With all the talk about modern classics—youngtimers, Radwood cars, whatever you want to call them—collector cars from the 1980s and 1990s are clearly having their day. This trend has been taking shape for a few years now, and Hagerty's valuation experts have observed cars from these two decades making the biggest moves.
Many such vehicles have been making that all-important transition from used car to collector car, but some haven't yet gotten their due. These underappreciated cars perhaps live in the shadow of another one, or they may have just gotten lost in the frenzy, but these five classics have us asking, "Why aren't these more expensive?"
Read the full article on Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/valuation/5-underappreciated-80s-and-90s-cars/
I had an 87 Turbo Tbird identical to the one shown in your photos. It was nice to look at but the most unreliable car I have ever owned. I got it with 55K miles on the clock and the following items occurred within my three years of ownership:
1. Failure of catalytic converter the DAY I bought it, resulting in blockage of exhaust system and failure of car to run. Flatbed #1.
2. Broken timing belt at 56K miles. Flatbed #2.
3. Complete failure of ignition module. Flatbed #3.
4. Clutch replacement and rebuild of 5 speed.
5. Ignition module failure #2 - Flatbed #4.
6. Alternator failure and rapid discharge - Flatbed #5.
When it was not in the shop it was fun to drive, but never have I had som much trouble...
Hmm. It seems that when defining the worthiness of a car, the author never looks up from what's under the hood. There's more to "underappreciation" than auction dollar per horsepower.
Not many memorable or interesting cars came out of that era, but occasionally there are a few that make people say, "Oh yeah, I *do* remember that car. I liked that one!", and it didn't always involve how long a burnout mark it could make.
Some were just unique, different, or fun, but don't get the attention or prices they should these days. For me, I still fondly recall the Porsche 944, the 911's cute-but-oft-ignored little sister, or the old Buick Reatta. If I could find a Reatta with a working touch screen, I'd be in love.
C4 Corvette's underappreciated? Yes they are. The people on here talking trash about them don't have a clue of what they are talking about. Did they have problems in the various years, caused by Chevy's moronic engineers? Yes, but show me a car ever made that didn't. When the C4 was first produced, it BEAT every one of Europe's high-priced prima-donnas in road racing; so much so, that they were outlawed, and Chevy was forced to create C4 Corvette-only racing events. I know a guy that even today regularly beats C5's and C6's on the race track with his "lowly" C4. Only a fool would buy a C4 thinking he is going to restore it to factory fresh and make money on it. People buy C4's because they fall in love with them. You get a lot of bang for your buck, and you don't need 1000 HP to have lots of fun. As for those stupid problems that Chevy created, dedicated owners have long ago solved most of them in some pretty creative ways. There is a huge and loyal community of C4 owners out there who help each other, share ideas, and generally act like true ladies and gentlemen (unlike many of the snobs you'll find in other generations of Corvette owners). There is a solid online community, from a C4 forum, to many C4 dedicated groups on social media. I used to run a group on Facebroke with hundreds of members, and a friend of mine ran another with an even bigger membership list. I currently run a C4 group on MeWe; having gotten fed up with the nazi's who run FB. The 92-96 C4's are okay, and yes, they had more horsepower than the 84-91's, but I certainly would not dismiss the early C4's. They can all be made to go faster than you really want to drive, and because prices are low, you can build a hot rod fairly cheap. Because prices are not likely to shoot sky high in our lifetimes and C4's become rare collector items, you are not obligated preserve it in immaculate factory condition like a C1 or C2 in order to reap financial rewards. Think of a C4 as a blank canvas ready for you to customize to your heart's content. And many people do. The 84 C4 was the first one to come out with a computer, so it is very easy to do away with said pretty much useless computer, if you like non-computer cars. Also, the majority of 84's came out with the Z51 suspension package that was truly race-ready. So many people complained that the 84 Z51 was too stiff, that in 85, Chevy started wimping them down for those who wanted a Cadillac style ride. C4 Corvettes were never intended to be drag racers, although some people do that. They were designed to go fast around curves and corners in road-race style driving, and they do that quite well.
Between my wife and I, we've owned 3 of the 5...almost. I had a Dodge Conquest TSi which was the 87 version of the Dodge/Mitsubishi. Great car with no problems in the 5 years wife 1 drove it. Wife 2 drove a Mazda Rx7 for several years and has remained a sports car lady ever since. I have owned two '93 40th Anniversary Corvettes just like the one in the picture. Bought the first one new on December 22nd of '92 as my Christmas present. I had been a good boy. 17 years and 4 corvettes later, I got sentimental about having traded my '93 so I found a clean low-mileage example and bought it. It was every bit as much fun as I remembered despite having had a C5 and currently driving a C6. Then the ECU went crapola and I found out why I didn't want to own it any more. GM no longer had parts, and no aftermarket ECU's are available. I ended up buying a used ECU out of a junk yard in Texas that came from a Z28. Got it fixed and quickly sold it.
The most under appreciated 90’s car is without a doubt the Subaru SVX. Concept car looks inside and out and a fabulous GT driver. During the year or so I had one it got more attention than just about anything else I’ve owned, with the possible exception of my 3.0CS. And yet they go for next to nothing.
Not sure why, but the self-destructing auto transmissions might have a little bit to do with it.
I would add to this list the Ferrari 348, the cheapest way into mid-engined Ferrari ownership and a greatly underrated car. I never really considered it as I preferred the much prettier 355 to it, but I have a couple of friends who own them and absolutely love them. The engines and gearboxes are absolutely bulletproof, and once the typical electrical gremlins are sorted out, these little V8s are pretty solid cars and will go on forever. Just look at youtuber Tyler Hoover (Hoovie's Garage) and his 100,000 miles Ferrari 348 - he keeps on saying it's his favorite car, and when he put it on the dyno it showed pretty much the same power as new.
I'm not saying that 348 ownership is something for everyone because any repairs are going to be pretty expensive (it's a Ferrari after all), but most definitely it is an underrated car from this era.
Interesting and worthy list for sure. I’d suggest one addition...Saab 900 Turbo. Great design, handling, Grand touring comfort, unusual then and beginning to be scarce now...
Not bald, not single... Maybe that's why I own a Morgan +8 and a Westfield 11...
Actually, there is a reason that some of these cars are under appreciated, and should likely stay that way.
'Not much of a fan of the overweight Turbo T-Bird. It had a rattly buzz box of an engine, in an overweight chassis that didn't really handle that well.
I had the SVO Mustang with that engine. Loved the chassis, hated the engine. Within a year, I got rid if it for a Toyota 24Valve Supra. Loved the engine, not too enamored with the chassis... I did return to the Mustang fold with a Saleen that I modified extensively, and proved that life is better with a V8.
The Turbo Stealth was good in the Mitsubishi VR-4 version. Rare, and an amazing performer.
Love the C4 Corvette. I would not mind having one now, even though I still have a full head of hair, and a wife half my age.
Throw the BMW 850 in that bunch of un appreciated. First 12 cylinder with 6 speed manual. First electronic throttle pedal. Not to mention the push button sport adjustable shocks and rear steer on the CSI . Many many features , then the 90's recession killed it. Take a good look, it was way ahead of its time. The good ones that are left are increasing value at this time. There is a group of owners registered on www.8coup.com and the website gives much information about this car.
There's no shortage of cars from the 80's that are under appreciated - Thunderbird SCs, Escort GTs, Isuzu Impulse turbos, Chrysler LeBaron Convertibles - I'm sure many people would laugh at that short list, but those intangible feelings of what makes a car a great collectible is part of what drives prices, and another is aftermarket part availability, especially plastic cosmetic parts, and molded carpets.
C 4 Corvettes are stupid cheap right now. When I was it grade school. (mid 70s) 63-67 Corvettes were the cheapest ones you could buy' $3-4000 would buy the nicest ones. By the time I got to highschool (early 80s) 68-72 Corvettes were the cheapest ones, $4-5000. Early 90s 74-77 were the cheapest you could buy $6000 for the best ones. C 4s are at the bottom of the curve right now and will start to increase in price just like the C 2s and C 3s. No one buys a 30 year old car for the cutting edge performance or technology when that car was built. Example, how many L88 Corvettes or hemi Cudas do you see street racing or doing burnouts? 30 year old cars are bought because they are iconic and fun to drive. If reliability is one of your primary concerns when your buying a collector car then you probably shouldn't be buying a 30 year old car......or buy a vintage Volvo and drive it every day.
I recently sold my '89 Convertible Vette with the AUX Hard Top. I actually got more for it when I sold it than when I bought it. I bought it right when I first got it (It was C-4); drove and enjoyed it for many years; and then sold it when I decided to reduce the number of cars in collection. It was a good car for me over the years, with a few mechanical hiccups along the way (I had well over 100,000 miles on it). It was no "garage queen" for me and I drove whenever I needed to go someway. The Corvette community has looked down on the C-4 vintage cars for many years, but I think that is unfair when you consider the much better performance the Vette provided when compared to other cars of that era. I have owned many different Vette vintages over the year and I still have four in my Pole Barn.
But I do miss that '89 Vette. I loved the '89 Vette-era digital dash and performance was always good enough for my needs (I am one of those old white guys who still likes Corvettes. ) Now I am looking forward to the delivery of the new C-8 Corvette Convertible that I have on order. Corvettes keep getting better and better all the time and still represent the best value in the performance world.
BTW; regarding the other cars on your list, please don't forget the saying the LOTUS really stands for "Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious" before you buy one. :<)
The last edition Thunderbird Turbo Coupes were good. But weren't a match for the 89 SC. If I had to put a Thunderbird on my list, it would be the 89 - 95 SC. But I'm bias as there is always my desire to have kept my '89.
A lot of people don't like cars from this era or view them as "not true classics," but as my formative years were in the 90s, I wouldn't be upset with owning any of the cars on this list. Always liked the Stealth, but they are hard to come by; I feel like the 3000GT is more likely to pop up for sale. Unfortunately, many of these cars were driven hard and put away wet or modified to to the extreme (the Japanese examples especially) - making nice quality original examples tough to find. Not on this list, but the '91-'92 Dodge Spirit R/T was another car from this era that I liked, since it was a sportier version of my first car (1990 Plymouth Acclaim).
It's crazy, but the Turbo Coupe in the photo looks just like the one my friend's dad drove when I was in high school. I had another friend whose dad had a '91 or '92 with a 5.0 that kept badgering him to race. Since my friend couldn't drive his way out of a wet paper bag, his Dad tasked me with shutting the 5.0 Thunderchicken down. The only stipulation was that if I tore it up, he got my Camaro.
I shut the 5.0 down with very little effort. They were surprisingly fast.
At the start of 2020 I had in my garage a 1956 Meteor two door hardtop, restored to original and a multiple trophy winner, and a 1985 Greenwood C4 with a 1970 carbed 383 stroker engine that was a blast to drive but intimidated my wife. Then C19 hit. As 2021 begines, the 56 is gone to Sweden and the 85 C4 has been replaced with a bone stock ,white, 89 convert with 60k on it. The money for the 56 and 85 looks alot better in my bank account then the cars did sitting with no where to go . My wife loves the convert and after the health issues she suffered with this past several years, just to see her smile is worth everything. I actually like the 89 in it's stock configuration , it's fun to drive and I have received lots of compliments about it. Safe and happy motoring to all. 🙂
I think a lot of claims like unreliability are exaggerated. On the opposite end of the Spectrum, my wife bought a '98 Cavalier new and drove it until 2014. I heard all sorts of people talk about how bad the auto transaxle was, as well as a laundry list of things that never reared their ugly heads. The only thing that DID start rearing its ugly head was the infamous key switch (why on earth GM decided that an electronic anti theft key switch was necessary on a Cavalier is still beyond me). After replacing it three times at a cost of almost $200, I decided it was time for the car to go.
I would take an Esprit from the 90s any day of the week.