Baby-Boomer Cars Dominate Hemmings Motor News Top Ten Collectibles
27 July 1999Baby-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 order); -- 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 club. -- 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 http://www.hemmings.com.