Ran into a neighbor while walking the dogs tonight and started chatting about his 1966 E-Type. Turns out he bought it in 1971 for $2800. Adjusted for inflation that is a little under $20,000 today. A good condition E-Type can now fetch over $100k. It got me thinking, what late-model cars that can be picked up for around $20k right now might explode in value?
It’s hard to believe now, but the E-Type wasn’t a particularly pricey car when it was new. Inflation-adjusted it was something like $50,000 new. You can’t even get into an F-Type for that now. There are other contemporary examples to the E-Type: for instance a loaded Pontiac GTO Judge sold for around the same price new. With so many muscle cars around in the late 1960's, I’m sure several changed hands for a pretty low price before people realized that the era was about to end. Today clean ones are worth $50k to $250k depending on options.
It’s hard to imagine something that sold new recently in the $50-70k range that can be picked up for $20k now going up in value. Sports cars and muscle cars from the 1960's feel like a unique example, because emissions regs came in and killed them and nobody realized until the late 1970's that they weren’t coming back any time soon. There is a more recent trending example, though: the Supra MkIV Turbo. Around the time The Fast and the Furious came out, you could probably have picked one of these up for $20k. Now, they are asking $50k to $100k if they haven’t been modified poorly or wrapped around a tree. There is a very good change this could be a bubble. In another 20 years they might all be sub-$5k beaters. But it shows that things more recent than the 1960's could have been bought for cheap and actually gone up in value, even if it is just temporarily and fueled in part by a popular movie.
So what say you, Oppo? Is there anything more recent, let’s say 2000 or newer, that you can pick up for $20k today that is ready to be an expensive classic 40-50 years down the road if you keep the miles off of it?
I’m thinking that special-editions will probably be the most-likely candidates here rather than entire model lines, though sales duds that had some unique feature that was either the first or last of something might do it. Maybe one of the few Gold SportWargen TDI’s that escaped before Dieselgate and doesn’t get sold back. A few contenders are floating through my head.
BMW i3. Fast forward 40 years, when gasoline cars have been outlawed and all cars look like spaceships, we’ll be regretting how we made fun of these so much. The counterpoint, of course, is that there are too many of them out there for the value to really go up. Values will also probably keep going down for a while, but right now you can pick up a nice one for $20k and let it sit.
Lancer Evolution MR. The race car for the street seems to play well for the future. Production was high enough that prices are reasonable, but not so low that people aren’t going to drive the ones that are out there. Basically in 40 years 90% of them will be hooned to death. Also, prices seem to already be bottoming out at around $20k for anything that is in reasonable condition. This one here is listed at $21,500 with 64,000 miles. It’s an ‘08, but they have basically stayed unchanged from then until the final ones this year.
2010-2011 Saab 9-5. These could end up being worthless. Or maybe someone will revive Saab in 20 years, turn it into a powerhouse brand, and people will be collecting all things Saab. At that point these rare and good-looking cars could end up being worth quite a bit. In the intervening time, it’s not the worst looking thing to have in the garage.
Acura ZDX. One of the originators of the luxury-slantback-crossover-thing. Unappreciated when new, but perhaps in time? Probably not. I see this as something like the AMC Gremlin... if you hoard one and keep it in good shape it might still be worth original MSRP in 40 years as a curiosity, but I can’t really see it being worth a fortune.