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Tomorrows Collectibles: The Field is Wide Open

Tomorrows Collectibles: The Field is Wide Open

Car enthusiasts can and do debate at length the identity of the collectible cars of tomorrow. In January 2008, Hagerty Insurance published a list of Top 10 Future Collector Cars that included:

•    Cadillac XLR-V Roadster
•    Lotus Exige S
•    Audi S5
•    Mustang Shelby GT 500 KR
•    Chevrolet Corvette Z06
•    Smart
•    Subaru Impreza WRX STi
•    Honda S2000 CR
•    Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky
•    Dodge Charger Super Bee

The critics instantly jumped on the selection. The Audi? Will the electronics in that one last 25 years? The WRX STi? How can a car that fugly make the grade? Where's the Viper ACR and R32?

And just a year early Hagerty itself was touting the future collectibility of the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the Mini Cooper, the Lotus Elise, the Dodge Viper, the Acura NSX, the Toyota Scion, Audi TT, and Chrysler 300. (The Smart made both the 2007 and 2008 lists and it's fair to say this one is destined to be an iconic little beauty for some time to come.)

In 2007, a 1966 four-door Toyota Corona sedan with 8,768 miles on the odometer, sold for $16,740 at the Silver Auction sale in Fort McDowell, Ariz. (Those early Toyotas weren't rust-proofed, so their survival rate is low. Is that enough to qualify a car as a collectible? Rarity? In some cases, yes.) In the last couple of years, in fact, interest in vintage Toyotas, principally the Celica, the company's first foray into the sporty personal car genre, has been growing. A 1971-72 Celica in good shape commands around $12,000 at auction.

While it's difficult to peg exactly what will be the highly sought-after collectibles of tomorrow, the criteria for desirability will most likely remain:

•    rarity or unique provenance. (Cars owned by celebrities are always collectible. Think James Dean's Porsche.)
•    speed and high performance. (It's hard to envision a time when a Mustang won't be sought after, especially a Shelby.)
•    unique appearance or form factor. (Collectors love an oddity, which makes the Smart a natural.)
•    near misses with a beauty all their own. (Can you say Delorean? Odds are the Tesla electric sports car will be in this category.)
•    experimental and niche vehicles. (Right now there are experimental, alternative fuel vehicles being turned out right and left. It's certainly conceivable to think someone would get interested in modified Prius' units or some of the three-wheel urban transport models getting kicked aound.)

In the end, however, it's all a matter of taste. Collectors buy what they like and often don't feel the need to justify their choices. There's also the herd-effect to consider. One high-dollar sale of a previously uninteresting make and model can be enough to get others interested as well. I mean really, did you every think a 1966 Toyota Corona would be on anybody's wish list? even when it was new?
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