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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

4 modern alternatives to out-of-sight '80s and '90s classics

Used car prices are out of control, and collector vehicle values are soaring right alongside them. Even those cars and trucks hailing from the rad-era '80s and '90s have skyrocketed well past anyone's expectations, with auction results and private sales continuing to break records for models that were barely turning heads just a few years ago.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/buying-and-selling/4-modern-alternatives-to-out-of-sight-80s-and-90s-c...
73 REPLIES 73
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

I would disagree on the Mini. Any money you save you will lose to repairs. BMW Mini's are not the best on reliability.  I'd still rather have the old GTI.

JSievers
Instructor

The same is true of BMWs in general.
MAXTHEAX
Intermediate Driver


My father had an original Cooper S that had only one issue. No heat or defrost.
Have a neighbour with a new Cooper, same problem plus the A/C. Started last October, maybe the parts were on the SS BBQ along with the Porsches. This is not the time of year to be using heat heaters as the only form of warmth.
The only advantage to leasing is not worrying about what to do with the POS three years down the road.
hyperv6
Racer

My buddy is spending a ton of money on a Mini his wife had to have. Same on the BMW as they are affordable to buy but to maintain still cost. 

 

The Caddy you can at least fix somewhat easy at home. The Toyota is usually rusted out as is the alternative. 

 

I would pass on the Porsche and Nissan both. We have turned several 944 into track cars but they just make you want a V8. Just get a 4th gen Camaro cheap. I have seen low mile models for less than $10K in SS form. 

 

I like the GTI I just wish they would just give it more power. The V6 model was great but rare. The 4 needs to be closer to 300 HP today. Heck my HHR SS would out run the GTI any day. 

cslandry
Intermediate Driver

The 83/83 GTI was only 100 hp, but only weighed 2000 pounds. No V6 available in those years. Sure, it wasn't particularly quick, but it was really well balanced and had a close ratio, no-overdrive transmission. I owned one back in the day and it was a blast.
TG
Technician

My naturally aspirated 944 was replaced by a 1 Series BMW - which has all of the handling and more power. A bit less curb appeal though. Knock on wood no reliability issues yet
TPT531
New Driver

You lost me at HHR SS.....

Out run it or not, comparing a GTI to a HHR is silly.

Scirocco
Pit Crew

I find it interesting that the 86-88 Porsche 924S is always ignored. A wonderful car that is faster than a 944 due to lighter weight and has quite beautiful lines, a great engine and superb handling for a car of its era. They're also very affordable.
janedon
Advanced Driver

I have a hard time considering cars that all Look "the same" as special--
SGL
Intermediate Driver

In every single case, I’d prefer the “consider instead…” vehicle (or something else entirely, like a post-Renix Jeep XJ instead of either the Toyota or Nissan). Maybe it’s growing up in the mid 70s and seeing great cars disappear in favor of these malaise-inducing boxes… but I don’t think I will ever want a ‘75-‘92 vehicle other than a Buick GN or Dodge Little Red Express.
sixtieskid
Intermediate Driver

I still don't understand why the first and second gen Ford Taurus SHO is still not being acknowledge and is completely overlooked. Nice low mile (if you can find one) examples are still in the 10k or less range. To me, that is money well spent for a very unique automobile that is rarely seen on the street anymore.
Gwhajny
Pit Crew

I owned a 1990 SHO and had it shipped to Aviano, Italy for my Air Force assignment back in the mid-1990s. I drove that car all over Europe, from Paris to Croatia and from Germany to the Southern tip of Italy. I think people were mildly shocked, some even annoyed, to see me keeping up with BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes on the Autobahns and AutoStradas. I would typically cruise with other cars around 150 and drove to work every day around 120. I have too many stories to put down here but the car gave me many great memories.
Pault1
Pit Crew

150 kph, right?
Just checking. I'm a gen II owner since new. They didn't do 150 MPH stock, though close enough to surprise the heck out of most, and accelerate nicely in the upper ranges due to high RPM tuning and decent aero for the day. The magazine tests all showed vMax ~143. Not having autobahnen around here, I haven't done a WFO test but have closed on 140 a couple of times on lonely highways.
As far as the values, I have warned my new insurance agent that if it got totalled I would NOT be accepting any lowball valuations. They are slowly rising, and when I last checked the average values were $6-8K and climbing for pretty nice, with the occasional well-maintained low mileage over 10.
VADanno
Pit Crew

My daily driver is a 2001 4Runner SR5. I paid $4800 for it several years ago, and now it has 250,000 miles on it. I'm hoping to get to 500,000. Rust free, as it has always been a Texas car. It likely has appreciated in value, but I'm never selling it.
I got away from all my German cars (multiple Audi's, BMW, Porsche, VW) due to high cost of parts and more frequent maintenance. It's all Japanese cars in my fleet now (2x Honda, the Toy, and a Subaru Legacy GT).
Another car crazy friend bought a 944 S2 to replace his Milano Q. Best choice in 944 chassis, with normally aspirated 3.0L having same HP as a Turbo. I wonder if PJA still has it?
cigarmerchant
Intermediate Driver

This article was great. I purchased a 4Runner from a friend of mine that had purchased another vehicle and just wanted to get rid of it for $1000. He thought it needed about a grand to fix it up but was able to fix it for $90.00. It was a great vehicle until my son lent it to his roommates girlfriend and she got hit by another vehicle that left turned in front of her at a yellow blinky arrow signal. When her insurance company offered $10,038 to total it I calmly but quickly accepted their offer.
I have also owned an '87 Comanche Pioneer for the last 25 years with 166,000 miles, 4 liter, 5 speed and would not sell it for anything. It has (1 wheel drive) meaning it will get stuck in mud if it just sees it. The tradeoff is that in the rain in second gear I can feather the throttle to slowly break the back end loose and spin the rear wheels indefinitely. In a way I guess I invented drifting.
hothmob
Intermediate Driver

These articles are never worth the click. Ugggh, what a disappointing misinformed read. Almost as disappointing as settling for one of these janky cars as an alternative.
Ajakeski
Detailer

The 2005-2006 MINI Cooper S (R53) is a real bargain right now. They get a bad rap for reliability, but that is because most owners do not maintain the cars as they should.
The basic repairs most of MINI's need are simple to perform and don't require a large investment in specialty tools. Parts are easy to source and there are plenty of 'How-To' videos on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/c/ModMINI

I have owned a lot of cars. The R53 is near the top of my favorites list.
Zbenzman
Pit Crew

I'm a used car dealer in Ohio and I agree with Gary. The BMW Mini's 2002 --2006 are junk the automatic transmission the cost of repair is more then the value of the car . We have had to junk the last two we have take in on trade.
Rider79
Technician

The Mini should have a stick, anyway.
Tennbull
Pit Crew

The good thing about most of the alternatives is that parts are readily available at the “pick&pull”…
EddieAmes
New Driver

I picked up an '08 BMW 550i this past summer.
M susp, 19" wheels and M appearance pkg with 135,000 miles, adding 5,000 miles more since.
Into it now for $6,000 after 4 new tires, a new AGM battery, and an AC condenser and 3 hard lines.
The car is remarkable, using it for daily driving duties, and can putt around town or cruise at 75 while getting 22-26 MPG.
Running 89 octane has shown no issues, with the odd 91 fill up.
And it hauls when wanting to.
Great value, but find one with up to date maintenance records.
DrWho
Intermediate Driver

May I suggest that the fuel requirement is for the additives and their cleansing abilities. All modern cars have loads of sensors that can get fouled by fuels not rated Top Tier. Yes that is a grade. Most name brands like Chevron, Shell, 76, Exxon, Mobil are Top Tier. The only "off" brand I know is Top Tier is Costco. I learned the hard way that fuel is not the place to save money.
LarryD
Intermediate Driver

This is a fairly contentious argument that's been floating around for years (and basically unprovable one way or the other, kind of like "this is the best oil and filter to use"). I tend to be ambivalent about it, but I would add that (against my advice) my wife put 238K miles on her 07 Acura TSX (91 octane recommended) using off brand 87 octane gas. The plugs were like new when I changed them at 100K and 200K miles, and it still ran like new when I finally sold about 2 years ago. They were all highway miles, but go figure . . .
DaveA
Instructor

Gasoline detergents and their cleaning abilities can be proven though. And you can prove a cheap filter is not as good as some of the pricier ones. 
As for your wife’s car, sometimes the octane recommendation is simply for performance. The ECU on modern vehicles will advance the timing as much as it can get away with to increase performance. Higher octane allows that. Lower octane will result in dialing back the timing, thus lowering the performance. 

DaveH
Detailer

You haven't mentioned timing chains- get them looked at and check with BMW if they've been replaced under recall.
Pault1
Pit Crew

Seconding the call for maintenance records. Lotsa cheap BMW and Merc's out there with $5-10K in deferred work. My pal with the BMW specialist shop could always tell a new owner of an older one, with their responses of, "It's gonna cost HOW MUCH??"
HoustonNurse
Intermediate Driver

You don't have to be a "new owner" for the sticker shock of repairs.... They seem to take delight in bring you the tablet, rubbing their chin and looking concerned (I seriously think they have a special class for this) and telling you the "necessary" repairs and "suggested maintenance." My first "free maintenance at 19K (I bought her CPO with 9K) had him come out, sit down all serious and present me with $3500 worth of work that was "suggested for the longevity BMW's are known for." I'm still loyal and on my 3rd.... and discovered local reputable folks doing it for less than half..... I must do something right... I checked the Carfax on my first one... 190K miles and just passed inspection......
plank
Detailer

I don't know of anyone in my circle of car buddies that would ever even consider any of the bland "dream abouts" much less any of the "consider insteads". Just a bunch of routine rides that you could find on a used car lot or Craigslist. Never did like the Z cars anyway.
drhino
Technician

People dream about 4Runners?
Who knew?
KYColonel
Detailer

The Cadillac CTS-V is the only one of the bunch I would even consider.
As for the others, they're a waste of space, IMO.
The Porsche and the Nissan are easily outpaced by the C5 Corvette for less money.
Blade123
Intermediate Driver

Had the VW 84 GT one of the best fun cars ever. Black with nice firm cloth buckets red striped. Handled excellent easy to fix. I'd take it over any of the other selections except the 350z is interesting.

MustangJim
Technician

Same here. My gti was an 83, simple, fast ( for it's timr) and lots of fun. All respectable cars here.
BAust
Pit Crew

So glad I got my ‘93 Euro 3.8 M5 when I did..About 3-4 years ago they started to really get scarce in #2 and certainly in #1 form. #2 is the way to go because you HAVE to exercise them 👍 and that’s the whole joy of these gems.
uweschmidt
Instructor

What'sthis worldcoming too doesany one remember cadillacs and remember what really made them famous? cose your eyes fora minute and think back and conjour up the long Caddy with those beautifully proportion fins and maybe a continental Kit and of course Convertible Those were the Days ( and distinct Cars) my Friend We thought they never end
rjracin240
Pit Crew

Wow feeling the negativity on here, thanks for the article. Did not realize the prices some of these vehicles are getting such as the forunner and the 944.
Hercule
Intermediate Driver

My two cents worth...............Hagerty regularly gets roasted by car guys for obsessing over the really top tier collector cars, but when they give us an article on cheapo alternatives the response is frequently along the lines of "Who would want to have that junk?". Oh well.

Having said that, none of these selections are quite my cup of tea, especially the pseudo Mini, which kind of looks like twelve pounds of potatoes in a ten pound bag.

These suggestions were made on the basis of whether the vehicle could appreciate in value, which is a poor way to pick your Sunday ride, in my humble opinion. This is not surprising from an insurance company/bean counter point of view, even one that's run by actual auto hobby enthusiasts.

Buy it because you like it, and if you can afford it.
wentwest
Intermediate Driver

Seems like there's a pattern here. As teens we wish we could be driving something that's way beyond our budget and as the years go by other stuff starts to get in the way - work, kids, houses, life. After maybe 20-25 years things seem a little more open and we go out looking for our dream car. Right now the cars from the 80's and 90's are hot, no surprise. Pieces of the car hobby get expensive when the generation that wished for them gets some money.

I always wanted an MG-TD or a TR-3 when I was a teenager. Over the years I owned a few "projects" and here I am driving a Miata for the past 20 odd years.
DaveH
Detailer

Yep. I figured that out 20 years ago and have made a fortune buying up cars before they appreciate. I was buying Supras and RX7s 5-7 years ago.
Also consider the Barrett Jackson effect: a couple guys get into a pissing match over a car, just so they can show off on international TV how much money they can spend- and drive a car's price up. Within a week in ads all over, those same cars have jumped in price to match. Doesn't mean they're worth it. Then there's this covid price jump.
Remember during the 2000's guys at BJ would almost get into fist fights to pay multi 6 figures over generic gaudy hot rods? Now unless they are historic or built by the best names,the buyers have mostly died out and generic hot rods have crashed.
RagtopJunkie
Intermediate Driver

I have owned both the GTI and the Mini S, and while I loved the GTI in its day, my '06 Mini would definitely eat the Rabbit's lunch.
Hacksaw
Detailer

Look at the engine compartment on that Nissan. No way would I want that mess as a collectors car. The cars from this area are a rubber hose nightmare where you get hosed if it needs to be worked on. Pre 70's thank you. I do own 2 newer vehicles and cringe at the thought of either of them going to the dealer for work. My 64 however, I can easily fix anything myself.
uweschmidt
Instructor

Is there actually an Engine under this Stuff?
McNulty
Pit Crew

I bought my 2002 MINI Cooper S in 2001, before they were even here. I have had sports cars from the early 1960s. I now have two Morgans, 1966 +4, a 2003 +8, the 02 S, a 240Z from new, And a few others. As far as I am concerned, the 02 MINI is excellent. Has 60 K miles and never driven in the winter, [upstate NY]. Never had a major problem, just a couple very minor things. I now have it insured with the company my other collectors are with. They had no problem placing a value of $5K on it. Would have gone higher.
I did leave out the 1965 Mini Cooper S 1275, that was completely restored. Had it ten years, but let it go in 2005 as the value was so high. Should have kept it

Padgett
Advanced Driver

Just as an aside, The CTS-V Caddy was also available as a 2-door coupe and a station wagon. Both were available with a six-speed manual trnasmission and either RWD or AWD.
Seeing an estate smoke all four tires from the factory is interesting.
Padgett
Advanced Driver

Coupe: 2011-2014 but all are cheap.V6:300 hp, -V:400hp. Need a supply of velco dots.
DaveH
Detailer

Nope, no V came with AWD. And the wagon and coupe came out in the second gen in 2010/2011...they're talking about the first gen.
Padgett
Advanced Driver

I wasn't, second gen is pretty near the same price and clarified that they were 2011-2014 (evidently cannot edit, how do you add photos ?).
Seeing a local wagon smoke all four musta bin an optical delusion then. Suspect only did once.
DaveH
Detailer

You must have posted that,while I was typing my reply as it wasn't there. At any rate, there are turbo/super charging packages for the GM 3.6, that put out 500hp so maybe you saw one of those

LanceJoseph
New Driver

The 2nd gen CTS-V was made in 2015, coupe only, special ed only. In 2014 only CTS-V made was the 2nd gen, the 3 gen CTS had already been released but no V yet. While coupes and sedans are relatively cheap, try finding one of wagons with the 6spd manual cheap. Bob Lutz was right, they are collectors items. Also, I agree that 2004-6 GTOs should be on the list. (Bob Lutz prediction again) They are starting to creep over $20k for an LS2 manual version, but still better than 5th gen Camaros for the money


j_reames
New Driver

I like the idea of this article and am encouraged for folks that dream of 4runners and can settle for Pathfinders. But my dreams are about Dinos. 😒