2022's Top 5 Future ICE Age Classics (Plus 1 Bonus Pick)
Just about every automaker has committed itself to going “all-electric” at some point in the next decade, and whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it means that the internal combustion engine (“ICE”, for the purposes of this article) is dead tech walking. Death and discontinuation are usually one-way tickets to the scrap heap for cars – but some cars are different. Some cars are special, and being made rare or obsolete just makes them more appealing.
The Great Jack Baruth once called this The Grand National Problem, and I think there are a few ICE cars out there that will be more appealing to car guys and gals than others in 20- or 30-years’ time. As such, I’ve taken some time to look at the automotive class of 2022 and pick my 5 future ICE Age Classics. Enjoy!
It’s small, sporty, and stupidly fast with a classic long-hood/short-deck design in a relatively compact package – and there is absolutely zero chance that a well-maintained BMW M2 won’t be a highly sought-after collectible in a few decades’ time.
The car shown, above, is the 2020 BMW M2 CS Racing shown at Circuit of the Americas. Sold as a customer race car for BMW fanatics, it’s the rarest BMW M2 variant and follows Jack’s unwritten written collector car advice, which is: Buy a mechanically durable sporting car from a well-respected manufacturer, in the highest-performance variant you can afford.
In the case of the M2, that’s the CS Racing. And, whether we’re talking 2022 or 2042, I promise it will be a thrill to take one out on a track.
CHEVROLET CORVETTE STINGRAY
Chevy’s first mid-engine production Corvette is also likely to be its last ICE-powered Corvette— or, at least, the last ICE-powered Corvette without a hybrid or electric variant offered alongside it ( and even that isn’t a certainty if the rumors about an upcoming E-Ray are to be believed). That said, as long as there are Corvette people, a V8-powered Corvette will always have its appeal.
Will the C8 ever match the collector car status of that first split-window ’63 Stingray? Probably not in 20 years … but in 30? 40? When it’s time to take your grandkid for ice cream, would you really take them in whatever the silent, steady version of an all-electric crossover is when you have one of these lurking in your garage?
F*ck no, you wouldn’t. If you had any kind of soul, you’d strap that kid in, fire up what may be the only V8 engine they’ll ever hear, firing just a few inches behind their heads, give them a little wink, tell them to hang on.
If the C8 Corvette is the last of the great, V8 sportscars, then the recently reborn Ford Bronco is the first of the last wave of ICE-powered off-roaders.
“Why not the Wrangler,” you ask? Simply put: There’s already a plug-in Wrangler, and it’s outselling the gas-only Wranglers so convincingly that you can’t even order an ICE-only Wrangler in some markets, anymore. Jeep— and, frankly, I can’t believe I’m saying this— has moved on.
The Bronco? The latest Bronco tugs on all the right heartstrings, does all the right off-roady things, and absolutely looks the part. If these Broncos aren’t future classics that regularly pull six figures at auction, I’ll eat my own ass. Ed. note – I had no idea you were so flexible.
It doesn’t have the look, to my eyes, but the current generation of Toyota 4Runner may be the last of its kind. 4Runners already have a cult following in some of the overland groups I follow (overlanding – so hot right now!), and I can’t imagine that following get any less cult-y once Toyota axes the 4Runner in favor of some electrified off-road pretender.
Now, I know the Ford Bronco and Toyota 4Runner are pretty similar, conceptually, and you might think I chose two cars competing for the same classic buyer, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think some people love the Marty McFly Toyota pickup, and some people love the OJ-era Bronco, and some people love both, but I don’t think that someone who would drop six figures on the Toyota would do the same for the Bronco, and vice-versa.
I could be wrong, but I think these are two different guys. The Bronco crowd feels (to me) to be more upscale and LL Bean-y, while the 4Runner crowd feels a bit more blue-collar and Carhartt-y. It’s Starbucks vs. Mr. Coffee, and I think each of them will drive up the value of their future classics.
VOLKSWAGEN GTI S
I’m not here to lie to people, so I have to admit that the GTI was not on my radar when I started writing this article. In fact, I’d kind of forgotten the GTI existed – and it’s probably not just me, either. Demand for the Golf has dropped so much in the US that VW doesn’t even offer one anymore, ICE or otherwise.
The good news, though, is that the GTI – especially one fitted with the 6-speed manual – is the one you want. In his review of the car, our own Tim Healey wrote, “The car felt looser, or at least less buttoned-down, than the Golf R, but that’s not necessarily bad. It lent a playful air to the GTI.”
That playful air is going to play well in 20- or 30-years’ time, when all the Rs have been beaten to death by street racers and Tokyo Drift enthusiasts. The GTIs should hold up better and might be collectible enough, on their own, to appeal to a different crowd, anyway. Think of the way the 90s Corrado appeals to people in a different way than the Golf R32. It’s a nuanced thing, but it’s always been the GTI’s thing, and just reading about this has me missing the third-gen Golf I first drove my oldest son home from the hospital in.
Call me a sucker, but I’ll always be a player on a well-kept GTI.
WILD CARD PICK: SUPERFORMACE COBRA
Most of the cars on this list will eventually be regulated out of existence. They’ll make way for something quieter, cleaner, and probably better, if we’re being honest with ourselves. That’s not why they’ll stop building the Superformance Cobra.
No – eventually some high-ranking member of the fun police will get a ride in one of these, smell the unspent gas in the fumes coming out of the side exhausts, feel the rumble of the engine in their chests, and hear absolutely nothing but the scream of the Ford V8 and the shrieks of the tires as they clip and claw for traction. When that happens, this car – and all the cottage industry cars like it – will be banned forever.
Whether you choose the MKIII 427 Cobra, GT40 continuation, or even the modern GR-1, you can’t go wrong. I like to think of myself as a connoisseur, so my choice would be the 289ci MKII FIA. Whatever yours is, you’ll want to get it while you can.
[Images: BMW, Chevrolet/GM, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Superperformance]
Irvingklaws on Mar 11, 2022
In my book GTI peaked with the Mk7. The new models are already tainted with slapped on ipad touch controls and fugly fog lights. Actual switch gear and analog gauges will make earlier versions more desirable to enthusiasts, especially once they've vanished from most vehicles. They won't care so much about actual performance numbers if the associated styling/image ages well.
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