Get value with your vroom
Forget the skyrocketing prices of a classic Porsche, Ferrari or McLaren. There are some very desirable cars that could be an attractive addition to a motoring enthusiast’s garage — the five chosen here are all affordable and the big-hit depreciation in value from new is long gone.
CHRYSLER CROSSFIRE SRT6 (2005-08)
Australia didn’t appreciate this nose-heavy, abrupt-tailed two-door with a strange name. Chrysler never had an especially strong name for quality but it had the smarts when it came to translating interesting car designs into metal. The best news about the Crossfire SRT6 is the undercarriage and drivetrain came from Chrysler’s brief marriage to Mercedes-Benz — in this case, the SLK32 AMG.
You can get any Crossfire — even the base model has appeal — but the SRT6 had all the goodies, including a well-conceived sports suspension system and a V6 petrol engine with a supercharger. It arrived as a coupe or convertible and only as an automatic — but that didn’t fail to dent its livewire performance.
Price (2007): $91,990
Price (now): $28,000
Engine 3.2-litre V6 supercharged petrol
Transmission Five-speed automatic
Fuel economy 9.9L/100km
Pros Distinctive and sparkling to drive
Cons Cramped cabin, ordinary build quality
HSV COUPE 4 (2004-2005)
The second coming of the Monaro delighted enthusiasts and led to performance associate HSV jumping on the styling to create specialist enhancements. Most HSV and Monaro models are collectable but the Coupe 4 has all-wheel drive — borrowed from the Adventra and Cross-6/8 utes — that makes it the nation’s only all-paw two-door passenger car.
Only 132 were made. HSV upped the Monaro with a long equipment list, pushing the price to near $90,000 new. The engine pumped 285kW, which made it quick and the AWD made for confident handling in the wet — but its extra 150kg weight penalised performance over the rear-drive version.
Holden HSV Coupe 4. Picture: www.drive.com.au
Price (2005): $89,950
Price (now): $55,000
Engine 5.7-litre V8 petrol
Transmission Four-speed auto
Fuel economy 15.3L/100km
Pros Low volume, rare and civilised
Cons Constant all-wheel drive wasn’t brilliant
HONDA S2000 (1999-2009)
Remember when Honda made exquisite sports cars — even passenger cars — and were renowned as Japan’s premium car maker? This is possibly the last real Honda before the company really became boring. Though there’s talk of a new sports-car range, it’s a long time between drinks.
In a turbocharged world, the S2000 defied the trend with its high-revving (to 9000rpm) aspirated 2.0-litre engine, 50/50 weight balance and rear-drive layout. The facelifted 2004-2009 are better buys and only 150 were sold here in that time. Great fun to drive but ensure you find one not abused by unforgiving drivers.
Price (2009): $73,590
Price (now): $35,000
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission Six-speed manual
Fuel economy 10L/100km
Pros Honda expertise at its best
Cons Used examples
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVO VI TOMMI MAKINEN (1999)
Yes, it has four doors — but this is no family hauler. This is rawness and rich rally-bred DNA with a licence plate. Mitsubishi made the Tommi Makinen Edition only in 1999 to celebrate the driver’s fourth World Rally Championship. It had similar output to the standard Evo VI but more kit. It also sat lower, making it more suitable to tarmac rallies.
It was the last of the small-wheelbase Evos and much lighter than its replacement, making it nimble, twitchy, very fast and one of the best enthusiast driving sedans ever. There are still some around in original condition. Be aware of imported models and check extremely carefully for body damage. These are race-bred and likely to have had a hard life.
Price (1999): $80,000
Price (now): $18,000
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission Five-speed manual
Fuel economy 12L/100km
Pros Sensational performance
Cons Costly to maintain, check used car thoroughly
MERCEDES-BENZ R107 SL (1971-1989)
The bigger, more saloon-styled R107 replaced the adorable Pagoda-roof Mercedes W113 convertible series in 1971. Ordinarily, the W113 is the pick but values have skyrocketed (now about $55,000 for a 1970 model) and the R107 is likely to follow.
The later years are the best and, though thirsty, the V8s are more desirable. Repairs and parts are expensive so an original or restored example is best. The SL had a folding cloth roof (the SLC was a coupe) and lots of luxury features. Despite the V8 engine, performance wasn’t mind-numbing and it’s better as a cruiser.
Mercedes Benz 420 SL R107.
Price (1985): $87,610
Price (now): $35,000
Engine 3.8-litre V8
Transmission Four-speed auto
Fuel economy 15.2L/100km
Pros Pretty, comfortable and likely to become valuable
Cons Expensive to own
OTHERS: Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ; Subaru WRX two-door; Holden Monaro; Porsche 911 (1965-1988); Alfa Romeo 147 GTA.