Car Corner
Future Classic Watch

December 1, 2012
By Scott Lewis

Last year I started this new list of Future Classic Cars. I want to refine this list over the next couple of years. The cars from last year are valid, but I want to narrow the list, and expand it at the same time. Let me explain; I want to add more cars, but I want to restrict that to cars that might have a little more collectability in the future.

A perfect example of this is the SVO Mustang listed below. The SVO was a low volume car. That's very good for collectability. However, SVO Mustangs are not very popular. So you can find them for affordable prices. Clearly the 5.0 Mustangs of the time were at least as fast... and much faster when modified, so they get all the attention.

Let's do a quick recap of the cars from last year:

2003-2009 Mercedes SL, 1970-1989 Mercedes SL, 1997-1998 Aston Martin DB7, 1983-1989 BMW 6 Series, 1989-1999 BMW 8 Series, 1996–2003 BMW 540i, 2001-2006 BMW M3, 1987-1995 Porsche 928, 2007-2012 Mini Cooper S JCW, 1990-2005 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice, 2004-2008 Crossfire, 2000-2012 Mazda Miata, 2005-2012 Porsche Boxster.

As an example of reducing this list... I am removing the 1996-2003 BMW 540i. This is too pedestrian to think of as a future classic. I am also removing the Porsche Boxster. This may become a classic some day, but these still feel like regular used cars. I am also rethinking the Miata. Yes... I firmly believe they will be sort after by people who "had one" or "wanted one" when they were new, and want to relive the past. In 2025 you can expect people in their 50's to be trying to buy low mileage examples of the first generation Miatas. But I think I want to put something special here. I may want to research any special editions of the Miata that might make them more collectible then just a low mileage example.

Finally, I want to refine this list to cover cars I think can be bought for a reasonable price. What is a reasonable price? Let's go with $30,000 as a maximum, but try to emphasize cars that could be had for under $20K. My goal here is what could I buy as a daily driver or an affordable second car that I could hold onto until it was a classic.

Let get one with this year's update:

1993-1996 Camaro Z-28 - I saw a super low mileage 93 Camaro Z-28 in red on AutoTrader for $11,000. It had just 5,000 original miles. I wanted that car. I was the original owner of a 93 Camaro Z-28 in red. I drove it to 159,000 miles. I regret selling it and not taking action to get it running and keeping it. I doubted my abilities to work on the car when it broke down right after spending two weekends getting it running. I was wrong. I suspected it could have been bad parts. I was right. The person that bought it replaced the parts I had replaced... and it was fine. Had I tried harder... I could have gotten the car running again. But the fear of the car turning into a money pit scared me off. When I saw the 5,000 mile car... I decided I am going to get a 93 Camaro some day. OK... a 93-96 Camaro. Even though I owned one I do not know how to tell the 3 years apart. There are plenty of these out there from affordable to crazy expensive. I would like to get a low mileage example, even if I have to pay a premium for it. During November I found a nice original 96 Camaro Z28 with 98k miles in red (without t-top... my preference) for $5,997 and a 95 with 26k miles for $9,200.

2001-2006 BMW 3-Series - There are two issues with this car. 1) This is so new that it isn't even close to being a classic... yet. At least a 93 Camaro is already 19 years old. These cars aren't even 10 years old. 2) I listed this in my September column of Cars Worth Waiting For. That's like double-dipping, or cheating. I can't help it. Now that I bought my son a sedan... and have the freedom to get whatever I want... I like these cars more and more. They look great, better than the newer 3-Series to me. Plus they make a great cruiser as a convertible, and handle well enough to enjoy on a twisty road through the Texas Hill Country. Last year I listed the 2001-2006 BMW M3 as a Future Classic. I am adding convertibles even for non M3 cars. While looking at cars for this article I saw a 2004 330Ci convertible with 38k miles for $17,991, also I found a red on red 2002 M3 convertible with 80k miles for $15,995.

Miata - Some of the original Miatas are almost old enough to be a classic. This car is over 22 years old. I did not list a year here. This too was listed in my September column. I like these cars so much that I love the idea of finding a nice, low mileage example and keeping it forever. Well, until it really becomes a classic. I just did a quick search of AutoTrader for a Miata in the years 1990-2005 with under 30K miles. 77 showed up. OK, lets drop that to under 15K miles. Wow... 21 found. I liked a 2001 w/12K miles for $13,000 and a 1994 w/5K miles for $12,988. The car at right is a 2002 Special Edition with 6k miles.

1982-1991 Porsche 944 - Last year I mentioned the Porsche 928. I still like the 928 for a Future Classic, but I have to include the 944 with that. I remember in the mid 80's Car and Driver did a three month comparison of the best handling cars in the world. The 944 won the title of Best Handling Foreign Car, and then beat the American winner for the title of Best Handling Car in the World. A 944 in good, tight condition free of modifications could still make for a great handling car that is fast enough. Granted, a Turbo version would help with the speed issue, but I would not mind either one. The best example I found for this article was a very original 1983 944 with a documented 40k miles for $6,900. When looking the only Turbo versions I saw were modified quite a bit. If you go that route there are two issues, 1) it will lose its collectability value, and 2) you have to hope the work was done well and the car was not abused.

Volkswagen Golf R32 - These are factory hot rods of the VW GTI. The R32 gets two big ticket items... a 3.2 V6 engine instead of the Turbo 4, and All Wheel Drive. Think of this as an Audi Quattro in VW clothing. The 2004 Mark IV version is more rare. So if you are thinking collectability with a future classic, then that is where your money should go. The 2008 version was made in larger numbers, but certainly could become a classic. Either should be a lot of fun to drive. Most of the 2008+ models will be equipped with the DSG transmission, while the 2004 did not offer that and will be exclusively manuals (I think). A quick search of AutoTrader showed plenty of cars. But almost all were still over $20k. If you want to buy now expect it to go down in value, though I expect slower than a GTI will drop in value.

1990-1996 Nissan 300ZX - I am listing this car because I believe low mileage originals will be classics and appreciate in value some day. I probably would not buy one myself, they just don't appeal to me. I did do a quick search of AutoTrader and liked a 1994 300ZX with 9,543 miles for $13,999. You will want to avoid modified cars if you are looking for the car to hold its value.

1984 - 1986 Ford Mustang SVO - Well this is a little late. Technically these are classics already. Though I doubt that being an issue if you want to get one. These don't seem to sell for a lot of money. Mainly because the 5.0 Mustangs of the era are just as fast (stock) and sell for a dime a dozen it seems. I found a nice SVO on AutoTrader; 1986 Ford Mustang SVO with 57k miles for $9,500. Here is a tid-bit of trivia for you... from 1974 - 1993, the SVO and the 93 Cobra were the only Mustangs that came from the factory with 5 bolt wheels.

1991 GMC Cyclone - This is a weird one. I never expected this. This is a truck... and I hate trucks. But, this truck is also an all wheel drive truck with the engine from the Buick Grand National. I stumbled upon one for sale. It was a 62K original mile example. I fell in love with it. It has bucket seats and a console. So it is a two seat sports "truck"??? I think this has definite classic possibilities.

I do not want to bore you with car after car. I did a quick search of AutoTrader for some of the cars from last year. For some, I wanted to be sure I could find examples under $30K. For others... I was just curious. Here is what I found that I liked:

1988 Porsche 928 S4 w/64K miles for $11,999.
1992 BMW 850i w/26K miles for $15,995.
1991 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 w/48K miles for $16,800.
1984 BMW 633CSi w/55K miles for $8,850.
1997 Aston Martin DB7 w/50K miles for $27,995.
2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500 w/53K miles for $21,999.


Next year I am going to do my best to refine all the cars on this list... and make this a concise list of modern classic.

Oh... and I recently got the chance to drive a 2013 Boss 302 Mustang. You can bet dollars for donuts it will be on this list next year.