Investment Cars from 2014 And Their Value Today

Back in January 2014, I wrote a post called Swade’s 7 Investment Cars for Less Than $30,000.

It’s been said that classic cars were one of the better-performing investments over the last 10 years and I’ve noted in a previous post that Classic Car prices have gone completely maaaaaad. Consider this an extension study to substantiate that earlier work.

I’ve recently revisited the 2014 post and looking at the results, I think that maybe we should have put a consortium together to dump some money into these cars.

They’ve done OK.

**NOTE**
This post is NOT financial advice.

I’ve owned 30 cars during my lifetime and I’ve never made a penny on any of them. This is just interesting historical observation.

Don’t do anything I suggest.

Ever.

I’m an idiot.

The 7 investment cars I highlighted and their selling prices at the time were:

1981 Porsche 911 SC – $28,000

1972 Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF Lusso – $29,500

1981 Mercedes Benz 380SL – $25,000

1998 Maserati Ghibli GT – $32,000

1985 BMW M635 CSi – $29,900

1968 Alfa Romeo 105 Series Coupe 1750 – $21,000

1966 Volvo P1800 S – $26,000

That would have constituted a total spend of $191,400 for 7 investment cars that I thought had potential. For many of us, traditionally, the idea of ‘Investment Cars’ was a bit of a laugh. It was the preserve of those with Ferrari GTOs or Bugatti Type 57s. Those cars went up consistently. Everything else was a money-pit.

That was then. This is now.

So let’s take a look at those 7 investment cars and see what you’d have to spend to buy them in 2023.

  • I will use carsales.com.au as my guide, just as I did in 2014.
  • I will look for the cheapest available comparable model, even though that wasn’t my approach in 2014. In other words, what’s the minimum you’d have to spend to get back into this model, today?
  • All prices are in Australian dollars.

Porsche 911 SC

I’d only just sold my Porsche 968 CS when I wrote the 2014 article, and I’d looked at 911s quite closely when shopping for the 968 in 2013. Air-cooled Porsche 911s were good value in the post-GFC era but were just starting to rise slowly.

I should mention that the 911 SC was actually not the cheapest type of 911 available at the time. The cheapest 911s on the market in 2014 were 1970s era 2.7 models, which were notorious for poor heat management (all of it fixable, but still). In 2012-13, those 2.7 models could be had for sub-$20k prices in Australia. I kid you not.

The Porsche 911 SC models for sale right now range from $75,000 to over $200,000.

This is the $75,000 one, and it looks alright to me. Lovely colour.

The catch with this one, though, is that it’s left-hand drive. While the 2014 selection was also an import, it had a steering wheel appropriate for the market.

Hence, we’ll move on to the next least expensive 911 SC, which is priced at $89,000. It’s an Australian delivered Targa in Guards Red, with 215,000 kms on its original engine.

I must note, however, that this red 911 is a 3-speed Sportmatic rather than a 5-speed manual.

I didn’t specify the transmission in the 2014 entry, so I’ll run with this auto version and simply note that the cheapest RHD manual 911 SC that’s described as an original RHD car (i.e not a LHD conversion) is currently offered at $149,000.

Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF Lusso

There are three Fulvias for sale in Australia, currently, but none of them match the HF 1600 Lusso specification.

I did find three for sale in Italy, however. The cheapest of them is EUR50,000.

At current rates, that’s just a few hundred dollars short of AUD$80,000.

That’s a relative bargain because of the three for sale in Australia right now, the cheapest is $135,000!! That car’s a Series 1 Rallye model from 1967 with the 1.3 engine and “HF inspired cosmetic and performance modifications”. Such a car would have set you back around $20,000 or so back in 2014.

Mercedes Benz 380 SL

The lowest price 380SL on Carsales right now costs $59,900.

Like our sample car from 2014, this one has the optional hardtop roof and cream leather interior. Instead of red paint, this one is Anthracite Grey.

And quite lovely.

Mercedes 380SL

Maserati Ghibli GT

Back in 2014, I spotted a Ghibli GT for sale for $32,000. That was just over our $30k limit but I excused myself because….. well….. I love stupid Italian 90’s Maseratis and it looked amazing in black.

There are no Ghibli GT’s from the 1998 era for sale in Australia right now. Once again, I had to go to Italy, where I found just one example for sale.

It definitely looked better in black.

Maserati Ghibli GT

I referred to it as a “speculative pick” at the time, indicating a distinct lack of confidence in the little Mazza.

Thankfully, it’s rewarded what little confidence I had, with its price rising to EUR28,000. That’s AUD$44,000. It’s no record-breaker but at least it’s gained a little bit of value in that time.

BMW M635 CSi

The Shark. Best seen in JPS black and gold, but I couldn’t find one of those today.

I’m actually a little surprised that I found an M version of this car for sale for less than $30,000 back then. It seems far too low for the M version of a cult car, even in 2014 dollars.

I could only find one of these beauties available in Australia right now. It’s a UK import that spent some time in New Zealand before heading to Oz 20 years ago.

BMW M635 CSi

Interestingly, it comes with the original metric wheels and tyres, of which the rubber is pretty old and needs replacing. Good luck with that. It might be cheaper to store the original wheels and get new ones of a more common size.

The M635 is offered for sale for $92,500.

Alfa Romeo 105 Series Coupe 1750

The 1750 bit is the most important part of the nomenclature, there. There were numerous engines available with the 105 Series, but the 1750 is the sweet spot.

There are a couple of restorers slotting in around the $40,000 mark.

This is the cheapest of the registered road cars, and it’s for sale for $56,000.

Alfa Romeo 105 Series GTV Coupe 1750

There are plenty of tidier ones for sale, but they’ll set you back at least $100,000.

What a sweet, sweet car.

Volvo P1800 S

The last car on my 2014 list was a Volvo P1800S.

There are no S models for sale in Australia right now, but there are two P1800 E models. The ‘E’ means it has fuel injection, giving it a bit more power and a higher top speed. I would imagine the ‘E’ model to be more expensive than the ‘S’ but Volvo enthusiasts, please correct me if I’m wrong.

I’m not sure where to go with this.

P1800 E #1 is an automatic. I’m pretty sure a manual would be nicer to drive and I think it’d command a higher price.

P1800 E #1 is priced at $53,000.

P1800 E #2 is a manual. It’s also been resprayed in a very nice silver finish.

The possible downside is that the engine has been swapped for a turbocharged Nissan SR20, with a bunch of other performance modifications to handling, seats, etc. Given that originality is generally preferable in investment cars, I’m unsure as to how well this will hold value, even though it probably performs better than the original.

P1800 E #2 is priced at $75,000.

Volvo P1800 E

I’m going to go the conservative route, and select the more original car, even though it’s lower in price and an automatic.

Results

So how did we go? If we’d bought those 7 investment cars under $30,000 back in 2014, what could we potentially sell them for now?

Here are the results:

1981 Porsche 911 SC

2014 Price – $28,000
2023 Price – $89,000 (+ $61,000)

1972 Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF Lusso

2014 Price – $29,500
2023 Price – $80,000 (+ $50,500)

1981 Mercedes Benz 380SL

2014 price – $25,000
2023 price – $59,900 (+ $34,900)

1998 Maserati Ghibli GT

2014 Price – $32,000
2023 Price – $44,000 (+ $12,000)

1985 BMW M635 CSi

2014 Price – $29,900
2023 Price – $92,500 (+ $62,600)

1968 Alfa Romeo 105 Series Coupe 1750

2014 Price – $21,000
2023 Price – $56,000 (+ $35,000)

1966 Volvo P1800 S

2014 Price – $26,000
2023 Price – $53,000 (+ $27,000)

Our total spend back in 2014 would have been $191,400.

Our total revenue based on current (minimum) 2023 prices would be $474,400!!

That’s a $283,000 profit.

A 147% return.

Even if we adjust for inflation (using USA inflation figures), where our initial $191,400 in 2014 is $248,000 in today’s money, it leaves us with a $226,400 profit. That’s still a 91% return.

Something that would impact those figures in a negative way is that I don’t account for maintenance, insurance, registration, storage, etc. Those figures would be significant in terms of the outcome.

On the other hand, however, the cars selected in 2014 were typical examples of the models that were available the time. Mid-range examples, if you will. The cars selected in 2023 are absolute entry-level. It might have made for a more fair comparison if I’d calculated an average price across models available, or selected a mid-range example.

Either way, it’s been an interesting exercise. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me.

And if you’ve made a killing on a car in the last 10 years and want to share your experience in the comments section, please do. Anonymous posts accepted, but please don’t be telling tall tales.

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6 Comments

  1. Interesting article thanks! I’ve been following the classic car market over approximately the same time period, and I think I’ve reached the conclusion that you *can* make a profit on classic cars, but you have to be very strategic about it – and you also have to largely forgo the benefits of classic car ownership…

    It seems to me there are a few principles which will keep you relatively safe:
    1. buy the best you can afford, and keep it that way – given that the cost of major repairs, and/or of tracking down missing parts is often greater than the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive examples on the market, you’re invariably better to buy a car that’s already in good condition – and to keep it that way by driving it sparingly and in the case of “collector” cars having it serviced professionally so that you have a good service history.

    2. stick to mainstream, universally appealing models that have good parts back-up – since these are relatively immune to the fickleness of fashion, and provide confidence that that people will still be able to run them into the distant future (and this also somewhat offsets losses from clocking up high miles – e.g. Porsches, Alfas and XK-engined Jags seem to maintain their value despite high mileages).

    3. keep track of what people are actually paying for cars, rather than just the advertised prices. Auctions are a good source for this – e.g. the recent Shannons auction, where for example a very nice Volvo P1800 S sold for an impressive $84,000, whereas a solid but very yellow 911 SC went for “only” $103,000 (and some lucky punter got a ropey-but-useable convertible E-type for $118k). Bringatrailer.com of course. And sometimes dealers will tell you interesting things too… Also it seems like there is a pretty decent variation between markets, and Australia seems to be just about the most expensive place in the world to buy a classic car!

    4. be at the right place at the right time. I don’t know what happened around 2010-2014, but that was a time when classic cars just *seemed* like particularly good value, and that has proven to be the case. (some regrets that stick in my mind from that time are an Alfa Spider for $12k, a 911 turbo for $65k and a Lancia Stratos for $120k…). Whereas people have cottoned on now and it’s harder to find a bargain unless you can manage to be at the right place at the right time, with a bunch of money to spend (that E-type again!).

    5. lastly, be aware of what other asset classes are doing… ultimately I rather suspect that despite the large percentage increase in values over the last 10 years you still would have been better off all things considered by buying a house in Sydney rather than a bunch of classic cars – unless of course you managed to land that 288 GTO back in the day.

    For my part – I’ve somehow reached the conclusion that (as with many things in life) you’re best to stick with what you love and do what feels right at the time, and that any money you make by doing this is a bonus… so I’ve ended up with a small fleet of slightly offbeat classic cars in varying states of disrepair, which I enjoy working on and improving myself and with the occasional help of specialists, and driving whenever I can. I’m certainly wealthier as a result than I would have been if I’d spent the money on a new BMW every two years. I’m significantly behind where I would be had I bought Sydney real estate, and perhaps also if I’d bought top shelf classics in 2011 and put them away – but I tell myself I’ve had more fun and driven more enjoyable miles than in other scenarios*-)

    1. Thanks for the considered response. Agreed 100% with all points.

      Auction prices are definitely a better indicator vs asking prices but I wanted to do a like-for-like review, hence the approach.

      Houses are definitely a safer option. But cars can be so much more fun 🤩

  2. Very interesting how those prices have moved. Ah! the benefit of 20:20 hindsight!
    In that time, Gold has moved around +114%, so AU$ 191k to AU$ 409k. So, a bit less.

    I’ve had 17 cars, and the only car I made money on was a 2006 Saab 95 Saloon 1.9TiD. Bought in May 2009 for £9000. Insurance gave me £9500 for it when it was written off 2 months later 🙁 It is actually still on the road and has apparently just been taxed for a year 🙂

    1. Likewise…. my Viggen was purchased for 22k but insured for 25k when I had the accident.

      I’ve had a few come close to breakeven in the last couple of years but none have made money.

  3. As a point of comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has more-or-less doubled since 2014: from around 16,500, to around 33,000 this year.

    Cars are more fun, of course, but they need upkeep and storage.