I saved pictures of this eBay find sometime ago, and never got around to posting it. But long story short, bidding for the item, listed at $11,000, ended; I assume it didn’t sell. Ninety-five percent of our readers will be confounded by such an idea, about sixty percent of whom will have good reasons for their resentment and forty percent who won’t. But regardless of your viewpoint, is this listing indicative of new trends in the world of collector cars?
Whether or not this car is actually worth five figures is irrelevant to those who’d actually pay to own it. There are a select few people who will in fact pay this kind of money for the cars they grew up with, and to them, it’s not as ridiculous as it may seem to the rest of us. And among new car buyers who find that the likes of today’s $25,000 Civic Si (or what have you) leaves them cold, with its electric power steering, drive-by-wire throttle delay and distant cowl, a car like this could work as a fun daily driver.
Around here, the third-gen cars are among our favorite Civics and in two-year only fuel-injected Si hatchback trim, this is the most desirable variant (and one of the most uncommon). Although, lacking the feedback carb’s bird’s nest of vacuum hoses, it’s also one of the more long-lived. This particular car, with 57,000 miles on it, has largely disappeared from anywhere salt is used, and out in the West and the South, is still unlikely to be found in like-new condition.
…but shouldn’t a car like this be preserved? And would you pay $11k for the privilege of owning a car you can barely drive without worry? Will a car like this ever be worth this much money? Let’s investigate current eBay offerings. This ’86 CRX Si, possibly as nice, with 70k miles is listed at $8,000. This ’89 CRX Si, with 140k miles on it, has its current bid at set $5,000, though the reserve has not yet been met. It would appear values are on the upswing for what are becoming more widely accepted as classics.
Moving outside the Honda realm, we see that not all cars are held in such high esteem. This 1969 Mazda 1200 coupe–not pristine, but quite clean and serviceable–is being offered at $4,888. As such a rare car, it’s arguably more worth the investment, and does a more commonly preserved but older and sportier ’83 RX7 with 99k miles strike you, at $7,000, as worth the same as, or less than, the Civics listed above? How about this coeval, and less widely appreciated, ’87 RX7 (with automatic–ew), with 58k miles?
For those of us who love Japanese classics, it’s always been hard to determine a car’s value. We’re surrounded by folks who say the cars are essentially worthless (there are certainly great arguments to be made as to why you wouldn’t pay $11k for an ’86 Civic) but who’d pay $110k for a 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda. Don’t worry, I understand the two are not comparable, but that’s still ten times as much money for a car you definitely wouldn’t be able to take out often without needing to meditate beforehand.
So what determines value or legendary status? Relevance within pop culture (how many ’71 Hemi ‘Cudas were destroyed in Phantasm and its sequels? How many import fans have been humiliated by the Fast And Furious franchise?) or is it more personal? Would you pay big money for a classic others wouldn’t appreciate?