When Failed New Cars Become Classic Used Cars

Hummer H2

Is there any single automobile that represents failure more than the old Ford Edsel?

No. No, there isn’t. Some modern failures might come close (the Pontiac Aztek comes to mind), but the Edsel remains the epitome of a new car gone bad. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, of course. All the market research and trends of the day pointed to certain success. But, even in the 1950s, the car-buying public was a fickle group, and the Edsel simply crashed and burned.

Which could be why, today, the cars fetch big bucks. What other failures are seeing new life, and what cars today might follow suit? Keep reading to find out!

1958 Edsel Convertible

The original failure, now a collectible

When a car company fails to sell a new model in big quantities, obviously production slows down, and fewer models are put into existence than once hoped. Should a renewed interest in the car surface years (or decades) later, the makings of a classic are in place. Such is the case with the Edsel, a version of which recently sold for about $50,000.

The Datsun 240Z might fit, too. Though it wasn’t a failure when it launched, it was ridiculed as a cheap attempt at a sports car by a Japanese automaker. Today, well-maintained or restored cars can easily fetch between $10,000 and $20,000.

The Porsche 914 was no instant classic either. In 1970 it was just the lowest-end Porsche ever, and ridiculed as such, but today we recognize it as the predecessor of the legendary Boxster. Try picking up a good-condition 914 in today’s market while prices remain reasonable. They won’t for long!

So what overlooked models today might be the darlings of the used listings tomorrow? The Chevrolet Volt is a good candidate, because it’s not selling well and features a technology new to the market. Future generations might pine after its quaint gas/electric drivetrain. Of course, it’s hard to imagine prices increasing over the $40K MSRP the car carries now.

On the other end of the pendulum, I think any Hummer vehicle will hit collectible status. It might take two or three decades, but when we’re all tooling around in hydrogen or natural-gas-powered vehicles, an SUV like the Hummer H2 will be the gas-guzzling relic that once again will steal hearts.

Better start hitting the used listings, because some of those great deals will be worth much more in a few years!

What car would you buy today with the intent of keeping until it becomes a collectible?

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Pontiac Aztek
Used Porsche 914
Used Porsche Boxster
Used Chevrolet Volt
Used Hummer H2

6 Comments

  1. Yep, forgot the Solstice, Skye, and also the Fiero. Some of the later GT models are actually pretty good sports cars. I’ll also add the Pontiac G6 convertible. For some reason, the styling on the 2-door G6 was much more attractive than the four door, and the convertible is a really nifty hard top that splits and folds into the trunk. I also forgot the Thunderbird revival, and as mentioned, those V8 powered G8’s and GTO’s.

  2. Yes, Colin- the G8 is what I was going to say too. The G8 GXP, specifically. It’s a shame those aren’t still around, in one form or another.

  3. The latest GTO and Pontiac G8 come to my mind. Also maybe…and I mean maybe…the front drive V-8 Impala/Monte Carlo SS’ from 2006 and 2007.

  4. Every time this topic comes up all I can remember is the VW Phaeton. There’s not enough of them in the USA to support the theory but in Europe it is very popular, as long as it’s used.

  5. Good calls, Randy. I was thinking Solstice/Sky twins too… I already don’t see many of those around. At least not in the Pacific Northwest! Might be a different story in Arizona or Florida.

  6. There are several that I can think of. For two seaters, the Toyota MR2 Spyder and the Honda SU2000 are good candidates. Both are well-built and low production. People often mistake the Spyder for a Porsche.
    For GM, the Buick Reatta and Cadillac Allante are low production two seaters that never had much success. I don’t think the Volt will ever be collectible outside a museum (like Chrysler’s gas turbine car) because of the aging technology. Another good candidate is the Chevy SSR. It’s unique and low production and is cooler than a Hummer. I can see the Hummer as collectible because it’s such a monument to bad taste, poor judgement and conspicuous consumption that there will always be a group of sleezoids who will want to parade around in one.
    The sure bets at Chrysler are the Prowler and the Viper. Some of the Crossfire convertibles might become collectible too. Notice everything I’ve mentioned is a two-seater? Two seaters just naturally seem to be low production and are often unique sporty cars in a manufacturers lineup. Not all two seaters will be collectible, though. The Miata comes to mind as too bland and overproduced to be a classic.

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