If you’ve been thinking that the local high streets, shopping centres and parks have been looking a lot like the 80s and 90s, you’re not alone. The trend for double denim is back and it doesn’t just stop at fashion – cars from that era are also rising in popularity and price.
With exclusive access to sales data from Europe’s number one site for classic and specialist cars, Car & Classic, we are able to delve a little deeper into some of the hottest and most appreciating cars of the 80s and 90s. And being 30 is no guarantee for success as we also check out what’s not doing so well on the open market and has depreciated between 2020 and 2021.
Car & Classic’s CEO Tom Wood explains, “Over the course of a year, we [Car & Classic] have seen an astonishing increase in people buying classic cars across all decades, but in particular the 80s and 90s. In such a turbulent year, it seems that everyone has been bitten by the nostalgia bug. With buyers perhaps looking to purchase the first car they ever owned, the car their parents had, or even the car they wish they could afford back then, demand is strong for cars from that period. Then again, with things that go up, they also can come down, so we’ve also had a look at the top depreciating cars of those eras too.”
Models from the 80s that have gone up in value from 2020 to 2021 include:
#1 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W124)
Presented in 1984, this was the first mid-size Mercedes convertible and was also offered in coupé and estate styles. Keen fans will know that this era of Mercedes-Benz is known for its better quality of build materials, which are less prone to rust compared to the 90s equivalents, and perhaps that and its collectability has driven it to increase in value by 200 per cent from 2020 to 2021.
#2 Volkswagen Beetle (Mk ?)
Most recognisable as the speedy and mischievous car ‘Herbie’, from the popular film franchise, the South American Volkswagen Beetle era has seen a price increase of 110 per cent from 2020 to 2021, potentially due to its warmer climate and easier to maintain metal.
#3 Ford Capri (Mk 3)
Back in its day the Ford Capri Mk 3 was the most popular sporting model in Britain, which is perhaps why it was one of the most stolen models during the 80s and 90s. This could give you an idea of its popularity and rarity now, and why it’s increased in value by 57 per cent in a year.
#4 Volkswagen Golf (Mk 1)
The successor of the Beetle, (ranked #2 in our list) the Golf was the first generation of a small family car manufactured by the brand. Although the Golf model is still going strong all these years later, it has seen a price increase of 47 per cent according to Car & Classic.
#5 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit
Our most expensive (new) model of the list, the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit was a showcase of wealth, luxury and British elegance. It went on to pave the way of the Flying Spur and Silver Dawn models and due to its rarity and iconic status, it’s fifth on our list with a price increase of 42 per cent from 2020 to 2021.
However, it’s not all good news for vehicles made in the 80s. The models that depreciated the most during the same period are:
#1 Toyota Corolla (E80)
Manufactured from 1983 to 1987, the Toyota Corolla or E80, was the fifth generation of cars under the Corolla and Toyota Sprinter nameplates. With a total production of 3.3 million, this model was popular globally. Despite its popularity, over the past year it has seen a decrease in price by -58 per cent.
#2 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W126)
The full-size luxury sedans and limousines of the second-generation S-Class were in production from 1980 to 1991 and were offered in both short and long wheelbase. In the last year it has seen an overall price decrease of -47 per cent according to Car & Classic.
#3 Aston Martin V8
Entirely hand built with each car requiring 1,200 man-hours to complete, the Aston Martin V8 was a replacement of the DB6 model. The V8 was a larger, more modern looking car, with production ceasing in 1989. Although still an appreciated and recognisable model, over the last year it has seen a price decrease of -29 per cent.
#4 Ford Fiesta (Mk 2)
Originally introduced in 1976, the Ford Fiesta was Ford Europe’s first multi-national front-wheel drive car. In 1983 it was updated and the Mk 2 was launched. It was very well received across European countries, in particular in the UK where in 1981 it was the third best-selling car. Alas, over the course of the year the standard Fiestas (not special or sporting editions) have seen a price decrease of -26 per cent according to the data provided by Car & Classic.
#5 Ford Escort (Mk 3)
Another Ford that has dropped in popularity is the standard Ford Escort (excluding the ‘hot’ versions). Back in the day it was often the best-selling car in the UK, with more than 4.1 million models of all generations sold in a period of 33 years. The Escort Mk 3 featured both a three- and five-door hatchback and estate as well as a three-door cabriolet. Although hugely popular in its day, unfortunately from 2020 to 2021 this particular Escort has seen a price decrease of -22 per cent.
Meanwhile, in the 90s, we have a very different outlook on the top five cars that have appreciated the most between 2020 and 2021:
#1 Saab 900
In the early 90s, Saab was struggling with an ageing product range. Then came the Saab 900, easily one of the most cost-effective entries into classic car ownership that, according to data from Car & Classic suggesting that the 900 model has increased by 500 per cent or five-times its price from 2020 to 2021.
#2 Lotus Elan (M100)
Codenamed M100, the Lotus Elan was the first front-wheel drive produced by Lotus. Although it received rave reviews from automotive journalists for its great driving experience, it was not a commercial success for the company. That being said, from 2020 to 2021, Car & Classic have seen a staggering 200 per cent increase in price for this model, maybe due to Lotus announcing its range is going electric.
#3 Honda HR-V
Originally launched in 1999 after receiving fantastic feedback as a show car, the Honda HR-V was offered in two- and four-wheel drive, however was not marketed as a 4×4 or even a conventional estate. That didn’t matter though, as many people residing in cities saw the usability and fun factor of this car, which seems to have made a comeback as there has been a resurgence of desire for this model, with just over an 80 per cent price increase in a year.
#4 MG F
Launched in 1995, the MG F was one of the earliest cars to be launched following BMW’s takeover of the Rover Group. It was one of the top most affordable sports cars in Britain at the time, and seems to be coming back in popularity with a price increase of 79 per cent from 2020 to 2021.
#5 Mazda MX-5 (NB)
Another roadster with a price increase this year is the Mazda MX-5 Mk 2 or NB-era model. Inspired by the post-war era British sports car, this model has won numerous automotive awards and has become the world’s best-selling sports car. So, it comes as no surprise to hear that the price increase from 2020 to 2021 has been 75 per cent according to Car & Classic.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the 90s spectrum, the ones that haven’t had the same fate and have depreciated from 2020 to 2021 are:
#1 Peugeot 205
Declared “car of the decade” by CAR Magazine in 1990, this model is credited as the car that turned Peugeot’s fortunes around. Alas, over the past year non sporting versions of the car have experienced a decrease in price by -60 per cent from Car & Classic’s data.
#2 Porsche 944
With over 163,000 cars produced, the 944 was the most successful sports car in Porsche history during the 90s. That was, until the introductions of the 987 Boxster and 997 Carrera. However, between 2020 and 2021 this particular model has seen a price decrease of -53 per cent.
#3 BMW M3 (E36)
Originally released as a coupé in 1992, the E36 M3 received facelifts in both 1995 and 1998 and was featured as two different styles; a coupé, saloon and convertible to help fill the gap in the market. This past year has shown that the 90s M3 models have decreased in price by -45 per cent.
#4 Renault Clio
Now on its fifth generation, the Renault Clio was launched in 1990 and has received both critical and commercial success as one of Europe’s top-selling cars consistently over the years. That being said, the data Car & Classic has provided shows that the standard models produced in the 90s have decreased in price by -40 per cent.
#5 Toyota Yaris
Launched in 1999, the Yaris was offered in hatchback, sedan and coupé styles and is still a very popular model today. This is evident with nearly nine million units sold as of March 2020. However, in the last year the first-generation Yaris has seen a price decrease of -31 per cent, perhaps due to the popularity of the newer generation.
If you’re feeling a touch of nostalgia to buy a car that means something to you from the 80s and 90s, we hope this report proves useful. Of course, there are many more where these cars came from on carandclassic.co.uk on Car & Classic’s online-only auction platform and its popular classifieds site. Happy car shopping!