On the up?

We were asked recently by an Instagram follower for a few thoughts on what we consider to be modern or future classics that are, or may be on the rise now and in the coming years.


Whilst predicting the future is always a risky business, we thought we would at least comment on cars which we feel are underappreciated and may be well below their full potential at current values.

And so begins this mini series of musings and articles about cars we love and ones that ought to be on your watchlist if you fancy driving and enjoying something which might at least hold its value and who knows, may in fact make you a little money over a few years or more.


In the coming weeks and months, we will be writing about the prospects of a vast array of makes and models, from Alfas to Astons, BMWs to Bentleys, Citroëns to Chevrolets and so on. That’s an outright lie, we will probably never write about either of those last two. Alliteration aside, you get the picture...


But before a list of stock market beating, investment grade motorcars is revealed, there’s a few things to get off our chest.

‘A sure thing. You can’t lose…’


Before rushing across to your favourite car listing site and convincing your partner about your new ‘investment’ as the golden goose replacement for your pension scheme, it would be unwise to not consider the possible and extensive costs that cars of any age and era can present.


This is even more true of everyone’s new favourite category or phenomenon summed up by the ubiquitous catchphrase, ‘the modern classic’ or even more loosely, ‘the future classic’. Both terms quite frankly cover all manner of sins when one reads articles or worse, adverts of cars for sale over the last few years.


Don’t be fooled by the advert which proclaims the Fiat Multipla and its muffin top as having been ‘ahead of its time’, ‘yet to be fully appreciated’, but with a ‘cult following’ and thus a ‘potential future classic'.


Given that you’ve made it here, and are reading this on our website, your interest in a Fiat Mulitpla is rather implausible. On top of this, perhaps as an example, the Multipla may be a slight exaggeration. Nonetheless, we’re sure you can identify with this common and laughable trend, of which dealers and private sellers can both be guilty.


Anything and everything seems to be a modern or future classic when someone is trying to flog a car over ten years old…

Known unknowns…


Whilst all cars have their costs, some of which don’t change much no matter how new or old the car, such as storage/garaging, it is a simple fact that the more modern the car, the more the technological skulduggery at play to deceive the common man or woman.


Off we all go, begrudgingly to a garage with the requisite diagnostics and computer software, rendering prized tool sets all but useless, no matter how shiny or well organised in the face of ECUs. ‘E C Who?’ I hear you say? Well, quite.


Tinkering on a Sunday afternoon with an MGB and a few choice tools bears no resemblance to getting to grips with an autobahn stormer of the eighties, nineties and early noughties, in terms of how much can be fixed or even diagnosed by the average punter.


It is with these thoughts in mind that one should consider the real cost of the more technologically advanced ‘modern and future classics’.


In short, affordability is far more than just purchase price, tax, insurance, a rough idea of mpg and money set aside for new coil springs and a rusty rear arch.


Instead, the more modern the car, the more chance you yourself will not be able to do the basics. There are also the known unknowns and unknown unknowns, intrinsic to weird and wonderful electronic gizmos and gadgets. Some of the latter might be intermittent and some you might be able to live without, whilst others you simply won’t.


A sporadic heated seat that inexplicably scalds you in summer yet provides little more warmth than a boarding school matron in winter is an annoyance. A car which puts itself into limp mode as a result of a failed sensor whilst you are overtaking a tractor on a B road is something more serious and infuriating.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet. Keep reading…


Dissuaded? Don’t be. There’s still an argument for these incredible machines.


Chiefly, price.


Whilst established classics have been revered as such for some time, they accordingly carry a price premium.


Those that are yet to be defined or at the very least, talked about in such a way, do not.


If they have benefited from either price stabilisation or a modest uptick in values then that can reflect a building of anticipation, and is a potential sign of things to come.

Defining value.


In essence, it is all about defining value, something that changes from person to person and can be done in various ways.


It may be the case that you’ve always had your heart set on something that was completely unrealistic. However, rather than a dramatic change in your economic circumstances like winning big on a game of Baccarat in Monte Carlo, depreciation over one, two, or even three decades has brought a previously untouchable car into your sights as a potential, affordable consideration.


To be slightly more analytical about it, try thinking about the cost of a car for sale now, with what it cost the poor sod who bought it brand new. We always get excited when a car is some 15-25% of its original purchase price (and ideally, sometimes even less) either inflation adjusted, or not, for more modern picks.


This is especially good fun for cars that made quite a splash upon release and cost upwards of £100,000 with or without extensive options. Think of the good for 200 MPH Mercedes-Benz R230 SL55 AMG, the Bentley Continental R and T from the early to late nineties, the Porsche 996 era 911 or a host of similarly tantalising prospects.


In conjunction with this, or completely separately, determining value for you as an individual might involve considering the opportunity cost. I.e., what else could that money buy?


For example, as variety is the spice of life, with a £60k budget, would you rather have one decent but not immaculate E Type Jag or these three options? A BMW E36 or E46 M3 coupé for spirited and precise driving, a Jaguar XKR convertible (X100 era) for wafting effortlessly in the sunshine, and an iconic yet practical Land Rover Defender or Range Rover Classic?


And if you shopped around, you could well have 3 of those cars and £10-£15k left over from that £60k budget for servicing and bills. It certainly makes you think about what value intrinsically is…

Conclusions


- Think of the full cost of ownership.

- Be honest about your realistic skills as a wannabe mechanic and what you can and cannot do.

- Define what value means to you.

- Think twice if your sole intention is to ‘make money’.

- Not every car will increase in value as it ages.

- Your car may have increased in value, but how much have you spent?

- Buy a car you have longed after if now affordable.

- Try to buy with both your heart and your head.

- Consider having a car thoroughly inspected pre purchase.

- Ultimately, buy a car to damn well drive and enjoy!

Next time...


In our next rant (insightful and informative article) we shall begin the series proper by discussing the first car on our list of modern/future classics, the Mercedes-Benz R129 SL.


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