The new classics: Nine of the hottest collectors’ cars

Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) models

Tim Nicholson

Posted February 16, 2021

Grays Australia classic car specialist reveals the most sought-after collectors’ cars.

As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Take the clapped-out 1973 Ford Falcon XA GT left to rot in a shed behind chicken wire, then sold at auction a couple of months back for a cool $300,000. 

It’s a remarkable but hardly unique turn of events. Across Australia, classic car enthusiasts are on the hunt for their dream car, scouring classifieds websites and auctions and prepared to pay top dollar whether their find is painstakingly restored or in a state of disrepair. 

In fact Rian Gaffy, classic car specialist at Grays auction house, says some vehicles sell for more when they’re in less-than-perfect nick. “The cars must be in good, original condition, the more original the better. If you get one that has been hot-rodded, the value drops dramatically.”

So what are the cars that bring in the big dollars? Rian says classics from international marques are always in hot demand, but Australian-made icons have also shot up in value in recent years. 

We asked Rian to name some of the most sought-after makes and models on the collectors’ market. 

Vintage treasures

Ford XY Falcon GTHO Phase III

The iconic 1971 GTHO Phase III has become the most sought-after model among Australian collectors and investors, with models fetching upwards of $600,000. The Aussie-built sports sedan carried Allan Moffat to a win in the 1971 Bathurst 1000 and the overall Australian Touring Car Championship. Powered by a 225kW Cleveland V8 driving the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox, the GTHO completed the 0-60mph in 6.4 seconds. It’s believed there are fewer than 100 genuine examples of the GTHO remaining, which will only amplify its appeal.

What will it fetch? In 2018, a GTHO owned by former Australian cricketer Jeff Thomson sold at auction for $1.03 million. And in October a GTHO that had been left to decay in a shed, with dents from an axe attack and no engine, sold for $400,000. Two GTHOs advertised online range in price from $635,000 to $660,000.

Holden LX Torana A9X

Launched in 1977, the A9X was a performance-option package available with the LX Torana SS or SL/R 5000 with a 5.0-litre V8 engine. Essentially built for racing, the A9X was stripped of sound-deadening materials and wasn’t even fitted with a radio. Cosmetic flourishes included a reverse airscoop on the bonnet, bolt-on flares and rear spoiler, and brake-cooling ducts in the front spoiler. In all, 305 sedans and 100 hatchbacks were produced. 

What will it fetch? In 2018 one sold for $365,000 at auction, while a seller in Sydney was asking $495,000 for a hatchback in June last year. 

Valiant Charger E49 R/T

Chrysler disrupted Ford and Holden’s Australian-made muscle-car dominance with the release of the Charger coupe in 1971, which promptly took out that year’s Wheels Car of the Year award. An upgrade in 1972 dubbed the E49 R/T ushered in a better four-speed gearbox and bump in power for the six-cylinder Hemi engine, and it was a more accomplished track weapon than its predecessor. Chrysler built just 149 examples and the E49 has gone on to become a collector’s item.

What will it fetch? These are selling online for more than $250,000 – quite a jump from the original $4300 price tag.  

In 2018 a Holden LX Torana sold for $365,000 at auction.
The Valiant Charger E49 has become a collector’s item.

Jaguar E-Type

It’s not just Australian-made metal proving lucrative at the auctions. British marque Jaguar’s iconic E-Type is admired the world over – even Enzo Ferrari called it the most beautiful car ever made. Available in coupe and roadster (convertible) guise, the E-Type was considered relatively affordable when it was launched in 1961. It was produced in Coventry, England until 1975, initially with a 3.8-litre straight-six engine, and later with a 5.3-litre V12. 

What will it fetch? Examples online have asking prices ranging from $73,000 for a 1969 automatic hardtop to $320,000 for a 1964 manual convertible with 1700 kilometres on the clock.

Porsche 356

Porsche’s first production model, the 356, is hot property. The lightweight two-door coupe or convertible was first built in 1948 in Austria before shifting to Germany two years later. Around 76,000 of these rolled off the assembly line until production ceased in 1965. Mechanically related to the Volkswagen Beetle, the original 356 was powered by a four-cylinder VW engine.

What will it fetch? The 356 has taken off at auctions, with prices soaring from $40,000 10 years ago to $200,000 now. In 2018 an enthusiast snapped up a rare 1962 Porsche 356 B T6 ‘Twin Grille’ Roadster for $352,000.

Jaguar’s iconic E-Type is admired the world over.
Porsche’s first production model, the 356, is hot property.

Modern classics

Later-model cars are becoming increasingly popular on the auction circuit, particularly Japanese models from the 1980s through to the early 2000s. These are some of the models tipped to become collectables.

Subaru Impreza WRX

Subaru shook up the sportscar segment in the early 1990s with the Impreza WRX. The rally-bred, all-wheel-drive performance car became an instant hit with boy racers and is still seen by many as the pinnacle of compact, affordable performance cars. 

What will it fetch? A good example of the first-generation model (1993-2000) with low kilometres can fetch $30,000 to $35,000 at auction.

Mazda MX-5

Mazda’s lightweight, affordable MX-5 sportscar became an instant classic when it launched in 1989. Thirty years later it’s a collectable. Rian Gaffy at Grays says they have doubled in value in the last couple of years. The first-generation NA MX-5 is now selling for more than the newer third-gen NC MX-5 online and at auctions. 

What will it fetch? Prices range from $10,000 to $20,000 and are on the rise. 

Subaru shook up the sportscar segment with the Impreza WRX.
Mazda’s MX-5 has doubled in value in the last couple of years.

BMW 1 Series M Coupe 

BMW built a modern classic in 2011 when it took some of the mechanicals from the potent M3 and put them into the compact 1 Series M Coupe – or 1M for short. The 250kW/450Nm straight-six engine, six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive combo made for one of the most celebrated cars of the decade. 

What will it fetch? You’ll find them online now for $70,000 to $100,000.

Holden Special Vehicles GTS and ClubSport 

The closure of Ford and Holden’s local manufacturing operations a few years back prompted a spike in value for high-performance models. Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) models like the GTS and the ClubSport are more popular now than ever. 

What will it fetch? GTS models are selling for up to $150,000.