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Comment: Has the recession wiped out some future classics?

Published 21 March 2016

Over the last couple of years, there’s been a groundswell of enthusiasm for cars from the 1990s. These are cars that occupy a sweet spot for people of a certain age, largely in their thirties, looking for a car that they want to own for nostalgic reasons. Mum and Dad had one, or they wanted one when they were 17, but couldn’t afford the insurance.

But for certain models, demand already outstrips supply – and we’re not talking high end classics here. In recent weeks, we’ve seen once ubiquitous cars start to rise from the under-a-grand ‘bit of fun’ category to being worth a reasonable amount of cash.

Three grand for a Ford Orion Ghia, for example, or Citroen XM Exclusive that reached the heady heights of £4,850 on eBay, and it wasn’t even a low mileage example. Indeed, I was offered £3,000 for my 1995 Rover 800 Vitesse just the other day, and it must be worth that much at least, because I said no.

Nineties cars are ideal for enthusiasts. Build quality by the 1990s was so much better than in previous decades, and in terms of usability they can still hold their heads high among modern traffic. They’re also probably the last generation of cars that are relatively easy for the home mechanic to maintain, requiring nothing more than a code reader, generally, to determine which components may be at fault.

Rover 800

Alas, with interest in early Nineties cars already at their peak, it won’t be long before the trend extends to those from the latter half of the decade, and that’s where the problems could begin.

Thanks to the global economy falling off a cliff at the end of the 2000s, many older cars simply didn’t get the maintenance they deserved. Rather than repair seemingly straightforward faults, cash-strapped or credit burnt owners simply disposed of them. Scrap was also at a high thanks to the growing economy in China and its subsequent demand for steel, unlike today, where it’s far more cost effective to sell a car on for spares or repair than take £30 a tonne from the breakers.

Next time you’re out for a drive, see how many N, P or R-registered cars you see on the road. They’re in massive decline, and while some models have an obvious and popular following, such as the MGF, Mazda MX-5, Toyota MR2 and other affordable two-seaters, when was the last time you saw a Mk1 Ford Mondeo, a Peugeot 405 or a Rover 600? Yet these cars have their following. Good ones never fail to sell for less than four figures if properly advertised, and that’s because they have their fans, and already there are more enthusiasts for them than there are good examples left.

It’s good for those who want to speculate to accumulate, but it’s not great news for genuine enthusiasts, who can’t afford a sports car, but want something old, quirky and steeped in memories.

Ford Mondeo ST200

So if you drive a car that’s getting on in years as your daily, think twice before committing it to an early grave. You’re not sitting on a priceless artwork, so don’t get carried away, but there’s definitely somebody, somewhere, who’ll love it. And as a classic car enthusiast, you owe it to yourself and your peers to give these not-quite classics a chance while they still exist…


Cappuccino Break    on 22 March 2016

Has sadly wiped out all the Hyundai Ponies and S-Coupes, too.

GnosticBrian    on 25 March 2016

I did a third of a million miles in my much missed Peugeot 405 Mi 16. Mostly motorway; quite a bit in Eastern Europe on ropey fuel. I changed the oil and filters with each season - 4 changes per year. Never had a spanner on the engine; still had original clutch; no rust; one complete new exhaust; and then just routine service items. A real "Q" car - I miss her.

80sXS    on 25 March 2016

Or you could look at it another way...

Since the 2008 banking collapse there has been more money flying about at classic car auctions than ever before. The majority of us suffered while a tiny percentage have never had it so good. And when I say good I mean obscenely good.

In the early 2000s a concourse condition Porsche 930 Turbo was 20 grand. Dealers couldn't give them away! What has happened since then to quadruple the value????? In the late 2000s a Ferrari Testarossa with one owner and 19k on the clock could be yours for £29,995, you'd have to shell out 6 figures for the same today. And all this in the face of a recession? The knock-on effect affects every marque and every model. Even the lowly Ferrari Mondial is commanding questionable money these days.

Let's be honest, there are very few cars you'd want from the 1990s post 1992 and the wealthy know this. That's why Escort Cosworths are around the £50,000 mark, late R107 SLs are approaching the same figure and 964 911s seem to be rocketing in value by the day.

The only reason there has been an interest in 1990s cars recently is that anything earlier has been pumped up in value so much that very few of us mere mortals can compete with the kind of money that the super rich *shudder* are willing to throw away.

I keep hearing the bubble is going to burst but while ever interest rates are at an all time low and money is changing hands like monopoly money I just can't see it.

The only way you'll own a classic now is if you hang onto that 2000 Audi TT for another 15 years and put minimal miles on it.

Lord Brasic    on 26 March 2016

I have just spotted a couple of late 90's Renault Clio's on ebay, one is a 97 with 1 owner FSH and 23k the other, a 96 1 owner 32k FSH. They are both priced @£799. If this was a Fiesta or Escort they would be £1799, probably more.

A Clio may not be everyone's idea of a classic. But not so many years ago neither was a Sierra. So these are good value little cars that can surly only go up in value and provide someone with a nice reliable little retro ride.

They are both advertised on ebay under classic cars by lord-and-lady-brasic, worth a look, so is the Mazda Xedos 6 they have as well.

lynklee    on 17 November 2022

The Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, stated last week that he thought the 2013 economic downturn would be less severe than anticipated and that it will get better in moto x3m.

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