Money makers: 10 modern classics you should invest in now

Is it a good idea to invest in classic cars? We ask the expert and list your best bets

1y ago

Shahzad Sheikh – AKA Brown Car Guy – is an automotive journalist with three decades of experience on various titles including the Middle East edition of CAR Magazine and Used Car Buyer.


Ten years ago the classic car market was becoming a thing; five years ago you would've been too poor to buy one; today... well it hasn't exactly crashed, but silly season is over. Which potentially is great news for you – that is if you're looking to enjoy a classic car you've always lusted after and justify it as a potential nest egg.

"In general, the market is at the end of a period of correction that started around 12 months ago," explains John Mayhead of classic car insurance and valuation specialists Hagerty. "This has seen values of many collectable cars that had risen quickly in value, fall back to more sustainable levels. It hasn’t been a crash but falling values have brought more cars onto the market, and there’s still a mismatch between advertised values that tend to be higher than realised sale values."

Tristan Judge, Director of online classic car auctioneering site, The Market, backs this up: "We’re seeing the after effects of a past boom in the market which saw prices go through the roof, to a point that they can now only come down. This is the case both in the UK and abroad at present."

The global recession over a decade ago drove investors away from the volatile stock market in search of alternative investments such as classic cars. Initially, at least, it drove up values massively and worked out very well for high net worth investors. Coutts bank calculated a 331.9 per cent growth in returns on classic cars since 2005 over a decade and the Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI) top index declared a 500 per cent rise (compared to the S&P 500 growing only 60 per cent in the same period).

The E-Type is still a good investment if you can afford one

The E-Type is still a good investment if you can afford one

Since 2015, values have been coming down (by 10.4 per cent in the first year alone says Coutts) and Judge cautions that "it’s not the best time to invest, but instead the best time to buy classic cars as good value for money and enjoy them in way they were intended, by driving them!"

Entry-level classics, and those at the very high end, are doing well: "I would say that the market remains strong for unrepeatable high quality cars," confirms Harry Whale, Sales Manager at Silverstone Auctions. "Five years ago it was an investor market and since then it has been steadily re-aligning and now you could say it is an enthusiasts market."

Mayhead agrees: "The enthusiast market (sub £50k) is booming, as is the trade in higher performance modern classics (post-1990). People now in their 40s are really into their cars and like more modern classics as they drive much like modern cars but allow them entry into a growing events scene."

Whale concurs: "Cars of the 1980s and 90s are in strong demand, possibly as the generation coming in to buy are harking back to those days." He expects values to strengthen for cars with the strongest emotional and sentimental pull.

Judge agrees but adds that famous and iconic cars are still worthwhile investments: "From the Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB5 from the UK, to the Ferrari 250 GTO, Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, Porsche 911 or Ford Mustang from further afield. Understandably, fine examples of these iconic classics are high on the lists of many collectors."

Got a spare £18m? Get yourself a McLaren F1

Got a spare £18m? Get yourself a McLaren F1

But you have to know your stuff warns Mayhead: "The only cars we’ve seen perform extremely well at auction have been those that are exceptional in terms of originality, quality or restoration and/or provenance. Therefore, whereas a couple of years ago an investor didn’t need to know too much (just buying a particular make/model was enough) now, it’s much more complicated and they need to identify a specific car to make money.

"Pretty much everything else is easier to make money on at the moment, and you need a huge amount of detailed knowledge of the product. That said, if you have £18m to spend, buying a McLaren F1 LM will almost certainly see you well."

Assuming that you're not in that superleague of investors and are more interested in owning a cool car and driving it – and looking for some assurance you probably won't lose money on it (apart from running/repair/restoration costs of course!) – here's a list of 'modern classics' that are affordable now, but we reckon soon won't be!

BMW 8 Series

Complex to care for but looking better than ever. Can still be had for just under £10k ($13k), but that won't be the case for long.

Cadillac Allante

Rare and unusual but cool now thanks to an appearance in a Bruno Mars video (24k Magic). Prices from just £6k ($8k) and rising.

Fox body Ford Mustang

Already sought after, good quality desirable editions up to £25k ($33k) already. But it's still possible to pick them up from £5k ($7k).

Honda Integra Type R

Once dubbed the best front wheel drive sports car in the world, surprisingly they can still be had from £8k ($11k) but good ones are rare.

Jaguar XJS

These have been rising in value steadily for a couple of years now, but it's still possible to find them for under £10k ($13).

Lotus Elan

Possibly the only car to run the Integra close for best FWD sports car. Set to appreciate fast now, prices from just £9k ($12k).

Mazda MX-5

These were classics from the beginning. Original models from under £5k ($7k) but buy the best you can find and keep it safe.

Nissan 300ZX

Earlier models are already up to £20k ($26k), 1990-onwards cars from £10k ($13k). This is Nissan's Supra – get it while you still can.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Sleekest muscle car ever, there are tons of scrappy ones around from under £8k ($11k), but good examples are appreciating fast.

Porsche 924

Now is the moment – snap these up quickly for as little as £4k ($5k) they are starting to be highly collectible and sought after.

Or tell us which modern classic you would invest in below in the comments!

Fancy a classic car but can't quite stretch to it? Console yourself with this classic car 2020 calendar. Pin it up on the wall and dream...

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Comments (88)

  • I’m surprised not to see the XR3i or RS Turbo in the list.

      1 year ago
  • I look out for everyday cars people actually remember seeing on the roads as a lot of them have disappeared to scrap yards, especially in the UK where we have scrappage schemes at car dealers to encourage people to scrap a over 10 year old car for a new one.

      1 year ago
    • This is exactly why bangernomics is so much harder than it used to be. Over a decade ago, it was easily possible to pick up decent car in reasonably good conditioned for a few hundred pounds and lots of life left in them. But now either the prices...

      Read more
        1 year ago
    • You have to look in advance of the period that will become popular at the moment the late 1980's and early 1990's cars are becoming valuable so I look at mid to late 1990's cars and early 2000's cars as these are the cars that will be the victims of...

      Read more
        1 year ago
  • Considered selling my E30 last year , definitely keeping it now.

    Know a lad with a totally original xr2 that drives it daily, was offered 6k for it and wouldn't sell.

    Said what would he replace it with as he loves driving it and hates modern stuff, good point.

      1 year ago
  • My toyota mr2 is also going up in price.

      1 year ago
  • Mercedes Benz 300CE Coupé, preferably a fully loaded 12v

      1 year ago