Future Classics: Sporty Cars

For a car to be classified as a future classic, it must meet a few criteria. Firstly, the production year of the car must be no older than 1988. Most collectors would say 25 years is the minimum age of a classic car. Secondly, the car shouldn’t be too expensive. You must always be thinking “is this an investment?” A classic car should only get more valuable in time. Thirdly, the car must have some defining characteristic (not just age). What’s that special something for you?

Here they are, three sporty cars from the past generation. Emphasis on “sporty”. You wouldn’t say these are “sports” cars, but they aren’t all wet either. Here is a morsel of a few Future Classics, whose stock is only on the rise.

Saab 900

Manufactured from 1978 to 1994, the Saab 900 garnered this Swedish automaker a large success in North America. It featured a front wheel drive layout with a peppy 2.0 liter 4-cylinder powerplant. After 1985, a turbocharged option was added to the lineup. Configurations were plenty with convertible, hatchback, and sedan versions available. The 900 doesn’t have the eye-catching looks that it’s dad – the 99 Turbo – is so well remembered for, however the basic design and suspension are based on that 99 DNA. This makes a recipe for a good car, with an even better price tag.

The non-turbo cars should be very reliable (and quite safe) as daily drivers, but the one you really want is the 1993/1994 Commemorative Edition 900. Only 314 of these were sold in the United States, but I’m sure that many have survived and a few may be for sale right under your nose. These 900s featured a 185 bhp turbocharged 4 pot, with the 5-speed, sports suspension, black exterior paint, and tan interior leather. These cars will be eaten up in the next few years, but another rare 900 exists. In 1994 Saab introduced a limited 500 car production of the 1994 900T Convertible. These 500 cars had the same features as the desirable 93/94 coupes (minus the sport suspension), and were similarly painted. The plus side is that there are no defining badges or plaques on the car to separate it from the field. Check the VIN numbers (sequential for all 500), these cars are out there and you might find the deal of a lifetime!

1996_honda_prelude_coupe_vtec_fq_oem_1_500Honda Prelude

The venerable Prelude has been through many generations and facelifts, but the one we’re interested in is the 4th Generation (1991-1996). Like the Saab, the Prelude has its share of potent 4-cylinder engines and makes use of a front wheel drive platform. Honda went a few steps further to insure the Prelude garnered a market share in the luxury car scene by adding some truly fantastic options. The VTEC model came with Honda’s DOHC 2.2L powerhouse which made 187 hp at a zippy 6800 rpm. The Si model also came with the option of 4-wheel steering… if going everywhere sideways is your cup of tea. Even though most of the mechanical bits are in the front, thanks to clever engineering, the weight distribution tips the scales at a surprising 58/42 (front/rear). Sadly even more surprising, the curb weight of the vehicle is a hefty 2840 lbs. Ouch!

While the Prelude didn’t sell nearly as many numbers as the Civic or Accord, there still should be loads of these cars lying around on the used-car classifieds. The big problem is finding one that hasn’t been molested or modded. Look for VTEC or 4ws Si models, these will be a higher initial cost but will definitely be the cars that collectors flock to in a few years.

1998_volkswagen_cabrio_convertible_gls_fq_oem_1_500VW Cabrio

If the VW Cabrio follows the trend for early generations Golfs – it will be quite a popular car in the coming years. The generation we’re interested in is from 1995-2002. Not a whole lot changed during this production, but that helps cut down on parts and reliability issues. These Cabbies came with a 115 hp 2.0 liter 4-cylinder, make sure you find a 5-speed version. GL and GLS models we’re available, with the only real difference being a power convertible top option. One more thing to go wrong right?

Reliability on these Cabrios should be decent. Volkswagens of the early 2000s have been notorious for having electrical wiring issues, but these cars seem to be skirting the issues. Prices are already higher than similar cars of the same age – this pick isn’t as ambiguous as the previous two. For such a small car, expect to pay about 4-5k  due to demand and exclusivity.


About zdoell

Graduate of Ithaca College, rowing coach, car fanatic.

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