EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in Auto Buying Guide 2017. Find the full magazine at http://gatehouse.morecontentnow.com/article/20170316/NEWS/303159999.
In the early ’70s, my great-grandmother walked into a Chevy dealership and purchased a V-8-powered Chevelle hardtop coupe. The last car she would ever buy.
Her choice would become one of the most widely restored collectible classics in automotive history. Had she known, pea soup green may not have been her color choice.
Fast-forward about 50 years, and this opportunity still exists. Anyone can walk into a new-car dealership and drive home in a vehicle destined to be a sought-after collectible in the years to come. Here are some predictions from the BestRide staff:
The Challenger Hellcat from Dodge’s SRT division is the most obvious collectible classic car on sale new today. After watching Ford and GM get the muscle-car glory for the better part of 20 years, Dodge and its managers decided to drop 707hp into a very capable chassis and reset the bar for bragging rights.
Having driven the Hellcat on- and off-track, it is not really what many make it out to be. It’s better. Not a race car, but a drag car. Not a sports car, but a cruiser.
Patrick Rall, a writer, editor and occasional contributor to BestRide, has had more track time and seat time in a Hellcat than any other journalist. He also owns a classic Dodge Demon drag car and is the authority on this niche. Rall said, “While there will eventually be other cars with more power or greater performance capabilities, the Hellcat Challenger is going to become a sought-after collectible because it is more than just another high-performance car.
“The 707hp supercharged Hemi and the ability to run a factory-stock 10-second quarter mile are the key attractions, but the fact that it is a two-door muscle car with real space for four adults in a luxury-level cabin AND has all of that power will make it a popular cruiser in the future.”
Rall envisions collectors like himself at the Woodward Dream Cruise — the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing to Detroit 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe — in the future in a Hellcat:
“Some guys have AC, but most do not and even fewer use the system. You cruise windows-down, no matter what. Unless it rains ... then you drive with the windows up, roasting in the car without any functional cooling system. Now, imagine in 25 years cruising Woodward in a Hellcat Challenger on a 100-degree day: 700-plus horsepower on tap, cruising with the windows down and the cooled seats on. The rain kicks up, you close the windows and turn on the AC in your 10-second car.”
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
The Alfa Romeo 4C is unlike most cars in key ways. Non-enthusiasts would look at its features list and think they were being ripped off: It’s got manual steering, something that no other car in the last 30 years has featured. It’s got an automated manual gearbox. The seat is a poor substitute for a cardboard box folded twice under your butt. The Alpine stereo looks like it’s straight from your high school pal’s Olds 442.
Now let’s say it the way an enthusiast like your author would: The most communicative steering in any production car on Earth; the gearbox that only shifts when you say so, or that can be set to auto when you are exhausted from wringing the car out on a track or back road. A racing-style seat that saves weight. An exhaust so loud no audio system really matters.
Having driven the 4C on track and on road we can say without qualification that is it the most entertaining car we have driven, but with a hard edge that is not for the faint of heart. This car will be a collectible and may even appreciate nicely in just a few years after it is out of production, whenever that sad day comes.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
The Giulia Quadrifoglio matches up against the BMW M3, but with added passion, as amazing as that may sound. What to say about a car with carbon fiber seatbacks? BestRide’s Nicole Wakelin says, “The 4C brought Alfa back to the U.S., but the Giulia is the car that will steal your heart. It’s a beautiful combination of performance and style and hopefully the real start of great things for Alfa.”
Mazda Miata RF
The Miata has always carried the flag for two-seat, four-cylinder roadsters from the 1960s, like those produced by MG, Triumph, Fiat and Alfa Romeo. Aside from a handful of Special Edition cars and prototypes, the Miata has never been what you’d call “collectible.” Maybe that changes for the RF, the first production Miata that veers from the pure roadster playbook.
Luckily, Mazda builds the Miata RF for everyone with a budget of about $33K. The ND generation of Miata takes that basic roadster platform and couples it with a profile that is just gorgeous.
Hagerty, the country’s largest classic car insurer, considers this model a future classic collectible, and who are we to argue with them?
“Trucks as collectibles are challenging to pin down,” says BestRide editor Craig Fitzgerald, a former editor at Hemmings Motor News, who wrote about collectible pickups for its publications. “Over the years, many manufacturers have released special edition, high-horsepower, truly unique pickups that should’ve been sure-fire, big dollar collectibles years later, but they almost never catch on.
“Trucks like the original Ford SVT Lightning and the Chevrolet SS 454 have barely kept pace with inflation. The Dodge Ram SRT-10 — the world’s fastest pickup — is available now for half what it cost new. There are valuable pickups like the 1957 Chevrolet Cameo, but they are exceedingly rare. The only pickup you can really point to that made it as a bona fide collectible from the get-go was the Dodge Li’l Red Express Truck from 1978.”
Nevertheless, the Raptor is a different animal. Instead of being a muscle truck like just about every other special edition pickup ever, it’s a SCORE desert racer for the street. The previous generation featured a V-8, but for 2017, Ford opted for a turbocharged 3.5-liter engine making 450 hp and offering a stout 510 lb-ft of torque.
What often makes something “collectible” is whether contemporary consumers actually go out and buy one. The first generation of Raptors are everywhere. A second generation with a turbocharged engine that might not be as appealing to a core pickup constituency may give it what it needs to be a true collectible.
We have not yet driven the new Camaro ZL1, but having driven the prior generation on track and on road, we have to include this special car on any list of future collectibles. Unlike the Hellcat above, the Camaro ZL1 loves to turn. It also loves to do just about everything else a race car does. Chevy somehow took the ZL1 up a notch with the new generation. There are many reasons this car is special — its supercharged engine and magic magnetic shocks are just the start. For around $70K one can buy a Camaro that will beat just about any German or Asian Supercar on any track with a turn.