Following on from the How To Choose A Future Classic Car feature, here are eight cars that are absolutely, totally, one-hundred-percent guaranteed to make you money in the long-term*.
Some of them are unbelievably beautiful, some are ground-breakingly innovative, and some are supremely satisfying to drive; and a few, such as the Citroen DS, are all three. What they all have in common is the fact that I think they’re chronically under-valued at the moment.
Range Rover Classic
The Range Rover was 25-years-old when it was discontinued – and when it died it looked pretty much the same as it did the day it was born; hell, it aged even better than Madonna and cost a helluva lot less to fix the bodywork, too.
Prices are rising fast for this automotive icon, with dealers regularly asking in excess of £30k for cars that are only slightly better than average. Bargains can still be had in the £5-10k price range leaving plenty of headroom for growth. I narrowly missed out on a CSK for £7k recently, which surfaced two months later on a dealer’s forecourt for £40,000 having had nothing other than a bit of spit and polish…
Early three-doors with original upholstery are the Holy Grail, but you won’t find one for under £25,000 now, so stick to mid-eighties models with fsh, under 100,000 miles, fewer than three owners, no rust, and no LPG tank. It’ll need to be totally original, dent-free, and priced at under five thousand pounds.
You’ll spend another £1k making it beautiful (matching tyres, new upper tailgate, electrical gremlins sorted, and a bloody good valet). After that you should chance your arm and ask five figures.
Who knows why the DS and it’s kid brother, the ID, are so under-priced at the moment. Perhaps people are scared, perhaps they’re intimidated, or perhaps there are just too many dodgy restorations about. Whatever the reason, they’re far too cheap at the moment.
Buy an early LHD car that’s totally original, pack it full of waxoyl and stuff it in the back of your garage. Unearth it in twenty years and enjoy a decent retirement.
The Mercedes W124, built between 1985 and 1996, redefines ‘bullet-proof’. They’ll hit three-hundred thousand miles easily, rarely rot, and are as classless as the original Range Rover.
You can buy an estate with a diesel under the bonnet, fsh, and a couple of owners all day long for under two thousand pounds. Service it, tweak and valet it, update it with a Bluetooth stereo, market it well, and you’ll see them flying out of the door at between seven and ten thousand pounds depending on colour.
Silver or red with black leather work best but condition is everything.
Golf GTI Mk1
The original Golf GTI Mk1 has been hanging around the £4-5,000 for years now and can only go up – just check for rust first and avoid any modifications.
If you can find an early 1.6-litre with tartan seats then you’ve got a treasure and there are, believe it or not, quite a few 1.8-litre ‘Campaigns’ out there that are still with their original owners. Snap one up for £6-7k and hang onto it for ten years and you’ll double your money.
Mazda MX5 Mk1
Most Mk1 MX5s have been trashed, thrashed, and modified to death so an original 1.6-litre Mk1 in good condition is only going to skyrocket in value as people start to realise how much fun these lovely little analogue cars are. You can also mend ‘em with a screwdriver and a hammer, but you won’t need to because they never go wrong.
They’re about for well under a grand without looking too hard but it’s worth spending a mite more for the right car; I picked up a two-owner-from-new in BRG for £1,500 last year. I ran it for two years, didn’t spend a penny except for one (cheap) service, and still made a profit when I sold it…
Mitsubishi Evo 1-5
There is a bit of a theme developing here, but if you can find an original Evo that hasn’t been crashed or modified to death it’s as good as money in the bank.
Prices are still low as the yoof want the latest models and wouldn’t be seen dead in anything as old-school as a 90′s model. Rust doesn’t seem to be a problem – yet – and there is a great club ‘n’ spares scene to keep you on the road, although some pieces of trim are getting hard to find.
Peugeot 205 GTI
The baby Pug was the only serious rival to the VW Golf GTI in the ’80s but it was, despite a superior chassis, definitely second-best. This means that prices are even lower than those of the German car and there are still bargains to be had.
As ever, check carefully for rust as they deteriorate faster than Lyndsay Lohan facing a prison sentence but they are otherwise surprisingly robust. Early is better, obviously, and modifications (unless they can be reversed without leaving a mark) are a no-no.
Mercedes SL R107
A favourite of mine, I’ve just picked up a beautiful, two-owner-from-new, 350SL for under six grand. It’s silver, goes like a dream, needed only a rear ‘box for a fresh MOT, and came complete with original tools, a factory hardtop, and blemish-free upholstery and bodywork. I’ll keep it for a couple of years and expect to sell it for far more than I paid for it.
While you’re at it, don’t forget the SLC, the coupe version of the SL. They’re a bit longer, more usable and much cheaper. The 450SLC is the one to go for and while they’ll appreciate more slowly than the soft-top SL, they’ll make a lovely wafter for a few years while the prices play catch up.
I am a motoring journalist, not an investment advisor, and my advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.
If you follow my advice and lose money then you’ll have discovered that investing in cars is a fool’s errand. We all yearn for a car that is guaranteed to appreciate, but luck plays a far larger part than any of us imagine, and even the most experienced and capable enthusiasts make mistakes.
If you want a guaranteed return on your money then buy a Government Bond. If you want to have fun – and are prepared to gamble a little – then these cars should do better than most. (Please note: that says “should”, not “will”, OK?)