In recent years, the financial markets have been anything but predictable. Case in point, the absolute bonkers current used car market. Used cars with higher mileage and more years are actually selling for more now than they did three years ago. In many cases, cars just one or two years old are as expensive as a brand new version. That’s why today we’re talking about the best investment cars for 2023.
Why invest in cars?
Normally, investing in used cars is a losing proposition. People generally want to buy new cars not old ones, unless they were a special edition or were particularly popular. A few years ago, the idea that used cars would actually appreciate in value instead of continuing to decline was practically ludicrous. No one would have taken you seriously if you tried to tell them your car would actually be worth more in a few years than it was then.
Yet, when the COVID-19 pandemic, massive supply chain issues, and semiconductor chip shortage all occurred, the financial markets went topsy-turvy. While it’s uncertain for how long, as of the end of 2022 used cars are still doing quite well. Many used 2020 models with 10-20,000 miles are still just below the price of a brand new 2023 version.
So why invest in cars now? Surprisingly, used cars currently have some of the best return on investments (ROI) in the markets. According to Classic.com, which highlights market trends for classic and exotic cars, some cars show a ROI of nearly 100% over the last calendar year. While certainly not all models are appreciating and valuable, it has been a bull market over the last few years. That’s why now is a great time to start investing in cars for the future.
How we made our best investment cars list
When creating our list we took several different things into consideration. Along with Classic.com’s list for ROI over the last year, we also consulted leading classic and exotic car appraisers and auctioneers like Hagertys, Hemmings, Forbes, and Barret-Jackson.
Our list has a wide range of potential cars for all types of investors. We know not everyone is looking to spend six-figures on a car investment. Some of our suggestions are very reasonably priced and will still keep or increase their value to a good degree. Yet, we do still have some suggestions for higher priced cars, as those will inevitably have the largest returns.
The Top 7 Best Investment Cars for 2023
Our list of the top 10 best investment cars for 2022 is:
- Honda S2000 (2008-2009)
- AMC AMX (1968-1970)
- Chevrolet Corvette LT-1 (1970-1972)
- Audi R8 (2008-2015)
- Saab 900 Turbo (1986-1993)
- Nissan 350z (2003-2008)
- Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (2001-2004)
Best Investment Cars Top Pick: Honda S2000 (AP2) 2008-2009
Our pick for best investment cars for 2022 might surprise you, but it’s the Honda S2000 (AP2), and specifically the final two years from 2008-2009. We’ve written about it before with our Top 5 Honda S2000 mods guide, and it is one of our favorites. Honda gave the AP2 S2000 the 2.2 naturally aspirated F22C1 4-cylinder engine. It only makes 237 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque, but its light weight and screaming 8,200 RPM redline helps make up for it.
The car is a lot of fun stock, but it’s also one of the more moddable vehicles on the market. The S200 is frequently supercharged to give it some more bite, and the power to weight ratio is phenomenal. Some of the downsides of the S2000 include its polarizing appearance and incredibly poor stock suspension setup.
You’re probably questioning us for recommending a Honda sports car from the 2000s as our top buy, but here’s why. From 2021-2022 the Honda S2000 (AP2) 2008-2009 model years had a 59% ROI. In addition, the average market price skyrocketed from just over $52,000 to just over $71,000. A jump of nearly $20,000. Many of these are the Club Racer performance versions that were made for better handling and with upgraded interiors. The time is now to grab a low-priced version of these S2000s if you can, as they seem to be blowing up in price.
AMC AMX (1968-1970)
Next on our best investment cars list is the AMC AMX. AMC produced the AMX muscle car for just three years from 1968-1970, but boy were they glorious. Optional engines were 290, 343, or 390 cid small block V8s, pumping out between 225-340 horsepower over the years. Its iconic two-seat configuration and rumble seat have long drawn buyers, and it’s truly the quintessential 1960s American muscle car. AMC made it available with a variety of different options and colors, making it stick out for all the right reasons.
For the longest time, the AMX was widely underappreciated in the car world. Not quite as iconic as its direct competitor at the time the C3 Corvette or the more popular Mustangs and Camaros, the AMX has only recently become sought out.
The AMX is not all sunshine, however. There are documented problems with rust on the majority of surviving models, and the 1960s era suspension leaves a lot to be desired today. Less than 20,000 units were built in total, most being the 1969 model year. This makes them somewhat challenging to find, though clean examples are still out there.
A very clean example will go for ~$50,000, and that should only increase from there. They are on Haggerty’s Bull Market list for 2023, and are widely expected to continue an upward trajectory in the future.
Chevrolet Corvette LT-1 (1970-1972)
Next on our best investment cars list is one of the most iconic Chevrolet Corvettes ever created. The 1970-1972 C3 Corvette was one of Chevrolet’s finest examples before the emissions and oil crunch of the 1970s and 1980s. The C3 lasted from 1968-1982, but the best years were at the beginning. The engines included both small and big-block V8s, like the 350 cid ZQ3 and L46. Yet, most coveted was the 350 cid (5.7L) LT-1. Pumping out upwards of 370 horsepower with high lift cams and forged internals, many people regard this as the best Corvette engine ever made.
Those looking for the most power could opt for the ZR1 package. This included the big-block LS7, producing 460 horsepower and nearly 500 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, on all engines power dipped each year due to emissions restrictions, as well as due to the switch from SAE Gross to SAE Net horsepower calculations.
Now, clean examples of LT-1 powered Corvettes go for as low as the upper-$30,000s, making them solid investments. Hemmings is very bullish on them, suggesting they might more than triple their value in the coming years and decades. While we’re not quite that optimistic, we still think the ‘70-’72 C3 ‘Vettes, especially the LT-1, are fantastic investments to get at this time.
Audi R8 (2008-2015)
Leaving behind naturally aspirated American V8s for a moment, we’re going across the pond to Europe and their V8s. The Type 42 Audi R8 is one of the single greatest sports cars ever built. Both the naturally aspirated 4.2 V8 and 5.2 V10 are outstanding engines, producing anywhere from 414 to 570 horsepower depending on the model. Hagerty put it best when they called it “Italian performance with a German accent.”
A manual transmission was optional, and the interior was gorgeous. It has an all-wheel drive system that is rear biased, making it the ultimate for sticky performance. And that doesn’t even count the luxurious, aggressive, but smooth external aesthetics of the R8. Some of the bad included the R-tronic automatic transmission that should be dropped like the plague, and you probably should make peace with not being able to see out of your rear view mirror very well.
Still, the Audi R8 is already a hot investment and is poised to go even further. For a 2011 R8 with the 5.2L V10, excellent conditions will go for just north of $200,000. While this is already a pretty steep entry price, the R8 looks poised to increase. It is another entry for Hagerty’s Bull Market list for 2023, growing in value 37% since 2019 and being a frequent lookup on their valuation tool.
Saab 900 Turbo (1986-1993)
Coming up next on our best investment cars list is probably the most surprising entry, the Saab 900 Turbo from 1986-1993. You could get it in either a three or five-door body style, and it was available with either naturally aspirated or turbocharged 2.0 liter inline-four engines. In all, Saab offered six different engine choices, four turbocharged and two naturally aspirated, through its eight year run. Most of the turbo variants never made it overseas to the US, but they are by far the most valuable.
The interior, while never meant to be luxurious, but Saab gave it nice touches like a split dash and relatively ergonomic layout. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find a low-mileage version today, if you can find one at all. The soft suspension leaves a lot to be desired driving wise, but the wraparound windshield is unique and looks great. Saab made roughly 1 million 900s during this span, though again most of the turbos never made it stateside.
Right now the Saab 900 Turbo from ‘86-’93 can still be had relatively cheap, with clean version still in the upper $20,000s range. Expect that to increase in the coming years, as a combination of hard to find parts, hard to find service, and the fact that Saab is now dead, will only serve to reduce the number of models available, elevating their price. Hop on the 900 Turbo now while you can still find a nice one.
Nissan 350z (2003-2008)
Next on our best investment cars list is one of the most identifiable cars, the Nissan 350Z (Z33) from 2003-2008. Still relatively new by most standards, like the Honda S2000, the 350z is one of Nissan’s most popular sports cars. Nissan gave it a pair of 3.5L V6 engines making between 287-306 horsepower and 269-276 lb-ft of torque. It could hit the zero to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, and is highly praised for its drivability.
The 350z styling has long been noted for its iconic style, including both the interior and exterior. Punching far above its pay grade in both respects, the 350z commands attention wherever it goes. However, that same styling can be polarizing to some people, and its lack of forced induction is unfortunate. Of all the versions Nissan made, the 350z NISMO from 2007-2008 was perhaps the most iconic. Nissan gave the NISMO 350z upgrades basically everywhere except the engine, making it a performance machine.
Nissan’s 350z is another one of Hagerty’s picks for their Bull Market list for 2023, and its resale is rising quickly. A mint condition later model year will already run you north of $50,000. The NISMO versions are by far the most valuable, but also the most rare and expensive to start with. Soon these won’t be available for anything resembling their original list price of $30,000 – $40,000, so hop on them now if you can.
Chevrolet Corvette C5 (2001-2004)
Rounding out our best investment cars list is the Z06 C5 Corvette from 2001-2004. We have written extensively about the legendary LS6 engine that powers the Z06, and for good reason. This is considered one of the best modern Corvette power plants, pumping out over 400 horsepower and torque. It was the high performance version of the LS1 that Chevrolet introduced in the base Corvette in 2001. It improved on the LS1 in a myriad of ways, making it more reliable, more powerful, and overall better.
The 2001 C5 was the first year the Z06 came out, and many people still regard this generation as the best. Chevy gave it, in addition to a fantastic engine, a solid suspension setup and beautiful styling. It was a huge step up from the C4 ‘Vette in pretty much every way imaginable, and finally brought the iconic Corvette back from the dumps. The LS6 is also a big fan of superchargers, and does amazing things when a larger blower is added…
Like the 350z just mentioned, the C5 Z06 is one of the hotter cars on the used market right now. Its prices have been going up steadily in recent years, making good deals harder to come by. Still, you can easily find many solid Z06s in the $20,000 range, which will be quite a steal in the coming years. Hagerty has the ‘01-’04 Z06 on their 2023 Bull Market list, and we definitely agree with them. We wouldn’t be surprised if these things more than double in value within a decade.
Best Investment Cars for 2023 Conclusion
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best investment cars for 2023. Our top recommendation is the Honda S2000 (AP2) from 2008-2009, especially the Club Racer model. Still, you can’t go wrong with any of the options, like the Z06, 350z, R8, 900T, AMX, or C3 ‘Vette.
While obviously no one can tell what the market will look like in a few years, all of these models look poised to take off. Some of them, like the Z06, 350z, and S2000 have already started to appreciate rapidly, making them good ones to move on quickly. Not only do these appear to be good financial investments, if there is such a thing for used cars, but they also are all incredible cars that are just flat out fun to drive. Even if you don’t make a killing, you’ll still have as many smiles per gallon as you could ever need.
Let us know your thoughts on the best investment cars for 2023! Where are you putting your money!? Let us know in the comments below.