Previous Generation Cars You Should Buy Anyway
Sure, they’re yesterday’s models, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth scooping up.
The world of cars essentially runs on the latest and greatest. We speculate, report, discuss and indeed fantasize about whatever model is coming next.
And it seems that new models are coming at us faster and faster. There’s a flavour of the week every week—a constantly shifting spotlight on what’s been updated, improved or totally revamped.
Refreshes and new generations seem to arrive so quickly that it’s easy to forget about previous generations of cars that were fun, fast, cool or collectable… even from just a single generation ago.
Some of you may even feel that the previous generations were better because… well, let’s face it, you were familiar with them and change is a cruel reminder of the relentless passage of time and subsequent need to accept your own mortality. No one likes getting old.
And hey, there are plenty of new models that you should go for over the last generation. These days, most new models are, at very least, a mild improvement, if not a full stop evolution over the last generation.
Even great cars like the VW Golf GTI or Mazda Miata, nitpicks with weight aside, they’re such great value for money, it’s worth it to go for the latest model. Same goes with pick-up trucks and economy cars. Almost always, you’ll be happier to get the current generation. It’s the sensible thing to do.
And in fact, none of these cars on this list were “sensible” or “practical” buys when new. These are previous generation cars which are becoming increasingly affordable on account of being last year’s fashion or increasingly collectable due to their desirability and scarcity.
Nissan 350Z (Z33)
2003 – 2008
If the 350Z seems like it was more than just a generation ago, that’s because the current 370Z has been around for a whopping 11 years. However, 350Zs have plummeted in price, and like the Nissan 180sx and 240sx cars before them, are becoming great platforms for inexpensive project cars.
Yes the interior looks like it’s from the late ‘80s, but you get a 3.5-litre V6 in the front, RWD in the back and a six-speed manual transmission in the middle. A good recipe for cheap thrills.
They also seem to have held up incredibly well compared to other Japanese sports cars from the same area (looking at you Mazda RX-8), so while they’re getting a bit old, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding one in reasonably good condition.
BMW M3 (E90)
2007 – 2013
The E90 M3 is somewhat overlooked and not always shown much love by enthusiasts. Mainly for its departure from a lightweight, straight-six powered saloon to a much heavier, V8-powered grand tourer.
It was also known for a few pesky gremlins, including a very infamous rod bearing issue. However, if you’re willing to roll the dice on one and make sure it receives proper, regular maintenance, picking up this 411-horsepower, 8,000 rpm screaming wordclass GT car for somewhere in the neighbourhood of $35,000 – $40,000 could be money well spent.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (S197)
2013 – 2014
With so much fanfare and publicity around the new Shelby GT350 and of course, the 760-horsepower GT500, we were all quick to forget about the last generation Shelby.
Particularly the very last S197 Mustang to get the Shelby treatment, the monstrous 662-horsepower 2013 – 2014 GT500 — the first Mustang rumoured to top 200 mph.
If we remember back to the twilight Obama years (before the dark times), everybody went nuts for the 707-horsepower Hellcat, but for some reason this GT500 never really received the same praise or attention—perhaps because in the final years of the S197 platform, Cobra-badged Mustangs just seemed like “yet another one.”
However these cars do seem to be maintaining their value for the time being. Maybe it’s because this is the last GT500 with a live-rear axle or manual transmission. Maybe it’s because this is the last Shelby Mustang that Carroll Shelby ever consulted on before he died.
For my money, it’s that retro muscle car silhouette. The new S550 are sleek and aggressive, sure. But the S197 captures that sense of danger and retro-cool that we all fantasize about when we think of driving a Shelby Mustang.
Corvette Stingray (C7)
2014 – 2019
Yes, we’re all excited for the new C8 Corvette. But the C7 is still a great car, with a great engine, with great looks and with the Z51 package, great handling.
Sure, they never put a great transmission in the C7 and driving one will make you look like a divorced golfer. But you can pick a gently used one up for around $60,000, which realistically is about half to two thirds of what you’re going to pay for a new C8 right now.
Plus who knows, maybe the last front-engine Corvette will end up being really collectable.
Cadillac CTS-V (Third Generation)
2016 – 2019
The new Cadillac CT5-V is upon us and currently the talk of the town. But let’s not be so quick to forget about the 640-horsepower beast that was the Cadillac CTS-V. Was the CTS-V ever as sporty or nimble as an M3? No. Was it as luxurious as a Mercedes AMG or made to the quality standards of a Lexus IS350F? No.
But it was a tire roasting, full-on muscle car that you could reasonably call a sleeper—the sort of car that makes you feel like you’re driving to a bank heist no matter where you’re going. Sure, you’re probably still paying somewhere between $70,000 – $80,000 for one of these supercharged V8 monsters, but think of it more like a four-door Camaro ZL1 or Charger Hellcat for grown ups.
Porsche 911 (991)
2012 – 2019
The best thing about buying an 8-year old Porsche is that nobody will know you have an 8-year old Porsche. Yes the new car has more aggressive styling (again, for those who can notice), a better transmission, and is slightly quicker to 60 mph.
But we’re still talking about a Porsche 911 here. The “old” 991 generation features sub 4-second zero to 60 mph times, and was lavishly praised for its flat cornering, sharp steering and general driving enjoyment.
With so many trim levels, it’s difficult to say exactly how much you might save versus buying a brand new 911, but it could be in the tens of thousands of dollars range depending on mileage.
And that’s worth it for a timelessly good-looking sports car that nobody will ever fault you for buying.
2004 – 2014
Sure, because we’ve all got $120,000 lying around to blow on yesteryear’s supercar. I get it. Most of us aren’t in the market for used supercars, and frankly the idea of getting one should rightfully appear as a minefield full of potential gremlins and ongoing technical headaches.
But if you are ever thinking of getting yourself a supercar, this might be the way to go. Besides spending half of what you would on a new Lambo, the Gallardo is more exciting than its cousin, the Audi R8, more iconic than a McLaren, and unlike the alternative Ferraris which seem to go out of style quicker than face tattoos, alcoholic energy drinks and Gangnam Style combined, the Gallardo looks timeless.
Park it up next to the latest Huracan and I doubt the average 10-year old will be able to tell the difference. To them it’s a Lamborghini like any other, and you just made their day.
Toyota Supra (A80)
1993 – 2002
Right, because the A90 just came out, this is the latest previous generation Toyota Supra—the A80 (or as it’s more commonly known, the MKIV).
It’s no secret that prices have skyrocketed to ridiculous levels for this generation Toyota Supra. Seriously, if you want one in the most desirable twin-turbo, six-speed manual trim, you might have an easier time putting that Lamborghini in your driveway. But if it’s the collectability factor that you value most, this is one worth snatching up.
There is a hack to getting a “cheap” A80 Supra. Although it may not be a favourable one for most. You can find this generation Toyota Supra in Japanese right-hand drive configuration for much, much cheaper than its American-spec counterparts. You might have to search extra hard for a turbo, manual car, but it’ll be worth it when you impress every teenager in your neighbourhood with your JDM Supra.
Check specialty dealers from British Columbia who specialize in direct JDM imports. You may just get lucky with a well maintained Supra that won’t break the bank,
Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34)
1998 – 2002
Hey, we passed “unobtainable” after that Lambo. We are now officially in the territory of “unicorn”.
Still, if we’re talking about last generation cars worth owning, you have to include this particular machine—which at this point, is practically more of a myth than it is a car.
Like the Supra, it’s wild to think that the R34 is still the most recent generation next to the current one. The R35 has been with us now for a whopping 12 years.
But you can see a new R35 GT-R any day of the week. They get lost in a crowd. The R34 Skyline GT-R, however, could probably draw a larger crowd than any supercar or classic collector car your mind could conjure. At least, among millennials. This car is a totem for an entire generation.
It also shows no signs of becoming any less collectible any time soon. So, if by some miracle, you manage to find an R34—even if it will cost you your firstborn—you might consider buying it, especially before this car becomes available in the United States and the prices shoot up even further.
Thanks to our 15-year import rule, Canada has a head start on the R34, but that head start won’t last forever. The US has a 25-year rule, and that means it will be clear to start importing R34 Skylines somewhere in 2023.
Applewood Motors in Langley BC is apparently getting one in. It could be yours.