I have no gift for prognostication. I predicted, for example, that Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista would divorce shortly after the 2012 presidential election—we’re still waiting on that one. I also once predicted that I would own a Porsche 911 by the time I was 35; now, I am shooting for 55.
Still, I feel pretty good about the picks I am making here. Below, please find three vehicles I believe will soon appreciate in value. And, unlike my Gingrich/Porsche predictions, the automotive collectibility projections are based more on facts than gut instinct.
Let us know if you think it’s possible these rides will someday cross the stage at a Barrett-Jackson auction, or if they’re more likely to be found on Craigslist, shamed by an “or best offer” tag.
2008-2010 Chevrolet HHR SS
I am still a little perplexed by General Motors’s decision to cut the cheeky and functional HHR from the Chevrolet lineup. Customers took possession of more than 70,000 HHRs in 2010, the car’s last full year of production. Seems to me a facelift and available AWD would have gone a long way toward lifting sales over 100,000 units. But, axe the HHR GM did.
While more common HHR variants may never be seen as collectible, the delightfully sporty SS just might. Boasting bigger wheels and tires, a sport-tuned suspension, and up to 260 horsepower (automatic-transmission-equipped models made do with 250 ponies), the HHR SS was an affordable, character-packed sportster of the ilk Toyota’s Scion division never managed to muster.
Especially rare (and most likely to be sought after) were SS versions of the HHR panel, a side-windowless delivery vehicle that looked flat-out awesome on the right wheels. Give the HHR SS a few years, and then watch its prices rise above those of more common rides.
2008-2009 Saab 9-7X Aero
I’m calling it. The truck no one accepted as a Saab will one day be the SUV that car lovers will embrace as collectible—at least in high-performance Aero guise. It’s no secret that the 9-7X was a rather hastily modified version of GM’s GMT360 platform, which was also home to the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Isuzu Ascender, among others. That said, it wasn’t actually a bad vehicle…just big, clumsy, and out of character for a Saab.
The Aero version was something special, however. Essentially a “Saab’d” version of the Trailblazer SS, the 9-7X boasted some serious suds to go along with its Swedish pretense. Like the Trailblazer SS, the Aero enjoyed the muscle of a 390-horsepower 6.0-liter V8, as well as the Chevy’s sport-tuned suspension and upgraded brakes. With nicer cabin trappings than the SS, the Aero quickly became something of a cult classic, and has already built a small but vocal following.
Production estimates vary, but most sources put 2008 Aero production at about 500 units, and 2009 production around 100. For someone looking for an uncommon vehicle that boasts mostly proven—and affordable to repair—American parts, the 9-7X Aero may prove very appealing.
2007-2015 Toyota FJ Cruiser
Oddly, what the average new-car shopper will not pay for at all, some used-car shoppers will pay dearly for. This is the case with the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Though FJs were never hot sellers when new, used examples retail for a shocking percentage of their new-car value. According to the NADA Official Used Car Guide, the FJ Cruiser has one of highest, if not THE highest, value retention rates in the industry. It is not uncommon for eight-year-old examples to sell for upwards of $18,000–fully 50 percent of their original sticker prices.
Helping the FJ perpetuate its perceived value is its wholly legitimate status as a serious off-road vehicle. Sharing its basic architecture with Toyota’s beloved Tacoma midsize pickup, the FJ mixes avant-garde styling with a big, torquey V6, locking front and rear axles, a usefully stubby wheelbase, and excellent all-around visibility.
In many ways, the FJ Cruiser is like the Hummer H3–another off-roader with the potential to be someday collectible.