Believe it or not you don't have to go back all that far to find something that is already commanding a premium and is becoming an instant classic.
Sure, everyone knows that a 1963 Stingray or a 1966 Mustang fastback is a find. The funny thing is though, a lot of expensive collectors items were once looked at as just another used car.
Take for instance your 2004 Volkswagen R32. This special edition six cylinder version of the lowly VW Golf econobox featured all-wheel drive and the best sounding 240 hp engine ever made.
Not to mention an interior that apologized to nobody, all wheel drive, and some sexy but subtle body work to set it off from its Golf roots.
What makes it collectible is that they only made it in 2004 and only made a few. Sure, VW brought it back in 2008 as the R34, and it performs even better according to Top Gear. But you cant get it with a stick for that you need the 2004 original.
This car sold for around $30K in 2004, goes for $10,000 more than that for 2008, and is holding its resale value very, very well. Buy now, or cry later.
Then you have the magical Subaru WRX STi and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Huh? Dont they still make those? Sure, but not like they did in 2005 and 2006.
The 2005 STi had the large front hood scoop, and was a very pure incarnation. By 2006 the scoop had already shrunk, ruining the look. The latest version?
A complete redesign which will not win any beauty contests. And is slower.
The 2006 EVO X was the last version before a radical redesign as well. While the new EVOs are still gorgeous, perhaps even better looking, they have, like the STi, porked up a bit and slowed down a bit.
Hows that? Hasn't the displacement bumped up on both cars? Yes, but weight is the speed-killer, so if you want the lighter, faster rally versions, grab the earlier cars. They are already starting to get scarce and will be a great long term investment, not to mention an insane amount of fun.
For a true connoisseur the Toyota MR2Spyder, only made from 2000-2005 is a no brainer. With only about 5,000 a year reaching American shores, this mid-rear engine roadster is actually gaining value when most of its classmates are losing theirs.
With 30mpg on regular gas, a light weight chassis and a variable valve timing four cylinder it is quick and frugal.
Reliability? Stellar. As for handling? Boy does it love the twisties!
You can still occasionally find one for under $10K but most of these are going for 50 % to 70% or more of their original cost. That should tell you something. I sold a 2002, and have regretted that ever since. A poor mans Lotus Elise is not to be sneered at.
On the bargain side, now that Saab is no more, you might want to take a leap of faith. Go ahead and snatch up some of the classics of this jet inspired marque. The 900 turbo comes to mind, and the rare 900 EMS, which was had a bit more oomph than the 150 hp standard turbo model. It was lowered slightly as well for better handling. Not that the handling on this front wheel drive classic was bad to start with.
With some of the best steering feel ever, and leather seating that was the envy of many more expensive cars, this is a true bargain. Due to the dicey repair history, these can be snatched up for very little now, but will no doubt be discovered as years go by. Meanwhile you get to drive one of the all time greats.
You could try and find one of the early Saab models, like the Saab Sonnet or Saab 99, but those have already had their price jump, and will not work as well as a daily driver.