As global crises rock the markets, stocks and shares are unstable, so the smart money is switching to automotive collectibles
If there’s one thing the pandemic and the war in Ukraine has made us all appreciate it is our cars. Shortage of parts, such as microchips and wiring looms, has seen the value of existing stock rocket. No longer are vehicles built fast and stacked high and buyers can now wait up to two years for the model they want, while second-hand values are often higher than the original owners paid for them new.
Enter the world of investing in cars, and you'll find a market that's revving up. With the scarcity of certain components, the four-dimensional number plates are becoming more than just a registration requirement—they are becoming a symbol of exclusivity. Picture this: driving down the road in a car that not only turns heads but also stands out with a unique combination of letters and numbers on its 4D number plates
Create demand and limit supply and the value can only go one way—up. And this greater appreciation of our automotive metal has made our four-wheeled friends a smart investment.
"Today, the clever money has swung towards things automotive"
Whereas in the past, property was the way to go, while the brave played the markets, everyone expected to lose on their car, with depreciation as high as 20 per cent a year. Today, the clever money has swung towards things automotive.
The industry is also going through unparalleled change, as it moves away from burning carbon-based fuels towards electrification of some manner. This transition is seeing the very last versions of many popular models and the first incarnations of electric vehicles become more desirable and therefore valuable.
Automotive experts carVertical have been examining the sector and come up with a list of models, old and new, that are increasing in value and proving an alternative to stocks and shares.
Mercedes-Benz 190 (W201)
Mercedes-Benz 190 (W201)
In the 1970s, Mercedes-Benz boosted the budget for new car manufacturing ten-fold and, as a result, these models are deemed “undestroyable”. The Mercedes-Benz 190 (W201) was an extremely popular model being both entry level and aspirational, offering customers a taste of the three-pointed star.
Expect to pay under £10,000 for 190E but almost £200,000 for a 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II.
Toyota MR2 (Mk1)
Toyota MR2 (Mk1) © Martin Pettitt, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sharp looks with pop-up headlamps make this Japanese sports car an absolute classic. Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive and feather-light weight make this rapid two-seater a must-have for the true driving enthusiast.
Add into the mix a brilliant interior, T-bar removable glass roof and Toyota build quality, and you can see why they are in demand. Made from 1984 to 1989, good examples are now rare and can cost from £10,000 to £30,000.
Japan obviously had one eye on the original Lotus Elan when it designed the very first MX-5 in 1989, and what a brilliant facsimile. If ever a car has stood the test of time, it is this one and today’s latest variant remains a wonderful through-the-seats-of-your-pants drive.
"If ever a car has stood the test of time, it is this one"
Pop-up lights differentiate the first from current models but little else seems to have changed. Early models fetch between £5,000 and almost £20,000.
If you enjoy a good thrash, then the rev-happy S2000 will be the drive for you. The frenetic Honda sports car can be confused for the Mazda MX-5 but comes with more performance.
Solid and reliable and heaps of fun, no wonder prices are strong at around £15,000 to £25,000 and rising.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution © baku13, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
If a model does well in rallying, then it is an instant hit. Feature the model in the Gran Turismo video game and it will be cool until kingdom come.
Lucky owners were given all the practicality of a four-door saloon but the blistering performance of a super car for an affordable price. A Tommi Makinen edition, built to celebrate the Finnish rally driver, went for £100,000.
The car that introduced warp-drive to one of the dullest sectors of the market, the saloon. On later models, floor the throttle and it was quick, press the "M" button on the dash and the world became a blur. A 1990 E34 will set you back £15,000 to £20,000.
Volkswagen Phaeton © Dinkun Chen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Brand new, the Phaeton was far from being a sales success despite being an excellent car. The hope was that it was a poor man’s Bentley, so it was incredibly well specified and had the option of an utterly awesome V10 diesel that would tow a small country.
But looking like a pumped-up Passat it failed to bridge the prestige gap. It remains quite simply an awe-inspiring car. Buy now just for the ride; you’ll never gain so much car for £10,000.
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender
Owners love them and people aspire to own one, because of Land Rover’s impeccable marketing. They are not the easiest drive, but if you are looking for a hit-it-with-a-hammer-to-repair, go-anywhere motor then they don’t come better.
Old Defenders are becoming a licence to print money so you’ll be lucky to find one under £20,000 and lock it up, as they are the currency of rural thieves.
Ferrari F8 Tributo
Ferrari F8 Tributo © Calreyn88, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
In the playground of the rich and famous the F8 personifies the Ferrari brand. If you had to draw a Ferrari it would look like this, and it features an award-winning turbocharged V8 engine that is legendary among the Tifosi. It is the last of its kind before hybrid technology takes over.
Even if you are wealthy you can’t just buy one. Demand outstrips supply in spectacular fashion and numbers will always be limited, so you have to have a proven track record with your dealer and don’t dare try and trade in them speculatively. Benchmark sprint time to 60mph is just 2.9 seconds from the 710hp motor and the top speed is 211mph. Prices from £204,000, but people will offer you their first born to get one.
Mercedes-AMG G63 © Dinkun Chen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
There are Mercedes and then there are Mercedes-AMGs, and the G63 is the granddaddy of them all. Boxy retro looks meet 21st-century technology, and the fact they are the chosen chariot of countless sports stars gives them coolness and provenance galore.
The throbbing 6.3 litre V8, with four side-exiting exhausts, is pure joy. Should we start at the list price of £143,000 and go up from there?
New Land Rover Defender V8
Having a leading role in the latest James Bond is more than enough to make a vehicle, already iconic, a future star.
Land Rover made such an effort with Defender to please the purists that they ended up producing an off-roader second to none, with great detailing that pays homage to the original but then makes it fit for modern motoring. Shoehorn a glorious 5.0 V8 under the bonnet and the job is done. Do I hear £105,000 from the back anybody?
Jaguar had something to prove when it built one of the world’s first luxury electric vehicles, so much so that even four years on, and with no revisions, it remains one of the best on the road. In years to come people will marvel at how good it was for a first effort and it will remain electrifying to drive as well.
"Jaguar had something to prove when it built one of the world’s first luxury electric vehicles"
With the leaping Jaguar on the front, it’s hard to imagine buyers losing any money. At around £65,000 new, watch this space.
Audi RS e tron GT
Audi RS etron GT © Nimda01, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Audi hurled the full weight of its Vorsprung Durch Technik at its first electric vehicle to ensure it was a sure-fire winner. Then, just to be sure, they gave them to the Marvel franchise to make them ultra-cool.
Want to drive the same car as Iron Man? Then you need to order an RS e-tron GT and, as an aside, you will get a vehicle that is staggeringly good to drive, truly breath-taking, and looks every bit the sci-fi concept car. New? From £115,000. The future? Blank cheques only please.
Toyota GR Yaris
Toyota GR Yaris
If you love driving, quite simply, it’s the best £33,000 you will ever spend. Toyota’s GR Yaris is a Group B rally car with number plates and, even after driving all manner of exotica, remains the most enjoyable car of the year.
Renowned for its pure grin factor, it is set to be the thing of legends, and everyone will want one. Future second-hand prices on application then, and even now they are generally more pre-loved than new because life is too short and drivers don’t want to wait.
- Suzuki Jimny
- BMW M2 Competition
- Alpine A110
- Ford Focus RS
- Porsche 911 GT3 RS or 718 Cayman GT4 R
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- Honda e
- Audi TT RS
Just remember, desirability and condition are everything so be careful what you choose and don’t let the heart completely rule your head.
Read more: 8 Hobby ideas for motoring enthusiasts
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