Whether the car in your driveway will be worth a few pennies or your children's inheritance in 20 years isn't an exercise most drivers undertake. But an insurance firm that specializes in classic cars annually ranks the new models it thinks will be collectors' items one day. Here's their list for 2013, from the fast to the curious:
Hagery's Insurance says the list from its experts was limited to cars that cost less than $100,000 and haven't appeared in previous lists — the reason there's no Ferrari or even a Nissan GT-R. Hagerty explains it's reasons below for each; my take follows.
• Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 427 [$75,925]: "Corvette values tend to favor the last model year of each generation making the 60th anniversary year a worthy example to keep in your garage." It will be later in 2014 or early 2015 before Chevy introduces a new-era Corvette droptop that matches the performance of this one, and that gap will make it valuable.
• Audi RS5 ($68,900): "It’s purely subjective, but we think the basic Audi A5 is one of the handsomest coupes on the market." Few of these 414-hp aluminum monsters will reach American shores, and those that do will be treated well; the RS5 will be to future collectors what the storming Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 of the early '80s are to Deutschlandophiles today.
• SRT Viper ($97,395): "We applaud the Viper as one of the last living examples of the once-celebrated mantra of 'there is no replacement for displacement.'" It's early in the run of the new 640-hp Viper, so there's a bit of risk to this, but Vipers have an ardent base of fans that have already survived one corporate bankruptcy.
• Porsche Cayman S ($63,800): "The Cayman S is Porsche’s atonement for the sin of the diesel Cayenne." Porsche may sell more SUVs than 911s now, but as the 911 moves up in price, the Cayman will become the affordable Porsche sports car of choice on the used car market.
• Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible ($59,545): "Chevrolet’s 'most powerful production convertible ever' will likely be limited to hardcore enthusiasts and command a premium when they surface years down the road." If there's a strike against a car like the ZL1 convertible as a luxury car, it's that it's such a modern Q-ship that there may never be that many Camaro enthusiasts who can afford it.
• Tesla Model S ($58,570): "Electric cars themselves are nearly as old as the light bulb. The Model S defies the stereotype that electric cars are just for people trying to kick the petroleum habit." I'm a big fan of the Model S, but no car carries more tail risk than this one. So much of the Tesla is new and unproven — from the lithium-ion batteries to the 17-inch touchscreen — that it's impossible to say what kind of car it will be after two decades.
• Mini John Cooper Works GP ($39,950): "Mini enthusiasts will need to secure theirs quickly as merely 500 units will be sold in the United States." Like the Corvette, this Mini JCW GP arrives at the end of the current Mini's life span. Whether there'll be a market for the mass-produced special edition that has marginally better performance than a typical John Cooper Works model seems doubtful to me.
• Subaru BRZ ($25,495): "One of the lightest sport coupes in the current market, the Subaru BRZ’s precision handling sets it apart from the crowd."
• Volkswagen GTi ($23,995): "The most successful compact sports car in the world has come a long way since the debut of the first Golf GTi in 1976...and the 2013 version may be the best yet."
• Ford Focus ST ($23,700): "We believe this four-door hatch with over 250 hp and performance handling is an undeniable bargain under $25,000 that will attract collectors many years down the road.￼￼" The BRZ, GTi and Focus ST represent the riskiest of future classics to me precisely because they're affordable performers. Cars like that tend to get driven into the ground — or guardrails, or trees, or neighbor's houses — at an astonishing rate; those that survive often do so only because one owner chose to modify it beyond recognition.
Once upon a time, much of Hagerty's analysis could have been said about the VW Corrado and the Ford Focus/Contour SVT, both of which now qualify as endangered species. The exception to this phenomena has been sleeper performers like the Chevy Cobalt SS — a car with true sporting bonafides hidden under a dull GM body that's now rising in value. Tell us below what you think will be a classic car (or truck) 20 years from now.
Photo: Eclipso Supremo via Flickr