It seems to be a common topic of conversation between car owners and enthusiasts over a certain age.
The immortal line: “Oh, I had one of those but I sold it for peanuts, if only I kept it. Look what it’s worth today,” often mumbled with a hint of regret.
So, with this in mind, let’s take a trip back to the mid-to-late 90s and have a look at what those beloved old bangers are worth today.
Why the 90s? You may ask. Well, a lot of significant changes in the 90s created a definitive line in the sand of two distinct eras in automobile production.
The advent of stricter emission controls and the legal requirement for catalytic converters in 1992 saw the end of carburettors as a mass-produced source of feeding engines. Many manufacturers had been working on electronic fuel injection for years but it became a necessity in order to meet the new regulations.
Terms such as injection, twin cam and 16v became buzz words of the day and were unashamedly splashed on the back of cars to promote the fact they were the future and included the top technology. So, the old carburettor-fed engines lacking numerous ECU-controlled sensors became the poor relation.
Fast forward 20 years and technology has taken over many aspects of our lives. The old banger you got shot of in the 90s for less than the cost of 10 pints and a kebab today have become a centrepiece of nostalgia for those old enough to remember driving them.
Such cars had soul, character and individuality; they were made by companies whose goal was to make the coolest, smartest most desirable vehicles on the road. Today’s cars while very efficient, comfortable and well-equipped do suffer something of an identity crisis with many manufacturers sharing production costs and therefore losing their desirability. The old bangers are back, but now they have a new term – classics.
Ford Escort RS2000 Mk2
Credit Paul Lucas
Most people are aware of the massive price hike the Mk1 Mexico has enjoyed over recent years and the values of the Mk2 aren’t exactly stagnant. Back in the latter half of the 90s, the RS2000 could be seen gracing classic car mags’ classified ads for anything between £1,500 and £3,500 while projects and poor examples could be picked up for under a grand. Jump forward to 2016 and the Mk2 RS2000 commands a healthy £12,000 for a good example and £15k plus for concourse models.
By the late 90s, Rover was a company very much pushing the boundaries of its overdraft; rehashing older models with different grills and badges hoping to catch the British market napping, it didn’t work and by 2005 Rover was no more.
That’s not to say Rover and British Leyland in the 70s was infallible, far from it. Strikes within the workforce and poor build quality hampered what could have been some great cars. By the early 80s build quality was improving but the writing was already starting to appear on the wall.
But among all this hardship lay some real strokes of design genius and desire to make a great-looking car. Enter the SD1 (Specialist Division Number 1) styled to look like the Ferrari Daytona and luxurious to appeal to all. Early build quality hampered the car’s reputation but by the time this was sorted out it was time for the big bruiser to bow out gracefully and it did just that.
The later Vitesse, the twin plenum fuel injected V8, was a homologation developed with the help of Lotus. Increased horsepower gave the car a real sporting pedigree. Values in the 90s were at their lowest with many cars succumbing to rust only fetching scrap money, but today, brilliant examples can fetch up to £6,000 and even more so for the twin plenum version.
Ford Escort XR3i
Credit Kieran White
The joy riders’ favourite in the 80s, the XR3i stood proudly on the new owner’s drive, briefly, but it was one of the definitive hot hatches of the period. The Escort lived on with each new mark looking heavier, less defined and interesting until the fresh new Focus took over, making the Escort look every bit out of date.
By this time, the XR3i could be picked up for a few hundred quid. Fast forward to 2016 and within the digital pages of the classic car ads can be found a number of 3is from £3,495 up to £8,000 for low mileage examples.
Renault 5 GT Turbo
A Max Power favourite at one stage with massive egg crate style body kits and large alloy wheels, the 5 GT Turbo has always been a boy racer favourite and even 15-years-ago the prices held respectably well with interest waning but never fully dropping off. In later years a lot of the big bodykitted cruise cars seem to have disappeared leaving more original examples to be seen. Prices for this little pocket rocket in the 90s were still quite strong at around about £1,500 for a decent example but today excellent examples are seen to go for more than £10,000.
Lotus Cortina Mk1
The Mk1 Cortina is a car that’s definitely enjoyed resurgence in the past few years, going from forgotten icon to retro cool. Prices have been steadily rising for many variants but there has been no steady increase for the Lotus-developed version; prices have sky rocketed beyond any expectation. Some 20-years-ago the car would have cost between £6,000 and £10,000, Practical Classics’ price guide has a concourse car worth £48,000 but a quick search through the classifieds will find examples fetching upwards of £60k.
Hindsight is a wonderful, and sometimes painful, thing.