ANYONE into cars seems to love a healthy debate and robust discussion around the prices paid for our beloved machines. No matter what type of car you’re into it has been impossible to dodge the topic of car prices through the last few years, as they seemingly overtake property as the hottest investment this side of gold bullion.
The biggest movement has been in the prices of performance cars made from the late 1980s through to the early 2000s, including models like BMW’s E30 M3, HDT’s VK Group A Commodore, the Subaru GC8 WRX STI models, GT3 Porsche 911s, Series VIII RX-7 special editions, and Nissan’s Skyline GT-R models. As prices for cars soar, many fans of these machines are priced out of the market and they’re forced to watch formerly affordable performance cars become unobtainable museum pieces.
While some enthusiasts scoff at the idea a car with plastic bumpers could be a classic, many of these newfound collectable cars were poster cars for enthusiasts now hitting their 30s and 40s and, as clean, tidy examples dwindle, the appreciation for stock examples indicates a maturing of the appreciation for them. If this sounds familiar for the older generations who hunted 1960s muscle cars, or 1950s European sports cars, then you’re on the money.
We’ve seen very low-mileage R34 Nissan Skyline GT-Rs selling for well over $500,000, befitting its stature as the king of the “Japanese ‘90s turbo era”. In the same vein as a Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda, gullwing 300SL Mercedes or Model J Dusenberg the twin-turbocharged all-wheel-drive Nissan towers over other cars from its era. But are skyrocketing prices for late-model cars actually good for the car enthusiast scene?
The biggest benefit is the high prices kick-start the restoration and reproduction industry to service these models. High prices for super-clean cars will lead people to restore their tattier examples and this in turn opens up the door for restoration parts supply, which is a giant industry employing many thousands of people.
Unfortunately, one side effect of ballooning prices is that wonderful performance cars designed to be driven fast wind up being stored in garages. We’ve seen this happen with ‘60s Ferraris, as the 250 GTO (regarded by many as the most-collectable, most expensive car in the world) soared past eight-digit sale prices these special racing machines were shuttered away.
This is now happening to McLaren F1s, which held the title for the fastest car through the late 1990s and is considered the greatest car from the halcyon 1990s supercar era. These pure, V12-powered driving machines are now mostly relegated to become dust collectors as their values soar past $50,000,000.
Another benefit to rising prices is, as cars of this era are treated in a more special way, it will bring new people to the hobby of car enthusiasm. Fresh blood will revitalise the wider hobby, providing new viewpoints and energy, and ensuring the sport of enjoying cars doesn’t just fade away into the background.
On one hand it is terribly sad that some enthusiasts can no longer afford cars they know and love. However, hopefully the soaring prices mean many of our favourite ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s cars means they will be around for future generations to enjoy. Do you agree?
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