There’s good money to be made in cars – providing you know where to put it. With that in mind, here are eight cars that could make you a pretty penny in the long run.
Mazda MX5 Mk1
Urghhh I know what you’re thinking: how predictable, an MX5.. Well, I’m not going to go too far into the MX5, you’ll know the story already.. how the Japs took what the British did best, mixed it up a bit, reversed engineered it to the point of insane reliability and then sold it right back to us..
Your Mum loves it, your Dad pretends he doesn’t love it, your son tries to drift it, motoring journalists won’t let you forget it, and many car manufacturers are still trying to make something to match it. The truth is the MX5 is untouchable – well.. almost. You see, Britain’s salty roads are slowly but surely consuming the cars that were designed to drive on them, and Mazda’s little MX5 just loves to rust.
Find yourself a tidy Mk1, rustproof the hell out of it, enjoy it and sit back as the value increases. Currently, £500 will get you a rusty scab with a Stevie Wonder MOT while £4,000 should secure you something truly worth holding onto.
Lotus M100 Elan
Here’s an oddball choice for the brave. The M100 Elan went against everything that went before it in that it was a two-seater lightweight sports car with front wheel drive.
The car was – in a lot of ways – exactly what everyone expected from Lotus: staying true to Colin Chapman’s lightweight ethos, it featured a fiberglass body and steel backbone. It also handled like a Lotus and, despite its lack of over-steer, had motoring mags at the time gushing over its abilities. Autocar magazine stated it was “the quickest point to point car available,” and competitor title CAR magazine judged it “the best handling front-wheel drive car in the world.”
Around 4,500 Elans were built over a six year period and a relatively costly screen price plus difficult economic conditions saw the oddball, futuristic Elan lose out to Mazda’s intentionally retro MX5. Browsing the classifieds today, I can see that many examples can be had for a little over £5,000 while a low-mileage, well-kept Elan M100 shouldn’t be much over £10,000.
It seems to me that cars reach a certain age, around about when they first start looking dated, and it’s this time that prices usually fall. When a car is too young to be considered a real classic, yet not old enough to be described as a modern classic. This is when cars hit rock bottom, and if you’re going to do it, then now should be the time.. it’s also where I think the Ferrari 360 sits right now.
To me, its bulbous form hasn’t quite matured to a place where it needs to be yet but you only have to look back at this car’s predecessor – the F355 – for an example of a rapidly appreciating supercar. Give it a few years and I’m sure the 360 will follow suit.
BMW M5 E39
The E39 in most forms is a very highly regarded car, but when BMW plumbed near 400hp of V8 behind its kidney grille, this E39 M5 cemented itself as one of the best-regarded saloon cars of all time. Even today, few cars can match the serious pace and mile-munching comfort of these cars and for many it represents the end of an era for BMW.
An ultra low mileage example recently popped up in America with a screen price of US$149,999! Find the right one of these and I think you’ll soon be onto a winner.
BMW E46 M3
In the UK at least, the E46 M3 is still a relatively common car and falling prices mean that there are more crashed, abused and generally nasty examples being circulated. A run out car with a manual transmission would be the car I’d look for.
106 GTI/Saxo VTS
Right now, all over the country there are middle aged men scanning the classifieds in an attempt to recall their youth.. some are buying RS Fords, some are buying GTI Volkswagens and even more are out to buy Peugeot 205s. Think ahead though, to the generation that followed these guys, and I think you’ll suddenly find demand for the 205’s replacement, the Peugeot 106 – and its very similar Citroen equivalent, the Citroen Saxo VTS.
Finding a good example of either car will not be easy but could be well worth it in a few years time.
BMW Z3M Coupe
BMW’s Z3M Coupe has all of the important elements required to make it a valuable classic: it’s exclusive, it’s effective and it was always obscure.
Exclusive because of low production figures (when was the last time you saw one?), effective because it was powered by BMW’s legendary 3.2 litre S54B32 and obscure because its ‘breadvan’ styling that forced you to either love or loathe the car almost instantly.
Values of these cars are already strong but my guess is they’ll soon be making silly money.
Honda Civic EP3 Type R
The EP3 offers the pace and handling of an interesting car with the reliability and practicality of a boring one. Its engine also plays the same trick, doing its best to impersonate any other 2 litre 4 cylinder engine until you take it around 6,000rpm where things get altogether more interesting.
Considering just how many of these cars there are about you’d be amazed at how hard it is to find a nice one already – and trust me, I’ve tried. Find a nice low-mileage, standard EP3 and treat it well. I reckon it’ll return the favour.
If you’re in the market for an appreciating car then I hope that was food for thought. It’ll be funny to check back on this post in a few years time to see just how right (or wrong) I was with this one.
Can you think of any other cars that are worth buying right now? Let me know in the comment box below.