Appreciating Classic Cars Takes on New Meaning as Prices Soar for 80s and 90s Cars

Trading places with the stock market, classic and enthusiast cars have been making headlines as buyers and sellers begin appreciating the values and intrigue of certain four-wheeled favourites.

Whether you’re looking to buy your first or further invest in your car collection, we delve into the fastest-appreciating specialist cars and tips for buying cars online in the COVID-19 era.

With the pandemic leading to more of us looking to buy cars at a distance, several new platforms have sprung up alongside established ones, expanding their offering to include contactless auctions. One such company that has already sold £3m of vehicles in its first six months is Car & Classic.

Claimed to be Europe’s number one site for classic and specialist cars, it’s home to over 40,000 private and trade collector car adverts alongside its new auction site. With access to data from hundreds of thousands of transactions alongside insight from its parent company Cazana, it has highlighted movers and shakers of classic car values over the last 12 months, suggesting five leading car models, ranging from across the classic car spectrum that have gained the most value during this period.

Ford Cortina

The Cortina has doubled in value (104 per cent) as enthusiasts flock to the classic Ford. The UK’s best-selling car of the Seventies, the Ford Cortina is favoured once again by enthusiasts for its early years motorsport pedigree and nostalgia for a time when every street was filled with them. Unsurprising with over 2.6 million sold yet, thanks to corrosion and its affordability, around 0.1 per cent survive, with about 2,600 left on our roads.

Market tip: The Ford Cortina was for sale in various guises from 1962 to 1982. Regardless of the model, ensure you check for rust and the interior’s condition as new panels and retrimming can be costly.

The Ford Cortina is one of many appreciating classic cars
Volkswagen Corrado

While Car & Classic’s auction site suggests classic cars from the Nineties are the most popular, the one that has increased the most in value over the last year is the Volkswagen Corrado. Leaping in value by 69 per cent the Corrado was available in various specifications, engine variants and mild engineering upgrades and facelift designs.

Market tip: While the Corrado is now seen by many to be the next iconic ‘youngtimer’ Volkswagen, the upgraded VR6s and launch V60s are seen as the ones to have with the Storm, a UK only run-out model from 1995, coveted for its specification including 15” BBS wheels, leather and attractive Mystic Blue or Classic Green colours.

The Volkswagen Corrado is one of many appreciating classic cars
Toyota Celica

Continuing the theme of Nineties youngtimers, the rallying star Toyota Celica is also appreciated by enthusiasts, gaining 62 per cent in value in the past year. With motorsport stars of the same era being out of reach to many, petrolheads have had their heads turned with the ‘fifth generation’ T180-code Toyota Celica.

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Market tip: The convertible was sold in low numbers but the GT-Four was more popular and a homologation special, loved by motorsport and rallying enthusiasts. Look out for differences in JDM and UK variants, as with prices rising, expect more cars to be shipped from Japan to cater for demand.

The Toyota Celica is one of many appreciating classic cars
Aston Martin Virage

Rising in value by 53 per cent over the last year the once unloved Aston Martin Virage is now in favour. One of the last models to be hand-built at Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell factory it was sold as coupe and soft-top. Built in low numbers with a few engine variations, enthusiasts are now appreciating this British classic.

Market tip: Look out for original UK order cars in right-hand drive. In right-hand drive, there were just 167 made in coupe form and 121 drop-tops. Even rarer still are cars fitted with a manual gearbox.

Jaguar XJ

The popular Jaguar XJ saloon famed for ferrying celebrities, royals and government officials is now a go-to choice for enthusiasts. In the last year values have climbed by 47 per cent. As a model, it may be over 50 years old, but the extra interest is not slowing down for the British executive car.

Market tip: History and servicing are very important. Sold in large numbers, the low production run models such as the XJR ‘X308’ have been collectable from new and owned largely by enthusiasts who have properly serviced and maintained their cars. Perennially undervalued and popular with banger racers, numbers have dwindled but interest is such that Jaguar itself is offering more parts through its Classic arm.

As Covid-19 restrictions and lockdown continues, online auctions and click and collect car buying have become the ‘new normal’ to buy classic cars. Whilst buying unseen was traditionally a no-no for specialist and classic cars, choosing to buy or sell on the right platform will offer sufficient protection.

It’s worth doing your homework on the type of cars being listed, the costs involved, what protection there is for your funds and what happens when something goes wrong as well as reviews.

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“Firstly, regardless of restrictions and lockdown, specialists will always be a great way to buy classic and enthusiast cars by providing as much detail about the car, history, provenance and an honest description of the vehicle. Choose a platform staffed by experts, focused on the sector and look to those with marque-specific expertise,” suggests Car & Classic’s CEO Tom Wood.

Like any classic car purchase, doing your research on the car is essential. Joining a marque or model-specific club can be hugely helpful and classic car magazines will cover prices and recent auction results to give a comprehensive point of view. “I’d advise all vendors to do their research on values, keeping in mind condition can be a key factor for prices. Likewise, all potential buyers should research what they want to pay for each car, being sure to consider upkeep and maintenance, too,” adds Wood.

“If you’re buying a car during lockdown via online auction, the images and/or video will be the closest you can get to an inspection. Some platforms such as ours will have at least 100 images per advert. Furthermore, we also try and ensure the photographer is also the writer, and is led by our editorial team. It can provide additional insight into the car’s condition and paperwork. Keep in mind that via some outlets, this isn’t the case and that a picture sometimes speaks a thousand words — good and bad!” suggests Wood.

Handing over a significant amount of money for a used car at auction can pose a risk. One example last year saw one buyer have his car stopped by police after it transpired the auction company had gone into administration before handing the cash to the seller. Fear not, some auction platforms will offer security against this. “Our team offers free escrow for transactions and 0 per cent buyers’ fees,” states Wood.

With more of us looking to get back to travelling in 2021, perhaps the first outing will be a road trip in a newly acquired classic.