Many will remember them as brand new as if it was only yesterday
It might make some of us feel our ages, but there’s a whole new raft of cars out there that are rapidly becoming modern classics. Cars of 20 or 30 years ago are becoming rarer and the good ones are becoming classics. Now could well be a good time to get into the market, as models like these are likely to have bottomed out in price – some are already climbing – and represent a good buy for the shrewd investor.
Unsurprisingly, the sought-after ones tend to be the sporty versions of everyday cars. Here, we cast our eye over some corkers from the not-too-distant past that could be worth a look now.
The 205 was a big deal for Peugeot and was hugely popular, especially the sporty GTI version, which is the most sought-after now. In an age of 80s excess when car firms paid huge bucks for their advertising, it was the subject of one of the most ambitious car ads of the day, flying off a ski ramp. Quick, nimble and fun to drive, it became a first car for thousands of 17-year-olds as well.
Many argue that Peugeot lost its way with later models and it was only with the 208, released a couple of years ago and the French firm’s current small hatch, that it rediscovered the 205 magic. The increasing rarity of roadworthy 205s means that even bog-standard models are starting to command decent money – well into four figures.
The GTI, meanwhile, is already heading towards five for a really good one.
Of course the older Escort of the 1960s and 1970s are already classics, but now models from the 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s are rapidly following them. Seen by many as the golden days of the Fast Fords, the Escort had various hot versions, including the XR3i, RS Turbo and, of course, the legendary Cosworth.
As models get rarer, prices are climbing, with a Cosworth of 20 years ago commanding big money in the region of £30,000. A good XR3i will cost you a tenth of that, but is likely to climb from here on in, and an RS Turbo is already into five figures.
Even the prices for standard models like the 1.6L can be heading towards £3,000.
A legend in its own time thanks to the rallying exploits of the likes of Colin McRae and Richard Burns, examples of the golden age of the Impreza are now commanding some good money. The WRX and STI were the rally-inspired road models and cars from the 1990s can easily fetch £6,000 or even more.
These are cars that need to be carefully checked if you’re considering buying, as many have been imported, used, abused and modified to the rafters. But good original ones are becoming valuable to say the least and are sure to appreciate in years to come.
Even more standard models are holding up well in price, but the investment potential lies most in the sporty ones.
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVO
It would be unfair to mention the Subaru Impreza without flagging up its 90s nemesis on the World Rally Championship scene, the Mitsubishi Lancer. Seen by many as even more lairy than the Impreza, a late 1990s example from the car’s prime period can easily cost five figures, especially for special versions like the Tommi Makinen Edition, named after the man who took the car to the World Rally Championship title.
Again, it’s one to be careful of when buying – many have been abused or highly modified – and with both this and the Impreza, many are imports, so need to be checked out with great attention to detail.
But a good one is only set to become more valuable in the future.
Unfairly dismissed by some as a “hairdressers’ car”, the MX5, especially in its original guise first released in 1989 harks back to the days of the light, small-engined, fun two-seat sports car like the MG Midget. Being Japanese they were built to last, which means there are still plenty of good examples around and they are a good buy – you could get change from £2,000.
Many would spend that and a lot more on a 1970s roadster, but the MX5 has one over them in its more modern build quality. If you look after it, that money should be a sound investment as the first generation MX5 rolls into real classic territory in the next five years or so.