Catch ’em young
It’s the right time to invest in cars like the R129 SL series.

Catch ’em young

30th Dec 2017 6:00 am

Perseus talks about youngtimer cars from the 1990s and how their desirability is rapidly increasing.


We often desire cars like the Mercedes-Benz 220S Fintails. Fintails now command astronomical prices and are highly sought-after classics, but not so long ago, could be bought for similar prices
as used Esteems.

Youngtimers, as the Germans say, are cars that are 15 to 25 years old and are my favourite generation of cars. I’m glad they are finally gaining popularity. Unlike veteran vintage and classic cars, youngtimers or modern classics attract those who grew up with bedroom posters or PC wallpapers of cars desirable in the 1980s and 90s.

Currently, youngtimers can be bought at extremely low prices in contrast to even not-so-sought-after vintage and classic cars. This makes investing in them even more attractive. In certain cases, these cars are abandoned by their owners when it costs more to fix them than their resale values.

Truth be told, youngtimers are as difficult to maintain as vintage cars. Do not let this intimidate you because if you bought one and spent double the money you paid to get it in tip-top condition, you’d still have a cracker of a car for less than a new one segments below. Best of all, you are unlikely to lose money spent on a good example or a well-restored car. Give it a thought, you could buy a Mercedes-Benz W124 sedan in decent nick for a throwaway price of Rs 2-3 lakh, and if you spent another Rs 2 lakh on getting it in pristine condition, you’d have a covetable youngtimer for under Rs 5 lakh. And with prices of these cars only going northwards, it could probably be a depreciation-free investment. For example, VW Beetles and Willys Jeeps that sold for as little as Rs 60,000 not many years ago, now demand anything from Rs 6-12 lakh!

Besides being my hero cars, I feel youngtimers represent all generations of cars with an inimitable blend of mechanical finesse and electronic sophistication, and showcase a venerable amount of modern safety and comfort. To put it simply, they weren’t as compromised by safety and environment norms like the cars of today. They don’t make cars like that anymore.

Cars like the original Honda NSX from the mid-1990s are already highly sought after by collectors globally. However, I’m talking about cars like the Porsche 944s, Mercedes-Benz W124 series, the R129 SL series, BMWs like the E30s, E46s and the sorts that are not so difficult to find in the country that you should invest in. Like it is said, catch ’em young!

Mercedes-Benz dealer Shaman in Mumbai has started a great initiative and holds monthly meets to help owners and enthusiasts nurture their youngtimers. There is also a keen classic BMW community in the country but a dearth of good cars surviving. One hopes to see more manufacturers taking initiatives and extending their support to preserve heritage models. Imagine, if mainstream manufacturers like Fiat, Ford, Renault and Honda had a dedicated support system for older cars imported into India. Maruti Suzuki, may we have an official SS80 (800) owners club? Oh, happy days!


Perseus Bandrawalla

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A car nut and motoring enthusiast who loves anything with a motor fitted to it. He is known for his obsession with modern classic automobiles and has extensive experience in all things automotive including running a motorsport team and curating automobile events.

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