Home Cars 30 Classic Cars That Have Skyrocketed in Value

30 Classic Cars That Have Skyrocketed in Value

Vukasin Herbez November 21, 2018

You probably know those sought-after classic cars reach enormously high prices. For decades now, classic cars are a far better investment than gold or bonds. In fact, and in the last few years, the overall index of growth through all the classic car market has been almost 200 percent. And that makes you wonder why you didn’t keep that old Corvette you drove in high school, right?

But although almost all old cars are getting more expensive each day, there are several true champions in this field. Those are the rare cars that have skyrocketed in value. Some even cost up to a few hundred times more than they did when they were new. The trend is even more amazing if you know that some of the cars on this list are quite ordinary.

Amazingly, some of the most inexpensive models are now in the six-figure price bracket. These models really show the magic of the collector’s market. So, keep reading to learn more about 20 best-known cars that have skyrocketed in value in recent years.

30. Ford Thunderbird

In 1955, Ford presented the Thunderbird. But even though their marketing experts tried to present it as a sports car, it was clear the Thunderbird was not one. The car had two seats and sporty looks, but it rode on a standard platform with a comfortable suspension. Also, they filled the interior with lots of creature comforts. This was Ford’s first personal luxury car, with others to follow soon.

The model was extremely successful, so it easily outsold the Corvette. Also, it started a trend and helped Ford boost their image. In fact, the first-generation Thunderbird is one of the best American cars of the ’50s, as well as a style icon. And that is why a perfectly restored or preserved Thunderbird costs around $85,000 today, which is a long way from the original price of just above $3,400.

29. Ford Mustang GT

One of the first ordinary cars that boosted its value is the classic Mustang. Even before its muscle and pony car classmates started to achieve high prices, collectors paid top dollar for rare Mustangs. If you count out those Shelby models, one of the most desirable early Mustangs is the K-Code GT. With an optional GT package that included a stiffer suspension, updated equipment and lots of exterior details, the 289 HiPo or High Power was the choice of real car fans.

Ford introduced it in 1965 and made it available until 1967. In fact, the 289 HiPo was the first Mustang that ran as well as it looked, especially if you ordered it in the gorgeous Fastback body style. The base price of the car was around $3,500 in 1966 but today; expect to pay around $70,000 for a perfect example.

28. Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

Although the 1967 Z/28 wasn’t the most powerful Camaro on offer, it was by far the best choice in terms of handling, braking, and overall driving dynamics. The Z/28 package included front disc brakes, a close-ratio four-speed manual transmission and a revised suspension and steering. Chevy gave it exterior trim details like racing stripes, a vinyl roof and headlight covers.

But the real treat was under the hood. The power came from a 5.0-liter V8 with 290 HP and a high revving nature. The 1967 Z/28 Camaro was a rare and desirable car and today, one in perfect condition will set you back around $90,000. This is a far cry from $3,200, which was the sticker price in 1967.

27. Pontiac Bonneville

Pontiac unveiled the Bonneville in 1958 as a separate model. And, in fact, this was the car that started the whole performance image for Pontiac. In those days, Simon “Bunkie” Knudsen was the head of Pontiac Motor Division and he wanted more excitement for the brand. So he took a Star Chief model and gave it a full makeover with an improved design and gorgeous rear end that mimicked rocket engines.

And they gave it one of the most powerful engines Pontiac had to offer. With a sticker price of over $5,000 in 1958, the Bonneville in convertible form and with the top engine was an expensive and rare car. Over the years, only a handful survived and that is why today, Bonneville collectors have to pay close to $175,000. That is over 2,900 percent more than the original asking price.

26. Dodge Charger R/T Hemi

The 1968 Charger is a true icon of the classic muscle car scene. Big, bold and fast, it was the muscle car for the late ’60s generation. However, if you want the ultimate Charger, you have to look for the R/T performance package and top-of-the-line engine option in the mighty Hemi.

For such a car you must be prepared to pay over $140,000. Also, you’ll have search the classified ads for a long time since the 1968 R/T Hemi Charger is a rare beast. Compared to the original sticker price of $4,000, that is over 35 times more.

25. Chevrolet Corvette L88

The swan song of the C2 generation Corvettes was the mighty L-88. This Corvette was the best and the fastest of the breed with a special seven-liter big block engine, heavy-duty transmission, and brakes. Besides these “go fast” options, buyers could get all kinds of convenient options, so the L-88 could become a comfortable, luxurious land rocket.

Interestingly, in 1967, Chevrolet produced just 20 L88 Corvettes, so they all are extremely expensive and hard to find. And although the original price was close to $6,000 in 1967, today expect to pay a cool $3.2 million.

24. Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz

The Eldorado represents so many great things about the Cadillac brand. It is one of those classic American cars that are a landmark moment in automotive design and technology. And the 1959 Eldorado was the pinnacle of ’50s era design and Americana.

With a base price of $7,400, it was one of the most expensive convertibles of its time. With production numbers just over 1,400 examples, the 1959 Eldorado is rare, so it is expensive today. In fact, it costs 37 times more than new at $275,000.

23. Porsche 911

One of the champions in terms of high prices on the collector’s market is the classic Porsche 911. Because it started as an affordable sports car they produced in the millions, they never meant for the basic 911 version to be so collectible. In fact, the 911 was a car for people to drive and enjoy.

However, in recent years, the air-cooled craze had swept the market, so those early 911s have reached insane prices. The car was around $6,000 new, but now, some sellers ask for a quarter of a million dollars for perfect examples. That is over 3,800 percent over the original MSRP in the late ’60s.

22. Volkswagen T1 Microbus

One of the biggest price tag surprises is the immense popularity and extreme prices for the old classic Volkswagen T1 vans and microbuses. Volkswagen produced them from the late ’40s to the late ’60s, and those vans were workhorses with dependable VW Beetle mechanics. Even though VW produced millions of them, most were driven to the ground or have rusted away.

However, the surviving ones are fetching extreme prices. For example, a perfectly restored 23-window bus from the mid-50s can fetch up to $200,000 on auction. And that is 100 percent more than the original price.

21. Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible

The Pontiac GTO was always a popular, strong seller, but with so many competitors in the early ’70s, sales were down. However, the Judge version was relatively expensive, so it didn’t sell as well as the other models. Also, the convertible was $4,000 over the base price, which was a lot of money back then.

And that is why Pontiac only built 17 GTO Judge 455 convertibles that year, making it one of the rarest GTOs and muscle cars they ever created. The base price for this exquisite piece of muscle car history was over $4,000. And although people considered that expensive, today people are lining up to buy it at over $225,000.

20. Shelby Cobra 289

The story of the Shelby Cobra 289 is widely known, but it’s still interesting enough to tell it again. In 1962, Shelby put an American V8 into a small and light British roadster body to create one of the biggest sports car legends of all time: the Shelby Cobra. The car was so successful and influential, for decades it represented one of the fastest American cars they ever made.

Of course, such a reputation reflected in its price. The price back in the day was $7,500, which many considered a hefty sum. But today, those original Shelby Cobras are now worth close to $1.5 million.

19. Ferrari 250 GTO

Probably the most legendary, sought after and valuable classic Ferrari is the 250 GTO. Ferrari presented the car in 1962 as the high-performance, racing version of the 250 series. However, it was a separate model due to the numerous changes they made to the engine and chassis.

The 3.0-liter V12 delivered around 300 HP, making the car a sure winner on race tracks all over the world. The 250 GTO cost $20,000 back when you could buy a new Cadillac for $5,000. But today it costs $48,000,000.

18. Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi

The most interesting period for NASCAR was the late ’60s when the rules allowed for some modifications to car bodies to make them more aerodynamic. But one of the most famous and influential cars was the 1969 Charger Daytona. Dodge produced just 504 of them, strictly as a homologation special.

In fact, they decided to go all out to create a race car with a special front end, flush rear glass and a big rear spoiler. The price for this insane muscle car in 1969 was over $5,000, which is why just 504 customers decided to purchase it. However, today, the Daytona Hemi is worth $900,000.

17. Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 Convertible

The Chevrolet Chevelle was always a popular muscle car with its combination of an affordable price, stylish design and a powerful engine. However, the most powerful Chevelles were the SS 454 models from 1970. And the LS-6 equipped cars were even rarer. They only built 20 convertibles, making this Chevelle one of the rarest muscle car ragtops in the world.

All of this has a big impact on the price. Today, an extremely sought-after Chevelle SS 454 Convertible can fetch over $1 million. But in 1970, the same car cost just over $4,800 new.

16. Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible

The absolute champion of this list is the 1970/71 Plymouth Cuda Convertible with the 426 Hemi engine. Just one of 17 cars, this Mopar is the holy grail of the muscle car culture. The mighty Hemi engine was an expensive top of the line option for 1970 and 1971 available in coupe or convertible form. It cost around $900 over the price of the standard Barracuda.

Plymouth installed it in about 600 coupes, but only 17 convertibles during its two-year production period. This means you will pay a lot more than the original price of $4,700. In fact, you’ll have to pay 872 times more. They sold a perfect 1971 Hemi Cuda Convertible for a staggering 4.1 million dollars at auction just a few years back.

15. Toyota FJ40

This car that made the Land Cruiser nameplate world-famous entered the automotive market in 1960 as a purely utilitarian short-wheelbase off-roader. During the production run, which lasted until 1984 in the U.S., and until 2001 in Brazil, the J40 had dozens of iterations.

Because some of them were particularly valuable due to unmatched off-road performance, it gathered a cult status among mud-loving enthusiasts. The original MSRP of around $3,000 is a joke now since a perfectly restored and rare example of this legendary off-roader can go for over $100,000 at auction.

14. BMW M3 E30

BMW produced the famous M3 E30 from 1985 to 1992. The E30 M3 was a homologation special they designed to compete in the European Touring Car Championship. This was arguably the first proper and widely recognized M car.

And, in fact, it was the model that sparked an interest in BMW’s M Division. This car once had an MSRP of $33,000, so it wasn’t a bargain by any means. However, today, a rare M3 in pristine condition will get you over $150,000.

13. Ford Bronco

The original Bronco was quite compact, which helped it to be maneuverable on and off the road. In fact, this Ford quite capable when the asphalt ended and trails began. And even though the small dimensions meant the interior was cramped, car buyers loved it nonetheless, so the sales numbers went through the roof.

For decades the first-generation Bronco was almost forgotten. But now people looking for them are paying high prices. The original price was just over $3,000 in the late ’60s, but in 2018, some Broncos are going for over $40,000.

12. Mercedes 280 SL Pagoda

Most people considered this classic SL model from the ’60s underpowered and too small to be a real SL. Mercedes produced the W113 generation from 1963 to 1971, and the biggest engine was the 2.8-liter straight six.

Best of all, for decades you could get one in decent condition for less than $20,000. However, today, most mint examples from the late ’60s cost over $150,000 since people finally realized how good this car really is and that it drives perfectly.

11. Lamborghini Countach

The Countach is possibly the best-known supercar of its day. In fact, during the ‘70s and ‘80s, it was the most popular poster car on most kid’s walls. Lamborghini presented it in 1974 as a concept car and soon, it became a favorite of those wealthy playboys of the day. Although it was notoriously hard to drive and cramped inside, it became a legendary car.

And even though the Countach was always a pricey car to own and operate, most people forgot about it. And because they didn’t value it as much, you could buy one for less than $100.000. However, today’s price is well over $1 million.

10. Buick GNX

Back in 1982, Buick started experimenting with turbocharging its line of standard V6 engines. The results were intriguing, so Buick engineers developed a performance version with better acceleration figures. Soon, there was the Buick Grand National with 175 HP. The number wasn’t impressive, but it was a start.

In the next couple of years, the Grand National got a bigger engine with more power, jumping from 175 HP to 200 HP and finally to 235 HP. With those numbers came 0-60 acceleration times of less than six seconds, making the black Grand Nationals seriously quick cars. But in 1987 came the ultimate version they called the Grand National Experimental (GNX). It featured the same 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 but pumped out 275 HP with a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.7 seconds.

Suddenly, Buick’s turbocharged V6 coupe broke every classic muscle car mold. It was even faster than a Ferrari. At that time, the Buick GNX was the fastest accelerating production model in the world. At $29,000, it was expensive. However, legend says some GNX owners paid for their cars by street racing them. Unfortunately, the Buick GNX was one year only model and the company made just 547 of them. Today, those cars are as equally praised as they were in the late ’80s.

9. 1985-90 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

The third-generation Camaro was popular. But after a while, buyers wanted more performance and power. So Chevy delivered the legendary IROC-Z version in 1985. The IROC-Z was a tribute to the Chevy-sponsored International Race of Champions racing series.

However, it was much more than just an appearance package and a cool name. Under the hood was a 350 V8 with 225 HP and 245 HP in later versions. Buyers could opt for manual or automatic and tuned suspensions and steering. Chevrolet even offered a cool-looking convertible, the first Camaro ragtop in 18 years. The IROC-Z proved a popular and influential muscle car that finally brought some real performance to buyers.

Ford Mustang - Ford

8. Ford Mustang GT 5.0

The rise in power of domestic cars during the 1980s brought the first real performance to the Mustang in almost 20 years. The Fox-body Mustang grew more powerful with each model year starting with 175 HP in the 1983 model. By the late ’80s, the venerable 5.0-liter V8 engine was pumping 225 HP and 300 lb-ft of torque. This translated to very competent 0 to 60 mph times.

The Mustang was again an affordable performance car with solid styling, lots of options, and enough power to spin the rear wheels in any gear. That’s why most car fans consider the 1988-1993 Mustang 5.0 GT one of the best ’80s muscle cars ever. This Mustang marked a return to Ford’s roots with a strong V8 engine and exciting performance. Also, in the late 1980s, Fox-body GT was popular, so they’re plentiful today. This makes them an accessible, affordable choice for entry-level collectors. The aftermarket for those cars is enormous so you can modify your Fox-body GT to make it even faster.

BMW E46 M3 - BMW

7. BMW M3 E46

Every BMW M3 since the first one in the late ’80s, until their modern models have been the prime example of a German muscle car. However, the first generation of M3 is expensive now and with 215 HP, it’s not that fast. The second E36 M3 had only 240 HP for the North American market, so it was disappointing. So the E46 M3 is the best if you are looking for a classic, fast and dependable, yet still relatively modern German muscle car.

In October 2000, they introduced the E46 M3. It featured a new engine, drivetrain, and components. Most car fans regard it as one of the finest BMW M cars and the perfect driving machine. All M cars are a blast to drive, but the E46 M3 was a big improvement over the E36 M3 from the ’90s. It was also one of the last analog sports cars you can buy.

It came with a 343 HP straight six-cylinder engine, nearly ideal weight distribution, and a six-speed manual transmission. With its respectable performance, the E46 M3 soon won the hearts of car enthusiasts all over the world. It was a sales success and is still one of the best second-hand performance cars to buy today.

6. Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS

Today, the Carrera is a basic 911, but in 1973, it was a model designation of a special and influential car. The name originated from the famous Carrera Panamericana Mexican road race that Porsche won in the mid-50s. The factory wanted to commemorate this success by naming the new performance version for homologation.

Ever since the late ’60s, displacement of the 911 engines steadily grew. By 1973, the biggest was the 2.7-liter in RS trim that delivered 210 HP. The Carrera 2.7 RS was a fully lightweight car with a wider rear track, revised suspension, and racing instruments. The lightest and fastest 911 to date, it was the perfect racing car to conquer the world racing scene. Porsche needed 500 examples, but since the car was so good, they built 1,580 copies. Today, all of them are highly sought-after collectors’ items with high price tags.

Corvette Via GM
Corvette Via GM

5. Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR1

Chevy introduced the C4 Corvette in 1984, so it is a true 80’s classic. Its wedge-shaped body, pop-up headlights, rear hatch and bright colors make this generation a true pop culture icon. However, there is much more about this car than funny stereotypes and GTA Vice City games. In fact, the Corvette C4 was the car that singlehandedly saved the Corvette from its demise caused by the recession and a lack of popularity.

In 1984, everything changed with the arrival of the C4. The car was new from the ground up, with a new chassis, engine and design. It also had a crazy digital dash in the interior. At first, it wasn’t perfect but over the years, Chevrolet managed to turn it into a world-class sports car. They improved the performance and road-holding so it could rival those European exotics that were far more expensive.

Called the “King of the Hill” Corvette, the ZR1 was exactly that. When the C4 generation of America`s favorite sports car saw the light of day in 1984, it was obvious that Chevrolet hit a home run. Under the hood, there was LT4, a Lotus-engineered V8 engine with 375 HP, later 400 HP, quad-cam heads and 32 valves. The engine was an engineering marvel and performed exceptionally well.

With a beefed-up suspension, gearbox and pair of extra-wide rear tires, the 1989 Corvette ZR1 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest cars of the era and a true modern classic today. In 1990, they introduced the mighty ZR-1 with 400 HP and performance that could beat any Ferrari at the moment. Be sure to look for those perfectly preserved ZR1 versions since they will be the first to spike in value.



4. GMC Syclone

Back in the 1980s, GM experimented with turbocharged engines, which was in sync with the industry trends at the moment. The most famous of them all was the Buick Grand National or Buick GNX. It featured a 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine and under five-second 0 to 60 mph times. With that kind of firepower, those black Buicks were terrorizing the drag strips and stop lights. By the early 1990s, the Buicks were gone, and GM engineers were looking where to install that turbo hardware. GM decided to make a crazy sports truck out of a plebian Chevrolet S10. It was a compact pickup that came with diminutive four-cylinder power. This is how the GMC Syclone was born. GM took an ordinary S10 bodyshell and installed a 4.3-liter V6 with a turbocharger in it. This made it good for 280 HP.

GM also included a special four-speed automatic they sourced from a Corvette and a performance-based all-wheel drive. The power figures don’t sound much these days, but the Syclone was able to sprint to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. These times made it faster than contemporary Ferraris. The key was its lightweight, small dimensions and lots of torque from that turbocharged engine. Because the price was significantly higher than the regular model, they built less than 3,000 of them. And almost all came in the signature black color. Today, the GMC Syclone is a collector vehicle and a sought-after model. It is still quite fast and can hold its own against much younger and more powerful cars.

3. Dodge Viper RT-10

They never meant to produce the Dodge Viper, but most car fans are extremely glad it was. Bob Lutz and Carroll Shelby conceived it, among other Chrysler executives and engineers. The Viper was a modern-day Shelby Cobra, but with a twist. It had more power, meaner looks and an urge to kill the driver at any given moment. The long hood, short rear end and interesting Targa top was a fantastic-looking design.

This new style was quite unique in 1992 when Dodge released this car. The original Viper had an 8.0-liter V10 with 400 HP and loads of torque. Despite the updated construction, sports suspension and wide tires, the Viper easily lost control, especially on wet surfaces. The performance was brutal. A 0 to 60 sprint took just 4.6 seconds, while the top speed was 182 mph. Despite the performance, high price and exclusivity, the original Viper was a crude car with side pipes that could burn your leg while exiting the car. It also came with a cramped interior and no trunk space. However, this car puts a smile on your face since it’s faster than any other car from the era. The prices for original Vipers are slowly rising, so hurry up and snap this piece of American sports car history.

1996 Chevrolet Caprice - 1994 Chevrolet Caprice

2. Chevrolet Impala SS

The Impala SS is one of the most legendary names in Chevrolet’s performance history. Chevy produced those original Impalas SS from 1961 to 1969. They presented a full-size muscle car that could beat many other performance cars on the stoplight drags. Powered by big-block engines and equipped with a close-ratio four-speed transmission, the Impala SS was a street-legal drag racer of the highest order.

However, as the muscle car era came to an end, they discontinued the Impala SS, only to resurrect it in 1994 as an option as the seventh generation of this legendary model. The early ’90s marked the return to performance for most of the American manufacturers. So, Chevrolet installed the famous 5.7-liter LT1 V8 engine in their full-size rear-wheel-drive sedan. They equipped it with a heavy-duty suspension and components, creating a modern-day muscle legend. For two years, Chevrolet produced almost 70,000 Impala SS models in several colors. However, the most popular was the dark purple SS. The engine delivered 260 HP and propelled the big sedan to 0 to 60 mph time in just seven seconds. Although they are not spectacular numbers, for the mid-’90s, those were impressive results. Since the car was reasonably-priced and popular, most owners drove it like they stole it, so quality examples are rare today. If you find one, buy it immediately.

1. Oldsmobile Toronado 1966-1968

Today’s car enthusiasts may not remember Oldsmobile since they retired the brand in 2000. But back in the ’60s, this company enjoyed a reputation for inventive technology, style and luxury. Oldsmobile represented the cutting edge of GM at one point in time, presenting models far ahead of its time. Olds displayed power and style on the global market. One such infamous Oldsmobile car is the 1966 Toronado. It was a big, powerful personal luxury coupe with a twist since it was front-wheel drive. In those days, only a few imports were front-wheel drive while all domestic cars, regardless of the class or engine, were rear-wheel drive. However, Oldsmobile wanted to introduce something else and constructed an ingenious FWD system. Designers drew a fantastic-looking shape with a low roof and hidden headlights. The power came from a big block 455 V8 with 385 HP.

The Toronado was a success because it introduced superb driving characteristics, which left competitors in the dust. The first two generations were the best, and later, the Toronado was just a Cadillac Eldorado with a different grille. Interestingly, the prices for this gem are not high. For less than $20,000 you can find a 1966 to 68 Toronado that will change your perspective on driving and handling those big American cruisers. This classic GT muscle car will rise in value in the next few years.


This list contains the 30 classic cars whose value has skyrocketed. Did you find your favorite? If so, you’d better hurry and buy it before the price goes up even more. And if you already own one of these vehicles, you could fetch a pretty penny for it at auction.

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