It’s always fun to speculate. Tomorrow’s lottery numbers. Next year’s Stanley Cup winners. Gearheads like us can apply the same type of question to our favourite subject: what will be the next model of car to skyrocket in value?
Classic car insurance giant Hagerty predicts that 2017 will be the year in which the millennial market will surpass the baby-boomer market. As the Playstation generation comes of age and find themselves in adulthood with a bit of disposable cash, cars coveted in pixelated form will likely see an uptick in value. I count myself amongst that demographic and can confirm that even though I’ve never driven (or even seen) an R34 Skyline, I still want one.
Check your bank balances and warm up your MasterCard: we’re about to take a look at what we think are the next big bets in the collector car industry.
At Barrett-Jackson this year, an relatively plain-jane 1989 Mustang LX Hatchback (Lot #400.3) with 638 actual miles sold for a whopping $71,500. It’s original selling price twenty-eight years ago was about $25,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
A limited-edition 1990 Mustang LX Convertible (Lot #400.5), originally created for an ill-fated 7-Up promotion, hammered away to its new owner for a jaw-dropping $82,500. While it is true this particular example still had plastic on the seats and rare promotional 7-Up gear in the trunk, a near six figure price for a Fox-body Mustang is nothing short of remarkable.
1993 – 1995 Mazda RX-7
The Mazda RX-7, with its flowing lines and sinewy curves, is one of the few cars built in the ‘90s that could still pass as a new car today. This rotary-engined delight somehow managed, equipped with two sequential turbochargers, to hew about 260hp from 1.3L of displacement. We’ll gloss over the fact it guzzled fuel like an NHRA Funny Car.
For maximum fun, potential buyers should seek out an example fitted with the five-speed manual, although automatic examples are less common – most 1995’s equipped with the automatic have but single-digit production numbers. After only three years, Mazda ceased bringing the coupe to our market in 1995. Production in Japan continued into the new millennium. One can find clean examples regularly listed around $25,000 , with low-mileage minters recently moving north of thirty grand.
1997 – 1998, 2000 – 2001 Acura Integra Type R
In the ‘90s, Acura’s Integra was the darling of the street racing scene. Lightweight, good looking, and easy to modify, the Integra was extremely popular. In 1997, Acura introduced the limited-edition Type R which was lighter and more powerful than pedestrian versions. At the time, the Integra Type R set the record for the most power per liter (108HP per liter) of a naturally aspirated piston engine ever produced for the US. Trading in the mid-$20,000 price bracket eighteen months ago, prices have increased 50% for well-kept models, as evidenced by a brace of Type R’s selling for top dollar in recent months.
Actual production figures are tough to nail down, but enthusiasts generally accept there were fewer than 4,000 units delivered to the North American market. If you can find one that hasn’t been stolen, hacked up by tuners, or flogged to within an inch of its life, run – don’t walk – to your bank and get the money for it. Watch for shady characters who may attempt to disguise a GS-R as a Type R. Note well: a true Type R will have 5-lug hubs.
1993 – 1998 Toyota Supra
With its sky-high rear wing and baseball-sized taillights, the 1993 Toyota Supra landed on the cover of every car magazine and on the wall of every gearhead’s bedroom. Journalists of the day reported the Supra could hit 60mph in as little as four and a half seconds, continuing on to complete a quarter mile in about thirteen. That’s pretty fast today. Twenty years ago, it was stunning.
This iteration of the Supra was offered in naturally-aspirated and twin-turbo variants, with either a manual or automatic transmission. Fixed roof models are the least common, as most buyers equipped their Supra with the available ‘Sport Roof’ targa option. Citing declining sales, Toyota stopped selling the Supra to Canadians in 1996 and pulled it from the American market two years later. Production continued in Japan until 2002. Cherry, six-speed, twin-turbo examples are currently listed on eBay for eye-watering prices. At this rate, it won’t be long before they start commanding six figures.
1999 – 2003 Honda S2000
At the turn of the millennium, Honda dropped a great handling, high revving, two-seat roadster on the market. Displacing a scant 1997cc, the Japanese convertible cranked out around 240hp and put those ponies to the ground by way of a delicious double-wishbone suspension. After the 2003 model year, the S2000’s grew in displacement to 2.2L, shaving 800rpm off its redline. A shift point of 8,000rpm is nothing to sneeze at but few cars can match the otherworldly scream of a first-generation S2000 tearing its way to a sky-high 8,800rpm redline.
Around 40,000 of the diminutive convertibles reached North American shores and smart collectors will look for any example with a red interior, as those so equipped enjoyed far smaller production numbers than any other model. In terms of raw rarity, a 2003 S2000 painted Silverstone Metallic with a red interior would be the holy grail with only 205 copies finding their way to our shores. Spa Yellow remains my personal favourite colour. Expect to pay around $25,000 for a good example, although logic dictates prices won’t stay that low for very long.
2009 – 2010 Pontiac Solstice Coupe
Curvaceous, alien, and totally impractical, the Pontiac Solstice Coupe arrived just as GM was starting its final march into bankruptcy. How impractical was the Solstice Coupe? Well, if drivers decided to remove the metal targa top with the intent of enjoying al fresco motoring, they would quickly find that there was no place on board to store it. Check the weather forecast before hitting the road, then.
Like the convertible, a 177hp inline-four was the standard motor. Collectors should be on the lookout for the GXP trim, equipped with a 260hp turbocharged four-cylinder and a five-speed manual. In a bizarre twist, the Delaware plant made a dozen Solstice Coupes with model-year 2010 VINs before reverting back to 2009 models. Those 2010s, intended to be GM company vehicles and samples for promotional events, somehow found their way into the general GM fleet and were eventually sent to auction. This makes them not only an interesting footnote in GM history but also an extremely rare car. Convertible examples can be found today with relative ease for less than $20,000 but the Coupes are starting to knock on the door of $30,000.
1994 – 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS
Lord Vader, your car is ready. In the mid-‘90s, Chevy took its whale of a large B-Platform sedan, dipped it in inky-black paint, slipped a retuned LT1 small-block V8 under the hood, and christened it the Impala SS. Essentially a Corvette motor with cast-iron cylinder heads instead of aluminum ones, the big sled was good for 260hp, turning the quarter-mile trick in about fifteen seconds while sounding like Chewbacca on a bad fur day. Values are all over the board but shoppers should expect to pay over $12,000 for a good example.
Production numbers were limited for the first year because, of all things, a shortage of the wheel style Chevy wanted to use on the car. Only 6303 examples were produced for 1994, solely in black. For outright rarity, though, look for a 1995 model painted Dark Grey Green. The Arlington, Texas plant only coughed up 4442 of those, making them the rarest of these full-sized beasts.
1993 – 1995 Ford SVT Lightning
Square, upright, boxy, and generally possessing the aerodynamic properties of a barn door, Ford’s Special Vehicle Team applied their secret sauce to the best-selling F-150. Not content simply to stick a honkin’ big motor under the hood, the team made extensive modifications to the suspension and F-150 frame in order to improve handling.
Powered by a 240hp version of Ford’s 5.8L V8, the Lightning used a 4-speed automatic transmission from its big-brother the F-350. Unlike other sport trucks of the day, the original Lightning was fit for both work and play, as its payload rating didn’t differ that much from a standard F-150. As such, potential buyers should examine these trucks as thoroughly as one would examine a lump of plutonium that has suddenly appeared in their lettuce crisper. The boxy design is not overly popular, so there should be no trouble snagging a good copy for much less than $10,000.
1999 – 2004 Ford SVT Lightning
What? Weren’t we just talking about this truck? Not really. Four years after halting production of its first-generation Lightning, the boffins at SVT applied their magic formula to the new-for-’97 F-150. This time, they bolted an Eaton supercharger on top of a 5.4L V8 motor and stuffed the works of it, good for 360hp, under the hood of a regular cab, flareside F-150. They tweaked the suspension too.
Smart collector car shoppers will want to keep a look out for a 2002 model, as that model year included a more powerful engine (380hp), Bilstien instead of Monroe shocks, and an aluminum (rather than steel) driveshaft. Try to find a white one – they only made 294 in that colour for 2002, the lowest production number of ay second-generation Lightning. A low mileage example from the 2000 model year is, as of this writing, drawing a $15,500 bid on the collector car site bringatrailer.com
1999 – 2002 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Thrust into the spotlight thanks to its starring role at the beginning of the hot 2Fast 2Furious movie back in 2003, the fifth-generation GT-R . V-spec trims of various vintage (Jeopardy trivia: V-spec stands for Victory Specification) are the most common, with the M-spec trim (named in honor of Mizuno, Nissan’s chief engineer at the time) being far more obscure.
Thanks to this model having never been sold on North American shores, and arcane import laws in the States, there are few examples from which to choose in the used car market compared to the other models on our list. GT-R lookalikes are actually pretty affordable but true copies of Godzilla will be priced in luxury-car territory. When new, masochists could have selected the limited-production N1 model, absent of air conditioning and audio equipment. If you find one of these, buy it.