10 classic cars you should buy before it's too late
Thinking of investing in a classic car? Check out these movers and shakers
This year has been marked by a drop-off in classic-car prices, especially the high-end cars, which were subject to huge price inflation as the collector wave came on full stream from 2014 to 2016.
This tendency has not been true at the lower end of the market, where so-called “normal” cars of the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s have suddenly come into vogue.
Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis and the rare upper-level Mercedes models will always fetch premium prices in the long term, so our feedback on these is that it’s a good time to buy now after the price dip if you are planning to hold on to your classic for a good few years.
Movies and social media play a huge role in the popularity of the lower-level classics. If a hitherto obscure car stars in a blockbuster, there’s a sudden rush on that make and model, as we have seen with cars like the Ford Anglia (Harry Potter) and the Ford Escort MK I and Mk II in recent years.
Recently a friend sold a four-pack collection of Mk I and Mk II Ford Escorts, built between 1968 and 1975, for a total of R800,000. Just a decade ago a Mk II Ford Escort 1600 Sport was selling at between R20,000 to R25,000. Now if you find a good one at under R150,000 you are doing well, and the special version RS2000 with the sharper nose fetches twice that at least.
The reason these somewhat mundane classics are so sought after is that they have huge cachet in the UK as motorsport icons. And SA rust-free cars are seen as very desirable. However, take note that the four-door mundane models have a fraction of the value of the two-door 1600 GTs.
Of course one of the great lures of getting into the classic car scene is that these machines are investments that you can take out and enjoy. Club meetings and shows happen just about every weekend these days in SA, so if you are the social type you won’t be lacking in opportunity to swap tales of carburettor clogging and whining differentials.
Our advice is to buy the best example you can afford. Don’t go the fixer-upper route if you are new to the game. Originality and the presence of all trim items is key to buying a classic, as sourcing these parts can be hugely time consuming and expensive.
Here’s our Christmas Stocking Classic Top 10 for 2018:
Ferrari 308 GT4
Older Ferraris remain blue-chip investments and cars like Daytonas from 1969 to 1973 fetch huge money. Paul Kennard, a Ferrari expert, says that the car to buy now is the previously unloved Ferrari 308 GT4, a 2+2 design styled by Bertone, rather than Pininfarina, the coach-builder responsible for most Ferraris. This car is interesting in that it is a predecessor of the 308 GTS two-seater, (the so-called Magnum Ferrari) and it was the first Ferrari to use a V8 engine. There are a number of these in SA, and prices now range between about R1.1m and R1.4m.
It is wondrous to think that Porsche was intent on killing off the 911 in the 1980s so that customers would be enticed to buy the front-engined 944 and 928 models that they had spent years promoting as the “future of Porsche”.
Tim Abbot of Abbot Porsche in Kyalami says that good investments in the 911 range right now are the 3.0-litre SC models built from 1978 to 1983 and the later 964-series 911 built from 1989 to 1994. Abbot says these cars are bullet-proof and prices are still reasonable in the R600,000 to R1m range. The once-derided 964 shape has now come into its own because of rarity value here, and actually looks very cool because it is so different from other 911s.
Ford Mustang first generation
“I bought you a brand-new Mustang … 1965”. The immortal lyrics from Mustang Sally still sound fresh today, and thanks to movies like The Fast and the Furious, early Mustangs are prized collectables. But prices have softened quite a bit from the heavy-hitting amounts fetched between 2013 and 2015, and you should be able to pick up a cool, mint-condition Mustang from the 1965-69 era for between R500,000 and R800,000.
It’s a buyers’ market right now so you won’t be wasting your money. And a hot tip is that the 1968 GT model will be sought after as the new 2019 Bullitt Mustang makes its appearance here early in 2019.
The year 2018 was the year when a first-generation VW Beetle really made inroads as a bona fide collectable. Early Beetles from the 1950s and 1960s have long been sought after, but now even the mid- to late-1970s models are in hot demand. The proviso here is that they must be in complete and original condition. Pristine late ’70s examples are fetching upwards of R50,000 and the prices will rise because most of the survivors have been hacked or the subject of poor restoration work. Pre-1966 Beetles in good nick are now fetching over R100,000.
1950s Chevy pick-up
Pick-up trucks have been cult heroes on the hot-rodding scene for the past five years and at every show you visit you will see new items appear. The cool thing about restoring a pick-up truck is that they are so simple: no rear seats, a painted dashboard with one gauge, and a bench front seat that you can recover for a few hundred bucks.
Of course, if you want to go the whole hot-rodding route, that’s a different story, but there are parts freely available from American companies specialising in the Chevys, Fords and Dodges from this era. So get out to the country and start prowling around all those old barns.
Mercedes SL and SLC models from the ‘70s and ‘80s
The so-called R107 model was a two-seater sports car and 2+2 coupe built between 1971 and 1989. These cars were hugely popular in SA and until a couple of years ago they sold for stupidly low prices as people worried about the cost of engine rebuilds and the like.
Now prices of the SL model (the two-seater convertible) have risen to well above R250,000 for examples in good condition, and the less-desirable SLC 2+2 model is following suit, but at lower prices. Go for the best example you can find, as there are many battered ones still running around. But restoration parts are not cheap.
This was a rather marginal car when introduced here in the early 1970s. It was a high-style coupe, but with only moderate performance, so it appealed more to well-heeled wives and hairdressers. Now its miniature Camaro looks make it highly prized among General Motors fans, for indeed this was a German GM rendition of the American Chev Camaro. In this league, style is king. Prices range from about R40,000 for one that needs work to well over R100,000 for a pristine restored example.
Ford Cortina Mk III, IV and V
The Cortina models from the 1970s and early 1980s have come into their own as collectable classics. The Mk III was the so-called Coke bottle shape with curvy flanks, while the late Mk IV and Vs had a more squared-off appearance. The last-generation 3.0 S models appeal to performance freaks, but any one of these in prime condition today is going to appreciate in value. Prices for a good modest 1.6-litre model start at about R40,000.
Ford Capri Perana V8
Ford Capri Peranas are worldwide hits in the classic-car movement, as SA was the only country to produce a V8 version of the famous Mk I Capri sold in dealerships and approved by the factory. These cars have long been fetching silly money because of their appeal in the UK. Prices start at about R500,000 for a pristine example, but because there were fewer than 500 built, their value can only increase in the long term. Do your research before being duped, as there are many fake Peranas around.
Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk I and Mk II
The VW Golf GTi made its name here with the early Mk I version, which was only sold here for two years. The car that put the GTi brand name seriously on the map here was the GTi Mk II, known as the Jumbo Golf, as they sold in huge numbers. These cars are still to be found in the classified ads, but the trick is to get an unmolested version.
Prices of pristine Mk I and Mk II Golf GTis are now in the R120,000 to R180,000 region. The reason for these high prices is that the vast majority of these hot performers fell into the wrong hands: young cowboys who wore their caps backwards on their heads even then! So they were hacked and lowered and generally abused on a budget that prized beer more highly than regular oil changes. Only go for a top-quality unmolested car.