Home » Meet the ‘Youngtimers’: 13 Cars Built After 1980 That Have Become Unlikely—but Serious—Collectibles

Meet the ‘Youngtimers’: 13 Cars Built After 1980 That Have Become Unlikely—but Serious—Collectibles

by multimill
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If you look at a list of the most expensive sales at the end of every major automobile auction, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the only marques collectors really care about are Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin and Bugatti. But that’s starting to change, mainly because the thinking about what qualifies as a classic is finally starting to evolve, too. At the forefront of this is a wave of visually stunning and fun-to-drive vehicles known as “youngtimers.”

Let’s get this out of the way: There is no firm, carved-in-stone definition of youngtimer. That said, the vehicles most people agree fall into the class meet a couple key criteria. First, they’re relatively new. We’re talking about cars built after 1980. And second, whether they’re powered by a peppy inline-four or a brutish V-12, they deliver a visceral thrill when you’re behind the wheel. Unlike an eight-figure Ferrari 250 GTO, a youngtimer isn’t meant to be put on display, it’s meant to be driven. In short, they’re the kind of vehicles that today’s enthusiasts have been drooling over since first getting into cars.

“For me, it is a car that’s fun to drive or own,” Brian Rabold of Hagerty recently told Robb Report. “For some people, that’s wanting to go fast. For some people, it’s the way it makes them feel. For other people, it might be the places it allows them to go.”

Youngtimers aren’t just made by the usual suspects, either. Sure, some of the most storied automakers in history, like Lamborghini and Porsche, have built vehicles that fit into the class, but so have brands more associated with everyday drivers, like Audi and Toyota. Almost every automaker is capable of building something special, and the demand and prices that youngtimers are beginning to command is proof of this. Changes in import laws have also given collectors access to cars that weren’t originally sold stateside, either.

Youngtimers are more accessibly priced than older classics, but data provided by the valuation experts at Hagerty show that the sums needed to buy these cars have risen dramatically over the last half-decade. Vehicles like the BMW E30 M3, Lexus LFA and Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R are going for prices that were unimaginable when they were still in production. There are several reasons for this, including newer collectors being able to afford the dream cars of their youth, and more established collectors interested in vehicles that they’ll feel comfortable driving. There’s also the culture that surrounds the vehicles, with dedicated youngtimer gatherings and shows, including the popular Radwood series of events, popping up all over the country.

“We’ve created a platform to celebrate this era of cars,” Art Cervantes, the co-founder of Radwood and co-host of the Driving While Awesome podcast, told us. “There’s a place for people to showcase these vehicles. And so people are trying to get them for multiple reasons, but they want to be part of this movement.”

Wondering where to start with your youngtimer journey? Here are 13 cars that are deserving of a spot in any car lover’s collection, along with pricing trend information so you know what it will take to make one of them yours.

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