The Four-Door Question
10th Aug 2019 10:00 am
Perseus talks about the appeal of four-door modern classics.
A common debate amongst car collectors is whether four-door sedans are collectable? If you ask me, I’d say there’s no reason to not collect them. While it can be argued that two-door coupés and cabriolets are a lot more visually appealing and rare, I would sometimes choose a four-door variant over a two-door for good reasons.
To start with, there are various factors that determine the collectability and desirability of a car, like engine specifications, originality, and provenance too. When it comes to choosing German cars from the 1980s, I would probably choose an in-line six or a V8-engined four-door over a four-cylinder two-door car, only for the sake of having a better engine. For example, I’d prefer a Mercedes-Benz W124 500E sedan over a 220CE coupé.
It’s not just the engine though, if I were to choose a modern classic performance car, I’d have one with a manual transmission over one with an archaic auto ‘box, and probably trade the exclusivity of a coupé for a manual gearbox. That said, the character of a car can sometimes be better suited to a four-door sedan, or that the model could be made only in four-door variants, like a Mitsubishi Evo.
A car with provenance, like a Mercedes-Benz sedan once owned by a prominent person like JRD Tata, would be enormously collectable and far more appealing than one without any documented history. Also, a sedan with a lot of originality, or one that is sympathetically restored, can sometimes be a lot more desirable to me than an equivalent two-door relic.
Four-door sedans may not be preferred over their two-door siblings at a concours, but if you are going to use your modern classic cars regularly, you may also appreciate the practicality of having four doors over two. Novelty aside, seating passengers in the back seat can be quite a chore for the front-seat occupants. Ask anyone who has owned a Maruti Suzuki Zen Carbon or Steel, or even a Polo GTI, on how impractical they are as four-seaters.
Reasons like these make me a fan of modern-day four-door coupés, like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the BMW 6-series Gran Coupé, which, in my opinion, looks even nicer than the two-door 6-series.
Most four-door sedans imported to India pre-1990s are now becoming extremely rare, right from old Corollas and Civics to Fords and even some rare Jaguars. The more popular cars, with a sort of cult following in the country, are older German sports sedans like the BMW 325i (E30). It’s extremely difficult to find pre-2000 Ms and AMGs in India, which are fast appreciating over the world. However, if you are lucky, you can still find some German sports sedans with range-topping straight-six or V8 engines, which I think will be highly sought after in years to come. The next time you come across a fine example of a Mercedes-Benz 190 E, grab it!