Is the X1/9 Emerging from the Shadows?

The Fiat X1/9 has been all but forgotten in the 40 years since it was introduced to North American markets. Most collectors just ignore the little mid-engine, two-seater convertible. Many see the car as Fiat’s underpowered and somewhat half-hearted effort to hold onto the American market — and really, who wouldn’t rather have a Fiat 124 Spider of the same vintage, all things being equal?

On the other hand, autocrossers, track-day addicts and those who just wanted an agile sports Read More

Serio’s Gang of Five $50k Buy-Nows

Allow me to fire up Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine for some personal perspective on a chronic, serious car-collecting habit.

Maintaining such a habit for 35 years is certainly (albeit marginally) better than being a fall-down alcoholic, a street-punk heroin addict or a perpetual gambler-loser. The aforementioned addictions are generally shunned by society — and wreak a terrible impact on those who are involved in their terrible wake.

Hold on… they leave you chronically broke, looking for the next high and Read More

The Long-Lived, Never-Loved Porsche

Courtesy of Auctions America

The 928 occupies a peculiar place in Porsche history. Conceived as a replacement for the venerable 911, the factory soon discovered that their customers would never prize a front-engined, water-cooled alternative — even if it did make more power than the company’s bread-and-butter sports car.

Maybe the 928, with its upward-staring headlights, was too strange-looking to appeal to Porsche buyers. This is really an accomplishment in itself, given the unique designs common to the marque. Maybe it was obvious that, Read More

Saab Quietly Goes a Little Crazy

When you think of sports sedans from the late 1970s, the first name that comes to mind probably isn’t the Saab 99 Turbo — unless you have past experience in one.

If you do, they tend to gnaw at you like the prom queen that got away, the early Apple stock you decided not to buy or the chance you passed up to live in Europe with that girl from college.

But climb into a well-loved example today, and you Read More

Porsche’s No-Frills Performance Bargain

There’s nothing more fun than buying, driving and enjoying a bargain sports car. Today, in our red-hot collector car market, most hope — and perhaps pray — that our purchases will continue to appreciate. Yet the prospect of price appreciation someday is different than a bargain today. The 911SC is that rarity which represents a great value in today’s market.

The 911SC saved Porsche from a botched response to U.S. emission controls imposed in 1974. Intended to be the rear-engine Read More

A Luxury Cat with Claws

While it is common today to think that the introduction of Jaguar’s new “sporting” model in 1975 was greeted with jeers, the truth is rather different.

Certainly the XJ-S (the name carried a hyphen until 1991, when it became the XJS) was a notable departure from the XKE. The nomenclature clearly indicated that it was the top of the XJ sedan line rather than the latest in a line of XK sports cars.

Nevertheless, the XJ-S was very much the Read More

All Over the Map With the FJ40

Patrick Ernzen ©2013, courtesy of RM Auctions

Back when I first profiled the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser as an Affordable Classic (February 2012, p. 34), they were the up-and-coming thing. I won’t be so forward as to say that my scribbles helped push the market up, but the ink was barely dry before they soared in value.

Superb examples were selling at either side of $100k, and because of that, it seemed like every auction house had to have one on their docket.

Fast forward to 2014, Read More

Go for Z-Perfection or Nothing at All

It’s almost an axiom of the automotive world that an unloved make or model can gain respectability over time. The reasons for this phenomenon are many —changing tastes and fashions can transform a formerly ugly duckling, or advancing technology and engineering may reveal that a particular car was ahead of its time. But mostly, when all the models around a particular car have appreciated enough, they’ll bring the less-loved units along with them — to an extent, anyway.

That may Read More

Appreciation Replaces Depreciation

Although enthusiasts may argue over the true definition of “classic” as applied to automobiles, perhaps we can all agree on one criterion: If at some point in the car’s lifetime it stops depreciating — its market price stops declining — and the price then levels off and begins to rise, then the market has just declared it a classic. If the price continues to drop, then it’s just another used car.

The Mercedes-Benz 500SL roadster, introduced in 1990 on the Read More

A Classy Cat With Claws

What is it with the Jaguar Mark 2, the automobile that created the sports sedan niche in the automotive marketplace? This car turns heads, is even more comfortable and luxurious inside than its exterior appearance would suggest, has better performance than most of the sports roadsters of the period, and it is unquestionably iconic, recognized by anyone with any interest in classic cars.

Nevertheless, the prices published in all the classic-car price guides tag it with a value that wouldn’t Read More