Beat the rush | 16 classics to buy now

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of Classic Motorsports.]

Thinking of buying another car? Of course you are. But how do you choose what to get next, especially in a market where prices continue to go up, up, up?  Consider these value buys–cars that are depressed, up-and-comers, long-ignored deep cuts and some models you might not even know about. 

They’re out there but can be tough to find in today’s busy marketplace. Perhaps this guide–a collection of current staff favorites–will help cut through the noise. 

But first, some practical info. Have you priced paintwork lately? Most experts will warn you: Buy the best example possible. Also, go with something that fuels your fire. These are cars, not mutual funds. You should enjoy yours for reasons beyond its value. 

So, what’s next? Past performance is not indicative of future results, but hey, keep reading for some ideas. 

Nissan Skyline GT-R

Out of all the Japanese specials, there can only be one Godzilla–the beast that conquers them all. That title was granted to the Nissan Skyline GT-R upon its 1989 reintroduction. When it came to Japanese touring car racing, nothing else could compete. 

Pictured here: 1996 Nissan Skyline GT-R sold via RM Sotheby’s for $235,200

Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2

Prices for the Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2, one of the top touring cars of the ’60s, suffered during covid times, falling from nearly $600,000 to about $450,000. Is now the time to buy one of the firm’s most iconic models? 

Pictured here: 1967 Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 offered by Fantasy Junction for $450,000

Ferrari 308 GT4

The Ferrari 308 GT4 represents today’s value buy for a carbureted model. Not everyone loves the styling, but oh, the sound of that V8. Current prices are well off their highs. 

Pictured here: 1975 Ferrari 308 GT4 sold via Bring a Trailer for $73,000


Short-hood 911s are hot, so maybe seek out a less common take.  Ruf built 20 to 30 copies of its BTR–short for Group B Turbo Ruf–while converting customer cars as well. Ruf’s work included a 374-horsepower, 3.4-liter turbocharged engine along with the firm’s own five-speed gearbox. 

Pictured here: 1981 Porsche Ruf BTR sold via RM Sotheby’s for $176,000

Small-block C3 Corvettes

Big-block Corvettes have always enjoyed the limelight, but prices on small-block C3 cars seem to be on the move, with strong cars selling for right about $100,000. And at the end of the day, doesn’t it make more sense to go with the car that’s easier to live with? 

Pictured here: 1965 Chevrolet Corvette 327/350 Convertible sold via Barrett-Jackson for $110,000

Eunos Roadster

It’s no secret that early Miatas are hot. Even Hagerty says so, noting that values have climbed 130% in the past five years. How do you find a Miata that stands out from the rest? Consider a Eunos Roadster, the Japanese-market version. What’s so different? Mostly badging plus colors and special editions that weren’t always offered stateside–the same perks that have regularly attracted enthusiasts over the years. Plus, the driver sits on the right. 

Pictured here: 1993 Mazda Eunos Roadster S Special sold via Cars & Bids for $15,000

Australian muscle cars

Anyone who’s seen “Mad Max” has gotten a taste of Australian muscle cars: lots of flat black, aero add-ons, auxiliary lights and, of course, American V8 power. Then add in bodies most Americans have never driven wrapped in some zesty ’70 colorways. 

Pictured here: 1970 Ford Falcon XW GT offered via Australian Muscle Car Sales; offers over $200,000 Australian ($137,500 U.S.) invited

VW Type 3 variant

Air-cooled Volkswagens continue to attract huge crowds. How about a Brazilian-market car like a Type 3 variant?

Pictured here: 1969 Volkswagen Type 3 1600L sold via Bring a Trailer for $10,965

Viral video stars

People have long paid top dollar for cars with Hollywood ties. Just look at the machines driven by Steve McQueen, James Bond and Paul Newman. But what about the four-wheeled stars of today’s viral videos? Ken Block’s “Gymkhana” videos–a series showing him and others sliding through the world’s playgrounds–can easily register 50 to 100 million views. 

Pictured here: Ken Block’s 2011 Ford Fiesta from “Gymkhana 3” offered by LBI Limited; inquire for price

Alfa Romeo 4C

The title of “last analog sports car” is frequently thrown about, attributed to cars like the Dodge Viper, Porsche GT3 and BMW Mroadster. But how about the Alfa Romeo 4C, sold in the U.S. through 2020? Warning, though: The 4C is raw. How raw? It makes an Elise seem polished and refined.

Pictured here: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe (salvage title) sold by for $45,000

Porsche 918 Spyder

The Porsche 918 Spyder, like a lot of other million-dollar cars, wasn’t immune to the recent market downturn. Prices for Porsche’s ridiculously fast hybrid, though, have been on the upturn lately. If you have the scratch, rush out and buy one on the dip.

Pictured here: 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach sold via Mecum for $1,595,000

Integra Type R

The ’90s-era Honda Civics defined the day’s sport compact scene, as they were light, easy to modify and blessed with an effective double-wishbone suspension. The top Civic, however, came from Acura dealers. The brand’s Integra Type R was the Shelby GT350 of the day: more power, less weight and just the right chassis tweaks. For a truly special example, consider a Japanese-market car. Branded there as a Honda, it is easily identified by its wrap-around headlamps. 

Pictured here: 1996 Honda Integra Type R offered by Duncan Imports for $39,888

Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

Remember when a Mercedes-Benz 190 SL served as a low-cost alternative to a 300 SL? Top cars now rake in six figures–often starting with a 2 or a 3. 

Pictured here: 1962 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL sold via RM Sotheby’s for $340,000

Second-genration BMW M3

Prices for the original BMW M3 crossed the six-figure mark a while ago, so maybe it’s time for the second-generation model to follow suit. Hagerty shows that No. 1 prices are up 50% in just the past year, with top examples approaching $90,000. The trick, of course, is finding an M3 that hasn’t been hammered or balled up on track. 

Pictured here: 1997 BMW M3 sedan sold via Mecum for $36,300

Mustang GT/California Special

The 1968 Mustang GT/California Special might have been a mere cosmetic package for Western Ford dealers, but the design work came from Shelby’s fabled firm. 

Pictured here: 1968 Ford Mustang GT/California Special offered by Mosing Motorcars for $37,999

Triumph TR6

Is the lower-priced alternative to an open Jaguar E-type about to get its moment in the sun? Hagerty says top Triumph TR6 prices have gone up more than 40% in the past three years, with the best examples now worth more than $50,000.

Pictured here: 1976 Triumph TR6 sold via Gooding & Company for $44,000

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rustriddenB New Reader
8/11/22 11:40 a.m.


Wow!! Glad I just picked up my 77 MG B! Got a decent one with only minimal front fender bottoms rust and a factory hardtop for $5800! New tires, and other ancillaries. Needs a wheel cylinder...must have brakes here in NJ !!! Damask red. Not a chrome bumper, but still ok. Should have kept my 62 MK 2 A!

klharper New Reader
8/11/22 12:31 p.m.

Gosh I think someone needs to teach you guys what "Analog" means. The Alfa Romeo 4C is anything but Analog.

FlashGumby New Reader
8/11/22 3:52 p.m.

In reply to klharper :

Pretty analog for 2015. Morgans and Caterhams aren't for everyone ;)

tgschmid New Reader
8/12/22 7:44 p.m.

I am confused. You recommend buying small block C3 Corvettes but the photo is for a  1965 C2 Corvette. 

C3s didn't come out until 1967. Which one is the hot pic C2, C3 or both???

rdstr New Reader
12/26/22 11:14 a.m.

You forgot the M-B SLK 32 AMG, not expensive but still quick

95 Customs
95 Customs New Reader
12/26/22 11:36 a.m.

In reply to tgschmid :

I'm guessing you mean 67 calendar year. First model year of C3 was 1968.

Bardan New Reader
12/26/22 12:43 p.m.

Skyline GTs have only been imported in the US for a few years so there is very few here, therefore the price has been high. So when each succeeding year hits 25 years old, more will be imported here. Available supply will go up, prices will come down. This must be the buy high sell low theory. Also the C2 picture, did someone proofread this before hitting the send button?

Mustang GTCS is strictly a cosmetic, not a performance thing. Most are 2 barrel automatic. Nowhere on the car is Shelby's name so it will never bring Shelby prices. The one pictured is In exceptional condition and yet unsold at $37k. They have always brought 10% above a basic automatic coupe and always will.

Automobilist New Reader
12/26/22 4:21 p.m.

I guess you guys have to come up with this sort of article. Keep the non-car guys filled in on what to buy to make money, keep those auctions churning.

In my opinion / experience of owning my first car at 3 years old. Doing my first restoration at 15. Still driving the MG TD we got when I was 13  (51 years ago...) Owning, restoring, driving, fixing and road racing for decades.  Cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats & RV's.

My advice is to simply buy what you like. Become a car guy, not a speculator. Learn your cars inside and out. Have a lift or two in your garage.

Who cares if it's projected to increase in value?  Buy what you like. Who cares about fads, like rat rods, resto-mods, "Rad-Era",  and how to put an LS in whatever.  

Buy what you like...

Flynlow (FS)
Flynlow (FS) Dork
12/27/22 12:38 a.m.
Bardan said:

Skyline GTs have only been imported in the US for a few years so there is very few here, therefore the price has been high. So when each succeeding year hits 25 years old, more will be imported here. Available supply will go up, prices will come down. This must be the buy high sell low theory. Also the C2 picture, did someone proofread this before hitting the send button?

I thought this would be true too, but I watched all years of R32 GTR production come available for import and the prices did the opposite.  R33's are all eligble now (1998 was the last year), and R34 GTRs have never been cheap. 

RustBeltSherpa Reader
1/1/23 3:18 p.m.

In reply to Automobilist :

Quoted for truth x 1,000!

OJR New Reader
3/17/23 8:23 a.m.
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