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What recent cars will be the classics of tomorrow?

Old school classic car enthusiasts can largely agree on the worthiness of a few all-time greats in the category. For example, Corvettes and Mustangs are widely beloved nameplates that have endured for generations, while the Shelby Cobra notoriously smashes records at auctions around the world every year.

However, what does the future of car collecting look like, as many former classics begin to fade into the background or disappear from the road? Have collectors tastes already started shifting, with more recent models taking up spots on the mantle of sought after collectors items?

Popular Mechanics recently compiled a list of the most sought after cars of the last 25 years based upon how well each model has maintained its value since going out of production. The list featured trailblazers like the 1987 Buick GTX, which was one of the fastest production cars of the 80s, and the gorgeous 1999 BMW Z8, probably the best thing about James Bond flick “The World Is Not Enough.”

However, I’m a little more skeptical of a few other models on the list and the possibility of them actually being fought over by future car enthusiasts. One such black sheep in PM’s rankings is the bland Toyota Supra, which bored me throughout most of the 90s. Maybe it’s because I can’t look at it without seeing a souped-up Celica, but I find it hard to believe that people will be dropping the big bucks on these plasticy looking coupes anytime down the line.

As perhaps the most famous classic car collector, Jay Leno gave a few qualified suggestions to the magazine on what kinds of cars he predicted will be the future classics. Leno’s theory is that collectors want to reclaim the cars that made them enthusiasts to begin with. He cites the Dodge Viper as proof, noting that most people bought this limited production car anticipating they could turn a profit on the investment when they sold it down the line. However, classic Mustangs, which have always been sales leaders, continue to gain in value and popularity while first-generation Vipers sell for significantly less than their original asking price on eBay.

One nameplate GM had hoped would be a hot-ticket item was the 35th anniversary Camaro. These models were advertised as the end of the line for the legendary, but bruised, nameplate, so the automaker went all out with a fancy paint job and a nimble 325ci V8. When Chevy took the Camaro brand out of retirement in 2010 with an extremely improved redesign, the first-generation Camaro’s popularity surged as enthusiasts became nostalgic. At the same time, the less popular final models, like the 2002 35th Anniversary line, reminded fans of how far off course the once great nameplate had gone in its final years.


Other kinds of collectors cars today are popular not because they had a long legacy or because former owners wax nostalgic. Sales flops like the Edsel and the Corvair are big ticket items on the auction block today because they were actually short-lived failures. Does this mean we can expect more recent infamous models to have collector value in the future?

The Pontiac Aztek is considered by many to be one of the ugliest cars produced in the past decade. I personally think that designation belongs to the original Subaru Tribeca, which like the Aztek, was this brand’s first foray into the SUV market. Because the Aztek’s design was so unconventional when it was unveiled in 2000, consumers couldn’t wrap their heads around it, resulting in disappointing sales. However, like many original owners of the Edsel or the Corvair, there is a small fanbase surrounding this infamous Pontiac.

Will the Aztek, or one of the other more beloved models mentioned here, be one of the cars future generations will pine for in the coming decades?

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