Classic cars that are skyrocketing in value

Ian Harvey
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Through the years there have been many legendary vehicle brands, and within those brands, there have been iconic models that have attracted a fanatical following.

Some models had eminent status in their time but have not been valued that highly in the marketplace. But for some, this is slowly changing, and many are now becoming expensive to buy.

Here are some beautiful cars that have risen in value for their fortunate owners. These magnificent vehicles have become some of the lost treasures of the automotive collecting world and are worth investing in before they become one of the Holy Grails of the classic car world.

Mercedes-Benz 280 SL (1968-1971)

When one speaks of iconic motor vehicles, the gull-winged Mercedes 300 SL that came out in the 50s and 60s, has got to be near the top of the list.

This stunning vehicle had once ensured that the value of all subsequent SL models would retain their value, and now the perky 280 SL roadster is receiving lots of attention from the collectors market.

Mercedes-Benz 230 SL, Baujahr 1964. Photo Credit

With its timeless classic looks, enjoyable driving style, and a removable hardtop, this little beauty will never go out of fashion. Five years ago the price was in the $40,000 to $85,000 range, but today that same vehicle will make an $80,000 to $150,000 hole in your pocket.

Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser 1960-1983

Toyota’s FJ40 was brought into the country in competition with the Jeep CJ. It had a bullet-proof chassis and drivetrain, coupled with an inline six-cylinder engine and a transfer case that easily managed the power from the big V8.

These were always popular 4WD vehicles, and their go-anywhere reputation was well deserved, but they never managed to scale the $20,000 barrier.

Toyota Landcruiser FJ40 Photo Credit

This has changed dramatically over the past five years. Though finding one for the home renovator at a reasonable price is still possible, good examples are now closer to $40,000 on internet auction sites, and new examples are going for up to $100,000 at the large car auctions.

1988 BMW M5

1988 BMW M5

This iconic German sports sedan was imported into America for only one year. It came in only one configuration, the M5 (E28), and only one color combination – black with tan interior. This magnificent car, with its 3.5-liter straight six, that was a close relation to the engine in BMW’s M1 supercar, propelled this 4 door sedan to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, making it the fastest 4 door on the continent.

This executive sedan that went like the wind could be had for a song for many years; a low mileage vehicle in reasonable condition would take around $20,000 out of the bank, but that is no longer the case. Now high mileage examples will cost you that kind of money, and a good, low mileage car will empty your bank account by around $100,000.

Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS (1975-1985)

The 1985 Ferrari 308 GTB Quattrovalvole Photo Credit

The Ferrari 308 was turned out by the hundreds in the Ferrari factory, but with its exposure as Tom Selleck’s car in the wildly popular television series Magnum P.I., it rapidly rose to icon status and became a must-have for the playboy of the 1980s.

Nowadays, due to its age, this vehicle is becoming a collectible. A few years ago, you could pick up a V8-powered 308 in excellent condition for the knock-down price of $30,000. Sadly, those days are now gone; today, in the same excellent condition, early 1980s car will cost you at least $45,000. For one of the rare fiberglass-bodied models, you will need to cough up around $120,000. The late 70s (1975-1979) steel body vehicles are a little more affordable at around $80,000 today.

Porsche 911 (1965-1998)

Porsche 912E with Fuchs wheels, 1969. Photo Credit

The Porsche 911 has been an iconic vehicle all of its life. Rare models with top-class engine specs have always been collector’s items, as evidenced by the recent sale of a 1973 2.7 RS that went over the block at a large car auction for the eye-popping sum of $891,000. There are showroom-condition 911’s that have been knocked down for close to, and sometimes over, the million-dollar mark.

In a 2008 edition of the Sports Car Market Pocket Price Guide, a mid-1970 911 was valued at around $8,000 to $13,000, but today they will go for $20,000 to $25,000, and one registered in the 80’s will now set you back around $30,000.

 Lamborghini Countach (1974-1990)

Lamborghini Countach LP500S Photo Credit

The Countach was one of the cars that graced the walls of most little boys’ bedrooms in the 1970s and 1980s. When it was launched, the bodywork, with all its sharp edges and angles, looked like something from an alien movie, but this V12 supercar laid the foundation for all future supercars; while body lines may have been smoothed, the distinctive shape remained the same.

This car enjoyed a long production run of 16 years, but around the turn of the century, it was considered a little kitschy – you could buy this icon with its huge boot wing for around $100,000. By the middle of the first decade, this price had risen only to $150,000. Today, though, lines and angles such as these have made a huge comeback and this Italian supercar is enjoying a renaissance. The 1980 models are now going across the block for $300,000, and if you are lucky enough to find one of the exceedingly rare LP400 models, it could bring you a payday of over $1 million.

Ford Bronco (1966-1977)

This little 4WD truck has been a perennial favorite of the outdoor market since it hit the showroom floor in the 1960s. As many of the Ford engineers that worked on the Mustang also worked on the Bronco, it should come as no surprise that this tough little truck came out with a V8 that spawned a fanatical following. This, in turn, gave rise to many companies that sold aftermarket parts and accessories specifically for the Bronco.

This piece is now a sought-after commodity. A few years ago, you could find a good example for around $15,000, but now prices of over $40,000 are not unusual at large car auctions.

The first generation Ford Bronco Photo Credit

As with all previously owned vehicles, a careful check should ensure that you buy one in good mechanical condition, but bear in mind that many of these tough little Bronchos have had an extremely hard life, satisfying the needs of the hunting, fishing, shooting “outdoors brigade”, so do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

 Porsche 928 (1978-1995)

Porsche 928 Photo Credit

The V8-powered Porsche 928 with its engine in the front was always sneered at by the 911 brigade that believed the 928 was not a real Porsche. Those that bought this GT loved the quirky pop-up headlights and quickly discovered that it was a remarkable touring machine as well as a high speed “throw-it-at-the-corner” car.

These cars were very advanced when they came out, and their only drawback was the finicky repair and maintenance that they demanded. They tended to move quickly from one owner to the next, and you could find a good example for around $10,000. That has now changed, and the later models such as the 1993-1995 928 GTS model with its flared rear fenders, a magnificent sounding and performing 345 hp 5.4-liter V8, and thick rubber on 17-inch wheels, have been advertised well into the six figures.

Acura NSX (1991-2005)

Honda NSX with appropriate license plate Photo Credit

The Acura, released by Honda in the 1990s, was a dream car for many car enthusiasts. They offered fantastic performance, magical handling, and Honda reliability all wrapped up in one package. Honda only made around 9,000 of these vehicles, and even considering their rarity, they seldom brought in more than $30,000, even with low mileage.

Now that Honda is releasing an all-new Acura, the older models have suddenly gained in popularity and are again a sought-after vehicle. Good low mileage examples are now demanding $40,000 – $60,000 on internet auction sites; for a previously-owned Japanese car, that is exceptional, Popular Mechanics reported.

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There are a few issues that you need to be aware of when looking at a previously-owned Acura NSX. At the top of the list is the clutch, as these cars are renowned for clutch problems stemming from a poor design. Check for the water pump and timing belt changes in the 80,000 – 90,000-mile service. Also, check the transmission number – if it falls in the range #3542 to #5978, make sure the snap ring repair, which prevents the main shaft and transmission case from parting company, has been done by a reputable Honda dealer.