Every gearhead at some point should own a classic car, it’s the perfect way to keep older cars alive and on the roads, providing of course values don’t exceed its true worth.
How much a car is worth comes down to individual opinion, collectors can make or break the classic car market simply through misty-eyed nostalgia bidding up both the brand and model. Take the Lamborghini Countach; pin-up poster looks and a specification sheet to make its rivals at the time weep in dismay, we adore it. However, as a drivers’ car, its awful! Poor visibility and a cramped cockpit adorned with heavy controls just doesn’t live up to its overrated reputation. In an ideal world, every classic would be stunning, affordable and a delight to own, in reality most are stupidly expensive and overrated.
10 Aston Martin DB5
Trading on looks and movie appearances alone, the DB5 looks faster and more agile than its chassis and drivetrain permits, in part due to a fictitious secret agent who clearly is the better driver, able to outrun all manner of exotic machinery.
If offered one for free, or even cheap we’d jump at the chance, the DB5 oozes style you’ll not get from any other marque. However, DB5’s are notoriously collectible, mint examples fetching as high as $1 million. The problem for us is the DB5 is more GT than sports car, the weight overwhelming its otherwise sublime 325 hp straight-six even before approaching a corner, only to find the DB5 slides as much as it grips.
9 Renault Dauphine
Unmistakably French with its quirky nose, body and engine layout, Renault’s Dauphine was, for its day, hailed as affordable, rewarding to drive, and surprisingly found fame among cab drivers. Don’t be fooled by the classic collectors hype, although cheap to buy, the Dauphine is anything but rewarding.
Built using thin gauge steel, you might think its 1430 lbs mass and rear-mounted engine would deliver spirited performance, but you’d be wrong. Renault opted for a tiny 845cc inline-four, putting out 27 hp that, even with the optional four speed manual, resulted in an agonizing 0-60 mph time of 37-seconds. Those who are a glutton for punishment can pick one up for as little as $11,500, personally we’d pass.
8 Subaru 360
Almost ten years after the Dauphine, it was Subaru’s turn at a small affordable city car, the 360 sedately breaking cover in 1968. Incredibly, it was even slower to sixty than the Renault, and a damn sight uglier.
Clearly, Subaru realized the 360 was no looker, heading to US shores under the “Cheap and Ugly does it” sales pitch — at least they were honest. Lighter and less powerful thanks to a miniscule 423 cc 26 hp inline twin design, perfectly suited to Japans low 24 mph urban speed limits. In the US, well, why bother? Oddly, the once ugly duckling is now considered cute, collectors paying $11,000 upwards.
7 DMC DeLorean DMC-12
The most famous movie car of all time? Possibly. That’s also the biggest reason why gearheads are willing to hand over so much cash, mint examples fetching as much as $45,000. Mint covers a lot of gray areas, even when new, the DMC-12 wasn’t the best built, most reliable, or even the quickest sports car.
It was more of a work in process, and then production ended, leaving enough spares behind to effectively double production, most serving as donors for existing cars. The problem stemmed from John DeLorean’s ambitious plans to build, market and undercut its rivals even before the design had been finalized.
6 Ferrari 308 GTB
Time to get serious in terms of both badge and price. A mint Ferrari 308 GTB is a common sight at auctions, and $150-160,000 selling prices are not unheard of, even more if the car in question has some provenance. Tempting? Sure, it’s a Ferrari after all, and Thomas Magnum had one of these.
Under the rear deck, the 3-liter V8 F106 series engines in US spec put out 205 hp, giving it a respectable top speed of 150 mph. But is it a good bet? Well for less cash, a new Porsche 911 is faster, more powerful, not to mention less likely to leave you stuck at the roadside with dodgy electrical gremlins.
5 Plymouth Superbird
Peel away the aerodynamically sculpted nose and monstrous rear wing, and the Superbird’s appeal drops several notches. Essentially, this much-hyped 70s era track-themed muscle car was just a clever marketing ploy based on the short-lived Road Runner, and we bought in to it big time.
On a drag strip, it works, in the real world… less so. Under the hood, 390 hp 440 cu-in V8s sound impressive enough until you check the speedo and realize flat out you’re barely breaking 150 mph. On the NASCAR scene, Superbirds reigned supreme for their time and did set speed records, but that doesn’t apply to the actual road cars. There are quicker and more rewarding classics to be had for much less than the average $200,000 asking price.
4 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
For a generation of gearheads in the ’90s, the Cossie was the most sought after performance car, leading less honest drivers to “borrow” one at any given opportunity. Ford played a masterstroke in the Cosworth’s creation, the mundane Escort name married to a potent 2-liter turbocharged engine putting out upwards of 227 hp, good for a sub-six second sprint to sixty.
At the time, insurance companies quoted insane premiums, more than the car was worth due to the high spate of thefts. Fast-forward to recent times, and the Cossie is still highly sought after in spite of its rather mundane origins, sure it was quick, but would you really hand over $90,000 for a ’90s Ford?
3 Volkswagen Bus
Love really must be air-cooled if you’re considering dropping the thick end of $150,000 on essentially a van with Beetle running gear. And yet, inexplicably, collectors pay big money for these things. It just doesn’t make sense to us.
Think wallowy handling and accompanying flat-four air-cooled power figures, typically 1.5-liter lumps turning out 51 hp complete with the VW trademark exhaust note, sedately reaching 60 mph if you’re lucky. In reality, collectors buy a bus to use as occasional campers, we’d rather buy a sports car and book a hotel instead.
2 Toyota 2000GT
Japan’s big-ticket to US sales success, Toyota’s 2000GT, wowed gearheads and the press alike in 1967. It’s a gorgeously styled 2-door coupe that drew comparisons to Jaguar’s E-Type as the most beautiful production car. In creating the 2000GT, Toyota had announced its arrival on the world sports car scene.
Appearances alone aren’t enough to justify the high auction prices, which in 2013 topped a million, and more recently doubled that figure. Where the 2000GT starts to fall down is its engine, 2-liter specced cars boasting 148 hp, later cars trading a horsepower for torque, flat out good for 137 mph.
1 Ferrari 250 GTO
Ferrari’s 250 GTO at 55 years is a legend among collectors and gearheads alike, not just for its gorgeous Scaglietti-designed body, or even the fabulously melodic 3-liter V12 churning out 296 hp.
Sadly, we’ll never know for sure if this iconic supercar is overrated or not, the GTO’s headline grabbing claim to fame is its asking price. In 2018, it stole the limelight as the most expensive car ever sold at auction. With a final bid of $70 million, it beat the previous most expensive car sold at auction; another 250 GTO.
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