We break out the crystal ball and ask, "What new cars today could become tomorrow's collector cars?"
Considered the most prestigious event of its kind in the world, for the past 59 years California’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has been a showcase for the collector car world. Some of the machinery that will be showing up at this year’s event in August is valued in the hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars.
But imagine this: Instead of looking back in time, what if we wanted to look ahead? What if we could predict tomorrow's collectible cars today? Does it sound like a car enthusiast's dream come true? According to Terry Lobzun at RM Auctions of Blenheim, Ontario, the dream's not so outlandish.
Don’t cash in your RRSPs just yet
Let's make this clear: No one buys a new car as an immediate investment. That age-old bugaboo called depreciation ensures that a couple of years down the road (let alone a couple of decades) your new set of wheels won't be worth what you paid for it when it was driven off the lot.
Yet a select few of the hundreds of different models available in Canadian new car showrooms today have the potential to someday become future collectibles. The trick is to foresee which ones.First of all, what makes a car collectible? RM Auctions' Lobzun says the vehicle has to be at least 20 years old, as a rule of thumb. After that, collectibles get placed into two categories: "Appealing" or "Classics."
Of the plethora of mainstream cars available today, picking an Appealing collectible is more of a risk. Lobzun explained, "Appealing means the car doesn't have to be rare in quantity, or have an exotic nameplate or pedigree. Instead, it may have garnered some kind of value thorough a unique place in culture via music, movies or TV."
For instance, if not for a series of Wayne's World movies, who could have predicted decent examples of a mass-produced (and unloved at the time) car like the 1970s AMC Pacer would become a collectible today?
A more objective approach to picking future collectibles could be taken with the second category: the Classics. Here, Lobzun says the basic fundamentals of supply and demand can be applied with a bit more science than art."
As we've seen over the years, with what were some pretty cheap cars to buy new, low production or special editions can really appreciate over time," confided Lobzun.There are no guarantees that any of the following vehicles will be worth more than a cup of coffee come 2029. But here's a quick look at some potential future collectibles.
Last May, RM Auctions set a world record for the most expensive vintage motor car ever sold: over $13 million for 1960s Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder (all prices in Canadian dollars). But just having an exotic 20-year-old Ferrari, Lamborghini or Aston Martin doesn't rubber stamp it as a "Classic."
"Even the higher end cars have to be special," says Lobzun.
So while a run-of-the-mill $186,925 Ferrari F360 may not become a future collectible, one of the 20-odd Ferrari FXXs, the recently unveiled ultimate Lamborghini Murciélago -- the near $500,000 LP 670-4 SuperVeloce -- or the James Bond endorsed $286,000 Aston Martin DBS, have potential.And with the current decline of the American auto empire, even some $100,000-plus demi-exotics could hold their value over time. The new Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (of which only 2,000 copies are planned) and even rarer Dodge Viper ACR are two of the better examples.
Until the mid-1970s, individual customers could customize their cars straight from the factory -- colour, options, engine, and transmission. This resulted in runs of mass-produced cars that could be as low as 20 samples. It's why some of the 1960s and '70s muscle cars have become so rare and valuable.
"Who would've thought we would have sold an original Hemi Cuda for $2.7 million back when it was originally sold for only a few thousand dollars," said Lobzun.
But even if those small-production lots are no longer possible, some relatively low-volume specials of the new Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro SS -- along with the evergreen Ford Mustang -- have collector car potential. The $45,995 Challenger SRT8, $54,299 Mustang Shelby GT500, and the limited edition Bumblebee (from the Transformers movies) version of the $41,065-plus Camaro SS are three examples of low-volume editions of otherwise mass market cars.
But it's not just the modern muscle cars that you could look at. Again, working the law of supply and demand, any cars coming from an automaker's in-house tuning group may end up commanding a high dollar at auctions in a few decades.
These cars would be less interesting (and therefore less valuable) than some of the truly low-volume specials. But Audis with the exclusive RS badge, BMW M cars, Jaguar Rs, Mercedes-Benz AMGs, Cadillac V-series cars or even some limited run Chryslers from its Street and Racing Technology (SRT) shops, may end up worthy collectibles.
Another group of cars to consider as potential collectibles are vehicles that are significant firsts for a manufacturer. "Especially if you can grab an early example off the production line," explained Lobzun.
Like the late-1970s BMW M1, today's $141,000 Audi R8 4.2 V8, or even more exclusive new $180,000 (est.) R8 5.2 V10 model, is a new type of vehicle that makes a new statement for its brand. You could also include cars like the $64,450 Lexus IS F, $89,900 Nissan GT-R or Porsche's first four-door sedan, the new $115,100 Panamera, in this group.
In a sea of sedans, minivans and SUVs, even less expensive two seat sports car have the potential of retaining some measure of future value. They not only represent a more romantic time in motoring, but with the current reshuffling of the auto world due to the recession, some of today's sports cars may never return.
The $59,995 Lotus Elise roadster or $75,900 Exige hardtop, soon-to-be-discontinued $40,165 Saturn Sky Red Line and $36,460 Pontiac Solstice GXP, $50,600 Honda S2000, or any low-volume Porsche 911s like the $155,100 GT3 RS, should be considered.
What about hybrids?
Of course, it's hard to predict what the market will perceive as valuable two decades from now. Most of the cars mentioned here are from the current golden era of cheap horsepower. While RM's Lobzun feels that the computer-designed cars of today may lack the emotion that the cars of the past -- carved out of clay by hand -- still have today.
Who knows? But with a new generation of car owners coming up that is equally infatuated with high-tech gadgets such as cell phones and PDAs, perhaps such high-tech cars like the $27,500 Toyota Prius or $23,900 Honda Insight will be the Hemi Cudas of the auto auction arena, circa 2029.
A 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake sold for $1.3 million. Do you think classic cars were made better than modern rides?
Thanks for being one of the first people to vote. Results will be available soon. Check for results
- Yes, the quality of cars from the 1960s and '70s is the best
- No, modern technology makes cars better today
- Maybe, it's hard to say since most Canadians get a new car every 10 years