I love buying classic cars. It is both my profession and my hobby, and is undoubtedly what I do best. The scenario surrounding each and every purchase is completely different from the next, and never the same as the last. I’ve bought and sold it all; everything from barn finds to yard art to concours-quality collection pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I too fancy a nicely polished classic with a fresh set of shiny tires, but the reality is that nothing hits me in the sweet spot quite like a car dressed in years and years of accumulated dust. The thicker the coat of dust, the better. Many people will argue that dusty cars are dangerous territory, claiming that dust masks major faults and blemishes that would otherwise be glaring. In some respects, they’d be right. But I’ve grown to look at it differently. A dust-covered car can only look better, while a car that’s nicely presented looks as good as it ever will. A shiny turd is still a turd. If you want to find a real diamond in the rough, you have to look in the rough. Read more
With a coachbuilding resume dating all the way back to 1919, Zagato has designed and produced many of the most striking and sought-after vehicles the world has ever seen. Ugo Zagato, as pictured above, established his coachbuilding business in Milan, Italy with the intent of applying sophisticated construction techniques from the aeronautical sector to automobiles. Read more
The classic car community has pivoted a bit in recent years; fully-restored cars were once the ones-to-have, now the respective values of these restored examples are being surpassed by “barn finds” and “survivor” examples that, while maybe not seemingly as nice at first glance, carry their value in the form of originality. While we’ve seen a number of “barn finds” fetch large sums of money at auction in recent years, there’s perhaps no better example of a car’s “survivor” nature feeding its value than the Aquamarine Blue ‘57 Porsche Speedster that sold at Auction America’s Hilton Head sale in late 2016. Fully restored Speedsters are trading hands in the $300k – $500k range; meanwhile, this completely original example, which needed some attention, having sat stationary in a Chicago storage unit for the last forty years, fetched $605,000, nearly triple the pre-auction estimate. But why? There’s a particular charm to unrestored “survivor” cars; whether due to nostalgia for a far-gone era or just the excitement of recognizing a car’s full potential underneath a thick layer of dust, the time-capsule feeling evoked by unrestored cars is something special. The woo of that intangible charm is a key component in what drives the value of many classic cars.
Six years ago my dad and I dragged an ’87 Porsche 924S out of a guy’s backyard who had left the car for dead following a host of successive engine failures. Over the past six years, the 924 has become a major part of my life. I’ve always been enthusiastic about the car but not until recently, when I got 55 hours of seat time in six days with no air conditioning or human companionship, did I truly come to appreciate not just how brilliantly practical and reliable of a car I have, but how significant of a lasting positive impact daily-driving a vintage sports car has had on my life. Read more
While alcohol and cigarette manufacturers’ advertisements were once plastered on the large majority of racing cars and circuits worldwide, times, and regulations, have changed. Read more
When we think of “classic” cars, cars of the late 1990s surely don’t come to mind. Our minds go straight to carburetors, roll-up windows, and non-synchromesh manual transmissions. However, in the eyes of the law, a car only needs to be 25 years old to be considered a “classic”. How’s this for mind-boggling: next year the Mazda Miata turns 30 years old. 30! You kiddin’ me? Today we’re going to look at two modern, at least in our eyes, roadsters that just recently crested the 20-year-old mark, the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z3. In just a few years we’ll be seeing Boxsters and Z3s with classic plates; I can’t be the only one rattled by this realization.
Seriously? The Boxster is already 20 years old? Little did the public know that when the water-cooled Boxster was introduced in late 1996, it prefaced the impending demise of the beloved air-cooled Porsches. The Boxster was soon followed by the 996, the first 911 to be water-cooled rather than air-cooled, which caused a stir among the Porsche faithful. Interestingly enough, the mid-engined, 2-seater Boxster was Porsche’s first road car originally designed as a roadster since the legendary 550 Spyder. You may have noticed that Porsche just recently changed the Boxster and Cayman names to the “718”, a homage to the 718RSK racers of the late 1950s, the 718RSK being a racing variant derived of the 550 Spyder.
In the early 1990s, Porsche wasn’t quite the economic powerhouse we know today. As a matter of fact, they were on the verge of bankruptcy. In 1993, Porsche sold just 3,000 cars in the United States, total. In an effort to turn things around, Porsche looked to introduce a new, more affordable model. They looked to Japanese automaker Mazda, who was having tremendous success at the time with their Miata, an entry-level 2-seater roadster. Mazda had proven that there was a strong market for small, sporty roadsters, and Porsche recognized an opportunity. The Boxster would, in some senses, become the German Miata. It was similar to the Miata in that it was small, convertible, and relatively inexpensive, but it featured a mid-mounted flat-six producing nearly twice as much power as the Miata, had near-perfect weight distribution, and above all, wore a Porsche badge. The Boxster was a massive success, and quite likely saved the company from financial ruin. By 2003, when the first generation of Boxster was phased out, Porsche had sold more than 120,000 of them. Ironically, the Boxster, the car originally intended bring Porsche ownership to the masses, is now one of Porsche’s lowest volume sellers.
While it may seem a bit odd, as BMW has been such a prevalent automaker and household name for decades, the Z3 was actually BMW’s first mass-produced, mass-market roadster. It was also the first new BMW model to be manufactured in the United States, having been assembled at BMW’s South Carolina plant. The roadster was introduced in late 1995 and was an instant hit; by the time the car came to market for the 1996 model year, over 15,000 orders had already been placed. Just under 300,000 units were produced over the course of the car’s seven year production run, a huge success. While the Z3 Roadster sold very well, the Roadster is likely not the model that the Z3 platform will be remembered by. The Z3 M Coupe, with it’s hate-it-or-love-it “clown shoe” shape, was the ultimate development of the platform. The M Coupe was essentially a Z3 powered by an M3 powertrain; the combination of the M3’s massive power (320hp in the Z3M’s later iteration) and the Z3’s sub-3000lb weight pushed the Z3M to supercar-like levels of performance. In recent years, the Z3M Coupe has seen a phenomenal appreciation in value, and, as the market currently sits, there’s no sign of values ever dipping back down.
Today, twenty years after the Z3 Roadster’s inception, they’re still a common sighting. And because of the high production numbers, there are bargains to be had; higher-mileage examples can be had for as little as $3k. With the Roadster now at the very bottom of its depreciation curve, if you can find a nice, original, low-mileage example, you can only win. While it probably wont be the next Ferrari Dino or Porsche Speedster in terms of rapid appreciation in value, there’s no better time to buy than now.
Written by: Jake DePierro
Many of the classic and collectible cars we all lust over today and routinely see go for exorbitant amounts of money at auction weren’t always looked at in this light; in fact, many of the cars that are now gaining traction in the classic and collectible market were once looked at as oddities, the features that once deterred buyers now adding massive value in the resale market. For example, take a look at the 1963 Corvette. The ‘63 model year was the only year to feature a “split” rear window, something that at the time was not all that well received. Some people even went so far as to cut the divider out of the rear hatch and retrofit a singular glass panel. Fifty years later, split window coupes are fetching nearly twice as much as their single-window counterparts. Oops!
With all the variation in the collector car market, how can I ensure I’m making a smart buy? Are there any tell-tale signs that a car is soon to increase in value? Read more
The 924 occupies an interesting space in Porsche history; as their first front-engined, water-cooled model, its introduction spelled a change of direction for Porsche, which caused a stir among the Porsche faithful. Read more
This past weekend we finally saw a break in Chiberia’s bitter, grey winter. The sun came out for the first time in weeks and the temperature ticked above freezing….alright! We took this opportunity to stretch the legs of two cars that have been taunting us from the showroom, our ‘88 M3 and ‘84 Euro 635csi. Read more
Though it’s now been thirty years since the tragic end of Group-B, the buzz that the series created within the motorsport community has yet to fade away. The fire-breathing, turbocharged monsters of Group-B are renowned as some of the most ferocious, difficult-to-tame racing cars in all of motorsport history. The drivers of these cars were not only celebrated for their phenomenal skill, but for their superhuman-like focus and fearlessness. It has been said that subconscious self-preservation instincts are what really separated the great drivers from the good ones, as drivers were truly living on the brink of death while behind the wheel at race speed. Read more