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Cars can make good investments, providing you pick the right one.
Just ask whoever bought an HSV GTSR Maloo W1. While the exact price paid is unclear, it’s likely to be less than $200,000, and so far two of the four made have sold for more than $1 million. That’s at least an $800,000 profit in less than five years.
We’ve written a lot this year about the rising prices of used and classic cars. Which got us thinking - what is the best investment in 2021 that could be worth big bucks in 2031 and beyond?
Let’s make one thing clear from the start - I cannot predict the future.
Try as I might, I cannot say with certainty what will happen tomorrow, let alone 10 or 20 years from now, so don’t take this article as certified financial advice. That said, there are certain patterns and trends that can be examined to determine what models are likely to be the ones that people will be willing to hand over large sums of money for in the future.
There are some obvious good investments that require large sums of money already, such as the Ferrari 458 Speciale for example. This is the last naturally aspirated V8 model the Prancing Horse will build and it has already enjoyed a certain level of appreciation. Give it another decade and a few electric Ferraris, and car collectors will be scrambling for high-revving V8 machines.
Sadly, though, not many of us can afford a Ferrari. So, let’s instead take a look at cars that are more affordable today and could actually increase in value rather than decline.
Picking the right car for the future is in large part about predicting the audience. Two decades from now, the people with money to spend on an expensive classic car are less likely to be interested in a V8-powered Holden or Ford (as is the case today) and are more likely to be fans of something different.
That’s because collectors are often buying their childhood favourite. The car they desired when they were a teenager and are now successful enough to afford. That’s why we see so much money being spent on classic Australian cars – it’s a market driven by people 40 and older who grew up watching Peter Brock and Dick Johnson at Bathurst.
That’s likely to only be a small part of future collectors, which are the kids of today. They are growing up in a world of electric cars and Gran Turismo, so their tastes will be very different.
Current price range: $150,000-$200,000
There are a few things that mark out a collectable car. Is it historically significant? Was it built in limited numbers? Does it have an appeal beyond its driving character?
Regardless of how you feel about Tesla (and Elon Musk), it’s hard to argue the original Roadster doesn’t tick all those boxes. The Lotus Elise-based sports car was the catalyst for an industry-wide shift towards EVs and launched Tesla to become a major player on the international stage.
It doesn’t really matter that the Roadster was heavy, not particularly quick and lacks many creature comforts. For car enthusiasts in the future, it will likely represent a step-change in the industry and command top dollar as a result.
Prices are already on the rise. A few years ago, you could pick one up for roughly $100k, now there’s only one for sale in Australia for $190,000 - so it seems some people might already be holding onto them as a long-term investment.
Current price range: $80,000-$130,000
There’s a generation of car lovers that grew up playing Sony’s Gran Turismo and watching the Fast and Furious movie franchise, both pop-culture phenomenons that were filled with Japanese performance cars.
The ‘R32’ GT-R (it was still badged a Skyline back then) was not well received when it was new. In large part because it beat Brock, Johnson and co. on the racetrack and was seen as having an unfair advantage. The turbocharged, all-wheel-drive coupe was dubbed ‘Godzilla’ because it crushed the opposition so badly.
We’re already seeing prices for these early GT-Rs rise, so if you think it’s a good idea, you’ll want to act quickly to snap one up for less than $100k. And in the not-too-distant future there could be an even larger horde of ‘JDM’ fans lining up to pay big dollars for a car like the Skyline GT-R as the Gran Turismo generation are wealthy enough to turn virtual into reality.
Current price range: $60,000-$95,000
Does that mean an E46 M3 will ever be worth that much? Highly unlikely. For starters, the M3 is a global car and therefore more were built and the audience is wider, so the supply and demand equation is very different.
That doesn’t mean these magnificent six-cylinder coupes won’t increase in value. In fact, they are already showing signs of positive growth within the last five years. A few years ago, a manual-equipped model (which is the one you want) could be had for as little as the low-$40,000 range. Now, you’ll be looking at more than $65,000 almost regardless of kays and condition.
Still, if you could get one at the lower end of the current market, treat it with respect and maintain or improve its condition, a fan of early 2000s European sports cars will likely be willing to pay big dollars for it in another decade or so.
If you doubt me, take a look at the prices for an E30 M3...
Current price range: $35,000-$100,000
While I’ve talked about EVs, JDM and Euro cars, there’s no reason to think that the market for Australian-made cars will completely disappear within the foreseeable future. There are kids growing up now in die-hard Holden or Ford houses, who will desire to own a car that their mum or dad did - or simply aspired to.
The challenge is picking the right Aussie-made car, because the reality is there are a lot of low-kays, rarely driven examples of the final Commodores and Falcons as people hope to cash in on the current emotion around the demise of the local industry. That means in 10 years, supply could outstrip or match demand, stalling out growth potential.
Which is why my pick would be the Monaro, it was already long-gone by the time Holden closed, so there’s more natural variation in the market which creates opportunities. As you can tell from the rather larger price range current models are being offered for the final iteration of the Monaro, demand is beginning to creep up.
However, if you can find one for the right price, regardless of mileage, and restore it to showroom condition, it will have a chance of being a highly desirable collectable in the years to come.
Current price range: $140,000-$150,000
While I’ll concede this is at the upper end of what can reasonably be called ‘affordable’, there’s something about this particular breed of Porsches that gives cause for optimism. Specifically, it’s the engine.
When Porsche launched the ‘991’ generation model, it did so with an all-new platform but carryover engines - a 3.4-litre flat-six for the 911 Carrera and a 3.8-litre flat-six in the Carrera S. Why? Because it was always planning to switch to its then-all-new 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six when the ‘991.2’ update arrived mid-way through its lifecycle.
Which means that the earliest 991-gen 911s are powered by the final naturally aspirated engine in the broader line-up. The bigger 4.0-litre non-turbo motor has remained, but only in the high-end GT3 model and similar special editions, which will make them both more collectable but also more expensive.
So, if you pick up one of these ‘last-of-kind’ naturally aspirated 911s, you might find someone will be willing to pay you more for it than you did in the near future.
Current price range: $65,000-$90,000
I’ll admit this one is left field and the Ranger Raptor certainly doesn’t fit the criteria of being a limited-edition model that typically becomes collectable, but… there are a few reasons why I think the Raptor might be worth a punt.
For starters, it’s a ground-breaking car in many respects. It may not have been the very first factory-upgraded premium ute, but it certainly helped accelerate the market. The Toyota HiLux Rogue and Rugged X, Nissan Navara Warrior and Holden Colorado SportsCat are all reactions to the success of the Raptor.
Also, it’s a popular car today. Kids are growing up with it and creating a bond with it that could carry over into adulthood. While that may not mean they’ll pay absolute top dollar for it, it does raise the possibility that a well-maintained, first-generation Raptor could become a future classic.