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The automotive world is cyclical in nature. Trends come and go, often disappearing for decades before roaring back with a vengeance. We're currently experiencing a major resurgence of retro ride enthusiasm. Classic nameplates like the Ford Bronco, Toyota Supra, and Chevrolet Blazer have all made triumphant returns in recent years.
This retro renaissance speaks to the timeless appeal of iconic designs. While modern rides boast the latest tech and amenities, they often lack the raw, emotional draw of their forebears. For many drivers, nothing beats the style and spirit of a well-executed throwback.
Bronco owner Dalton says his 2021 model takes him right back to childhood. "My dad had an old Bronco that we'd bomb around the ranch in. This new one captures that same rugged freedom. With the removable doors and roof, it's like driving a time machine."
Of course, bringing back legends requires far more than slapping a familiar badge on a new model. The best retro rides artfully blend classic style cues with modern drivability and features.
Markus found this balance in his recently acquired 1994 Toyota Supra Turbo. "Toyota nailed it with the styling. The rounded edges and big wing definitely trigger nostalgia. But thanks to a professionally built 3.0L 2JZ, upgraded brakes and suspension, it drives every bit as well as my daily driver."
Retro models also enable brands to stretch design muscles at lower cost. Because tooling and development expenses are minimized, automakers can take styling risks that would never fly for a flagship vehicle.
Sleeper sedans like the Chevy SS and Chrysler 300 pay homage to the overpowered family cars of yore. Meanwhile, the reborn Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator capture the rugged appeal of bygone trucks and SUVs.
For those seeking something truly unique, small-volume retro models offer a combination of heritage, performance, and exclusivity. Cars like the reborn Toyota Supra, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Chevrolet COPO Camaro give deep-pocketed enthusiasts a direct connection to the past through modern interpretations of legends.
For decades, exotic supercars occupied a rarefied space in the automotive hierarchy. Models like the Ferrari Testarossa, Lamborghini Countach, and Porsche 959 were objects of fantasy for most - distant, unobtainable visions of speed, luxury and status. But the tide is finally turning. Thanks to depreciation and the rise of more attainable exotics, this elite segment is opening its doors to a wider audience.
Stefan still pinches himself daily while driving his 2001 Lamborghini Murcielago. "I remember having a poster of this car on my wall as a kid. The styling is so dramatic even by today"s standards. I never imagined I"d own one." He snagged this example for $80,000, a fraction of the original $350,000 MSRP.
For Ford GT owners like Tim, depreciation brought his dream car within reach. "I paid $220,000 for my 2005 model last year. Couldn"t touch it for under $500,000 when new. The price drop allowed me to step up to a legit supercar that still turns heads today."
Some models have depreciated so significantly that they now compete with ordinary sports cars. Sam purchased his 2001 Ferrari 360 Spider for $50,000 last spring. "For this money, most people are buying a decked out Mustang or Camaro. I"m driving an open-top Ferrari!"
Depreciation alone hasn"t bridged the affordability gap entirely. The rise of entry-level exotics from Acura, Audi and Nissan has also democratized the segment. Cars like the R8, NSX and GT-R deliver a heavy dose of supercar flair and performance without the crippling costs.
Trevor chose a used 2012 Audi R8 V10 as an alternative to a 911 Turbo or Corvette Z06. "I was cross-shopping it against some really quick sports cars in the $50-70k range. But only the R8 gives me the exotic look and sound I crave for under $100k."
For Sarah, her CPO 2015 Acura NSX was the perfect way to dip her toes in the exotic pool. "I know it"s a bit heavier than rivals, but I just love the styling and hybrid tech. The NSX offers a distinctly Japanese take on the supercar formula that really resonates with me."
For automotive enthusiasts uninterested in factory fresh metal, the used market offers access to an even more exclusive strata - heavily modified tuner cars. These one-of-a-kind builds represent the pinnacle of personalized performance, painstakingly crafted by dedicated owners and specialists. Sourcing these well-fettled machines takes insider knowledge, but the payoff is massive horsepower, head-turning style, and street cred amongst fellow gearheads.
Jeremy lucked into a 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII RS Sprint tuned to within an inch of its life by Buschur Racing. "The previous owner spent over $40k transforming it into a rally rocket. Custom turbo, intake, intercooler, exhaust, suspension, brakes - it's ridiculous. With 520hp in a car weighing just over 3,000 pounds, this Evo hooks up and absolutely rips."
For Shelby, her 2013 Subaru WRX STI built by Turn In Concepts delivers an invigorating taste of rally royalty. "They swapped in a built EJ25 pushing 450 hp to all four wheels, which completely transforms the character. The engine internals, turbo, clutches - everything has been blueprint and balanced to perfection. It's my dream Spec C."
David's 2015 Ford Focus ST by Full-Blown Motorsports embodies affordable hot hatch perfection. "The owner upgraded everything from the turbo, intercooler and full exhaust to engine internals, suspension and brakes. It's making 340 wheel-horsepower in a tiny hatchback weighing around 3,100 pounds. The power delivery is instantaneous and begs to be revved out."
Part of the thrill for tuner car owners is learning their vehicle's unique modifications inside and out. Pavel has become an expert on his 800-plus horsepower Nissan GT-R built by AMS Performance. "The workmanship is unbelievable. Custom turbochargers, reinforced transmissions, full titanium exhaust - it's made to conquer the track over and over. The amount of power being put down requires so much supporting modification that I'm constantly discovering new facets."
For those seeking the ultimate in bespoke performance machines, companies like Hennessey, RUF and Brabus offer factory-backed, luxury-level modifications to already potent supercars. Paul took delivery of a Hennessey Venom F5 producing 1,817 horsepower. "They only build 24 of these per year, each one unique. It's the definition of exclusive. From the carbon fiber chassis to the mid-mounted turbo V8, Hennessey leaves nothing on the table."
For those seeking ultimate performance with stealth, heavily modified sleepers offer massive power lurking beneath mundane exteriors. Owners of these Q-ships relish dusting rivals and onlookers who underestimate the beasts within.
Jessica's 2015 Volkswagen Jetta appears factory fresh at first glance. But popping the hood reveals a twin-turbo VR6 engine swap making over 800hp to the front wheels. "The reactions when I smoke unsuspecting Challengers and Chargers is priceless. They get gapped by what looks like a basic commuter car. My sleeper VW embodies the satisfaction of having your cake and eating it too."
Tanner went with an under-the-radar approach for his 1000+ horsepower 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor. "It looks basically stock aside from some meaty tires. So when I humiliate brodozers and sports cars alike, it's doubly shocking since it's coming from an F-150. I live for their defeated faces when this unassuming truck leaves them choking on dust."
Part of the appeal for Robert and his 650hp 2011 Toyota Prius is exploiting the element of surprise. "I relish laying down massive burnouts and fogging the streets in this stealthy eco-missile. The Police don't even glance my way, assuming it's just another green commuter. Then I unleash my secret weapon, vanishing in a cloud of vaporized rubber while they scratch their heads."
Of course, achieving crazy power in unsuspecting packages requires masterful build quality and integration. Joe's 900hp 2013 Honda Accord manages brutish speed thanks to artful modifications by Underground Racing. "You can't just haphazardly bolt on huge power that overwhelms the drivetrain. It took custom engine internals, upgraded driveline components and revised tuning to maintain total reliability."
Not all sleepers start out as modest family cars either. Marco transformed his BMW M5 into an over 1,200hpsleeper via work by Manhart Performance. "I wanted to maintain the executive appearance, so the exterior remains factory fresh. But thanks to upgraded twin turbos, intercoolers, injectors and full exhaust, it's a rocket in a business suit. I live for the shock as this sharp-dressed Bimmer disappears into the horizon."
For savvy enthusiasts, spotting future classics while still affordable requires seeing past contemporary trends to uncover timeless gems. While the masses chase the latest crossover or tech-heavy transport pods, those in the know set their sights on cornering quintessence and driver engagement that will never fade from favor.
Greg"s 2015 Porsche Cayman GTS was initially dismissed as just another mid-engine Porsche. But he saw past the badge to recognize one of the last pure driver"s cars the brand would produce. "The Cayman delivers such incredible balance and feel that it reminds me of icons like the 944 Turbo and 911 SC. Some don"t appreciate that purity now, but I have no doubt this car will be collected and coveted decades from now."
Amanda raised eyebrows amongst SUV-loving peers by snatching up a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, but she understood the magic beneath the skin. "So many were quick to write off the Giulia as just another failed Alfa, but those people don"t recognize just how special the Quadrifoglio is. The connection between car and driver is telepathic thanks to flawless steering and a sonorous twin-turbo V6. It's an instant classic."
Part of successfully identifying future classics involves parsing short-term fads from legitimate advancements. That's why Tanner passed on the latest tech-laden electric vehicles in favor of a 2022 Lotus Emira. "Lotus has perfected light weight and nimble handling for decades. While others experiment with tech gimmicks, this Emira offers timeless driving purity. Its focused mission to engage the driver will always have an audience, ensuring its collectability."
Savvy buyers also recognize when increased regulation spurs automakers to produce distinctly analog cars while still able. Jeff took advantage by acquiring a rare 6-speed manual 2022 BMW M2 Competition. "With electrification coming and manuals already scarce, this may be the last wind-it-out M car BMW makes. It celebrates raw power and driver connection in a way future BMWs likely won't."
The key is not prioritizing what's trendy or high-tech, but finding the gems engineered with passion that speak to the human soul. Adrian snapped up a 2022 Toyota GR86 equipped with a manual transmission because he understood its appeal as a pure sports car would persist. "The 86 perfectly captures lightweight handling joy and high-revving NA power - a dying breed. It will always hold a place for those seeking driving purity, making it a future coveted machine."
For those with an eye for hidden value, one person"s neglected project car can become another"s prized possession. When previous owners grow frustrated with challenging restorations or lose interest halfway through modifications, their abandoned endeavors get scooped up for pennies on the dollar.
Mark came across a once-prized 1969 Chevy Camaro SS that the owner had given up on after an engine swap went awry. "The guy had blown well past his budget trying to shoehorn in an LS3 V8. The car sat untouched for over a year until I made him an offer he couldn"t refuse. After fixing some botched wiring, I had the vintage muscle car of my dreams for less than the cost of a new Camry."
Jessica scored her 1987 BMW M3 E30 from the original technician who had started prepping it for track days before moving on to other projects. "He had already upgraded the suspension, brakes, wheels and exhaust but ran out of time to take it racing. I finished dialing in the performance mods and racing seats, bringing this homologation legend back to its intended purpose for a bargain price."
Part of the reward for new owners is unraveling mysteries previous caretakers left unsolved. When Hunter purchased a 1969 Ford Mustang with a 347 stroker V8 swap that refused to start, he dove in head first. "The engine showed signs of a rushed assembly and the wiring was clearly jury-rigged. After properly redoing neglected steps like setting the valve lash, timing and ignition tuning, I brought this pony roaring back to life."
For Kyle"s salvaged 2014 Subaru WRX STI, significant frame damage told only part of the story. "Once I pulled the engine, I discovered bent connecting rods that likely led to the crash in the first place. With a built short block, upgraded turbo and fresh tuning, this rally rocket now runs better than it ever did new."
Of course, new owners still need the expertise to pick up where others left off. When Erica took on a partially converted 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia, she leaned on her experience restoring vintage VWs. "The critical mechanical work was done, but the camper interior was completely gutted. I was able to fabricate new cabinetry, benches and a pop-top bed while preserving the essence of the original."
For enthusiasts searching for four-wheeled fury on a budget, the used market offers a trove of attainable yet potent performance machines. These pre-owned bargain beasts deliver serious speed and corner-carving capability without the fear of depreciation that accompanies purchasing new. Savvy buyers are snapping up everything from unassuming sedans packing secret muscle to track-tuned titans at a fraction of their original MSRPs.
Dan scored his barely broken-in 2019 Dodge Charger Scat Pack for under $30k last year, treating him to a 485-horsepower sedan with a thunderous Hemi V8. "I wanted big power in a practical package. The Scat Pack gives me a family car, commuter, and stoplight slayer all in one. Other performance cars this quick were way out of my price range new, but thanks to depreciation I can enjoy nearly the same thrills for half the price."
For Brandon, purchasing pre-owned afforded him his dream German sports sedan without the painful new car premium. He picked up a fastidiously maintained 2013 BMW M5 that stickered for $90k just a few years prior. "Now in the low $40k range, the first generation M5 with its howling V10 was finally within reach. This 500+ horsepower super-sedan offers looks, luxury, and driving dynamics that punch far above its used price point."
Some buyers hit the jackpot stumbling across previous owner"s barely-used track day toys. Gary lucked into a 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 with only 600 miles on it last fall. "The original owner barely drove it, either babying this 991.2 GT3 or trailering it to the local track. I scored a $150k carbon fiber Weissach Package GT3 that felt brand new for under $120k. That kind of performance and exclusivity for six figures is unheard of."
Part of the appeal of potent pre-owned performance is exploiting power levels unattainable to most buyers when new. Alex scooped up a 14 year old Nissan GT-R that received over $100k in modifications from its previous owner, including turbochargers, transmission and engine internals rated to 1100 horsepower. "I've got supercar-slaying performance for Corvette money. This R35 builds boost and rips through gears unlike anything else I could afford to buy new."
For Amanda, her pre-owned 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 came with a 600-plus horsepower bonus over the 435hp base model. "The prior owner added a supercharger, exhaust, suspension, and more pushing this Mustang over 700hp. I exploited someone else's upgrade budget to drive a genuine 200mph muscle car for used Camaro SS money."
For enthusiasts drawn to what's rare and exclusive, limited production models hold an irresistible allure unmatched by even the fastest and most powerful mass production machines. The knowledge that few others will experience their vehicle creates a special sense of pride. This exclusivity factor multiplies desirability, ensuring short run models will be snapped up immediately and coveted for decades to come.
When the Acura NSX Type R was released in 1992, only 483 examples made it to North America. Despite Honda's luxury division being relatively unknown at the time, Mitch purchased one immediately. "I saw the potential. Carbon fiber construction, a race-tuned suspension, and bespoke handling tweaks made the Type R incredibly special. Only hardcore enthusiasts recognized it then, but its rarity ensures this Acura commands respect even amongst Ferraris and Porsches today."
The Lexus LFA marked the company's 50th anniversary in spectacular fashion. Restricted to just 500 units globally, Rob was obsessed with acquiring one of the ultra-exotic Japanese supercars. "The 4.8L V10 with its 9000 rpm redline was handbuilt alongside carbon fiber components crafted using aerospace manufacturing techniques. I've never driven anything as precise and exotic as my LFA, knowing they barely made enough for a handful of collectors worldwide."
When Audi revealed the R8 V10 Signature Edition, Gareth's local dealer received a single allocation. "For this special run of just 100 cars globally, Audi included every performance and styling enhancement like carbon-ceramic brakes, a fixed rear wing, and unique Badging. With its production run lasting only 4 months, I knew these limited edition R8's would become instant collectibles, so I had to grab the sole one arriving in town."
Part of the desirability surrounding short production runs comes from enthusiasts who missed out vowing not to repeat mistakes. The Shelby GT350R was lauded as an instant classic upon release, yet only 137 were built in 2016. Despite the steep price, Dillon scoured the country to find one two model years later. "I kick myself for passing on the GT350R when new, thinking more would come. The small production run means that brillantly track-focused Mustang was a flash in the pan. I wasn't about to miss my second chance at ownership."
Knowing production will cease imminently further fuels the mania over special models. When the manual transmission-equipped BMW M3 ended its run for 2023, order books overflowed. Chuck was unrelenting in tracking one down. "With electrification coming, this is my last chance to own an M3 with a clutch pedal. Knowing they're the last of a dying breed makes these 2023 manual M3s impossibly desirable. In 10 years they'll be as coveted as a manual E46 M3."