Those televised collectible car auctions are certainly something to watch, with impeccably shiny hardware enticing bidders and buyers with a heightened sense of suspense—not to mention stratospheric sales prices—not usually associated with the typical used-vehicle transaction.
But one doesn’t necessarily have to be of unlimited means to get into the collectible car business for fun, and perhaps profit. According to the prognosticators at classic-car insurer Hagerty, each of the vehicles on their annual “Bull Market” list are those that show the greatest potential for appreciating in value—or at least holding onto it—in the coming year. It’s based on data culled from public and private sales, insurance valuations and historical trends.
“This year’s Bull Market list includes a diverse range of vehicles, including microcars, muscle cars, sports cars, exotics, a motorcycle, and even a military-grade SUV. The common factor is timing—even against the current economic backdrop, we believe this group is poised to grow the most in value next year,” says Hagerty’s Vice President of Automotive Intelligence Brian Rabold. “Buying a fun car while it’s on the way up means you can use and enjoy it while likely coming out ahead when it’s time to sell.
We’re presenting the list below with our own commentary, ranked according to Hagerty’s estimated transaction prices (for vehicles in excellent condition) from high to low.
Of course, there is no “sure thing” when it comes to investing in vintage vehicles. For maximum value and investment potential, experts advise anyone entering the market look for a model that’s in the best mechanical and cosmetic shape possible.
As is prudent advice when buying any used car, always buy a potentially collectible auto from a reputable source and be sure to have an expert mechanic thoroughly check out a model under consideration.
Also, be sure to check the history of a given make and model before bidding or buying. If it’s a fairly recent model, run a title check on the car from Carfax or a similar source using its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You’ll be able to confirm ownership, see if there are any outstanding loans on it, and to ensure it hasn’t been previously stolen, flooded, or salvaged and rebuilt.
Of note, be sure to avoid that nagging temptation to buy a “handyman’s special” that’s in dire need of a full restoration with the hope that it will command big profits once the vehicle is renewed. The process could take several years and many thousands of dollars to complete, even with an owner doing much of the work his or herself. Parts may become difficult, if not impossible to come by. Worse, the car will sit in a garage for what will seem like endless months, perhaps even years before it’s again able to be enjoyed in the manner for which it was originally intended out on the open road.
The Hottest Collectible Cars (and a Motorcycle) To Buy and Hold Now
2004–2010 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren ($329,300–$380,700)
While Mercedes-Benz is best known as purveyor of plush and posh luxury cars, it’s no slouch when it comes to engineering some top-shelf high-performance hardware. The SLR McLaren from this period is the brand’s bona fide hypercar. It hasn’t accelerated in value as much a rivals like the Porsche Carrera GT, but we guess that makes it somewhat of a value, despite its stratospheric current value.
2001–2010 Lamborghini Murciélago ($302,700–$342,700)
Cherished exotic sports cars rarely take a dive in value, save for a total market crash, and this classic Lambo is no exception. It’s risen in value among collectors by 48 percent since 2019, though some competitors have done better in this regard. The cost of entry enables owners to explore all 632 horsepower generated by the Murciélago’s raging V12 engine.
2008–2015 Audi R8* ($154,000–$186,700)
The *asterisk is to note that this Hot List recommendation is limited to R8s of this period that were fitted with manual transmissions. All models since 2016 have come with an automatic gearbox, and despite it being a slick and quick shifter, is no substitute for one that lets enthusiasts work a clutch and a stick. Hagerty says Audi R8 values have climbed by 37 percent since 2019, “with plenty of room to continue climbing.”
1992–2006 AM General Hummer H1 ($105,000–$127,300)
This is the modestly civilianized version of the military vehicle that served during Operation Desert Storm back in 1991. It’s the Incredible Hulk of SUVs, with a choice of muscular gas or diesel V8 engines under its massive hood. It’s engineered to literally go just about anywhere, though it’s not especially well-suited to negotiate tight urban streets populated with parked cars.
1936–1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead ($90,300–$115,000)
The oldest model on this year’s Hot List, and its only motorcycle, carries a moniker reminiscent of Moe, Larry, and Curly, but it’s certainly no stooge. It’s a long and low cruiser bike that Hagerty says came into its own in the post-war years, “as a symbol of freedom and rebellion.”
2003–2008 Nissan 350Z ($37,500–$44,900)
Since it first reached U.S. shores for the 1970 model year, then Datsun’s Z has been popular as an attainable and capable sleekly styled sports car. The burly V6 engine in the 350Z generated around 300 horsepower, which made this one quick coupe. Older Zs are most popular among baby boomers and their average values have jumped by 78 percent since the beginning of 2021.
2001–2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 ($31,400–$39,300)
The venerable ‘Vette is highly desirable for its head-turning and neck-snapping abilities, but it’s the limited production models that tend to stand out as potential collectibles. The Z06 version from this era is a street-legal racer that’s accommodating enough to be used for one’s daily commute. Hagerty’s site indicates “America’s sports car” is of equal interest among baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials.
1968–1970 AMC AMX ($30,500–$40,600)
While classic Camaros and Mustangs can bring in the big money at auction, the AMC AMX is a reasonably affordable way to get behind the wheel of a truly desirable vintage pony car. Its beefiest engine was the 390 CID V8 in 1970 that put an impressive for the times 325 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque to the pavement. Hagerty says the AMX has already gotten nearly 29 percent costlier since 2019 and could well increase, or at least hold onto its value, moving forward.
1985–1993 Saab 900 Turbo ($22,200–$25,800)
The somewhat eccentric Saab line of cars were all the rage in the 1980’s among those seeking European-style performance but who didn’t want to pay BMW or Mercedes-Benz prices to obtain it. Already being quicker than the average Saab, Hagerty says the Saab 900 Turbo likewise “appears to be trending toward faster appreciation,” especially among those under the age of 40.
1984–1988 Toyota Pickup 4×4 ($20,700–$26,700)
Toyota helped make its name in the U.S. back in the 1960’s and 1970’s by selling small and cheap, but durable and practical pickup trucks. This model-year range was back before the line finally received a proper name, with the subsequent generation being badged Tacoma. Then as now it’s coveted by a younger crowd than those that can afford pricier Toyota Land Cruisers and classic Ford Broncos.
1991–1998 Suzuki Cappuccino ($12,200–$16,700)
Not originally sold in the U.S., this curvy Mazda Miata-like roadster can now be legally imported into the U.S., with Hagerty predicting it will build a dedicated following, especially among Millennial and Generation Z auto aficionados. It’s not exactly a speedster, with a mere 63-horsepower on tap, but is said to handle tenaciously, and it’s a genuinely unique ride that certainly won’t break the bank.
Further information on any of these possible vehicular investments can be found here.