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What makes a car collectible?

A longtime friend was writing about collector cars recently. He referred to the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible, which became an instant collectible when collectors feared it would be the last convertible ever because of proposed tough government regulations.

People snapped up the Eldorados and locked them away with visions of riches dancing in their heads. Well, suddenly the tougher regulations never materialized, and what were once exclusive collectibles became ordinary used cars.

It was a good lesson in collectibles. Try as you might to guess what will be a collector car, outside forces will always control what’s in demand.

Any car potentially is a collectible. I’ve always thought it would be cool to own a Checker Cab. It’s truly illogical, but then again, most collecting is.

Knowing my taste in collectibles isn’t mainstream, I reached out to some experts.

Chris Brewer, the public relations director for the exclusive Amelia Island (Georgia) Concours, said, “We are certainly in a new golden automotive age. Gas-powered, high-horsepower halo cars are currently being produced concurrently with alternative fuel supercars and for prices, that when adjusted for inflation, are incredibly affordable.”

What tops Brewer’s list? The BMW i8.

“Although it may not have a racing heritage like its M1 predecessor, which is currently seeing a surge in popularity and value, the German performer redefines what is possible with a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and hybrid powerplant,” he said, adding it is impossible to definitively pick the next classic.

Hybrids like the i8 don’t merit much consideration for Russ Heaps, a contributing editor to AutoTrader.com. He said collectors would probably find appeal in the muscle cars, especially as fuel economy mandates and other legislative considerations challenge their futures.

Pressed to narrow his choice down to one, Heaps leans toward a Japanese car: the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. It’s no longer produced but is probably still available in some showrooms, he said, calling it a “kick to drive with 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque spread across four wheels. There’s nothing fancy about it, but it goes like a scalded cat. It’s the quirky sort of high-performance sedan that grabs collectors’ imaginations.”

Two possible collectors come from Alfa Romeo, according to Melanie Batenchuk, founder and publisher at BeCarChic.com. She predicts the Alfa Romeo 4C and the upcoming Giulia for the simple reason she likes their looks but doesn’t see them enjoying success.

“I think over time when their existence here doesn’t take off (again), folks will want to have one,” she said.

One car that runs a common thread through this list is the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Its lesser siblings don’t have the muscle people seek.

Bernie Loomis, president of the Las Vegas Valley Mustang Club, said the Ford Mustang GT500 is an extremely popular car among collectors.

“The reason for that is, in 2007, when they came out on the showroom floor, you could buy a car with 500 horsepower and you could beat anything out there at the time,” he said. “Since then, the horsepower has gone up and up.”

Loomis added that car collectors gravitate toward Mustangs because of how they look.

“Everybody likes the design of the Mustang,” he said. “Most people who like Ford cars like the Mustang because it’s a powerful, good-looking car, and it always has been a good-looking car.”

BoldRide.com contributing editor Nicole Wakeman says it and the Chevrolet Camaro SS are instant collectibles.

“The Camaro and Mustang are the kinds of muscle cars people love to collect, and these two trims are the hot ones to buy. Who wouldn’t want to buy these and keep them perfect and shiny for the next 20 years to show off?” she said.

Not all collectibles will be cars, as U.S. News contributor Eric Evarts pointed out. He gives the nod to the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Discontinued in the 2014 model year, this Toyota is bound to be a collector’s item for years.

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