Classic cars evoke a special nostalgia that makes them endearing. In the US, you'll find classic car enthusiasts spending thousands, even millions of dollars just so they can bring one home and show their buddies. Moreover, they make for a good investment as these collectables tend to appreciate over time.
Can the same be said for other countries? We take a look at the classic car scene in Japan, Germany, the UK and Italy and see what they're on to in terms of model preference, popularity and other elements.
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When you think Japanese classics, you'd automatically think of Mitsubishi and Toyota. But is assumption true or do the Japanese prefer their European counterparts?
Auto trends do show that the Impreza, Acura NSX, Supra and MR2 are gaining a lot of attention and fetching a lot of money. In 1994, a red Toyota Supra sold for a whopping $121,000 on the internet, which goes to show that there's plenty of love for the tiny sports car.
Then, an orange Supra gained headlines when it was sold for a staggering $199,800 in an auction. The reason? It appeared on the Fast and Furious set. Japanese classics are climbing up, with rarities such as the Mazda Cosmo and 2000GT Toyota easily commanding six to seven figures in auctions around the world. Speaking of which, special mention goes to the Toyota 2000GT, a limited edition classic that was the creation of a collaboration between Yamaha and Toyota. What made the car special was that it appeared in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, which was driven by Akiko Wakabayashi.
The Hagerty Bull Market shows that cars from Asia are starting to rise up in value, bolstered by the classics mentioned above and the 1988 MR2 by Toyota. Last but certainly not the least, let's not forget about the Impreza WRX STI and the Acura NSX, both classic legends in their own right. Notable figures Bill Gates, Michael Jordan and Jack Nicholson have the NSX as part of their automobile collection.
There have been a couple of headline-grabbing cars such as the road legal Porshe 962 Le Mans winner which have gained attention in recent years, but the data shows us that Japanese classic car fans prefer the homegrown alternatives.
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Germany is home to cars and carmakers BMW, Mercedez, Porsche and VW. The question is, are these classics rising or are they experiencing a different trend in their native country?
Porsche, Volkswagen and the Mercedes Benz are popular classic choices, but Audi and BMW are slowly edging in to get a piece of the pie. In general, German vehicles are experiencing a gradual appreciation, notably the 560SEC and the Benz 420SEL. This only goes to show that collectors want something that's reliable, stylish and affordable than over and above the nostalgia tip.
On the road, it's not unusual to see VW Beetles still making their way on highways and streets. The Porsche 911 and Benz W123 are at a close second and third. The Beetle is arguably the most popular commuting option, with around 50,000 cars followed by the Benz W123, the BMW 3 Series and the VW Golf close behind. In Germany, collectors are fiercely loyal to their own, with more than 70% of classic owners buying home-grown classics.
Fans like buying German classics as they're fun to drive and serve as an example of times past. The Hagerty Index showed a somewhat turbulent trend for the German classics, with half of the component cars at a loss and only two showing promise. Outside the index, the BMW E9, the 6 Series and the W126 are the clear winners. Collectors continue to desire the clean, practical German classic and thus drive the trend in an upward manner.
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Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini and Ferrari continue competing toe-to-toe against each other, but which one stands out on top when it comes to classic collectors?
The average value for the Ferrari 550 and 575 models have improved over the course of several years, but demand seems to have tapered off. It seems that collectors are looking for something entirely different, or something extremely niche, as evidenced by a superb boost in value for classics with manual gearboxes.
The Lamborghini Diablo gains the title of the last "true" Lamborghini before Audi took over. In general, the supercars of the 90s have all appreciated quite well; as per the Hagerty report, Diablo value has catapulted to 150% in the span of only 10 years. Auction sell-through is low, which suggests that sellers are waiting for the right time.
The Ferrari F355 is one of the best-looking 90s cars of today and has passed from being under the exotic category to the classic niche. In just two years the F355 has doubled in value and yet demand is stronger than ever. In retrospect, the global market is currently moving on to cheaper classics except for those who have top-dollar power.
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British cars are not mind-blowing when it comes to their value appreciation, but the trends are saying that there's a possible comeback, with the Sunbeam Tiger and Jaguar E-Types leading the charge.
According to the Hagerty, the market is trending upward, albeit slowly. The share goes to affordable classics such as the Triumph TR, which almost doubled in value over the last 10 years. Classic Cars made mention that the E-Type Series 1 that was worth £25,000 is now £125,000. Flat-floor variants and OBL-types were once highly prized, but sellers are expected to keep them in until they get the price they want.
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In 2019, the global trend for classics all around the world favor more cost-efficient models as compared to limited edition vehicles. Expect this to change once the global economy has gained more traction, as collectors will be more confident to go into high-ticket deals. If the economy remains the same or flatlines, then it's safe to say that collectors will continue searching for safe purchases to add to their stable.
The UK is currently the second largest market for classic cars as it imports thousands of automobiles from the United States every year. In car export reports, the UK is the go-to destination for classic cars because it enjoys a 5.5% duty, which is far lower than in other countries. If you would like to read more about our classic car valuations check out our guide here.