Saturday, February 11, 2012

Right Now: What Car to Buy, What Race to Watch

What drivable collector car to buy right now?

The collector car market is really not as complex as you might think, especially if you’re going to drive the car you buy.

When a new car is manufactured, it is sold at the highest price the market will bear. As it ages, its value goes down before rising again after 15-25 years. The key is to buy just before a model's value begins to surge.

Here are some of the real bargains available right now for those who want to drive their collector car, get decent mileage, tons of fun, and sell it later for much more than they paid for it:

  • 1984-89 Toyota MR2 Mark I – The US market hasn’t yet discovered the value of Japanese sports cars. 1987 is the preferred model year for the MR2 as it came with bigger brakes and better rear suspension. Their value has just begun to increase over the past 2 years. Buy one now in the $5,000 range, drive it for five years, and sell it for much more. I had a Mark I as my daily driver for nearly a decade and the car cruises beautifully at 90-110 mph. I’ve also raced the Mark I on road courses and it is a delight. Don’t pass up an opportunity to own one. 
  • 1975-78 Datsun 280z – This is not the later, better known 280zx… this is simply the 280z. Equipped with an upgraded 150-hp 2.8 liter straight six, the 280z was quick and fun to drive. The choice model is the 1976 280z with the 5-speed manual transmission. And thank goodness, you could still buy it in true 3-door hatchback trim before the popularity of the hideous 2+2 layout for which the 280zx became infamous. After racing the Datsun "Z-cars" for years, I've come to love them. The 280z is another modern classic. Buy it now for less than eight grand. 
  • 2001-06 (BMW) Mini Cooper – These little wondermachines have more torque than you can imagine. They drive tight and fun. They are nowhere near their lowest value, but the early models are now available for sub-15 thousand with plenty of miles left on the clock. After driving one for a few weeks, the Mini Cooper quickly became my wife’s favorite car. 
There are a few V8 values on the market as well including the 1987-93 Fox-body Mustang LX and the C4 Corvette. We’ll talk about those in another blog.

What races to watch this season?

The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa on September 2nd.

In case no one has noticed, Formula 1 is entering a new golden era. Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton complement a magnificent array of newcomers. And you can still see F1 legends Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen in the twilight of their careers.

Today’s F1 is good racing (I can’t believe I’m saying this). F1 cars occasionally pass one another in anger… something not seen regularly in the series for a decade.

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit was built in 1922 and survived World War II after part of the Battle of the Bulge was actually waged on the grounds.

This is the right track to see, even if only on television. This is the right time to watch the series.

But wait... you say you don’t want to go to Belgium? Try Milwaukee.

The Indycar series returns to the famous Milwaukee Mile on June 16th. With any luck, F1 ace Rubens Barrichello will have signed an Indycar contract and be there as well. CART winner Paul Tracy is expected to have his swan song this season.

And as the oldest racetrack in America, Milwaukee has hosted all the greats from Barney Oldfield to A J Foyt.

But wait... you're into grass roots racing?

Join me for the Super Cup 100 stock car race at Columbus Motor Speedway on April 28th. Super Cup features 600-hp NASCAR Nationwide cars on historic short tracks across the eastern US.

You won’t get trampled by 100,000 fans. On the contrary, you’ll enjoy an intimate setting with less than 5,000 in attendance. Parking is easy. You can see the whole track from any seat. Tickets are affordable. Concessions are tasty, fresh and sanely priced.

The 1/3rd mile oval was built in 1946, the same year that Frank Sinatra and the Andrews Sisters charted big hits. For crying out loud, Indy-style roadsters raced here in 1949. In 1957, the first winged racecar in history drove its first laps at Columbus. This track holds a great deal of auto racing history.

Be sure to send me an email and let me know you’re coming. I’d love to invite you to our pit area and give you a close-up look at our car. Look for the red and black #21 with Boschett Timepieces and McGunegill Engine sponsorship. I hope to see you there. Best,

Stephen Cox
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auction, Velocity channel
#21 Packs Racing/Boschett/McGunegill Engines Chevy
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions

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