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Market Laggards to Watch
Although the market has cooled, many collector cars and trucks have experienced sharp increases in value over the last decade.  Values for top-shelf muscle cars in particular have exploded, with values doubling, tripling or more.  But there are still desirable, affordable cars out there that have the potential to outperform the overall market over the next several years.  Here are some of the models we like.  Values range from fully serviceable #3- drivers to strong #2+ examples.  Published in the August 2005 issue of Collector Car Market Review

1966-68 Oldsmobile Toronado

Unique, muscular, all-American styling.  Powerful V8, luxury features, and technical innovations.  Sounds like a formula for an in-demand collector car, doesn't it?  We think so, yet the market currently doesn't.  You can still pick up a nice example of one of these boldly-styled, front-wheel drive "Personal Luxury" cars for well under $10,000.

Look for: A/C, deluxe interior, full power

Restoration Cost: moderate  Supply: fair

Current value: $5,000 - $15,000

1965-69 Chevrolet Corvair

Another technically interesting GM vehicle, this one can be bought for cheap money.  Even after all these years people look warily at a Corvair, and not only because of Nader's misguided crusade against the model.  Unreliability, oil leaks, and belt throwing lead the list of reasons why collectors shy away.  But in fact, a well sorted example won't give you any more headaches than most other collector cars and they're a lot of fun to drive.  Most desirable is the Corsa model.  The standard 140hp version is a better choice than the 180hp turbo version for frequent use.  But they all look great, even the four-door!

Look for: Corsa, 140hp Monza, 180hp Turbo

Restoration Cost: below average  Supply: average

Current value: $3,500 - $14,000

1970-74 Pontiac Firebird Formula

There probably isn't much time left to grab this one.  The 400 is genuinely fast, a full-on muscle car.  The Trans Am gets all the performance glory here, and as a result receives all of the market attention.  We see that changing as we speak, but there's still time to get yours.  After '71, the base motor dropped to a 350.  You want the 400.

Look for: Big block, options, 4-speed

Restoration Cost: average  Supply: fair

Current value: $5,000 - $15,000

1951 Ford Custom Victoria

Most fifties iron is currently fully valued and pretty stagnant in the marketplace.  But we like this one.  The '51 "Victoria" was significant as Ford's first pillarless hardtop.  While most collectors prefer the styling of the '49 and '50 models, this is a darn attractive car.  The flathead V8, for all its real and imagined troubles, is a big draw for us.  For those of you that might not know, a properly tuned flathead will give any modern day V8 a good run in the quietness and smoothness departments.

Look for: Yes!

Restoration Cost: moderate  Supply: low

Current value: $7,000 - $16,000

1968-69 Ford Torino GT

A direct competitor to the Chevelle Super Sports and Plymouth Roadrunners of the day, most collectors today don't give the Torino a second look.  That's good for you, as this may be one of the best muscle car values left.  The NASCAR inspired fastback is striking, the formal hardtop clean and handsome, and the convertible, well, is a convertible.  The 390 admittedly is a tick behind a GM or Mopar counterpart, but they're still plenty strong.  The 351-4bbl is pretty satisfying, too, and cheaper to buy.  Even the 428 can be found at a good price. Overall, a neat cruiser. 

Look for: Options, A/C, buckets with console

Restoration Cost: average  Supply: low

Current value: $5,500 - $16,000

1968-73 Chevrolet Corvette Small Block

While the C2 63-67 Corvette garner all the attention, the C3 is slowly making a name for its own.  As any Corvette guy will tell you, it's difficult to lose on one of these.  They're tough, dependable, you can drive them anywhere, and at the end of the day, they're a Chevy so your ownership costs are relatively low.  The secret?  Buy a solid, well sorted and presentable driver and maintain it.  The formula works every time.  Well, almost.

Look for: A/C, Deluxe Interior

Restoration Cost: average  Supply: very good

Current value: $10,000 - $18,000

1967-68 Cadillac Eldorado

Big brother to the Toronado, the Eldo is just starting to catch on.  A design that seems to reveal something new every time you look, it was a GM styling tour-de-force.  Like the Toronado, you may have some FWD transaxle issues to sort through, but once done you won't have to revisit it.  All the options are important.

Look for: The best example you can find

Restoration Cost: high  Supply: fair

Current value: $5,000 - $16,000

1971-77 Toyota Celica

Will old Japanese cars ever get respect in the marketplace?  Only a couple come to mind, but we think this one will eventually join them.  The early seventies Japanese kitsch is cool, and performance is reasonably strong for this genre. There is a good chance that they're interesting enough that original owners, who are now in their fifties and probably own an Avalon or Lexus, will start looking.  It's an age-old formula in the collector car world.

Look for: Manual transmission, GT, no rust

Restoration Cost: average  Supply: low

Current value: $3,500 - $6,500

1970-74 BMW 2800CS • 3.0CS/CSi

When smog-engined, pseudo muscle cars can regularly bring $15,000 and one of these in the same condition makes $10,000 or so, something's amiss.  A sweet ride, these have nowhere to go but up.  Of course, everyone has been predicting this for years and there's been little movement up the food chain.  Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  They're beautiful and drive superbly, but some body and trim pieces can be difficult to find.  Stick with solid and complete examples.

Look for: manual transmission, sunroof

Restoration Cost: moderate  Supply: fair

Current value: $7,000 - $16,000

1971-73 Ford Mustang

Except for the Boss 351, the last version of the original Mustang was long ignored by serious collectors.  That has changed in recent years.  Value-wise, each successive generation of Mustang has pulled even or surpassed the first generation models.  Now it's the last series' turn.  Like the Formula 400 above, the move is already underway and the window is closing.

Look for: Mach 1, Grande, options, A/C, 4-speed

Restoration Cost: low  Supply: fair

Current value: $5,000 - $20,000 (not including Boss 351)


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