Most 5- to 10-year-old cars are just used cars, destined to head steadily to the bottom of their depreciation curve as an intermediate stop on the way to their ultimate destination— the local pick-and-pull lot. Here are five used cars that might follow a different path — appreciation and a cushy spot in the Garage Mahal of a collector:
1. 2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP coupe
Pontiac’s demise during GM’s bankruptcy was a sad story, and the loss of this fantastic sports car made it all the more bitter. The Solstice roadster was an attractive car that suffered from terminal packaging problems. The Solstice coupe was drop-dead gorgeous and far more practical. Just 1,200 were built before GM did the equivalent of burning, pillaging and sowing salt in the field—they killed Pontiac, offed the Solstice and closed the Delaware plant in which it was built. Used coupes with normal miles have barely depreciated and low mileage cars are already appreciating.
2. 2006 Chrysler Crossfire SRT6
The 2006 Crossfire SRT6 is undoubtedly the greatest lovechild of the affair between Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz in the early 2000s. While the standard Crossfire coupe and convertible where offered from 2004-2008, the SRT6 was only available in showrooms in 2005, and as a factory special order in 2006. This Chrysler/Benz mashup was essentially a Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMG redressed as a hardtop coupe with breakneck performance, featuring a handcrafted AMG supercharged V-6 laying down 330 hp to the rear wheels. Hindsight is always 20/20, and the only regrettable decision in development of the car was to only offer the AMG signature automatic transmission, making it the only model in the Crossfire lineup not offered with a 5-speed manual. Fewer than 1,500 were produced, making this model quite rare.
3. 2005-2011 Lotus Elise
While the Lotus Elise’s last model year technically was 2011, they still are being produced as a stop-gap model until the 3rd generation model is released. Unfortunately, the Elise lost its smart airbag exemption stateside, meaning that the only Lotus available in North America is the all-too-luxurious Evora — it even has air-conditioning and power steering as standard equipment. On a Lotus! For those who still want to enjoy the ever-so-Spartan Elise, consider looking to the used car market. However, buyers might want to be wary of HPDE and track cars, as these have probably seen quite a bit of abuse — Elises with salvage titles are prevalent.
4. 1999-2009 Honda S2000
Possibly the best enthusiast car produced under the Honda badge in the past decade, the S2000 served as a fitting tribute to the S-series roadsters of the 1960s. With its aggressive styling, a high-revving 4-cylinder engine producing 237 hp, an ultra-low center of gravity, and 50/50 weight distribution, an unmolested S2000 is bound to be a future collector car. However, due to the affordability of the S2000, many have suffered a cruel and all-too-usual punishment at the hands of the “Fast and Furious” generation. Serious collectors should look for the rarer Club Racer model, which saw limited production in 2007 only.
5. 2012/2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302
This special edition of Ford’s ever-popular Mustang saw the return of the late ’60s and early ’70s Trans Am legend, the Boss 302. The Boss got its original name in the late ’60s when it was a skunk works project at Ford. Whenever asked what they were working on, members of the team simply responded “the boss’s car,” and the nomenclature stuck. The new generation features a retuned 5.0, putting out an additional 32 hp, and enough track day goodies to make any racing enthusiast giddy at even the slightest thought of it. In addition to the standard Boss, an additional Laguna Seca variant is available. The LS is a further upgrade with racecar parts, including a rear cross brace, and is limited to only 750 units per year. The Boss 302 was only produced for its scheduled two-year run, with just 4,000 models made each year, ensuring future collectability.