Most cars lose value over time, but some cars have defied the odds and actually gone up. Here’s some of our favorite cars with value appreciation.
For anyone who has owned a car for any length of time knows, cars depreciate over time. Miles accrue, years pass, payments are made, and the value of your vehicle continues to diminish. But all is not lost. Some cars are cool enough and/or rare enough to actually retain or even appreciate in value. Sure, there are supercars like the Koenigsegg Agera and the Ferrari 458 Speciale, but for those of us without a couple mil to toss down on their next whip, there are alternatives that can also prove to be wise investments. Here are six cars that have value appreciation.
The first-generation NA Miata has gone from “a hairdresser’s car” to the answer to all automotive questions. Indeed, if you’re looking for an affordable, fun, balanced convertible, there might not be a better option out there than the Miata. And for the purists out there, the 1st-gen NA is the definitive version. That first attribute is perhaps less true now than it’s been over the past ten years. When you keep telling people, hey, just buy a Miata, don’t be surprised when they listen to you. Even though they are getting more popular, and therefore more expensive, you can still find good examples of NA Miatas for around $8,000-$15,000. For a project car, $4-5,000.
The Volkswagen bus is the definitive hippie-mobile. And now that boomers have plenty of retirement money to pour into their car collections, the VW bus has seen a jump in value. The VW bus came in all sorts of body types, from the Westfilia camper vans (some of which included a pop-up roof tent), flat bed trucks, and panel vans. The Samba-Bus version had skylight windows (21 windows in total). First (1950- 66) and second generation (1967-79) tend to run anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. The VW bus is currently a favorite among restorers, with lots of room for improvement (and profit) in “well-loved” examples.
The first M3, the E30, debuted in 1986 but the apex of its popularity might actually be 2020s. That’s thanks largely to the styling which, unlike some 1980s cars, has aged spectacularly well. The 80s angularity is in full effect, complete with fender flairs, rocker panels, sharp body lines, and an understated rear wing. Under the hood, the M3 E30 featured BMW’s S14 2.3L inline-four making an even 200 horsepower (which drips slightly in those cars with a catalytic converter). If you really want a good place to park your money, look to the special editions of the E30. There is the Evolution and the Sport Evolution and then the Ravaglia and Cecotto editions. Rarest is the Ravaglia Edition, of which there were only 25. All of these special editions offered engine tunes that increased horsepower. Originally designed as a race homologation, the M3 E30 performed as intended, winning championship after championship. You can find decent examples for between $50-$60,000, and if you want to fix it up and flip it for a profit, a well-sorted, lower-mileage E30 can go for well over $100,000.
As a car nerd, you’re probably aware that the 964 and 996 911s are having something of a resurgence in interest now that those gorgeous 930s and Carreras of the 1970s have reached astronomical prices. But you’re probably also aware that Porsche has actually made more than just the 911. The 914, 924, and 944 have all seen renewed interest in recent years as collectors rediscover what were actually pretty decent cars long overshadowed by the 911. Take the 914 for instance, an early collaboration between Volkswagen and Porsche, this midengined roadster came exclusively as a targa top and features a charmingly boxy design complete with pop up headlights. Its successor, the 924, spawned successful rally cars, featured one of the coolest rear windows since Jimmy Stewart, and was Porsche’s first front engine car. And turbo versions of the 944 have become a particularly hot commodity of late. The 914 car offers the best chance at appreciation and a profit with many used examples between $10-15,000 that, when sorted properly, can go for $40,000 or well above that.
Sometimes the answer isn’t a Miata, it’s a Honda S2000. Similar to the Miata, the S2000 is a light, well-balanced, and very stylish sports car that provides oodles of unadulterated RWD driving enjoyment. Unlike the Miata however, the S2000 came with some actual power under the hood. In fact, the 2.0L I-4 in the S2000 made a full 237 horsepower, what Honda claimed was the highest power to displacement ratio of any engine at the time. The engine is also rev happy, with peak power at 8,300 rpm and a redline of 8,900 rpm. Between the Fast and Furious appearances and the killer exhaust note, the Honda S2000 doesn’t come cheap for a 20-plus year-old car. Current prices for this car run between $20,000 and $30,000 but expect more appreciation over time.
The original Ford Bronco has seen a recent renaissance with fancy electric resto-mods stirring up buzz on the internet and a new throwback Bronco coming to showrooms shortly. The classic first-generation Bronc is beloved for its boxy styling and rugged simplicity. Many examples from the late 1960s have now seen major upgrades to powertrains and suspensions. Finding one for around $50,000 could double your money with a thorough refurbishment.