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Baby-Boomer Cars Dominate Hemmings Motor News Top Ten Collectibles

27 July 1999

Baby-Boomer Cars Dominate Hemmings Motor News Top Ten 'Sleeper' Collectibles For Future Investment
    BENNINGTON, Vt., July 26 -- Hemmings Motor News, the "bible"
of the old car hobby,  has announced its 12th annual "top ten" picks for
overlooked collector cars which will appear in next month in its collector-car
magazine, Special Interest Autos.  The ten "sleepers" were chosen by editor
Dave Brownell for their potential future appreciation in the collector
marketplace, which is fast becoming dominated by Baby Boomer buyers.
    The Hemmings editor followed two basic criteria when selecting the ten
cars.  First, the car must be available for under $10,000 and preferably well
under that figure.  Second, several years of the same model should have been
produced to broaden the collector's chance of finding a good example.  The
editor's analysis of price and collecting trends in the hobby winnowed
thousands of potential models to the following top ten (in alphabetical

    -- Austin-Healey Sprite and/or Mark I MG Midget 1962-64
       The second-generation Austin-Healey Sprite built from 1962 to 1964
       evolved from a bug-eyed, rounded roadster to a squarer, more
       conventional appearance. Sharing the bodyshell and running gear -- and
       introduced several months earlier -- was the MG Midget, which differed
       from the Sprite in badging and trim levels.  These cars offer top-down
       fun, crisp handling, a choppy ride and excellent fuel mileage as well
       as a vast availability of spare parts throughout the US.  They're
       simple to restore and maintain, can be used for second car/commuting
       duty in pleasant weather and are in steady demand as economical
       entry-level collector sports cars.  Recent examples for sale in
       Hemmings included a 1961 MG Midget, "completely restored" for $5,000
       and a 1962 Sprite in "excellent condition" with "new top and brakes"
       for $4,000.  Check carefully for rust and rot as it can render these
       cars unrestorable if advanced.

    -- BMW 2002 1968-76
       The car that put BMW and "Bimmers" on the map in the US was the 1968-76
       BMW 2002.  Carrying 15 more horsepower than its predecessor 1600
       series, the 2002 quickly proved itself a sensation on roads and race
       tracks throughout the country.  The slick two door was attractively
       priced at $3,000 and offered a combination of performance and
       roadability which appealed to commuter and weekend racer alike.  Today,
       these cars are sought after by collectors but not yet out of reach for
       the enthusiast of modest means.  Recent Hemmings had ads for 2002s such
       as a 1972 model which had "no rust, original paint" and had "never seen
       rain or snow" for an asking price of $4,500.  A 1976 which had just had
       a "$4,000-plus engine rebuild" was available for $5,500.  These cars
       enjoy an excellent parts supply and support from a large nationwide

    -- Buick Regal T-Type coupes, 1983-85
       The 1983-85 Buick Regal T-Type coupes were built to give Buick a more
       youthful, sporty image, and these street fighters from Flint had a lot
       of the right stuff: A turbocharged V-6 provided the power and drove
       through a 4 speed automatic.  Gran Touring suspension and quick ratio
       steering assisted in the handling department while visuals included a
       no-nonsense blacked-out grille, a hood bulge, blacked-out headlamps and
       taillamps and bright rocker panel trim.  But these hot Buicks have yet
       to catch fire with collectors, as can be seen in recent Hemmings ads.
       A 1984 with 32,000 miles and described in "excellent condition" carried
       an asking price of $6,000 while a 1985 with 59,000 miles and boasting a
       new turbocharger was being offered by its original owner for $6,500.

    -- DeSoto 1951-54 V-8s
       DeSoto V-8s from 1952 through 1954 are one of the best-kept performance
       secrets in the hobby.  The V-8 engine is none other than the legendary
       Chrysler Hemi design, albeit a smaller displacement version of this
       famous powerplant.  The 'build quality' on these cars, plus the
       workmanship and materials, have proved that they are extremely rugged
       and long-lived but have not yet escalated to the collector price levels
       of their Chrysler brethren.  Ads in Hemmings during the past few months
       have offered a 1952 convertible with bad floors but a rebuilt Hemi V-8
       for $3,995 and a '54 sedan with "every component rebuilt" and "some
       spare parts" for $7,000 or best offer.

    -- Dodge Dart GT convertibles and hardtops 1963-66
       Made infamous by the Magliozzi Brothers of radio's "Car Talk", the
       1963-66 Dodge Dart GT hardtops and convertibles are attractive buys
       for those looking for bulletproof mechanicals and pleasing style.
       Like their Valiant counterparts, these cars come with the
       unburstable slant six or, beginning in 1964, an optional 273 c.i.d.
       V-8.  Inspect carefully for body rot and rust before buying as these
       unit-body cars can cost more than they're worth to correct severe
       body problems.  Mechanical parts are abundant and the cars require
       no coddling or high maintenance.  Hemmings ads lately have offered a
       '64 Dart GT V-8 hardtop, new brakes, tires, headliner and chromed
       bumpers and 4-year old paint for $4,295 and a '63 GT convertible
       with 225 slant six and new seats, carpets, tires and top boot for an
       asking price of $9,500.

    -- Ford Torino GT 1968-70
       A "sleeper" among Ford cars is the 1968-70 Torino GT.  Built in
       fastback, hardtop and convertible versions, these are the sporty series
       of Fairlane 500 models.  They carried all the standard Fairlane 500
       bells and whistles plus a 210 bhp 302 V-8, bucket seats, special
       badging and exterior trim and deluxe wheel covers.  In 1970, the brawny
       351 Cleveland V-8 became the standard engine on GTs, and a new series,
       Torino Cobra, was created using a 429 V-8 and four-speed manual
       gearbox.  Rarest of the GTs are convertibles.  Only 3,939 were produced
       in 1970, for instance, compared to over 7,000-plus Cobra hardtops.
       Hemmings ads have recently offered a 1969 Torino GT fastback, an "all
       original untouched timepiece from the original owner_super clean" for
       $5,000 and a 1970 fastback described as "rust free" and "runs and
       drives very well" for $3,500.  As with many cars of the period, watch
       out for rusty bodies.

    -- Ford Bronco 1966-68
       Brownell's 'wild card' in this year's Top Ten Sleepers is Ford's answer
       to the Jeep and International Scout, the 1966-69 Ford Bronco.  Offered
       in three body styles -- roadster, sports utility and wagon -- the
       compact 4x4 rode on a 92" wheelbase, used a two-speed Dana transfer
       case and had a GVW rating of 3,900 pounds.  The square-rigged body was
       mounted on a traditional box-section frame.  Broncos originally came
       only with the 170 c.i.d. six but by March 1966 the workhorse 289 V-8
       became an option.  Ads in recent issues of Hemmings for Broncos
       included a 1966 described as "driveable" and a "good project" for
       $1,800 and a 1968 with V-8, both hard and soft tops but with "some
       rust" with an asking price of $5,500.  Early Broncos are prone to
       severe rust problems making a thorough check of the body and chassis
       necessary before purchase.

    -- Lincoln Continental MK III 1969-71
       Although constructed on a Thunderbird platform, the 1969-71 Lincoln
       Continental MK III is unmistakably a Lincoln from every angle.  It has
       just enough styling cues to remind enthusiasts of the predecessor 1956
       MK II.  Even the rear deck "hump" reminiscent of the original
       Continental's rear-mounted spare was part of the design and the long
       hood-short deck profile continued the tradition of the MK I and II
       versions.  The MK III, however, sold well beyond the very limited
       production of the earlier Contis with over 30,000 built in 1969 alone.
       Most of these cars were loaded with luxury options and the careful
       buyer today should check the operation of accessories and systems as
       they are both complex and costly to repair.  These cars can also rust
       badly.  Recent cars for sale in Hemmings  included a 1969 MK III
       carrying a "professional restoration" for which the owner was asking
       $6,500.  Below that car was a 1970 Mk III described as being in "mint
       condition" for $6,000.

    -- Pontiac Tempest 326 hardtops and convertibles 1964-66
       Hobbyists who are put off by the asking prices on authentic Pontiac
       GTOs have a clever, economical alternative in 1964-66 Pontiac Tempest
       326 convertibles and hardtops.  While lacking the sheer power and
       performance of the GTO, it takes a practiced eye to tell the
       difference in the appearance of these cars versus their high
       performance companions.  Best of all, perhaps, is the price
       differential.  In recent issues of Hemmings a 1966 GTO carried a
       $27,000 price tag while a 1966 Tempest LeMans convertible, described as
       "excellent original" with 56,000 miles was for sale at $8,500.  Built
       of good quality materials, they are not particularly prone to rust and
       rot but do have marginal braking power given their potential for speed.

    -- Triumph Spitfire Mark I and Mark II 1962-67
       Triumph's slightly upmarket answer to the Sprite and Midget was the
       1962-67 Triumph Spitfire.  Based on the Triumph Herald and designed by
       Michelotti, the Spitfire offered roll-up windows, fully independent
       suspension all around, an 1147 ohv four of 63 bhp (with four-speed box)
       and unparalleled engine access when the entire front sheet metal was
       tilted forward.  The Spitfire quickly made its mark in SCCA racing as a
       rival to the Sprite and Midget.  It continued in several guises
       including the Mark II, introduced in 1964 with a 4 bhp gain and
       interior amenities.  Today, these cars are still bargains.  Recent
       offerings in Hemmings included a 1963 with a fresh restoration for
       $5,950 and a 1967 Mark II with a "full rebuild to new" for $5,795.
       Beware of badly-rusted examples.

    Above all, Brownell advises, try and choose the very best example of these
cars that you can find within your budget.  "If you're adept at restoration
work, perhaps a project car is the way to go," said Brownell.  "However, if
you have to farm out a great deal of the work, the cost could eventually
exceed what the car is worth today or in the future."
    The editor also points out that choosing a collector car strictly for
investment purposes should best be left to the pros and dealers.  "Instead,
these cars should be picked primarily because they appeal to you, so if you
never make a cent on the car, you'll still have a car you enjoy owning and
driving," explained Brownell.
    Published for nearly three decades, Special Interest Autos magazine serves
34,000 subscribers every other month with reviews, comparisons, and road tests
of popular and unusual collectible cars.  Hemmings Motor News, launched in
1954, serves all segments of the collector-car hobby with over 800 pages each
month and a circulation of 260,000.  It carries tens of thousands of
classified ads for vehicles for sale, parts and tool vendors, restoration
services, and other hard-to-find sources for the hobbyist.  The magazine's
content is also searchable for free on the internet at