10 classic cars to invest in right now: from the Pontiac Firebird to the Lexus LFA

Can a car make you more money than investing in art, gold and even property? It is possible, if you buy one of these motors

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Are classic cars an investment? Some would say that's the $70 million question. Why $70m? That's how much a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for at auction in 2018, making it one of, if not the, most expensive classic car ever sold.

Aside from the rarefied stratosphere of hyper-valuable 250 GTOs, could you actually grow your money by buying old motors? Let’s get the small print out of the way first. As with any investment, there are risks, and with classic cars you need to keep in mind the storage and insurance costs, plus repair and restoration expenses, particularly if you intend to drive them.

That said, according to car leasing company Vanarama, the average value of even affordable classic cars (up to Dh100,000), rose by 97 per cent over the past decade, better than gold, it said, which enjoyed a 45 per cent increase over the past 10 years. The value of art, meanwhile increaded by 49 per cent and UK property by 50 per cent.

The Diablo is regarded as the last 'true' Lamborghini produced before Audi bought the company. Courtesy Lamborghini
The Diablo is regarded as the last 'true' Lamborghini produced before Audi bought the company. Courtesy Lamborghini

The Luxury Investment Index by global property specialist Knight Frank went further. The 2020 report, while suggesting the classic car market had “plateaued for now”, still put the 10-year-growth figure at 212 per cent.

So how can you spot them? The special ones? The (reasonably) sound investments?

One way is to look for successful motor sports heritage – cars that have won important races, especially with renowned drivers at the wheel. Seek out milestones in engineering and innovation, cars way ahead of their time, such as the McLaren F1 and Porsche 959.

Then there's design, nostalgia and pop culture. Cars such as the seductively styled Lamborghini Miura, the Volkswagen Beetle (because didn't just about everyone's grandad have one?) and the DeLorean DMC-12, thanks to its time-travelling starring role in the Back to the Future trilogy.

All of which segues into demand – monitor auctions to see which cars get the auctioneer rapidly ramping up the bids, as offers race into silly money with the hammer going down at prices well beyond estimates.

Without further ado then, here are the top cars worthy of your investment.

1980s muscle cars

A first-of-its-kind collection of historic Camaro production models and race cars was on display during activities surrounding the introduction of the all-new 2016 Camaro. It included the very first Camaro produced – a 1967 model with VIN #001.
Chevrolet Camaro Z28. Courtesy Chevrolet

Since the mid-2000s, the value of V8 American muscle cars from the 1960s rose steadily. This was primarily thanks to baby boomers who lusted after these machines in their youth and who, upon retiring, cashed in their equity to finally live out those dreams.

The guys who grew up on a diet of the A-Team, Miami Vice and Knight Rider are in the same position now. Which means while they're still relatively cheap, 1980s muscle cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro Z28, Iroc-Z and Pontiac Firebird Trans Am are ripe for the picking and will probably surge in value.

Lamborghini Diablo

Finally stepping out from under the legendary Lamborghini Countach's shadow, its successor, the Diablo, having reached its 30th anniversary, is starting to get some serious respect, especially as it is regarded as the last "true" Lamborghini produced before Audi bought the company.

BMW (E34) M5

The first and third generations of the mighty BMW M5 have been rising in value for a while, whereas the 1988-1995 M5 saloon has been quietly biding its time. Now is its moment. Values are increasing faster than its acceleration time of zero to 100 kilometres per hour in 6.3 seconds. Find a good one, though.

Lexus LFA

A true hypercar from Japan, the V10-engine Lexus LFA is screaming up the price charts louder than its glorious engine. So if you bought and stashed one away when it first came out, now is the time to smugly tell your mates how right you were.

Also worth noting is that at the other end of the spectrum, the original LS400 saloon from 1990 is fast gaining collectability status.

1990s Honda/Acura NSX

Honda’s original supercar, the 1990s NSX, has seen a surge in value since since January 2021. Courtesy Honda
Honda’s original supercar, the 1990s NSX, has seen a surge in value since since January 2021. Courtesy Honda

It’s been steadily appreciating for the past couple of years, but since January, Honda’s original supercar, the 1990s NSX, has experienced a big jump in value. So far ahead of its time, it still feels sharp, startlingly quick and contemporary to drive.

1999 Aston Martin DB7 V12 Vantage

When they slotted the massive V12 into the slinky Aston Martin DB7, things got interesting, so much so it killed off the previous six-cylinder engine. There is plenty of interest in the V12 Vantage now, with prices creeping up.

2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS Gullwing

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG of 2010 sports majestic gullwing doors. Courtesy Mercedes
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG of 2010 sports majestic gullwing doors. Courtesy Mercedes

The original Mercedes Gullwing sports car from the 1950s commands elevated prices in the millions. Its modern reincarnation, the 2000s SLS AMG, not only sports ferocious performance but also those majestic gull-wing doors. Its value eased in the past few years, but is now back on its way upwards – snag one before it takes off.

Jaguar E-Type Series 3

The Jaguar E-Type – dubbed by no less than Enzo Ferrari as "the most beautiful car in the world" – is widely recognised as a great investment. The British sports car is much loved … for the most part.

Last in the line, the Series 3, being slightly bigger, more comfortable and better to drive, was virtually ostracised by E-Type purists. Having declined last year, its value has spun around this year and prices are on an upward trend.

1978-1983 Porsche 911 3.0 SC

You might think the Porsche 911 is a bit of an obvious choice. You'd be right. But the 1978-1983 3.0 SC has often been overshadowed by the Turbo versions of the fabled rear-engine sports car of the same period.

The SC wasn’t slow, but a more accessible car. It boasts synonymous 911 style, and the best bit is the sudden rise in value – up more than 7 per cent in 12 months with no sign of abating.

1985-1991 Ferrari Testarossa

The 1980s are retro-cool now, and if there's one car that epitomises the decade, it's the Ferrari Testarossa – flamboyant, flashy and fantastic, plus a star in the aforementioned Miami Vice.

Its value has has held steady for ages, but at the end of last year, prices fattened out like the haunches on this pretty model, and jumped by more than 80 per cent. So if you want to drive cool and get rich (or rather, richer), buy a Ferrari Testarossa.