A classic car can be a sound investment. Buy the right one and you could reap the reward of stronger long-term gains than you would collecting art, property and jewellery.
But how do you know which motors are packed with potential to rise in value in the coming years?
Fortunately, there’s an annual market update to help inform petrolheads about which cars are likely to see a surge in demand.
It’s called the Bull Market report and is a list compiled by classic car boffins at Hagerty UK, who have pulled together a list of the four-wheeled future gainers.
Here is the top 10 cars that it says are ripe for a rise in prices from 2023.
Ten classic cars ripe for a rise in value from 2023: Pictured from left to right: Bentley Turbo R, Audi TT Quattro Sport, Saab 99 Turbo, Mercedes SL500 R129, Mk1 Ford Fiesta, Lamborghini Diablo, Austin Seven, Lotus Elise S2, Triumph Spitfire, Citroen BX
To compile the report, the Hagerty’s in-house ‘Valuation Team’ looks into model value changes via its database of thousands of classic car insurance policies, coupled with auction results and known sale prices.
These findings are then further examined to find indicators that suggest a car is rising in value and is increasingly in demand among car enthusiasts.
The selection of cars it recommends to buy in 2023 is diverse – ranging from affordable cult models to incredibly-pricey supercars.
‘There should be a car to suit most tastes and budgets,’ it says.
Valuations guru and head of the UK Hagerty Price Guide, John Mayhead, added: ‘Every year, our Valuation Team analyses thousands of transactions from our two million insured vehicles, auction results and dealer sales to see what is on the move.
‘This year, as ever, we have a really interesting mix of cars to suit all pockets and areas of the hobby, from a veteran car all the way through to a modern classic supercar.’
Here are the motors it recommends keeping an eye on, starting from the most attainable to the ones that are exclusively for well-heeled collectors.
The price bracket listed is the average value of a typical ‘fair’ condition example that has relatively high mileage and needs work, right up to the average price for a pristine, rarely-used, ‘concours’ car.
1. Citroen BX (1982–1994)
Price today: from £800 to £8,100
The Citroen BX entered the market at the same time as the Ford Sierra in the early eighties, with both looking to attract family car buyers. While the Sierra was a revolution in svelte design, the Citroen went back to seventies origami squareness
Average BX prices over the last 12 months have climbed only £25 – from £2,125 at the start of the year to £2,150 today. Hagerty says they should appreciate in-line with inflation in the coming years, but high-profile auction sales could push them higher
Launched at the same time as Ford’s Sierra, the Citroen BX couldn’t have looked more different to its rival. Penned by Marcello Gandini – the man who designed icons like the Lamborghini Miura and Lancia Stratos – it brought seventies origami squareness to a relatively practical family car.
While it didn’t take off in Britain originally, a 1986 facelift made it more appealing to buyers, especially the turbodiesel and GTi variants, which were popular among company car buyers.
In typically French fashion, not many have stood the test of time, but find a quality example of a desirable specification and you’ll be onto a winner, says Hagerty.
It has only been tracking BX values since last year but says its rarity should see them make money in the coming years.
Average prices over the last 12 months have climbed only £25 – from £2,125 at the start of the year to £2,150 today – and should continue to appreciate in-line with inflation.
What could help boost values is more high-profile sales, like the Group B homologation BX 4 TC that sold at an Artcurial auction in July for €77,480 (£66,800).
2. Ford Fiesta Mk1 (1977–1983)
Price today: from £1,400 to £19,100
Where it all started. Just week ago, Ford announced it will be killing-off the Fiesta name from June 2023 when production of the evergreen supermini ends. This will see values across the nameplate rise, especially for Mk1 cars like this
Humble versions of the original Fiesta, like the 1.1 Popular Plus pictured, are already going up in value. Pre-Covid, the average price for one was £3,625. Today, they’re valued at £4,325 – a rise of 19%
It was just a matter of weeks ago that Ford confirmed it will cease production of the hugely-popular Fiesta after 47 years of continuous outputs.
This will undoubtedly have an impact on Fiesta values, especially the first-generation car seen here.
Gone are the days of finding examples of Mk1 Fiestas for sale for a couple of hundred quid. But despite this, they might be a sound investment going forward.
Even humble versions, like the 1.1 Popular Plus pictured, are appreciating. Pre-Covid, the average price for one was £3,625. Today, they’re valued at £4,325.
That might be a rise of just £700 in monetary terms, but it’s an increase of 19 per cent.
Hagerty said it is poised to go up in value even more now that the popular name is being discontinued from June 2023 and nostalgic collectors begin scrapping over early iterations still on the road today.
3. Triumph Spitfire (1962–1980)
Price today: £2,800 to £28,800
The Triumph Spitfire is one of those sixties British sports cars that has managed to endure the test of time, mostly because there are plenty of parts available and loyal owners clubs who have cherished what they have
Quoted values on Spitfire insurance policies are up 27% in the past two years. That’s mostly been driven by early cars in concours condition, which are the most valuable, nudging more than £28,100, Hagerty says
When the Spitfire hit the market in 1962 it was relatively affordable to buy, which is why it sold in relatively big numbers.
A strong parts availability and loyal following of the two-seat roadster ever since has seen many be well looked after and retained by owners with plenty of knowledge about them.
In fact, Hagerty’s insurance data shows that almost half (47 per cent) of keepers are ‘Baby Boomers’ – that’s higher than the average across all classic car policies, with this generation typically owning 35 per cent of these vehicles.
Hagerty says the Triumph roadster is a great mix of driver’s car and one that’s simple enough that it can be maintained by owners with a manual to hand.
It describes it as a ‘stable investment’, meaning values haven’t moved very much in recent years. However, the Spitfire is predicted to take off soon, granted a next generation of drivers finds them appealing.
Quoted values on insurance policies are up 27 per cent in the past two years. That’s mostly been driven by early cars in concours condition, which are the most valuable, nudging more than £28,100, while the Mark II is snapping at its heels with a top value of £26,300.
4. Saab 99 Turbo (1978–1980)
Price today: £4,100 to £21,700
Saab went bust a decade ago, but remains one of those brands that have retained a strong cult following. There are plenty of Saab models that typify a generation, arguably none more so than the late-seventies 99 Turbo
Fewer than 100 Saab 99 Turbos are believed to remain in the UK. Hagerty says they have risen in value by 20% in the last 24 months, with their rarity a big reason for this. If you can get your hands on one, it will make a sound investment
Saab went bust over a decade ago but it is still a brand that seems to have retained a legion of loyal followers.
Considered cool for its fighter jet connections, the Swedish brand was known for churning out well-built and supremely comfortable vehicles.
Among the favourite models in its history is the 99 Turbo. Launched in 1978, it became the first mass-produced turbocharged car.
A two-door 99 Turbo appeared in 1979, necessary to homologate the model for rallying, and a five-door would follow. Yet they didn’t sell in huge numbers in Britain and were very much the alternative choice to market leaders.
That’s why today fewer than 100 are believed to remain in the UK.
Hagerty says they have risen in value by 20 per cent in the last 24 months, with their rarity a big reason for this.
The current average value of a concours example is £21,700, but classic car boffins expect prices to climb to around £30,000 by the middle of the decade.
5. Audi TT Quattro Sport Mk1 (2005–2006)
Price today: £5,100 to £14,800
The Audi TT was a big hit when it entered the market in 1998. Its sporty – though bulbous – looks earned it plenty of adoration, becoming a common sight on our roads before the turn of the century. But it wasn’t that great to drive…bar the Quattro Sport
Only 800 Mk1 TT Quattro Sports were produced – which is a sure-fire guarantee of values going up as fewer pristine examples remain. In other markets, they have risen in value by 17% in 5 years, and demand in the UK is very strong
The Audi TT was a big hit when it entered the market in 1998. These sporty – though bulbous – looks earned it plenty of adoration, becoming a common sight on our roads – and a few hit music videos.
Yet it wasn’t the greatest coupe to drive. Far from it, in fact. That’s because it was underpinning by the Mk4 Golf’s platform – hardly the ingredients for a sharp-handling sports car.
Though that’s not the case for the TT Quattro Sport, which was heavily tweaked to make it the most responsive and enjoyable Mk1 TT Audi made.
It also has plenty of kudos in the exclusivity stakes, with only 800 being produced – a sure-fire guarantee of values going up as fewer pristine examples remain.
Hagerty has only been tracking prices of the Quattro Sport since the beginning of the year and in that time average values have only risen from £9,950 to £10,075.
However, there is evidence on the wider market that it is set to climb, with insurance quotation valuations in other countries up to 17 times higher than they were five years ago.
6. Bentley Turbo R (1985–1997)
Price today: £7,700 to £23,400
Bentley had endured decades of endless battle against its British high-end rival Rolls-Royce. In the mid-eighties, bosses decided on a new tactic – introduce turbocharging to its 6.75-litre V8 powerplant to give it a performance edge
In 1987, the Bentley Turbo R was tested against the stopwatch. It hit 60mph in 7 seconds and reached a top speed of 143mph. At the time, there was nothing else on the road that could get you to a boardroom meeting faster
After decades of endless battle against its British high-end rival Rolls-Royce, Bentley in the eighties decided it was time to take a different direction by turbocharging its 6.75-litre V8 powerplant to give it a performance edge.
Launched in 1985, the Turbo R was the fastest limo on the road.
It produced an estimated 328bhp, and somewhere in the region of 400lb ft of torque – though its grunt was somewhat diluted by the car’s 2.2-tonne bulk.
In 1987, it was tested against the stopwatch and a Turbo R was found to hit 60mph in seven seconds and up to a top speed of 143mph. In the mid-eighties, there was nothing else on the road that could get you to a boardroom meeting faster.
Recently, values have fluctuated a bit. They peaked in 2020 at an average of £16,800 as collectors went on a post-Covid spending spree.
After falling in 2021, values have been steadily rising this year and are back to an average of £15,400. They’re popular at auction, with 57 so far in 2022 – compared to 44 in the same period in 2021. Returning demand could see it back at its 2020 peak levels within two years.
7. Mercedes-Benz SL500 R129 (1989–2001)
Price today: £7,800 to £32,100
The Mercedes SL is a four-wheeled icon dating back to the 1950s. The R129 generation typifies cool cars of the ’90s. Close your eyes and you can still see suited businessmen driving them with a phone the size of a brick pinned to their ears
The V8-powered SL500 is the sweet spot in the wide range of engines; it hits the sweet spot of better performance than a 6-cylinder and cheaper fuel bills than the V12, which will have you declaring bankruptcy within weeks. Hagerty says a good SL500 will rise in value by around 20% in the next 24 months
The SL is an icon dating back to the fifties, but the R129 typifies cool cars of the ’90s. Close your eyes and you can still see suited businessmen driving them with a phone the size of a brick pinned to their ears.
Appreciation for the R129 is growing and you’ll struggle to find any good examples in the classifieds for less than £10,000.
However, because it remained on sale for an extended period (from 1989 to 2001) there is a plentiful supply and buyers can afford to be picky.
There were a choice of powerplants, from an inline-six, V6, V8 and V12. But most enthusiasts believe the V8-powered SL500 to be the sweet spot in the range, as it hits the sweet spot of better performance than a six-cylinder and cheaper fuel bills than the V12, which will have you declaring bankruptcy within weeks.
Proper drivers will love its mix of relatively modern ergonomics and old-school touches – and they’re exceptionally comfortable for a roadster to boot.
Prices have been on the rise in recent years; the post-lockdown average of £14,550 has now risen to £17,475 – a 20 per cent increase. Hagerty believes it will go up by another fifth by 2025.
8. Austin Seven (1923–1939)
Price today: £8,700 to £21,100
The Austin Seven will celebrate its centenary year in 2023. This is set to raise its profile, and Hagerty says it will be prime for a surge in price
Because the Austin Seven is small, simple, affordable to run, cheap to repair and jam-packed with character, they provide an inexpensive gateway into the vintage, pre-war car scene
The Seven dates back a century. Herbert Austin dreamed up the concept of a small, cheap car to address the issue of vehicle excise duty, which was levied by the RAC at a rate of £1 per horsepower. He worked with 18-year-old Stanley Edge, drawing up a seven-horsepower (hence the name) car that would seat four and provide escapism.
It cost £165 – a little more than £7,200 in today’s money – at a time when the average worker was taking home £5 a week.
On the flat, it is said to be capable of 50mph, but introduce any sudden direction changes at your peril – the saloon body, with its higher centre of gravity, means it sits on the road with the delicacy of a top hat on an Edwardian gentleman.
Because they are small, simple, affordable to run, cheap to repair and jam-packed with character, they provide an inexpensive gateway into the vintage, pre-war car scene.
Despite recent rises in values, an Austin Seven is still relatively affordable. Last year, the average price for a Seven was £10,125 but to date in 2022 that number has climbed to £14,125. This is against a backdrop of more being sold at auction, roughly a third more than last year.
With the car’s centenary next year set to raise its profile, Hagerty says it will be prime for a surge in price.
9. Lotus Elise S2 (2000–2010)
Price today: £11,900 to £30,400
When the Lotus Elise arrived in 1996, it was an instant hit. And it has been the model collectors have been squabbling over for years, with Series 1 values soaring in price. But in 2023, the S3 is where the smart investment is…
Experts believe they will go up in value based on increases seen in the US and their popularity among younger petrolheads. Millennials love them – around 40% of Hagerty quotes are in this bracket – which means plenty of future ownership potential
When the Lotus Elise debuted in 1996, it was an instant hit. And its been the model to have, with Series 1 values soaring in recent years.
The S2 Elise – which arrived in 2000 – is starting from a lower value point today but is where smart money on a turn-of-the-century Lotus should go.
It is frequently less expensive to buy but in many ways a better car than the S1. The 1.8-litre Toyota four-cylinder makes 189bhp, and as a variable valve timing unit, most of those horses are found high in the rev range. And it’s more forgiving to drive with confidence than its predecessor, enthusiasts will tell you.
It’s also, importantly, reliable, which makes it ‘the Elise to have’, according to Hagerty.
A standard S2 can be bought for under £20,000 today. In the US, they are changing hands for twice as much, such is the demand for the sweet British sportscar.
Experts believe they’re ripe for strong returns in coming years based on traction in the US but also their popularity among younger petrolheads. Millennials love them – around 40 per cent of Hagerty quotes are in this bracket – which means there’s plenty of future ownership potential.
10. Lamborghini Diablo (1990–2001)
Price today: £106,000 to £229,000
A nineties posterboy: The Lamborghini Diablo represents tremendous value for money in its part of the market, having been ‘criminally overlooked’ by collectors, Hagerty says
Hagerty says Diablo values have remained flat for some time across the model range, with a standard example sitting at around £137,500. That’s a fraction of the price of rivals from its era, namely the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959. But that will almost certainly change, the classic car expert says
The last car on Hagerty’s 2023 recommendation list is exclusively for those who can afford to splash out of a four-wheeled toy they’re not going to want to drive too much to preserve its value – the stunning Lamborghini Diablo.
This most imposing of Italian bulls – another model in this top 10 designed by Marcello Gandini – could be yours for a fraction of the cost of some supercars it sparred with when new, namely the Ferrari F40, Porsche 959 and, later, Jaguar XJ220.
While those fortunate enough to own its older brother, the Countach, will tell you they’re a handful to drive, the Diablo is a more appealing blend of drama and usability – and also represents tremendous value for money in its part of the market, having been ‘criminally overlooked’ by collectors, Hagerty says.
The insurer’s data shows Diablo values staying flat for some time across the model range and are currently sitting between an average of £137,500 for a standard car to £179,250 for a range-topping SV.
For a 1990s supercar posterboy in today’s market, this seems exceptional value. But get ready for things to change.
Hagerty says 45 per cent of owners are from Generation X (compared with 31 per cent across all cars), a group who are now at peak earning capacity and median quoted values have soared in 2022 from £214,000 last year to around £260,000 now.
The valuations team say they would be very surprised if the Diablo was not to rise in value significantly in the next 12 months.