Exposure to a Performance Car review of the Lamborghini Countach 5000QV at an impressionable age set Dan Trent on course for a life-long obsession with cars. As editor of PistonHeads.com he’s got direct access to a classifieds repository of over 100,000 such vehicles to browse day in, day out. Temptation is never far away. He’s still some way off that Countach though.
You’ll read a lot about the boomer generation hoovering up all the nation’s property and pulling the ladder up behind them, dashing the hopes of those following of ever owning their own home. While not quite as pressing a social/demographic issue the same can be said for certain sought-after cars. Seems like just last week I was ruing the fact Porsche 911 prices escalate faster than my ability to save for them. Oh, that’s it, it was last week.
So folk like me missed the boat on 964 RSs costing £25,000 rather than £250,000. Add to the list other iconic and mainly European metal like the more iconic BMW M cars – E30 M3 being a good example – and exotica like the Ferrari F355 that might just have seemed within reach not so long ago.
What to do then? Throw darts at pictures of air-cooled 911s? Or ponder what iconic cars are still affordable and yet to reach such dizzy heights?
I hail from the PlayStation generation and, specifically, rank Gran Turismo as highly as any car magazine or TV show in influence on my tastes in cars. Indeed, the entire Trent fleet (OK, all two of them) currently comprises Japanese imports. And for folk my age I think looking east to make our four-wheeled dreams come true represents an affordable way to own the cars we lusted after in our youth.
Honda NSX for example. Misunderstood in its day, even seemingly by Honda. Now critically acclaimed as one of the more influential ‘junior’ supercars of recent times. And a budget of £50,000 in the PistonHeads classifieds gives you a choice of at least five seemingly immaculate, very low mileage original cars to choose from. Money that would just about get you into a bunfight for a basic and potentially leggy 964 or 993 Carrera 2. Given the rarity, desirability and beauty of the NSX you’d have to argue it still looks a relative bargain, even at that money. Safe place to put it? You’d have to hope so, especially as its successor appears in 2016 and puts the original back in the spotlight.
The big JDM hero car is, of course, the Nissan Skyline. And the trade for the iconic R32 version seems to be hotting up, with more cars being brought in from Japan. Indeed, just the other week I saw a transporter with half a dozen fresh imports on the back trundling round the M25. Original examples of these are very hard to find, so embedded is the culture of modding back in their homeland. Now it’s turned 25 the Americans can import them too and good ones are being snapped up – £20,000 or less for a true icon of both gaming and motorsport seems a steal.
The market for these cars is, admittedly, smaller and more specialist than that for air-cooled Porsches. But as ‘my’ generation comes of age and looks to invest in the cars that they lusted over in their youth I reckon someone with an original and cared for Skyline, Supra, NSX or similar might find themselves sitting pretty on an appreciating asset. And that’s before we get into the really geeky stuff, like EK9 Civic Type Rs or more esoteric Japanese market Impreza and Evo special editions.
My tip for 2016 then? Look east.