Should you buy, sell, or hold these 1980s favorites?
April 12, 2019
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No one considers the 1980s a standout era for automobiles. Oh sure, the Camaro IROC-Z remains a sweet ride, but the less said about the Yugo or Cadillac Cimarron the better. Still, you can find some gems among the ore (DeLorean DMC-12, anyone?), and a growing number of collectors are embracing these “youngtimer” cars.
These buyers, many of whom came of age in the ’80s, have reached the point in their lives where they have the means to buy the dream cars of their youth. And you might be surprised by what they’re after. The collector car experts at Hagerty scoured the Hagerty Price Guidevalues and insurance quoting activity to compile a list of six cars to buy, sell, or hold right now.
BUY 1983-92 Volkswagen Golf Mk II GTI
1984 Volkswagen GTI, Mecum
Volkswagen created the hot-hatch segment in the 1970s with the Rabbit GTI, a car that perfectly combined performance and practicality in an affordable package. The Golf GTI Mk IIthat was introduced in 1983 offered a bit more space and performance in a car that’s still a hoot to drive.
Prices are rising alongside buyers’ interest in the car, a trend that will surely continue. That makes now a great time to buy. Prices have climbed 2–3 percent over the last several price guides, and cars in Condition #2 (Excellent) command four figures.
Buyers tend to be young; more than half are Millennials, and most of the rest are Gen Xers. Just 10 percent are Boomers (or older). With that in mind, the car seems sure to become collectible. Buying now is the smart move.
1983-93 Volvo 240
1993 Volvo 240 Wagon, BaT
Hard to believe, but Volvo’s boxy beauty, the 240, is a hot car. It helps that wagons have always been cool, and Volvos are, like Keith Richards and cockroaches, indestructible. A Volvo 240 isn’t terribly fast, but a turbo with a five-speed will bring a smile to your face.
Buyer interest climbed 32 percent in the past year, with Millennials accounting for roughly four of every 10 people looking to buy one. Younger buyers like the 240s affordability and practicality, and probably feel more than a little nostalgia for a car they may well have ridden in, given that Volvo sold nearly 3 million 240s and 260s. You can find nice ones for four figures, although you’ll pay a premium for a five-speed, a turbo, or a wagon. Buy now while they’re still cheap.
SELL 1975-85 Ferrari 308
1979 Ferrari 308 GTS, Mecum
If you have a Ferrari 308 you’ve been thinking of unloading for a tidy profit, now’s the time to sell. The broader market for vintage cars from Maranello has been cooling, and although a Condition #2 (excellent) 308 still commands more than $80,000, their popularity is waning.
Why? Because that kind of money will put you in any number of cars with more style, better performance, or greater cachet. Values peaked in 2016, when a 1979 308 GTS in #2 Condition would set you back over $100,000. Prices have slid steadily since then, and saw another significant drop earlier this year when they hit 88 grand. There’s no reason to think the trend won’t continue.
1987-93 Cadillac Allante
1993 Cadillac Allante, GM
The Cadillac Allante seems like a great idea, and you can see why General Motors built it: A Pininfarina-bodied drop-top roadster with V-8 power and Italian flair. Consumers responded with a shrug, and time hasn’t done anything to change their attitude.
Prices remained flat for the better part of a decade before starting to slide last year, when even the most valuable 1993 models in #2 Condition were valued at just $13,400. Prices fell another 4 percent earlier this year. Baby Boomers account for more than 85 percent of buyers, and that demographic is only going to get smaller. Cadillac built just 21,430 Allantes during the car’s six-year-run, but exclusivity doesn’t do much for the car’s value. If you have one and love it, drive it until it dies. Otherwise, sell.
HOLD 1982-91 Porsche 944
1984 Porsche 944, RM Sotheby's
The Porsche 944 is a handsome car with beautiful styling, solid performance, and reasonable running costs (for a Porsche). And like every car that ever rolled out of Stuttgart, prices have climbed steadily. There’s still some room for growth, and owners may want to sit tight just a bit longer before selling.
Buyer interest peaked in 2016, and after a slow, two-year descent, it’s beginning to climb again. If you’re thinking of selling, you’d be wise to wait.
1984-96 Chevrolet Corvette
1992 Chevrolet Corvette, Mecum
Even Corvette people roll their eyes when you mention the fourth-generation model, calling it uglier than theC3 that preceded it and weaker than theC5 that followed it. That said, theC4 Corvette offers a lot of style and performance for the money.
At this point, even the bonkers Corvette ZR-1 remains relatively affordable, with low-mileage examples in #2 condition going for $25,000–$32,000. Overall, prices for nice C4 Corvettes remain steady, as does interest among buyers. With that in mind, now’s not the time to sell. Just drive it.