The 10 cars most likely to become coveted collectibles

Cars

Classic car collecting can be an especially satisfying means with which to invest one’s money—after all, stocks, bonds and gold ingots can’t be taken out and driven on the open road on a sunny summer’s day.
Hagerty says its Bull Market picks from the past six years have all outperformed the market. JAMES LIPMAN

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the riskier avenues for appreciation, with only a slim number of highly desired collectibles going under the hammer for big bucks at vintage car auctions.

While vintage Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches from just about any era will almost always command top dollar (in excellent condition), you don’t necessarily need to have a huge wad of cash sitting in a dresser drawer to get some skin in the game.

Modern, yet still coveted rides from the 1980s, 1990s and even the early 2000s are gaining traction among collectors.

But where to begin? Experts suggest a novice start out by finding a vintage car he or she simply likes best, rather than one that might show the greatest likelihood of turning a quick profit.

Pursue an enjoyable model that won’t break the bank, whether it’s a 1950s Ford pickup truck, a low-slung Triumph sports car from the 1960s or a 1970s Jeep Grand Wagoneer SUV.

As with conventional investments, it helps to have a learned expert on whom to lean.

In this case, that would be the prognosticators at classic car insurer Hagerty, which just released its annual “Bull Market” list of appealing autos that show the greatest potential to appreciate in value—or at least hold onto it—down the road.

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It’s based on exhaustive research and data culled from private sales and auctions, price guides, owner demographics and import/export numbers.

What’s the potential here, one may ask? Though past performance, as they say, is no proof of future value, Hagerty says its Bull Market picks from the past six years (62 models) have all outperformed the market.

As in the past, Hagerty’s Bull Market roundup for 2024 contains some classic rides that are beyond the reach of most shoppers as well as those that remain reasonably affordable, with the proverbial sky being the limit either way in terms of appreciation.

I’m featuring the 2024 list with my own commentary below.

For maximum value and investment potential, experts advise anyone entering the market look for a model that’s in the best mechanical and cosmetic shape possible, and have it verified by a trusted mechanic who’s familiar with older cars.

Buy only from a reputable source and eschew entering into a transaction sight unseen, especially via a listing on eBay, Craigslist or other outlet where fraud can be easily perpetrated.

Make sure any classic ride under consideration is well documented, with proven provenance (its history, in Antiques Roadshow lingo) being critical.

Look for a direct paper trail that starts with the automaker and ends with the current owner, and ideally includes the original window sticker, sales contract, the owner’s manual and other paperwork that came with the car, along with copies of titles and bills of sale.

Always research the manufacturer’s production figures for a specific vehicle under consideration, with limited numbers being the most potentially profitable down the road. Unless it’s otherwise trashed, having as much original equipment as possible is best.

Likewise, the fewer original miles registered on the odometer, the better.

And avoid the temptation to acquire a “handyman’s special” that’s in need of a full restoration with the hope that it will command big profits once the vehicle is renewed.

The process could take several years and many thousands of dollars to complete, even with an owner doing much of the work themselves. Parts may become difficult, if not impossible to come by, and there’s a chance it will never see paved roads again.

Here’s a look at the 10 models that make up Hagerty’s 2024 Hot List of collectible cars to buy and hold now, with my exclusive commentary included. They’re ranked according to Hagerty’s estimated transaction prices (assuming excellent condition) from high to low.

1989 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary ($612,500 – $770,000)
Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary JAMES LIPMAN

Commanding prices unobtainable to only those having the deepest pockets, this ultra-desirable edition of Lamborghini’s classically low-slung wedge-shaped Countach in immaculate condition would seem to be a sure thing.

Not only does it embody the brazen styling trends of the 1980’s, it’s slim original production numbers combined with a dearth of immaculately preserved examples leverages the law of supply and demand to the max.

2011-2016 Ferrari FF ($143,000 – $177,000)
Ferrari FF JAMES LIPMAN

Aside from its molto bella Italian styling and performance capabilities, the Ferrari FF is best known as the first grand touring car to wear the prancing-horse badge that’s good on snow and ice, thanks to its all-wheel drive system.

It also deviated from the brand’s norm by carrying four passengers instead of two and featuring a “shooting brake” hatchback-roofed profile. A ferocious Ferrari V12 engine seals the deal.

1946-1950 Chrysler Town & Country ($81,400 – $144,000)
Chrysler Town & Country CAMERON NEVEU

No, this is not the pioneering minivan that would come a few decades later, but rather one of the popular “woody” station wagons trimmed in bona fide lumber that became status symbols during the post-war era, and the rides of choice among West Coast surfers much later.

2008-2013 BMW M3 ($51,600 – $65,800)
BMW M3 JAMES LIPMAN

M-designated models are BMW’s highest expressions of performance, and while it’s hard to pick a lemon among the bunch, the M3 from this era is especially desirable among collectors.

It packed bona fide V8 muscle and a plethora of enhancements that included a weight-saving carbon fiber roof and an adjustable rear differential. Hagerty says this generation M3 has already appreciated in value by an average of 34%.

1997-1999 Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution ($50,000 – $70,000)
Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution JAMES LIPMAN

Now available in the U.S. following the requisite 25-year import restriction, the Pajero Evolution was sold elsewhere in the world and was created in the wake of Mitsubishi’s dominance in the famed Paris-to-Dakar rally.

Originally built in limited numbers, Hagerty says it’s highly sought after by those interested in Japanese automotive esoterica.

1964-1966 Ford Thunderbird ($41,300 – $56,400)
Ford Thunderbird JAMES LIPMAN

The fourth-generation T-Bird is spawned from the space age with its sharp-edged styling in hardtop, convertible, and landau versions with then-pioneering sequential turn signals at the rear. Tuned on the softer side it nonetheless packed a quick 300-horsepower V8 engine.

1981-1986 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler ($41,400 – $52,600)
Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler JAMES LIPMAN

The current Jeep Renegade is not the first pickup truck variant to be derived from the original World War II troop transport vehicle.

The Scrambler was a long-wheelbase version of the CJ (later, Wrangler), with a short cargo bed and removable half cab that could make it literally look like an open box on wheels. Hagerty says it’s rising in value due to its matchless history, rarity and off-road ruggedness.

1997-2002 Plymouth Prowler ($34,800 – $45,500)
Plymouth Prowler JAMES LIPMAN

Perhaps the ultimate retro ride, the short-lived Plymouth Prowler looked the part of a modern-day 1950’s hot rod, with exposed front wheels and suspension, a retractable cloth top and gobs of curb appeal. Unfortunately, the car’s performance did not live up to its promise.

While originally created with Baby Boomers in mind, Hagerty says Prowlers are becoming especially appealing to the Gen-Xers who supplanted them.

1965-1970 Chevrolet Impala SS ($30,100 – $44,500)
Chevrolet Impala SS 427 JAMES LIPMAN

For any car buffs of a certain age, Chevy SS models packing oversized engines and other enhancements were the models to beat during the Golden Age of Detroit Muscle Cars.

The fourth-generation Chevrolet Impala was a top seller for its time, with its SS guise being especially desirable then as now with V8 power and relatively uncluttered styling, with hardtop models often capped by vinyl-covered roofs.

2000-2005 Jaguar XKR ($26,700 – $38,900)
Jaguar XKR CAMERON NEVEU

The essence of British luxury and performance, this new-millennium Jaguar, from back from when the brand was owned by Ford, was fitted with a supercharged V8 engine in coupe and convertible body styles.

Though the XKR remains outclassed by grand tourers from its fellow Brit, Aston martin, Hagerty says it’s gaining popularity these days among younger collectors.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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