Spring flowers may be lovely, but to auto enthusiasts they pale in comparison with the gleaming classic cars unveiled by owners in the spring weather.
Walking around downtown Philadelphia recently, I spotted everything from a custom dune buggy to a classic Rolls Royce. As I saw their brightly polished exteriors sparkle in the sunshine, it was easy to understand how even the most cost-conscious among us are tempted to buy a classic car.
In general, at MoneyTalksNews, we urge people to buy used cars. It just makes good financial sense when you consider that you lose about one-third of the value of your new car to depreciation during the first year of ownership. After five years, that car is worth about 40 percent of the original price.
But classic cars aren’t just any used cars: They are cars that — over time — appreciate in value because of their design, mechanics, speed or rarity. Buying a car as an investment is a risky business, however. You might restore a classic and sell it for a profit. But you might not. So, if you’re going this direction, ask yourself first if you enjoy classic cars as a hobby.
“If you’re buying cars just because you think they’ll appreciate — and you couldn’t care less about them — well, then you’re never really going to be happy,” comedian Jay Leno, perhaps the best-known celebrity classic car buff, told Fortune. “Up until just recently, if you could sell a car for near what you paid for it, then, God, you were a genius that was unbelievable.”
Leno, of course, was in the market at the high-end. He bought a McClaren F1 that was priced at $800,000 — a car that is now worth something like $12 million, according to Fortune.
However, if you have interest in cars as a hobby, you don’t need to have Leno’s bank account. There are plenty of more-affordable classics out there. Consider these five:
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Everyone — especially men — love Vettes, says MoneyTalksNews founder and CEO Stacy Johnson “While a fully restored mid-’60s model can easily cost more than $100,000, there are still plenty of later-model cars out there for less than $15,000,” he said.
Do you think a Corvette sounds great, but you need a road-ready car with all of the warranties that come along with a new one or at least a Certified Pre-Owned car? Consider a new or gently used Corvette.
“Investing in a classic car doesn’t always mean buying an older vehicle,” Craig Jackson, CEO and chairman of Barrett-Jackson Auction Co., told Fortune. “It can sometimes mean buying a brand-new car.” A 2017 Corvette Stingray starts at just over $55,000, according to the automaker. Pricey? Yes. An instant classic? Absolutely.
2. Datsun 240Z
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In the early 1970s, the Datsun 240Z was the “cool kids” car thanks to sporty exterior styling, a comfy cockpit and engine that Popular Mechanics notes could skyrocket from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. Its top speed of 125-mph blew the doors off the Porsche 911T, Jaguar E-Type and others in its class, according to the magazine. No wonder Popular Mechanics just named the Datsun 240Z as its top pick of underrated classic cars. Prices range from about $15,000 to $40,000, the magazine reports.
3. Mercury Cougar
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Bet you didn’t think of that one, did you? Road and Track did and notes that the first generation Cougar has much the same bones as its cousin, the Ford Mustang. They also say it’s just as good-looking. That’s subjective, of course, but the Cougar was introduced in 1967 as a more upscale version of the Mustang, reports a Ford Mercury Cougar blog. Retail price for the first-generation hardtop: $2,851, according to NADA Guides. These classics now sell for anywhere from $8,400 to $28,200, says NADA.
4. Ford Mustang
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Another highly desirable and iconic car is the Mustang, first introduced in 1964. Restored Mustangs from the mid-1960s are expensive, but hardtops from the late ’60s and early 1970s are more affordable. Like the Corvette, you can buy a new model and know it’s an instant classic. A 2017 Mustang sells for just over $30,000, reports Edmunds. But if you want a vintage Mustang, they’re plentiful. Hagerty, a classic car and boat insurer, reports the average value of a 1965 Ford Mustang is about $15,000.
5. Station wagons
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Popular Mechanics reports that the 1966 Ford Country Squire and the 1967 Buick Sport Wagon keep growing in popularity. The good news is they can be had for about $8,000 to $10,000, Popular Mechanics reports. Bright colors and luggage racks — and, in my opinion, the faux wood paneling on the side — are extras that make the cars even more unique and likely valuable.
When you’re shopping for your next ride, consider a classic. Not only can they be fun and flashy but they’re also highly affordable if you do your research and don’t plan use them as investments.
What’s your experience with classic cars? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.