Which cars will be future classics?
Since the term was first coined way back in the 1970s, car enthusiasts have debated what automobiles will be considered classics by future generations. Some cars (like Ferrari's 250 GTO and the McLaren F1) are raised to that level from the moment they're released, while others take enthusiasts by surprise.
Few expected to see Nissan's cheap and cheerful 180SX/200SX/Silvia sports coupes quadruple in price in a few short years, let alone watching R34 GT-Rs surpass many modern Ferraris in value!
For this story I'm going to pick a bunch of cars from the last 5 years and use my 20 year's experience in the car industry to predict whether they will become future classics, or wind up as cheap 2nd-hand nuggets. This means there won't be any Evo IXs, E46 M3s, Honda NSXs or Daewoo Lanoses...
So, do you agree with my list?
Future sports car classic: Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ
I can hear the cringe from here. Yes, you can't go to any automotive event without seeing a throng of 86/BRZs, but its that very popularity which is why it will be a future classic.
When the Toyobaru twins dropped on us in 2012 it had been 10 years since Japan had given us a light, cheap, rear-drive sports coupe. While enthusiasts love them the MX-5 and 350Z didn't fill the gap left by Nissan's Silvia (200SX) for the mass market, so this chuckable, tune-able, good looking little skid machine found favour with drivers, tuners, and racers alike, not to mention a huge swathe of regular non-car-obsessed people who just wanted a good-looking coupe (remembering we didn't get Vipers or Corvettes down here in Australia).
All those kids you see at car meets in 86s and BRZs will grow up and move on with their lives. But, just like boomers (Muscle Car era) or Gen Y (JDM Turbo era) they'll eventually hit their 40s and find disposable income to go re-purchase a Boxer-powered slice of their youth. Nostalgia is what drives the classic car market (nobody buys a '57 Chev for chassis refinement and sporty driving experience) and as the generation who spent their 20s in 86s and BRZs age, they'll look back on those cars fondly.
Future hot hatch classic: AUDI RS3
While this class was invented by the FWD, NA VW Golf GTi and the Peugeot 205 GTi, the turbo all-paw WRX and Evo ruled the roost through the 90s with their unbeatable grip and acceleration.. While plenty of manufacturers have tried to muscle in for a piece of this action in the years since, the 2017-on Audi RS3 will be the hot hatch that becomes a future classic.
These 400hp five-cylinder monsters rewrote how fast a hatchback car could be, and that was before people started modding them! While the WRXs and Evos had fairly basic interiors that were as comfortable as dancing on Legos in bare feet, the RS3 brought Audi's renowned refinement to the cabin and driving experience - did we mention it is ballistically fast?
AMG's A45, Hyundai's N-Performance and even Volkswagen's Golf R are all worthy cars, but none had the hype of the RS3 and that plays a huge part in defining a future classic: a lot of people need to view the car as a cool thing for it to ascend to the throne of Classicdom. With European manufacturers getting out of internal combustion-powered cars, the RS3 stands as the high-water mark for the lauded hot hatch class.
Future muscle car classic: Hellcat Chryslers
This one will cause a lot of angry Facebook comments in the land of burgers and handguns, but no one car did more to reignite the modern muscle car wars than the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. While the third-generation Dodge Challenger was lauded for its retro-cool looks on debut in 2008 it wasn't until Chrysler stuffed a 707hp supercharged 6.2-litre third-gen Hemi under the bonnet that the Big Three (Ford, GM & Chrysler) kicked off their Second Great Muscle Car War.
Chrysler fans had waited nearly 50 years for their brands to go back to the kind of brash, V8-powered, tyre-smoking muscle cars that had made them the kings of the original, 1960s Muscle Car Era. While all American car fans have their favourite brand, the Mopar muscle cars of this era are among the most desirable and this "return to form" by the brand in 2015 saw the wider non-car-fans take notice.
Following the original SRT Hellcat the Mopar fam have given us Hellcat-powered sedans (Dodge Charger), trucks (Ram TRX) and SUVs (Jeep Trackhawk), with power spiking up to 800hp from ordinary production cars that Regular Joe and Joelene can buy. All of these were featured in ads featuring smoke-belching drifts, sky-blocking burnouts, rock music and lots of good old freedom - in short, while the Camaro ZL1 and Shelby Mustangs are great cars, they were out-America'd by Chrysler.
Things got properly nuts when they brought out the SRT Dodge Demon, a lightweight drag-prepped missile that made up to 840hp and ran 9.65@140mph on the quarter-mile. No other modern muscle car has the buzz around it than the Hellcat Chryslers (and, as an Australian that hurts to write given how rad I find our own HSV and FPV products).
Future prestige sports car classic: Porsche Cayman GT4
Out of the Nissan 370Z, BMW M2 Competition, TT-RS Audi, Mk5 Toyota Supra, even the Jag F-Type... this class is stacked with some beaut cars. So how the heck did I pick a "baby Porsche"?
Simply put, these cars have had rave reviews since Porsche brought out their go-fast variants of the Cayman coupe. Many renowned racers also point to the GT4 as being a better, more fun car to drive than the legendary 911.
Now, I know there are many reading this shaking their heads as they view any European car as unreliable, expensive junk compared to their favourite Japanese tuner specials... except since 2003 there really hasn't been a big hero-killer out of Japan, with the exception of the R35 GT-R. When it comes to a current, modern-era sports car the Cayman is widely recognised as the best.
And now that Porsche are moving into EVs with their Taycan range, the reality is the last properly cracking petrol-powered driver-focused sports car from the legendary German marque will be a classic in years to come. Even in that yellow.