them to go up in value. But some people are collecting cars as investments that they can also enjoy owning, whether they are garage queens that are intended to be looked at or the occasional driver that sees weekend runs every so often. Nothing wrong with that. Considering the fact that 99.99% of us eat the depreciation of our cars, I can see the appeal to buying something that may actually go up in value over time.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Value being flat for a few years doesn’t mean a lot. I could sell my ’06 GTO for what I paid for it back in 2012 with 13k more miles on it. I got it for what I felt was a good price then. I might even be able to make a few bucks now but it’s definitely not reached collector car status.

    It has all the makings of one though. It is still the cheapest stock 400hp you can buy. Plus I definitely think its design has held up better than the retro cars from the same period – despite some people thinking it looks like a Cavalier. Combine that with the fact that so many of them that have been wrecked have been scrapped because of parts prices, they are destined to be rare eventually.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    My wife really likes the 2006-2010 Chargers and wants to get one for her next car in a couple years.

    I think I’m going to try to convince her the SRT8 is the one to get – from what I’ve read they are actually pretty reliable with the 6.1L engine and I think if it stays in the family it will hold its value and eventually be very desirable.

    Harsh ride and excessive noise might turn her away, but we’ll see if she can take one for a test drive.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    $20,000 for a 1966-1977 Ford Bronco? Wow. They are hard to find stock. Most I see have had the back wheel wells opened up with a Sawzall.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Collectors just ruin it for everyone. I’d gladly take another non-R/T ’70 Charger. B3 Blue with a black top, and a column shifter. Non-matching 440 that replaced the original 318. Not worth much to a collector, other than it being a beautiful and irreplaceable Charger, but it sure was fun to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      The fate of all old cars. You get collectors involved looking to turn a buck in combination with a bunch or old drunk rich guys and kiss affordable old cars good bye.

      The irony starts when you visit the a cruise-in and they are standing around cars costing mid fifties to the high nineties or more and they complain its nothing but a see of old farts with no new blood and the car hobby is dying.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1092819_plymouth-hemi-cuda-convertible-hits-3-5-million-at-mecum-auction

      words fail me. this car will spend the rest of its existence inside climate-controlled warehouses and trailers.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      Now that the supply of restorable authentic muscle cars has pretty much dried-up, even well done “tribute” or clone cars are bringing in pretty big bucks.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    No car will match a mid-cap mutual fund earning compound interest at 10% per year unless you buy the exact right car at the at the exact right time. Good freaking luck. Buy a good value that you enjoy driving and invest the rest in the fund.

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    Classic cars are a poor investment. They are subject to the whims of the marketplace and, like any other collectable, buyers seldom want to pay what sellers think they are worth.

    But Bloomberg says it better than I can: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-14/stop-kidding-yourself-a-classic-car-is-almost-never-a-good-investment

    Now, if someone is looking to go out and buy something fast and fun to scratch their own personal itch, more power to them. If that’s the case, then lists like this are useful tools for dreamers who hope to have their cake and eat it too…

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    It seems that the huge tipping point for American cars is 1973. Before 1973, almost everything is a collectible; after 1973, almost nothing is.

    I know what happened in 1973–the first fuel crisis, the first bumper laws–but it would seem that the collector car world would have caught up by now.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      And can any car with vinyl bumper moldings be a serious collectible?

      Look how China!

      alibaba.com/product-detail/AUTO-PART-FRONT-BUMPER-FOR-BMW_622595414.html

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Damn, $800 per unit for knock-off unfinished stamped polyethylene bumper covers wholesale with minimum 10 orders and people are worried about the Chinese being more cost effective at manufacturing?

        Polyethylene happens to work very well with 3d printing, so it will be interesting to see how things evolve.

        Going back to the original comment: Cars since the mid-1990s have been better than anything made pre-1973 in every objective way, but boomers with fond memories have the money and the old cars have the supply constraints.

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    A part of me wishes that to own a classic car, you’d have to drive it a minimum number of miles per year–use it or lose it.

    The trouble with “investment” cars is that they stop being cars and become stationary art objects. And then what’s the point? If you want a sculpture, the place to shop is an art gallery.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      in an alternate universe where I had Bill Gates-level f***-you money, I’d buy one of those $3 million Hemi ‘Cudas at an auction, then watch people’s faces as I *drive away in it.*

    • 0 avatar

      fishiftstick: JimZ said it well. I was looking at a restored Charger – don’t remember what year (probably early 70’s as I used to own a 72) – that was around 18K. I considered buying it and using it as a DD. I can just imagine the outrage of some folks who would do just as you mention – put it climate control and never drive it again. Of course I would take good care of it, but I would drive the thing because, after all, that’s what it was made for.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      My Mustang is in great shape but it’s not a show car. Some people wonder why I drive it, but that’s why I have it. Drove it today on a 250 mile trip.

  • avatar
    TAP

    1973 also meant stricter emission controls which ruined power and driveability.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    When you pay six figures (or more!) for an old car primarily as an investment, most owners probably aren’t going to actually enjoy it much except for looking at it in the garage. You’re going to be extra worried about wear and tear because there’s a big value drop from #1 to #2 condition.

    I like old cars I can actually enjoy driving. I’d also like to be able to make mechanical modifications without worrying about hurting the value too much.

    I’m waiting for the extreme far end of the curve, when all the old guys that are into 50’s cars to die off, so I can hopefully pick up something with big fins for relatively cheap. A ’56 DeSoto or a ’61 New Yorker coupe would be nice.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Not yet a classic, but I sure do regret not buying that BMW 1M couple that I had my eye on in 2011. Why the regret? Have you seen the market for those things? Only sold for one year in the U.S. and highly desirable, you could literally have paid MSRP for one in 2011, drove it for three or four years, and then sold it for the same money you paid for it new. I even heard some reports of owners with low-mileage cars selling them for a higher price than they paid when new.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The price of clean, original and low miles, 1st gen MR2s has to on the rise. I haven’t looked lately, but if not, more awesome! At the time they were new, I guess we figured affordable/reliable 2 seater, mid-engine, sporty compacts would always be around and widely available. It made perfect sense to me.

    Back then, I wasn’t denied one, at least until mine was stolen and never found. Then the next opportunity to own one never happened, so I had to move one. But in a few years I’ll be looking for a super fine example. I’ll pay whatever it takes!

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Toyota 4Runner first and second generation. They ‘re already going up around here, I’ve seen 1995-98 models asking $18,000CAD.

  • avatar

    I would imagine there’s at least some depreciation or depreciation relative to rate of inflation for a great many of the classic cars out there. It’s for morbid and economic reasons: Boomers are leaving driving age or passing away, and the millennials are still struggling.

    I can’t speak for truly rare rides, but I think common metal, like 65′ mustangs, will suffer as an investment, especially over the next ten to twenty years, as the market is flooded by relatives looking to unload those dream cars boomers left them.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    “Used C5 Corvettes … deprecation has ended…”

    Does that mean I am no longer allowed to say that the C5 sucked?

  • avatar
    bultaco

    Vettes have been the chariot of the Viagra set since the late C-3 era. I have literally NEVER seen anyone under about 40 driving a Vette. I’m sure younger people drove them all the time before the malaise era turned them into personal luxury cars. When the performance came back with the C4, they had become so expensive that old guys were the only people who both wanted one, and could afford one.

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