If you’re going to buy an old car do it for love, not to make money. But if you can get some money out of it, too, while having fun driving your investment, that’s awesome. The collector car experts at Hagerty have, helpfully, put together a list of affordable cars that they think are great to buy now as investments — and for fun.
There’s only one Ferrari in this whole list. Most are cars that were fairly attainable, some very attainable, even when new. All, though, have the important attribute of personality. Most of these are also cars that appeal to a new generation of car collectors. Rather than being cars with big hood ornaments or foot-tall tailfins and chrome, these are mostly cars from the 1980s and ’90s, plus a couple from the ’70s.
1997 Dodge Viper GTS
In the 1990s, Carroll Shelby, creator of the famous Shelby Cobra and high-powered Shelby Mustangs, was under contract with Chrysler Corp., the maker of Dodge cars. Shelby worked on a number of products with Chrysler including the front-wheel-drive Dodge Shelby Charger and the tiny hatchback Dodge Omni GLH-S (Goes Like Hell – Some more). The Viper was something entirely new.
It was envisioned as a modern take on the classic big-engined Cobra but with an even bigger engine, packing a massive V10 under its long hood. The 450-horsepower output of this second-generation car, while it might not make headlines today, was more than impressive in the 1990s. With its bulging hood fashioned to look like it could barely contain the massive machinery underneath, the Viper looked like it had been cobbled together by power-crazed madmen in a garage.
Hagerty lauds the Viper’s durability but acknowledges a few weak points. Among them, “ergonomics only slightly worse than those of a 1940s Coney Island bumper car.” All-original examples are hard to find as many Vipers have been crashed or modified.
Price when new: $66,000
Est. value today: $47,800 – $55,900
1990-95 Volkswagen Corrado
The VW Corrado was very different from the similar-looking but better-known Scirocco. The Scirocco was, essentially, a Volkswagen Golf with a leaner-looking body. The Corrado was designed and engineered as a unique performance model from the start. Early versions of this front-wheel-drive car came equipped with a 158-horsepower supercharged four-cylinder engine. Later models offered a more powerful V6. At high speeds, a rear wing rose up on motorized struts, an especially interesting feature back in the 1990s before “active aerodynamics” became much more common.
Besides power and performance, the Corrado offered a decent amount of practicality, too. Its nearly $18,000 price made it the most expensive car on a VW dealer’s lot. At that price, not many were sold which has a lot to do with the Corrado’s scarcity today. The number of quote requests for Corrados has increased 25% from 2018, an indication of rising interest, according to Hagerty, which sells collector car insurance. The superchargers on 4-cylinder models have an unfortunate tendency to blow themselves up, according to Hagerty, so many of the older cars have been given the newer V6 engines.
Price when new: $17,900
Est. value today: $5,700-$8,000
1999-2005 Ferrari 360
The 360 launched Ferraris’ turn toward lightweight aluminum car bodies. Its Pinifarina-designed body was developed in cooperation with Ferrari’s US-based supplier Alcoa. The 400-horsepower V8 engine was visible under a transparent engine cover. The convertible spider versions, which made up more than half of all 360s sold, had a top that folded away in a manner that didn’t block the view of that all-important power source. Over the years, more than 17,000 of these cars left Ferrari’s northern Italian factory.
Hagerty calls the 360 “an affordable entry into one of the world’s most exclusive clubs” — that of Ferrari owners. Be warned that a portion of the entry price comes via costly replacement parts.
Price when new: $170,779
Est. value today: $82,200-$89,600
1971-80 International Harvester Scout
The Harvester Scout offers a similar look and experience to the much-loved classic Ford Bronco but at a lower price. Like today’s Jeep Wrangler, the Scout was offered in a wide variety of body types. It came with a soft-top, a hard-top, a removable steel top and even as a pickup.
Classic SUVs have been rising in value for years. Hagerty calls the Scout “the last of the affordable classic [SUVs].” Scout values have been steadily climbing, too. Parts can be hard to find and the Scout does use up fuel quickly.
Price when new: $7,212
Est. value today: $25,500—$32,500
1988-91 Honda CRX Si
Ninety-one horsepower hardly sounds exciting today but, in the late 1980s, that kind of power in an ultra-light two-seat car made for a lot of fun. The Honda Civic CRX had originally been introduced as a minimalist fuel miser. It had only two seats but it got 40 miles a gallon from its efficient 1.3-liter engine. But whatever is good for efficiency, like reducing weight and getting the most out of an engine, is usually also good for performance.
So, Honda soon introduced the CRX Si performance version with that 91-horsepower engine. The redesigned second generation CRX Si, with a 105-horsepower engine and more sophisticated suspension, was even better to drive. Hagerty describes the CRX Si as “tight, torquey, eminently tossable…” It was one of the first front-wheel-drive Japanese cars to be widely acclaimed by performance enthusiasts.
Price when new: $10,195
Est. value today: $11,200-$15,300
1997-2001 Acura Integra Type R
Another front-wheel-drive four-cylinder Honda performance product, the Acura Type R was mind-blowing in its day and remains impressive more than 20 years later. A track-tuned sports car, its high-revving 195-horsepower 1.8-liter engine produced more power per liter than a Ferrari F355, according to Hagerty. While front-wheel-drive isn’t usually considered ideal for a sports car, the Integra handles beautifully and its engine sound — unmuted by the usual sound deadening materials applied to most road cars — is said to be fantastic. Integra Type Rs are hard to find, though, especially in good, original condition.
Price when new: $24,830
Est. value today: $40,700-$51,200
1984-2001 Jeep Cherokee
The original Cherokee was a huge hit in its day and it remains popular even now. This Jeep model carried on, with little visible change, through three different corporate owners: American Motors Corporation (AMC), Chrysler and DaimlerChrysler. From 1984 to 2001, 2.5 million were sold. Its shoebox-like design is straightforward, elegant and practical.
As with the Jeep Grand Cherokee today, the original Cherokee was popular with luxury shoppers as well as regular folks looking for a hard working alternative to a traditional wagon. It helped set the stage for the widespread popularity of SUVs today.
It can be hard to find a well-preserved example and it must be remembered that Cherokees were “hardly built like a Toyota.” In other words, it may be a bargain compared to an old Land Cruiser, but be ready for some repair work.
Price when new: $21,665
Est. value today: $7,600-$10,400
1998-2002 BMW M Roadster
The BMW Z3 Roadster was engineered from parts of the third-generation BMW 3-series packaged into a fun two-seat convertible body. That makes for a reasonably enjoyable car, but the M Roadster went farther, using the engine from the high-performance BMW M3. Hardtop versions of the the M Roaster, called the M Coupe, are more popular with collectors because the stiffer body — thanks to that added roof structure — can wring out more of the engine’s performance potential. Far more of the convertibles were sold, so M Coupes today are rare and correspondingly pricey. The convertibles may not be as quick on a twisty track but, on the plus side, they’re a relative bargain at about half the price of the Coupe, according to Hagerty.
Price when new: $42,770
Est. value today: $21,000-$27,200
1970-76 Porsche 914
Because of its association with Volkswagen, the Porsche 914 was, for many years, derided as something less than a genuine Porsche. In the late 1960s, the idea was for the two companies to work together on what was to be an entry-level Porsche that would also be sold as a VW sports car. The VW version never made it to market but the Porsche 914 was made available with an 85-horsepower VW-built four-cylinder engine. The car was light, fun and cost less than $4,000 new. The 6-cylinder version, called the 914/6, had much more power but was also much more expensive at nearly $6,000. That version did not sell well and was discontinued in 1971.
Today, with classic Porsche 911 prices becoming prohibitive for many, the 914 is getting a second look from collectors. It may also help that a new generation of potential buyers doesn’t look down its at nose at VW engineering — see the Corrado above. Besides, now that Porsche is part of the Volkswagen Group, the mingling of DNA seems retrospectively natural.
Price when new: $7,250
Est. value today: $32,900—$50,500
1970-95 Land Rover Range Rover
If the Jeep Cherokee was an early popularizer of SUVs, the Land Rover Range Rover created the genre of the luxury SUV. It introduced the idea that a big truck can have luxury appointments like leather seats and wood interior trim. There was a two-door Range Rover but only the four-door version was sold in the United States because of a 25% tariff applied to two-door SUVs.
The luxury SUV market is far more crowded now with entries from brands you once thought would never make such a thing, including Porsche, BMW and even Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini. It just goes to show what a great idea it was. You should remember, Hagerty warns, that the old Range Rover is “affordable because it’s known to be troublesome.” If you buy one, it helps to be handy with a wrench.
Price when new: $45,000
Est. value today: $20,500-$30,300