Want to Buy a Collectible Car? Think Plain, Simple, Ugly and Odd

Jay Leno owns dozens and dozens and dozens of highly desirable vehicles: * Muscle Cars * Supercars * Sports Cars * Classics * Antiques * Vintage * Custom Built * Motorcycles * Hot Rods * Duesenberg * Bugatti * Bentley * Fixed Engines * Trucks * Hybrids * Electric * Steam Cars * Aircraft * Corvettes * Ten years ago, Leno’s Garage first showed up in Popular Mechanics, so they asked him what cars today would interest him as collectible in 20-30 years.

McClarens? Mustangs? Corvettes? Sure!

About 10 years ago, I had the chance to buy a McLaren F1. A new one was almost a million dollars. This was a secondhand car with less than 2500 miles, and it was $800,000. I thought, it’s crazy to spend that much money on a car. So I talked it over with my wife. And she said, “You’ve worked hard. If you want to get it, get it.” And I thought, ohhh … kaaay! So I bought it. Last year, a McLaren F1 sold at auction for $4.1 million! I now realize this is the greatest investment I’ve ever made. In less than 10 years, I more than quintupled my money.

But Leno’s advice is to buy a car because you love it, not because you think you can make 5 times the investment in a few years. I still love to ride the back roads and rubberneck looking for “barn finds.” I’ve inquired about a few, but the owners always have the image of their beat up 1987 Corvette selling for enough money to pay off the mortgage on the double wide. Or the 1952 Dodge coupe that has no interior and no glass paying for their next set of dentures. It’s discouraging because I know those cars will 1. continue to rot away, or 2. eventually be hauled to the scrap yard.

What are Leno’s picks from the current crop of cars to be collectible? Think ordinary, plain, average, simple, even ugly!

That’s why I think the Mazda Miata will be the ultimate affordable collectible by, say, 2025. The first-generation Miata was extremely simple, and that’s part of its charm.

Miata made a cute car! But how about the Ford Taurus? Cute? Not really, but collectible because of it’s roundness which was unusual for the time and lots of people owned them. Would you buy a Pontiac Aztek?

Not many people did.

Nancy thinks they resemble a tennis shoe on wheels.2001 Aztek GT Leno likes it because it is “odd and weird” like the old Pacers and Gremlins.

How about a Chrysler LeBaron K-Car with the fake wood? (we had one which was broadsided with oldest daughter driving.) Collectible according to Leno.

Here’s a car I didn’t even know existed: Cadillac CTS-V with a six-speed standard transmission. Easy to know why that will be collectible. Hardly anybody drives a standard transmission now, in 20 years, nobody will be driving sticks.

Leno even likes Hummers and blinged out Escalades for future collectibles!

One last collectible? It’s any car your girlfriend thinks is cute. A ’79 Ford Fiesta? “Oooh, look at that little thing!” It’s seen as a cute, desirable city car. The new Smart cars will always be collectible. Minis too. Things don’t change. If a woman was cute 20 years ago, she’s cute today. The same is true for cars.


My cute girl in her cute car! Both highly collectible. One will be collecting Social Security in July.

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Want to Buy a Collectible Car? Think Plain, Simple, Ugly and Odd — 10 Comments

  1. @Jacob: Yeah, that’s about right, auto shift. I feels like driving a stick, but you don’t do anything and one less pedal. It’s odd the first few times, but then it’s just part of driving.

    I haven’t paddle shifted yet because the car isn’t broken in enough.

  2. I was simply referring to the find. Urban legend or not, this would be a pretty exciting accidental investment eh?

  3. Congratulations on your great purchase! Your wife is a great person for encouraging you to make the purchase, and look how great it’s turned out for you! Thanks for sharing!

  4. @Mark: Actually, I think Jay Leno probably enjoys his cars more than most collectors – he actually drives them on the street. And his Leno’s Garage shows his love and knowledge of cars.

  5. Some people buy their muscle cars because it reminds of days long gone when they were young. Mine was a 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS, what I would give to have that baby back.