You hear “They don’t make ’em like that anymore” a lot when you drive a vintage car, but it’s especially true when you drive an orphan car — a brand that no longer exists. They’ll build Fords as long as they build cars, but they don’t make Oldsmobiles any longer. We’ve got 10 that you should think about buying right now, because they prices are only going up.
The truth is that ALL vintage cars are on the rise now. Hagerty Classic Car Insurance provides a valuation tool that shows trends in the collector car market, and even cars in their “affordable” index (cars like the AMC Javelin, second-gen Chevrolet Camaro and Datsun 240Z) have jumped markedly in the last year. Orphan cars are no different. They’ve been receiving the same attention that all other vintage cars have in the last two or three years.
Most of these cars are brands that don’t exist at all, but a few are from brands that exist elsewhere, but haven’t been sold here in the United States for decades.
There are two generations of the Oldsmobile Cutlass that are already considered to be pretty collectible: The 1964 to 1967 and the 1968 to 1972 version of GM’s A-body are already sought after, although they’re still among the most reasonably priced GM A-body derivatives.
The last generation A-Body (until 1982, when they became G-Body) Oldsmobile Cutlass hasn’t really found its footing as a collectible yet. But that day is arriving quickly. Not that long ago, a 1987 Cutlass in nice condition was a $5,000 to $7,000 car, but they’ve quickly climbed in value.
A run of the mill Cutlass Supreme will price out over $10,000 now, and one of the Hurst/Olds or 442 versions will be closer to $20,000.
Mercury resurrected the Montego name for a short period of time for the badge-engineered version of the Ford Fusion, but we’re talking about the cool Montegos from the 1970s.
This one’s a replica of the Wood Brothers NASCAR entry from 1970, and it’s about as cool as you’re going to get out of Mercury from that era.
For decades, Montegos were nailed to the floor, no matter how nice they were, but values are slowly on the rise now, especially for the Coke-bottle cars from the 1970 redesign forward. They’re essentially the same car as the Ford Torino, but their pronounced Buick-like beak makes them visually more interesting than the Ford.
The Pontiac GTO has been a blue-chip collector car for years, but the less-desirable LeMans hasn’t had a lot of interest. That’s starting to change slightly, but the LeMans — and the even less sought-after Tempest — have the looks of the GTO without the stunning price tag.
These cars were powered by a range of engines including the superb 326-cu.in. V-8, and a hot overhead cam inline six cylinder that could convince you were driving something from Europe.
Cars from the very earliest LeMans years are the least valuable. Most collectors are after the later stacked headlamp versions that came along in 1966, but the earlier cars are handsome in their own way, and still have the GTO’s mean profile. They’re an entry-level muscle car bargain.
Hemi Cudas are constant auction fodder, but the first-generation Barracuda is the car that beat the Ford Mustang to the pony car punch. They’re cool, relatively inexpensive and a lot quicker than you’d imagine. They’re also a smoking deal that can’t last much longer.
A few months before Ford launched the Mustang in April of 1964, Plymouth pretty much invented the pony car market. Beginning with the lowly Valiant compact, Plymouth developed a killer fastback body, dropped in a 273-cu.in. V-8, often with a four-speed transmission. It was exactly the same recipe that Ford would use for the Mustang, but for one reason or another, it was never as successful.
You can find a nice 1964, 1965 or 1966 Plymouth Barracuda all day long in the $10,000 to $12,000 bracket. Second-generation Barracudas like this one — especially with the smaller engines like the 273 in this example — might be the greatest bargain in late 1960s cars right now. They should be way more expensive than they are, given the price of your average Mustang, Camaro or Firebird.
The MGA is really the quintessential British roadster, yet they’ve never attained the kind of values you’d expect.
Think of the MGA like a baby Jaguar XK120: They’re beautifully styled, and replete with old-school workmanship. There were a few special MGAs like the 1600 Mk2, but an ordinary 1500 roadster doesn’t trade for a lot of money, even 50 years after they were built.
MGAs also came in coupe form with a fixed hardtop. Their audience is even more limited, because anyone over about 5-foot-1o isn’t going to fit behind the wheel.
The AMC Javelin is the same exact ballpark as the second generation Plymouth Barracuda. They should sell for a lot more money than they do.
The Javelin has an incredible history in Trans Am racing, a fact that’s obvious in versions like this one, which feature a Mark Donohue script on the rear spoiler.
This one is one of 2,501 AMC Javelins that were homologated using the ducktail rear spoiler. Part of the reason that the cars don’t carry the value of something like a first generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is that they’re very difficult to authenticate. It’s relatively easy to fake a Mark Donohue SST, and it’s hard to determine it through things like VINs and casting numbers.
Right now, we’re experiencing the golden era of turbocharging. The fact that turbochargers are available on everything from family cars to full-size pickup trucks is due in large part to this very automobile.
The Saab 99 Turbo was one of the first widely available automobiles — save for very rare versions of the Chevrolet Corvair — that were available with turbochargers. They were never really designed to be performance cars, but family cars that could deliver surprisingly engaging performance.
The 99 was the predecessor to the Saab 900 Turbo, a car so wildly futuristic at the time that James Bond drove one in three John Gardner James Bond novels between 1981 and 1983.
Saab 99 Turbos destined for the United States were all two-door sedans, rather than the more familiar three-door “combo coupe” hatchbacks.
Citroen is still in business around the world, but it abandoned the United States market a quarter of a century ago. The 2CV was as ubiquitous as the Volkswagen Beetle in France, but they never caught on here, making them pretty thin on the ground these days. Yet they’ve never achieved the crazy prices that rare cars often do.
The Citroen 2CV had exactly the same mission as the Beetle: provide solid, reliable transportation for a nation torn apart by the Second World War. The deux-cheveaux (literally “two-horse”) is a front-wheel drive powered by an air-cooled, horizontally opposed twin-cylinder engine, not unlike the engine you’ll find powering a BMW motorcycle of the same era.
The 2CV is the weirdest car you’ll ever drive, with a gear shift that sticks out of the dashboard, doors that open backwards, windows that hinge upward, and the most compliant ride of any car ever built. Yet they’re fun to drive, they can be taken apart with basic hand tools, and they can travel at pretty-near highway speeds.
It’s hard to figure why the Willys-Overland Jeepster isn’t a more expensive classic car than it is, although prices are climbing year after year now.
They have everything going for them: Convertible top, a very limited production between 1948 and 1950, Jeep heritage. It’s even got a song named after it.
But several things are working against it: they’re only available with four-cylinder engines — as all Jeeps were in those days — and they’re also lacking the four-wheel drive that really makes a Jeep a Jeep.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking at things like Things — the Volkswagen from the 1970s — or dune buggies, the Jeepster could be just the ticket.
Like Citroen, Opel is still a strong brand in Europe, but in the United States, Opel was barely functional.
Opel is a subsidiary of General Motors, and its cars are so widely recognized that they currently provide the basis for a lot of contemporary GM products (the Buick Verano and Buick Encore, for example). Between 1958 and 1975, Opel models were available in the United States at Opel dealerships, usually taken on by dealers who wanted something to compete with the other imports flooding the marketplace in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1975, though, it looked like Opel would really hit its stride. GM began pairing Opel with Buick dealerships, providing Buick dealers with something small, fuel efficient and sporty in the form of the “baby Corvette” Opel GT, and the BMW 2002-fighting Opel Manta.
The scheme never took off, though. Maybe it’s because the same guy selling the massive Electra 225 didn’t have the wherewithal to move a sports car. Whatever the reason, Opel left quickly after 1975, never to return as a standalone brand.
Valuations Courtesy Hagery Classic Car Insurance