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August 2013 Editorialisms - Cha-Ching?

Peter Tarach
Sep 16, 2013

I recently watched an episode of After/Drive on the Drive YouTube channel in which the host, Mr. Michael Spinelli, and his guests talk about skyrocketing prices of BMW’s iconic E30 M3. What used to be a car that could be had for roughly $10 to $15K about five or six years ago is now commanding more than $20K and is destined to keep appreciating. According to Sports Car Market, E30 M3 prices have risen 27 percent over the last year, the main reason likely being that it’s getting harder and harder to find a clean, unmolested version.

The skyrocketing price of this motorsports-derived Bavarian sports coupe makes perfect sense to me given its historical importance (it launched the entire M branch of BMW), but it also raises the question: Are there any Japanese cars of similar vintage that might skyrocket in value in a similar fashion? Are MKIV Toyota Supras or Acura NSXs going to reach the point at which you’d be better off sealing up the garage and letting your pride and joy incubate under a dust cover until it’s worth more money than you ever imagined?

Admit it, you’ve thought about it, because I definitely have. The possibility of say a mint-condition, low-mileage DC2 Integra Type R doubling in value over the next few years is possible, isn’t it? Because when you think about it, the ITR really established Honda’s reputation as a leader in high-output, small-displacement engines and razor-sharp FWD chassis tuning, not unlike the way the E30 M3 established worldwide demand for RWD M cars.

Or perhaps fast-forward a bit further into the future, say 20 years or so. Now that Type R is rolling through Barrett-Jackson’s auction house and fetching ’69 Copo Camaro money (deep-six-figure digits). Possible? Who knows? But it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities, as those of us who grew up dreaming of these cars have the money to spend on well-preserved examples.

The reality is that very few of us have a stock, pristine, low-mileage Type R collecting dust in the garage, having never exposed it to a single drop of rain or a single VTEC-engaging blast to 8,400 rpm. Instead, especially if you’re reading this magazine, our cars are modified and used on a daily basis, racking up wear and tear and more than a few smiles along the way. If the current classic car market is any indication of what our Japanese cars will be worth in the next decade or two, it’s not going to be much.

The more I think about it, for someone like me, cars really aren’t good financial investments, since I’m of the mind-set that they’re meant to be driven and enjoyed, not stuffed in some climate-controlled warehouse in the hopes of making a buck on them someday. There are hundreds of smarter and better ways to make money, so stop worrying so much about odometer readings and perfect paintjobs. Instead, get out there and enjoy what you love to do—drive and modify your cars.

The reality is that very few of us have a stock, pristine, low-mileage Type R collecting dust in the garage, having never exposed it to a single drop of rain or a single VTEC-engaging blast to 8,400 rpm.

Comments, questions, disagreements, suggestions? Send them to All emails will be answered, nicely or not.

By Peter Tarach
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