I saw a segment on BBC Breakfast News the other morning about cars from the 1980s coming back into fashion. The gist of the feature was that whilst the value of old cars from the 1960s and 70s has been going up for a while, prices for motors from the subsequent decade have remained low – until now. A guy who owned a pristine Austin Montego was interviewed as part of the report, and he suggested that the reason for this recent upswing in interest was young people who actually didn’t live through the 80s wanting to buy into the artefacts of the decade. This I can believe, because I find it very unlikely anyone who was old enough to drive a Montego when they were new would want to go anywhere near one ever again, let alone part with money for one.
Anyway, if that BBC feature holds water – which I’m not convinced it does yet – then the owners of these daily drivers recorded for posterity on my various digital devices are sitting on a fine little set of investments.
I saw a Ford Granada, or at least that’s what I thought it was, the other day for the first time in goodness knows how long (actually, I saw an estate nine months ago but that didn’t really count). Even when they were new I don’t ever remember anyone driving one legitimately – they always seemed to be used for dodgy business like towing stock cars, operating the dodgems at the fairground and selling scrap metal. Probably because they were the kind of car motoring hacks at the time liked to describe as ‘a lot of car for not a lot of money’.
Which made this example all the more puzzling, because it was in good condition, devoid of scrapes and dings, and showing no signs that it had been used to dispose of a body any time recently. The reason for this, it transpired, is because it wasn’t a true Granada at all – it was a Scorpio. The Scorpio was a more upmarket version of the Granada, with goodies like leather seats, intricate alloy wheels and a compact disc player. It also had a massively powerful engine, which if inserted inside a car that didn’t weigh six tonnes could be scarily quick.
Eighties Japanese cars are starting to become highly sought-after among certain car sub-cultures at the moment, but the Toyota Supra doesn’t seem to be getting much of the limelight. That’s probably because it doesn’t feature in the drifting scene as prominently as its younger sibling the AE86 and has actually been readily available in the UK since it was new – it isn’t some kind of exotic jay-dee-emm creature that has only appeared on Occidental shores in the last couple of years. In case you’re wondering, jay-dee-emm means JDM, what all the cool kids call cars only originally sold inside of Japan. On the other hand it may also mean the current trend just hasn’t caught up with it yet. Give it a couple of years and this mint-condition black beast could be the hottest ticket in town. And if it doesn’t, I reckon those alloy wheels would sit really well on a brand-new GT86…
It was utterly shocking to see a Ford Fiesta XR2 driving on the Queen’s Highway, not least because I thought one of my friends had destroyed them all during his circuit racing days. I can’t comment on the driving dynamics because I’ve never sat behind the wheel an XR2, but how many manufacturers these days fit giant driving lamps like these as standard to their hot hatches? And just look at those wheels, which seem to have been crafted from the colander I broke in the kitchen just last week. The 1980s might have been a low point for pop music, high street fashion and hairstyles, but as evidenced by the cars rolling the streets today they were a vintage period for alloy wheel makers. If Ford were to fit giant lamps and crazy wheels like that to car they released today, I’d buy it no matter how it drove.
This next one might have to wait a little longer to fall into the ‘future classic’ category, because it is (a) from the 1990s and (b) a Citroen, the latter of these two points being more crucial in determining its value. You see, big old Citroens follow a very different trajectory when it comes to pricing. Think the classic supply and demand curve from economics, except showing the value of the car against the cost of repairing all the things that will break on it. When the Citroen is old or rare enough to be worth more than repairing the hydraulic suspension, it is officially to be deemed a classic. The DS is definitely there, the CX Safari is well on the way, and the XM might have a way to go yet. Still, its size makes it a cheap and efficient way to transport large quantities of wood in the meantime.
I put this last one in just to show that some things, no matter how cooky or retro they may seem, won’t pick up value for a long time. It’s a Proton from the early 1990s, which is actually a copy of a Mitsubishi Colt from the mid-1980s produced under license in Malaysia. Outdated when it arrived on the UK market, and overpriced given that you could get a good second-hand Ford at the time for less, there wasn’t even anything to recommend it in the first place. As an indication of how awful these things were to drive, two mates of mine (not including the one who crashed all the XR2s) somehow managed to win a road rally in one – but even with the best navigator in Scotland reading the maps, the physical exertion was so much that the driver collapsed with exhaustion at the finish venue. Which is what I suspect would happen to you if you tried to wait for the value of this to increase over time. Mind you, given my prowess at predicting football scores this past season, in all probability Johnny Depp will turn up at the Oscars in one of these next year, and before you know it the Proton Triple Valve MPi will be the most sought after twenty year-old car out there.