Predicting which make and models will become "collectible" in the future is difficult. When new in 1970, the Plymouth Superbird's odd nose cone and huge rear wing turned off buyers, and unsold models sat on dealer lots for over a year. These days, classic car buyers marvel at its over-the-top styling, and a perfect Superbird can go for $500,000. Though it's impossible to prognosticate what people might be captivated by down the road, this list examines our best bets for future collectible cars. We didn't focus on obvious choices like Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but instead stuck to more unusual vehicles which may have a place among future car collections.
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The Typhoon (and its pickup-only companion, the GMC Syclone) was the easiest choice for this list, as many consider it a classic already. Manufactured over a decade before the "performance SUV" trend started, the Typhoon's 5.3-second zero-to-60 time makes it quicker than a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, placing it among the fastest SUVs ever. With 280 horsepower, which many enthusiasts felt was understated, the Typhoon was even quicker than some contemporary Ferraris. Only sold in 1992 and 1993, less than 5,000 Typhoons were ever built, and its rarity ? coupled with its amazing performance ? assures its future collectability.
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Though several modern Mercedes products may one day become classics, none is more deserving of a place on this list than the 1992 500E. Jointly manufactured by Mercedes and Porsche, the 500E can be viewed as the predecessor to the ultra high-performance sedans offered by Mercedes' AMG division. With a 5.0-liter V8 borrowed from Mercedes' flagship 500SL convertible, the 500E boasted 320 horsepower and zero-to-60 times in the mid-5 second range. In addition to stellar performance, the 500E was extremely uncommon; it was only sold in 1992 and 1993 before being renamed the E500 in 1994 and cancelled altogether afterwards.
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Hailed by many automotive enthusiasts as one of the best-looking Japanese cars ever built, the RX-7 deserves its place on this list. Its rare rotary engine was a standout of unconventional engineering ? it was the only vehicle on the market using a rotary during its production ? and performance, producing 255 horsepower and zero to 60 times of under five seconds. Plus, its remarkable styling and light weight (around 2,800 pounds) distinguished it from competitors. Hampered by poor reliability, many RX-7s have seen engine swaps, but a pure, untouched 1993-1995 RX-7 will forever be a desirable car.
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The utilitarian Land Rover Defender 90 was sold in the U.S. in 1994, 1995, and 1997 as an extremely limited-production off-roader. Though the Defender 90 was low on features ? air-conditioning was optional on early models ? what it lacked in luxuries it made up for on rough roads and trails, where its V8 dominated. Though the Defender 90 was softened slightly in 1997 with the addition of an automatic transmission and a CD changer, any D-90 is a spectacular 4x4. For an even more collectible proposition, check out the extremely rare Defender 110, a four-door version sold only in 1993.
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The only car that doesn't appear on this list for its performance, the Insight is virtually guaranteed to be a fixture at car shows and classic-car auctions in the future. The first hybrid ever sold in North America (beating the Toyota Prius to the U.S. by a matter of months), the original Insight will always be remembered for its odd styling, futuristic technology, and incredibly limited production ? not to mention its stellar fuel economy, which remains unmatched to this day. It may not light a fire on the roads, but the Insight has a place among collectible cars.
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In the BMW world, many alluring vehicles stand out as potential future classics, but none combines the performance, rarity, and uniqueness of the M Coupe. The M Coupe ? a high-performance, hatchback version of BMW's popular Z3 convertible with awe-inspiring handling ? debuted in 1999 with a 240-horsepower six-cylinder. However, things got much wilder in 2001 when that engine was replaced by a screaming 315-horsepower six from the M3, capable of astonishing performance. The M Coupe was cancelled after 2002, making it extremely rare, but a premium will always be paid for this odd-looking monster.
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This one's obvious, right? Of course a 550-horsepower supercar will be a "future collectible." But the Ford GT earns this spot more than any other exotic. Based on a celebrated four-time LeMans-winning design, the GT is excruciatingly rare, even for an exotic: around 4,000 GTs were built, compared with four times that number of Ferrari 360s, and even more F430s. And with a zero to 60 time of under four seconds and a top speed above 200mph, the GT has the performance to back up its styling. Its unique traits ? even among supercars ? cinch its place on this list.
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The Elise will be a collectors' item one day for the same reason that old MGs and Triumphs are collectors' items today: It sacrifices nothing to be a great drivers' car. Weighing in at less than 2,000 pounds and produced in extremely limited numbers, the 190-horsepower Elise is an uncompromising thriller with phenomenal go kart-like handling. It also has a bone-jarring ride and lacks assisted steering, illustrating its primitive sports car roots. As cars continue to get larger and less connected to the road, the Elise will be remembered as one of the greatest driver's cars ever built.
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Though it would be possible to fill this list with enticing high-performance Chrysler SRT models, the Dodge Magnum SRT8 is most deserving of a spot due to its unique concept ? a silly-fast rear-drive station wagon. With 425 horsepower from its monstrous 6.1-liter V8, the Magnum SRT8 achieved zero to 60 in 5.2 seconds and featured muscular 20-inch chrome wheels and a lowered body. But, it was also a station wagon capable of carrying all the groceries you could want. After only two model years, the Magnum SRT-8 was cancelled, assuring its rarity even among the already-uncommon SRT models.
Although it's impossible to predict the future, we've peered into our crystal ball and made our best guesses. The mass production of most modern cars may prevent them from becoming classics, but our list demonstrates that while one-off cars and "barn finds" may be a thing of the past, the era of collectibles may not be done just yet.
For more unusual cars that have already become classics, be sure to check out AutoTraderClassics.com.
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