The 20 Best Future Classic Cars

May 24, 2021

Category: Rides

Every automotive enthusiast dreams of the day when they’ll successfully game the system and stumble upon the next classic to-be. Because let’s face it. Over the past few years, the used car market has become a hotbed for high-priced muscle cars, ludicrously expensive off-roaders, and costly little European coupés. And while many of these classics have long retained their value, there are just as many that have seen their price jump pretty dramatically within the last decade. It’s a reality that has many a gearhead cursing themselves for their foolhardy hesitation; a quintessential case of “if only” and “imagine that” in which opportunity called but they never took the time to pick up the phone.

The good news is that even though such classics won’t be getting any cheaper down the road (quite the opposite in most cases), there will undoubtedly be others to come. In fact, chances are pretty good that what cars you’d pegged as lemons could just as well end up appreciating in value over time. Whether it’s because of exclusivity, desirability, or some groundbreaking automotive innovation, there are plenty of vehicles that have all the makings of an up-and-coming classic — it’s just a case of finding the right one. In order to help you with your search, we’ve given it some thought ourselves, looking at both past markets and current sales in order to get an idea of what to expect. Sure, we don’t have some magic crystal ball, but we do feel pretty confident in what we’ve picked for the best future classic cars. Read on to see for yourself.

Alfa Romeo 4C

One look at the 4C is all you need to tell that this Alfa Romeo is destined to become a classic. From its curvaceous bodywork to its lightweight carbon fiber tub chassis, everything about the platform screamed pint-sized Italian supercar. Weighing in at just 895kg (1,973lb), it came powered by an all-aluminum turbocharged 1.75L inline-four good for 237hp and 258lb-ft of torque — more than enough to take the lightweight mid-engined Alfa to 60mph in 4.5s flat. Oh, and it’s gotta count for something that the 4C was the brand’s first mass-produced vehicle for the modern North American market.

Years Produced: 2013-2020
Engine Size: 1.75L
Price New: $67,150

Aston Martin Vantage

Back in the early oughts, Aston Martin’s then-acting CEO Ulrich Bez wanted a car that could compete with the dynamic driving qualities of the Porsche 911. As such, he charged the British marque with squeezing its biggest, angriest engine into the smallest platform it had on the market. What resulted was the V12 Vantage, a raucous race-bred monster that boasted an aluminum chassis and a 510hp 6.0L V12 pulled from much of its larger GT sibling, the DBS. After it was discontinued, Aston abandoned the meaty engine for a twin-turbo V8, bringing with it the end of the Vantage’s lunacy.

Years Produced: 2009-2017
Engine Size: 5.9L
Price New: $120,656

Audi TT

Although Audi has technically been making the TT since 1998, we’d have the second-gen version that entered production in 2006. For in addition to boasting some distinctive, R8-inspired styling, it also offered a number of characteristically classic-worthy details. The hottest RS version, for instance, came standard with a peculiar turbocharged 2.5L inline-five and a six-speed manual gearbox. Add to that a capable Quattro AWD system, a striking bodykit, and a retractable rear wing, and it’s no wonder that these hold their value even today.

Years Produced: 1998-Present
Engine Size: 1.8L, 2.0L, 2.5L, 3.2L
Price New: $49,800+

BMW 1M Coupé

If there’s one thing that makes guarantees a car instant classic status, it’s a good backstory, and BMW’s 1M Coupé is a case in point. Supposedly a skunkworks project undertaken by a group of M engineers, it’s said that no one else in the company even knew that the car was in development until it was already built. Better still is the fact that it borrowed a lot of its components from the E92 M3, inheriting a lot of what made that legendary car so great.  Regardless of whether you believe the rumors or not, there’s no denying that this little 355hp track weapon remains one of the best cars BMW will ever build.

Years Produced: 2011-2012
Engine Size: 3.0L
Price New: $47,010

Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

Cadillac may be a brand known for its stately saloons, but that’s not to say that it’s unwilling to let loose every once in a while. When it comes to the CTS-V Wagon, you’ll find this proves especially true, for despite being an otherwise practical platform, it hid a supercharged 6.2L V8 (the same used in the Corvette ZR1 and Camaro ZL1 of its day) producing 556hp and 553lb-ft of torque. And when you consider that all of its power went straight to the rear wheels through a limited-slip diff, it’s no wonder that driving enthusiasts ate the thing up.

Years Produced: 2011-2014
Engine Size: 6.2L
Price New: $65,825

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Whether you consider the C8 a card-carrying Corvette or merely a mid-engined impersonator, there’s no denying its significance in the model’s history. The fact is, in addition to being the first Corvette since 1953 to move its engine away from the front, it was also the first production GM sports car to do so after the Pontiac Fiero. And besides, the difference in performance more than makes up for the departure from its predecessors. How’s 0-60mph to the tune of 2.8s sound?

Years Produced: 2020-Present
Engine Size: 6.2L
Price New: $59,900

Dodge Challenger

Okay, so while the more pedestrian base model Challengers are a dime a dozen, there are plenty of power-hungry high-revving variants that’ll undoubtedly see a rise in their value. We’re talking everything from SRT8s to Hellcats and even the dragstrip-dominating Demon too. After all, the car has everything a would-be classic should, including timeless styling, a bludgeon of an engine, and heaps of history to go along with its name.

Years Produced: 2008-Present
Engine Size: 3.5L, 3.6L, 5.7L, 6.1L, 6.2L, 6.4L
Price New: $28,870+

Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

And where there’s one era-defining muscle car, it’s as sure as the ensuing tire smoke that another is soon to follow. Produced for just five short years after debuting in 2015, the Shelby GT350 was eventually discontinued in favor of its brawnier 760hp sibling, the GT500. However, in many ways, it’s this little number that was the real star of the show. Affordable, iconic, and a driver’s car in every sense of the word, the modern-day GT350 is a Mustang that’d surely have Carroll Shelby smiling.

Years Produced: 2015-2020
Engine Size: 5.2L
Price New: $59,140

Honda Civic Type-R

High-performance Hondas are always desirable, no matter the model nor the year. And it’s for good reason; the Japanese automaker is one of the best in the industry when it comes to building cars that are as fun to drive as they are practical to own. In the case of the 10th-gen Civic Type-R, you get the fastest version of the platform to date — a super-hot 306hp hatchback that’ll do 169mph flat out and jump to 60mph in just 5.4s. As if that wasn’t enough, it also lapped the ole ‘ring in 7:43.80, besting its predecessor by 7 seconds and setting a new standard for front-wheel-drive cars.

Years Produced: 2017-Present
Engine Size: 2.0L
Price New: $37,895

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

As the first Jeep to get the SRT treatment, it goes without saying that the 2011 Grand Cherokee SRT8 will become a classic one day. Sure, Chrysler’s put its HEMI engines into any number of vehicles ever since this super SUV stopped production, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was monumental at the time of its debut. With its 470hp 6.4L putting down 465lb-ft of torque and a respectable 4.5s 0-60mph sprint, it still stacks up pretty well against today’s Grand Cherokee Trackhawk — even despite being handicapped by some 237 horses.

Years Produced: 2006-2010
Engine Size: 6.1L
Price New: $39,700

Lexus LFA

Widely considered to be one of the best performance vehicles of all time, the LFA makes for quite the remarkable piece of engineering from Toyota — especially when you consider that despite the car’s hefty $375,000 sticker price, each of the 500 units built actually lost the brand money. What’s more, Lexus claimed that the 553hp V10 could reach its 9,000rpm redline from idle in as little as 0.6s, a feat that meant an analog tachometer was out of the question. Thundering to 60mph in 3.7s and topping out at 202mph, the LFA was a car that was, in many ways, so wrong yet so right.

Years Produced: 2012
Engine Size: 4.8L
Price New: $375,000

Lotus Exige

With Lotus having announced the final run of its petrol-powered sports cars before it transitions to fully-electric alternatives, the Exige is one model that’s sure to earn a place amongst the ranks of classic automobilia. An unadulterated, uncompromising performance machine, it came in a variety of engine configurations and displacements over the course of its lifetime, including everything from a humble 1.8L Rover inline-four to a 3.5L supercharged Toyota V6. At its quickest, it was good for a 3.2-second 0-60mph time and a 180mph top speed.

Years Produced: 2000-2021
Engine Size: 1.8L, 3.5L
Price New: $139,500+

Maserati Quattroporte

Like many other Maseratis, the Quattroporte is a car that’s heaped with brand history, for it’s been in production since 1963. Though it’s now on its sixth iteration, the previous Quattroporte V (pictured here) is actually the model that we’d have. For despite some subsequent exterior redesigns and the addition of a new twin-turbocharged 3.2L V8 in its successor, the fifth-gen car has managed to stay relevant by way of its flowing, future-forward styling and the beautiful sound of its naturally-aspirated 4.2L Ferrari engine.

Years Produced: 2003-2012
Engine Size: 4.2L, 4.7L
Price New: $127,250+

Mazda RX-8

As one of the last Wankel rotary-engined vehicles to enter production, the Mazda RX-8 is already something of an outlier compared to the rest of the cars featured on this list. Developed as a direct successor to the iconic RX-7, it was inundated with expectation by the time it debuted in 2003. While sales started off strong because of the hype, over time, Mazda let the model go stale as it pursued other sales opportunities. If you’re willing to keep up with the maintenance on its RENESIS two-rotor, the combination of quick-handling, lively gear changes, and some 232hp will surely reward you for some days to come.

Years Produced: 2003-2012
Engine Size: 1.3L
Price New: $27,590

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Evos of any kind are prime fodder for classic collectors, as they represent the sum of Mitsubishi’s rally racing pedigree. Granted, the X was a vehicle that (unfortunately) never saw competition, but it marked the end of an era when it was axed in 2015. Since that time, Mitsubishi has focused its efforts on making practical consumer cars, meaning that we’ll likely never see anything like the last Evo and its 291hp turbocharged 2.0L inline-four from the brand any time soon.

Years Produced: 1992-2016
Engine Size: 2.0L
Price New: $33,038+

Porsche Cayman GT4

Porsche’s strict adherence to its signature style means that its sports cars age far better than most. As such, we can’t help but believe that the ultra-track-capable Cayman GT4 will someday join the ranks of its air-cooled ancestors. For 2021, Stuttgart gave the compact coupe a sonorous 4.0L boxer with a PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission, a pairing that makes the car as much of a rumbling head-turner as it is a performance-focused precision tool.

Years Produced: 2021-Present
Engine Size: 4.0L
Price New: $101,200+

Saab 9-5

Even before GM sent Saab to its untimely demise, the Swedish automaker’s vehicles had begun to thrive amongst a growing collector market. The second-generation 9-5 is one such car, launched under a last-ditch Spyker ownership that was, ultimately, to no avail. They’re quirky cars and definitely appeal to a niche sort of buyer; however, if you’re looking to stand apart from a sea of German sports sedans, the 9-5 is hard to beat.

Years Produced: 1997-2012
Engine Size: 1.9L, 2.0L, 2.2L, 2.3L, 3.0L
Price New: $38,525+

Subaru WRX STI

If you’ve ever taken a look at the used car classifieds, then you’ll be well aware of the fact that Subarus hold their value like few other cars on the market. For even despite six-figure odometer read-outs, sub-par aftermarket modifications, and badly maintained transmissions, models like the Impreza and the WRX can still command a pretty significant sum. In other words, the hatchback-bodied WRX STI is ripe for the picking, boasting such features as a 296hp turbocharged 2.5L boxer engine, a driver-controlled limited-slip diff, and plenty of practical storage space.

Years Produced: 2008-2014
Engine Size: 1.5L, 2.0L, 2.5L
Price New: $24,850+

Toyota Land Cruiser

While legendary Land Cruisers like the FJ40, FJ60, and FJ80 are already feeling the effects of a booming off-road enthusiast market, the J100 is still relatively affordable (but not for long). As with its predecessors, it came standard with a number of innovations, including active automotive night vision, roll-over sensors, and even a platform-first V8 engine. It’s worth noting that because of Toyota’s incredible build quality, it can be pretty hard to find one of these without hundreds of thousands of miles — in most cases, they weren’t just driven; they were loved.

Years Produced: 1998-2007
Engine Size: 4.5L, 4.7L
Price New: $56,860+

Toyota GR Yaris

Unfortunately, we’ll have to hold ourselves over for 25 years before we can even dream of importing Toyota’s little hot hatch, but this is one case in which the wait is well worth it. Effectively a World Rally Car to be raced on the street, the GR Yaris combined a 257hp 1.6L three-cylinder engine with an all-new AWD system, a set of massive disc brakes, and a six-speed manual transmission. In practice, this has made it one of the purest driving experiences you can buy — a bonafide smile machine that’ll have you grinning ear to ear.

Years Produced: 2020-Present
Engine Size: 1.6L
Price New: $39,000+

The 15 Best Continuation Cars

While guessing at what cars will become popular in 20 years’ time is sure to stoke your classic nostalgia, it’s far from the only way. If you really want to be wowed by some old-school (but updated) rides, check out our guide to the best continuation cars.

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