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What’s the deal with the Bricklin SV-1?

Whats the deal with the Bricklin SV1

If you’ve ever wondered if there was ever a Canadian sports car, the answer is yes and this is it. The oh-so-canadian named SV-1 or Safety Vehicle One, famous for being the safest sports car of the 1970’s. This might be the ultimate hipster collector car, well maybe the word “collector” is a stretch because these have somehow found a way to be both exceedingly rare, made in small numbers from 1974 to 1975, and still lose value on the collector market. So what is the Bricklin SV-1 and why should you care? What’s the deal with the Bricklin SV-1, eh?

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First off, we really should talk about what the Bricklin is and who Malcolm Bricklin was. Malcolm Bricklin was an automotive entrepreneur who was the founder of Subaru of America and also left a tidy little present on our rug called, the Yugo. To most, the creation that is the SV-1, would probably skew towards the Yugo side of the Bricklin automotive scale however. If Malcolm Bricklin was alive in the 1890’s he would likely have made his living selling snake oil healing elixirs and miracle pills made of sugar, but remember Coca Cola was invented by a snake oil salesman so sometimes they have good ideas. Personally, I think of Malcolm Bricklin as the man that gave us things we didn’t know we needed. He gave us the Subaru 360 kei car a mere 5 years before an oil crisis derailed the American economy. Then in the 1980s during a time of hyper inflation we got the Yugo, a new car for the price of a used one. Although rubbish at his timing, the man was a genius.

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In the early 1970s, the world was a really weird place for cars. It was a transitional period rife with growing pains and the writing was on the wall for The Malaise. Ralph Nader was spear heading a safety movement for cars which spawned among many other things, the invention of the 5 MPH crash bumper and the idea of the “safety car,” a car designed to be safe before anything else. Most Safety Car designs looked along the lines of the AMC Pacer, which is decidedly not sporty at all. Malcolm Bricklin wanted a sportier option and thus the concept for the SV-1 (Safety Vehicle One) was born.

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Malcolm Bricklin’s Safety Car game plan was to create a steel tube perimeter frame with integrated roll bar and place a fiberglass body over it, then power it with some sort of mass produced V8. The exterior of the car was built around it’s 5 MPH crash bumpers, which was a profound design for the era since usually the safety bumpers were an after thought, see the Countach above. If you look back at 90% of cars made in the mid 1970’s, they had these atrocious rubber baby buggy bumpers made to satisfy new safety regulations. The 5 MPH bumpers of the 70’s were like the suddenly updated pedestrian safety standards on modern cars where it took nearly a decade to get them to look reasonable, see the 5th generation versus 6th generation Subaru Legacy as an example of this.

Bricklin-1

The final bodywork of the SV-1 is on behalf of Herb Grasse, who is best known for his work with George Barris on the original Batmobile. The car’s final production featured automatic gullwing doors, flip up headlights, and a wedge shaped silhouette, which were all of the prerequisites of 70’s supercars. Some people cite it as one of the least attractive cars of the 1970’s but some people also believe that the world is flat. At the very least the SV-1 is one of those cars that grow on you the more you look at it.

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The concept, at least, was unabashedly cool but then Malcolm safety’ed all over it. He removed the cigarette lighters and ashtray because he believed that smoking in a car was unsafe and he gave the car a “safety” color palate of actually cool colors. The palate was Safety Green, Safety White, Safety Red, Safety Orange and Safety Suntan (Gold). While these aren’t exactly bad colors, the naming system is terrible. Safety Green makes it sound like your mother is telling you to not run with scissors or to stop shooting roman candles at the neighbor boy. There is a reason that sports cars usually have exciting color names like Lime Rock Green or Electron Blue Pearl.
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As for the powerplant, each year was different. The 1974 cars had an AMC 360 V8 and the 1975 had a Ford 351 V8, both making between 175-220 HP due to emissions strangling the life out of them. The quarter mile time was in the mid 16 second range, which was just shy of the Corvette it was competing against, but also put it squarely in the territory of the cheaper Mazda RX-3. Of the two years, the 1974 is the most desirable as it was the only year available with a manual transmission and had the 220 HP AMC engine.

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Unfortunately, the Bricklin never caught on. This was partially due to it’s lack of availability as the dealership network was sparse at best. However, it was also due to build quality issues, which were horrendously common during this era across all makes. The main issue with Bricklins were with body panels cracking, particularily the doors. This happened due to the fiberglass not wanting to bond with the acrylic plastic components also utilized in production. Today modern fiberglass technology can help fix and prevent this but over the years incidents like the door seen above can become an expensive problem to contend with.

Scottsdale Police Bricklin

A second major issue with the car comes from the engine overheating due to a small radiator combined with an inadequate front air dam. Bricklin attempted to fix this by enlarging the air dam but this only prolonged the problem rather than completely fixing it. If you do find a Bricklin today, it likely has an aftermarket radiator. Somewhat ironically the Scottsdale, Arizona police department purchased a handful creating some of the coolest police cars of the 1970’s.

SV1 Driving Edited

Today there is a small community of Bricklin fans around the world and a solid aftermarket fighting desperately to keep these on the road. Back in 2017, at the ill-fated Import Car Night at Bauhaus Brew Labs, I came across a Bricklin owner who had just finished restoring his using resources from the Bricklin owner’s community. The Bricklin stole the spotlight from the R32 that rolled in behind it. Most of the onlookers were baffled with the make of the car, citing it as a Saab Sonnet or a 280ZX with a bodykit.

Bricklin SV1 Safety Red

Despite being the unofficial national sports car of Canada, Bricklin SV-1s haven’t really caught on in the collector world, as seen on it’s Hagerty Valuation page here. This is peculiar because it is a car made in extremely small numbers, with an interesting story, a very striking aesthetic, a large aftermarket for maintenance and a small but dedicated following. In fact, they are just barely keeping pace with inflation unlike it’s peers, some of which are soaring in price. It could be that they just haven’t caught on, remember that Z cars and Porsche 914’s took forever to build a following. I wouldn’t bet on the SV-1 being some secret blue chip collector car though, it’s best enjoyed for what it is and driven like a proper car should be. Hopefully this gets you caught up on the SV-1 and you now understand what’s the deal with the Bricklin SV-1.

What’s the deal with the Citroën 2CV?

whats the deal with the 2cv

A few years ago, I was at a small Italian car show in St. Paul called Under The Crazy Moon which celebrates the grand opening of the Italian restaurant, Pazzaluna. Amidst the throngs of prancing horses and golden bulls blending together like some multi-million dollar traffic jam, I spotted this odd snail shaped commuter car off in the distance. As to not lose Jana, who was 50 feet away and making a mad dash in heels to see this automotive mollusk, I immediately blew off the Ferrari 308 GTB I was looking at and needed to investigate to see what the commotion was about.

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It was a perfect example of a Citroën 2CV (Deux Chevaux), the most iconic French car of all time. Soon more people were paying attention to the 2CV than the Aventador pictured behind it, and what can be only described as a small mob lead mostly by women and small children descended upon the tin snail. It’s no spoiler to say that it’s design is rather crude and that the car isn’t exactly fast with the best of them putting down a whopping 29 HP. So, we have to ask, why did people get so excited over this? What’s the deal with the Citroën 2CV?

Citroen DS and Traction Avant

To understand how this strange little car came about, we have to look at it’s history. In the 1930’s, Citroën was trying to make a peoples car for the French automotive environment, much like Ford did with the Model T and the Germans had with the Porsche Type 32 for the “Volkswagen” program. Citroën’s first attempt, the wildly over engineered Traction Avant, put the company into bankruptcy. From there they ended up getting bought out by Michelin, the tire company. Luckily, Michelin had the same people’s car mission but preferred a plan that wouldn’t end in bankruptcy so they started back from scratch.

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Citroën’s new head of development courtesy of Michelin, Pierre-Jules Boulanger, created a litany of requirements for the car to achieve. It had to be able to haul four people, along with a sack of potatoes, while getting 80 MPG and be fast enough to get there on time. The maintenance costs had to be as low as possible and the overall price of the car had to be the cheapest in France at the time. Then just for good measure, you also had to be able to drive through a rough field with a basket of eggs without breaking any of them, which was a common occurrence for French farmers at the time. It was supposed to be everything to everyone, including the sizable French farming community.

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The R&D started in the late 1930s and, as one would expect with such heady goals, was rife with setbacks. It was as if every piece of the process was having a problem, but by 1939 Citroën was ready to unveil the car at the Paris Motor Show in October. Unfortunately, as we all know, if there was ever a poor year to release a car in Europe, it was 1939. In September, Germany invaded Poland and the Paris Motor Show was cancelled due to the start of WWII.

Soon after Germany was done with Poland, France was next on the chopping block. To keep the car out of the hands of the Nazis, who would most certainly confiscate it for their own use, the 2CV prototypes were stuffed away in a barn where a skeleton crew of engineers would continue development of the car for after the war. While WWII was a devastating tragedy, there was a silver lining as it allowed Citroën’s engineers to perfect their formula for after the war while keeping busy and out of the public.

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At the end of the war, nearly all of Europe was reduced to rubble and every manufacturer in the world just went through between 5-7 years with no R&D or new models at all. For the European brands, they were lucky enough to even have a factory to build in. Although Citroën’s factory space was minimal, they did have a fully developed people’s car and a country that needed a people’s car to get back on it’s feet. So upon it’s reveal in 1948, one would imagine that it would be met with endless praise by the press. However, the unveiling of the 2CV was met with nearly universally appalling reviews by the press calling it ugly and crude among many other choice words.

autowp.ru_citroen_2cv_38The opinions of the automotive press were completely disregarded and within months Citroën struggled to keep up with demand. There was a waiting list of three years, it was like trying to buy a Tesla back in 2017. It reached a point in the late 1940’s where the price of a used 2CV was more than that of a new one. Citroën had to give priority to customers who had extremely long commutes and couldn’t afford other cars first.

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Garnering the endearing name “étain escargot” or “Tin Snail”, the car became a national symbol of strength and the rebuilding of France. Despite it’s crude aesthetic of the most basic form of transportation, the car was endlessly innovative. The production process had been streamlined as much as possible, along with the FWD drivetrain and 8 HP flat-2 engine. Technology like radial tires that we use today debuted on this car, along with a speed dependent windshield wiper system and it also had the most unique suspension system ever fitted to a car. Instead of a leaf spring or any of the normal suspensions you’d see on a car from the 1940’s, the 2CV used a horizontal swinging arm style suspension.

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A spring mounted horizontally in a tube (marked 4 on the image above) was compressed as the wheel met a bump, a second spring would pull the rear wheel forward preparing it for the same bump in the road. This allowed the car to stick to the road as if it was glued to it despite extremely soft suspension and some truly comical body roll.

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By the end of the 1950’s, Citroën began to update the car and luxuries like locks on the doors, a metal bootlid (previously cloth) and more powerful engines began showing up. Then in the 1960’s Citroën released a 4WD version, called the Sahara. Being the avant garde company that they are, a conventional engine, transfer case and propeller shaft to the rear wouldn’t do. How would Citroën make their 4WD system?

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The simplest way they could think of, they added a second engine in the back. Although that sounds ridiculously over complicated, it actually made sense. The twin engine Sahara would allow the owner to control power between FWD, RWD or 4WD and if the car broke down, they wouldn’t have to search for some rare part in the middle of nowhere to make it run. Even better, if they had an engine failure in the middle of some inhospitable environment, like the Sahara, they could still limp it on one engine back to a town for repairs.

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Meanwhile back in the developed world, the standard Citroën 2CV was experiencing immense popularity, even over twenty years after it entered production. Right when sales began to slump for the first time, the 2CV had it’s second windfall in the face of crisis. The first 1970’s Oil Crisis began and overnight the most fuel efficient car on the road was more demanded than ever. A new generation of owners were falling in love with the 2CV throughout the 70’s and a litany of special edition models came out during this timeframe.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, 1981, (c) United Artists/courtesy Everett Collection

The car even made it into the 1981 OO7 Movie For Your Eyes Only and it had arguably one of the best chase scenes in the history of that series. At a twentieth of the price for a Aston Martin DB5, this is possibly the most affordable Bond Car available.

Citroen 2CV rally Car

In addition to performing well for young people driving on poorly maintained urban roads or farm fields, it also did very well in the roughest of terrain. Rally drivers were experiencing great success with 2CVs because what it lacked in speed it made up for in reliability and adaptability. It turns out that extremely long suspension travel allowed the car to have unparalleled off road handling.

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With this success, Citroën even created a race series in the 1970’s just for the 2CV called The Citroën Raid series. These were rallies across some of the most inhospitable environments on earth. The routes were epic marathons from Paris to Kabul, Afghanistan (10,252 miles) or Paris to Persepolis, Iran (8,388 miles). The key to this strategy was showing off just how rugged and dependable the Tin Snail was compared to it’s, more advanced, modern compatriots.

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Today it’s racing pedigree continues and there are still 24 hour 2CV endurance races being held on some of the most renown tracks in Europe such as Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Snetterton and Mondello Park. Although they’re held by 2CV owners clubs now, they did originally start with Citroën’s factory sponsorship. It’s still astonishing to see a car designed in the 1930’s being raced in 24 hour races nearly 70 years after first being produced.

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On occasion a car company will make a car that is absolutely timeless, a car that has a charm that absolutely transcends time and generations. Citroën’s 2CV embodies this to the fullest. It was meant to be the most basic form of transportation possible but it became the people’s car of France, it possessed a racing pedigree on par with the best and there are even children’s books about the car. The production of the 2CV went on for 42 years until it was finally ended in 1990 and even nearly 70 years later is still beloved by anyone who knows of it’s existence. Next time you see a 2CV be sure to tell it “Merci Monsieur Escargot!” and now you know what’s the deal with the 2CV.

PIXELS: AUTOMATION – Early Access Review

V12 Engines for the people! That is the decree of Carbitrage during their 1951 debut of the Carbitrage Chonk Supreme. An affordable peoples car with a 678 HP 16.3L V12 feeding through a manual transmission to the rear wheels and priced out the door at an affordable $12,000, adjusted for inflation.

 

Automation Carbitrage Chonk Supreme V12

V12 Engines for the people! That is the decree of Carbitrage during their 1951 debut of the Carbitrage Chonk Supreme. An affordable peoples car with a 678 HP 16.3L V12 feeding through a manual transmission to the rear wheels and priced out the door at an affordable $12,000, adjusted for inflation. That is the sales pitch of our company we have produced in Automation – The Car Company Tycoon Game by Camshaft Software.

Automation Carbitrage EF Civic 80s Hatchback

For the car enthusiast who is also a gamer, this game really allows you to feel like you can make the car of your dreams. Almost everything is in your control from the exact placement of your headlights to the design of the factory itself.

Automation Carbitrage Inline 4

The engine builder is deep enough to drown in.  You can create anything you want from a 1.5L V12 to a 3L Inline-3 engine, pick your fuel injection, exhaust and intake design. You can even pick if you want a cross-plane or flat-plane crankshaft in your V8!

Automation Carbitrage Tech Menu

It should be warned that this game can turn into a massive timesuck if you’re not careful as I experienced when doing this article. After what felt like 20 minutes, I found that I had just sunk an hour and a half into balancing transmission gearing with tire size, it was all worth it for the added 2.1 points of customer satisfaction though.

Automation Carbitrage Inline 4 227 HP

While Automation is largely just adjusting sliders and reading graphs, it has an addictive element to it, much like tuning gearing and suspension settings in the Forza games. Automation might be one of the better automobile games we’ve played in years and it’s still well within its Early Access period. It hasn’t officially been released and Camshaft Software is still regularly rolling out massive updates. One of which dropped during our review and it caused us to have to completely restart our Campaign Lite game, so it’s worth being forewarned about that.

Automation Carbitrage Factory

The best gameplay in Automation right now is the campaign lite mode and it makes us really excited for when the full campaign is available. The campaign mode is set in a fictional continent where five countries have their own car companies competing against each other for market share. While sandbox is fun, the campaign mode gives you a sense of purpose with your designs and really makes you appreciate how car companies are able to make a successful car.

Automation Carbitrage Campaign Menu

While I found myself playing on the Campaign Lite mode, Erik particularly enjoys sandbox mode where he can build whatever he wants. If you’re looking for more of a challenge then there are the scenario modes for specific challenges. A photography mode exists as well. Note that we haven’t mentioned about driving or have called this a racing game because those don’t exist in Automation.

Automation Carbitrage Beam.ng drive 50s coupe front

That isn’t to say that you can’t drive your creations. While they could have easily implemented some sort of half cooked driving scenario, they chose to have an exporter that allows you to export your cars to the physics based driving simulator Beam.NG Drive and you can even play on the Automation Test Track from campaign mode. That single feature is by far the greatest boon to this game.

Automation Carbitrage 50s Coupe

While Beam.NG Drive is a really good game it is far from perfect. Automation falls in the same category, but when combining the two good games together, you are left with a product that is much more than the sum of it’s parts.  Automation combined with Beam.NG Drive feels like they were meant to be designed together and you should consider just buying the two games together.

Carbitrage Automation 40s Family Car

Note that the cars don’t transfer over perfectly across the two games and the handling is downright uncontrollable at high speed for most cars. Additionally, you get some oddly long gearing if you transfer over a successful campaign car to Beam.NG Drive. That being said, this game is still in Early Access and even during our review an update was released that greatly improved the quality of transferred cars, so we will not be holding that against Automation.

Carbitrage Automation Markets

Not everything is perfect with this game however. It is endlessly frustrating when you finally stabilize your car company, then a game update drops that makes your previous campaign saves incompatible and you’re back to square one. There are also some issues with various menus not working correctly, I currently cannot change a car’s target market after I begin designing the car and as you can see there are quite a few target markets.

Carbitrage Automation 5 Valve Head

With the engine designer, while it is deep, there is a bottom. There are no flathead engines, no diesel engines, no engines larger than a V12 and while you can equip turbochargers, you cannot equip superchargers. You can’t build an air cooled engine or specify what type of ignition system the engine will have either. Finally, something that becomes more relevant by the day, there are no electric powerplants.

Carbitrage Automation Transmission Tuning

Once you get past the relatively deep engine building and get to the transmission design, you feel like the designer was a complete after thought. You can’t even adjust individual gear ratios which can cause you to have an uselessly short first gear and still have the world’s longest 5th gear. Hopefully this will be addressed before the official launch.

Carbitrage Automation 80s Hatchback Green

Inside of the car designer, the various fixtures that you add to the car such as headlights and bumper bars often can’t be configured to fit correctly. This is especially apparent on corners where you find jagged edges that make you wonder if your GPU is on the fritz. There also isn’t any sort of modeled interior, which seems like a bit of a miss to me as well but I imagine that will be added in future updates.

Carbitrage Automation Car Models

It sounds like we just ravaged this game but we are aware that it is still in early access and, with that, this game is well within playable state. In fact the game is actually more playable than many AAA titles have been at launch and Camshaft is in the process of tackling a project that would leave larger devs spinning their tires.

I eagerly await the final product and each update has provided a vast improvement. In it’s current state, we will give Automation a Carbitrage Score of 8/10. It has some glaring flaws in it’s game play but as it stands the game is worth hundreds of hours of fun and you should absolutely play it. Now excuse us, we have to finagle this tiny V12 into the trunk of our subcompact.


REVIEW SCORE: 8/10 (early access version LCV4.0)

Pros: Unlimited possibilities to create your dream car, detailed engine builder, makes you appreciate car manufacturers that make good cars, Export cars to Beam.NG Drive.

Cons: Interior and Transmission tuning is shallow compared to the engine builder, no modeled interiors, still very incomplete and clunky feeling.

BUY LOW, SELL HIGH: The 2020 Carbitrage Bull and Bear List

Bear Bull Market List Header

We love cars here at Carbitrage and, like for most young people today, it’s hard for us to maintain a hobby if you don’t monetize it in some way, or at least monetize it in your head. With that being said, a lot of us have taken to buying and selling cars that we love in hopes that we’re able to catch them before their value explodes. While a lot of us have missed the boat on some of our favorite cars such as the E30 3-series, Mk IV Supra and Integra Type-R, there are still plenty of great cars to get into before their value reaches for the moon.

We have compiled a list of what we will wager will have a bull market and what will have a bear market in 2020. For those of you who are not up to date on your investment lingo, a bull market is a market that is appreciating in value, or rather making money. A bear market is a market that isn’t making money, it is either breaking even or losing money. A bear market is not inherently a bad thing, in fact, a savvy investor can get a great deal in buying during a bear market.

While some outlets do their valuations based entirely off of analytics of market trends for the most accurate look at where the market is headed, they get it right about 80% of the time, which is extremely accurate for predicting trends. We are not doubting that mathematical analysis of the market is the correct way to predict market forecasts. What we are trying to do is attempt to mix in a metric that money cannot account for, our own personal taste.

Our logic being that, between 3 millennial car enthusiasts with completely different backgrounds, we will be able to find a selection of cars that will trend with what the market is actually doing. So we are throwing caution into the wind and there is a very high probability that we will make ourselves look like fools but, this is our Bull and Bear List of 2020.


Description of the mathematics used in pricing:

We are taking the average price of the cars sold on Bring-a-Trailer.com over the course of the last year from November 2018 to November 2019 in hopes that any other posts about Bear Market lists won’t affect our sales data. Only factory appearing cars will be counted for this metric.

Our second metric to compare average prices of non-collector models is an average price of vehicles being sold on the Los Angeles craigslist at the time this article is written. We chose Los Angeles due to the mild climate so we can account for rust free cars being sold for a premium in northern states and for population density so we can account for faster changes in market prices. The search parameters for our craigslist search was limited to non-modified operational cars being sold by owner for over $600 with under 200,000 miles on the odometer. This was an attempt to weed out as many fake ads and non-operational cars as possible. We will denote any statistic abnormalities we find.


The Carbitrage Bull Market List for 2020

Ryan’s Picks:

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1.) 2000-2006 BMW 3-series (non-M3)

2019 BaT Average Price: $10,612.00*

2019 Craigslist Average Price: $3,109.25**

The E46 generation BMW 3-series is my personal first pick for the 2020 Carbitrage Bull Market List, I should specify that I am listing the entire E46 generation. The reason being that this was the last era of the 3-series golden age before the E90 complicated everything. It is similar to the E30 and E36 but has such a massive improvement in interior quality over the E36 that it almost feels like a different car.

The E46 3-series moved the car upmarket in such a way that the higher trim levels felt like the car was designed with them in mind, what this did to the lower trim levels was profound though, suddenly a base model E46 made you feel like you had purchased something significantly more expensive. Often when a car does this, the maintenance costs and reliability take a hit, but not with the E46, it still had the stellar reliability the previous cars were known for but with just a little bit more padding.

In a world where cars such as the Infiniti G35 are replacing the spot that Honda Civics once held for the young car enthusiast, that extra luxury touch without any of the extra maintenance baggage of a modern BMW should prove to become a major boon to the popularity of the vehicle. Let’s not forget that the predecessor to the E46, the E36, has proven itself a very competent and popular platform for a project car. As a quality E36 is becoming increasingly difficult to find, I would wager that 2020 will see the E46 3-Series see a major increase in average pricing. If you’re in the market for an E46 project car, this is a great time to get in when prices are still cheap.

*Price includes ZHP models which sell for a premium compared to standard trim

**No ZHP models for sale at this point in time in marketplace

Red FD RX7

2.) 1992-2002 Mazda RX-7

2019 BaT Average Price: $28,725.97**

2019 Craigslist Average Price: $21,975.00*

My number two pick coming is the final generation of RX7, the FD chassis. This is the most exquisite road car to have ever been produced from Mazda. The car has simple elegant lines that looked great from it’s release in 1992 to it’s final production year in the Japanese market in 2002 and even today, in 2020, it continues to be a looker. The car is more than a pretty face though, unlike previous generation RX7s where you could make the mistake of specifying lower powered engines, the FD only came in one flavor, turbocharged.

Luckily for Mazda, that turbocharged engine was a hit, it’s specific output beat everything produced in the era. If factory power wasn’t enough, then the power you could coax out of these cars was unreal with cars making over 400 HP with close to factory reliability. Of course, being a rotary engine, it was a bit avant garde and reliability could be questionable if not properly maintained, so for many just putting in a V8 engine made more sense for a project car.

Today, the RX7 is already seeing a lot of interest from the collector community. North American models were available new from 1993 to 1995, and Japanese imported models don’t have a significant variance in pricing, which is good for availability. That being said, the cars that will be leading the trend will be the best examples complete with their factory equipped dorito mill. A numbers matching car will generally be worth significantly more than a V8 swapped car with a salvage title. It isn’t likely that the JDM models will be particularly more expensive due to the most sought after trim levels, the Bathurst R and Spirit R models, not being import legal yet but cars from reputable vendors like Top Rank will likely be on the high end of the valuation scale.

** Includes imported RHD models, although at this time there is very little change in value between RHD and LHD

* Two cars currently in market, not enough for accurate sample size

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3.) 1990-2004 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4

2019 BaT Average Price: $16,754.95

2019 Craigslist Average Price: $16,630.00

I will likely be wrong this year, like I have been every year with this car, but I’m willing to take that chance because the 3000GT VR-4 will eventually have it’s day. This car ticked every box that a 90’s era Japanese muscle car could hope to tick. It was laden bumper to bumper with computers, had active aerodynamics, functional vents and seemed to have two of everything. I’m being quite literal when I say it two of everything, it had twin turbos, DOHC heads, a dual-exit active exhaust, front and rear active spoilers, and it even had four wheel steering.

I won’t lie and say the 3000GT VR-4 is a perfect car because it’s not; it’s a bear to work on, OEM parts availability is non-existent and finding one that has been properly cared for takes some searching. That being said, if you do manage get a good one, it’s performance is absolutely stellar. For less than half the price you get Supra performance, 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and a 13.5 second 1/4 mile time as tested by Road and Track. I would gladly deal with some annoying maintenance procedures if it means I can get that performance for less than the cost of a fully loaded 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage.

The standard 3000GT is not much of an investment as it’s just a very heavy FWD 90’s GT car, however the VR-4 is such a different beast that it almost deserves a completely different nameplate. Once you get into the Spyder models you get an even more unique vehicle. As Supra, NSX, RX-7 and GT-R prices rocket away from Earth and into the stratosphere, I think people will begin to look at the 3000GT VR-4 as it has always meant to be seen as, an actual investment worth a hell of a lot more than $16,500.

Erik’s Picks:

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1.) 2000-2006 BMW M3 Coupe (Phoenix Yellow, Laguna Seca Blue, Imola Red)

2019 BaT Average Price: $27,378.24

2019 Craigslist Average Price: $27,500.00 **

Interestingly both Erik and I agreed that the E46 market is a powder keg ready to blow at this point. However, while I think that the lower end of the E46 market will be the spark that blows everything up, Erik says his sights are all over the M3 market. While E46 M3s are still exceedingly abundant in the standard-fare greyscales of most teutonic automobiles, Erik says those will likely be the last to appreciate. Erik puts his money on the more vibrant colors of Phoenix Yellow, Laguna Seca Blue and Imola Red to be the choices to lead the E46 wave.

Adding to Erik’s specificity is the prediction that the coupe, in particular, will be the chassis to acquire since it’s sportier form factor will likely play a role in the overall desirability of the car. This makes sense as historically the E30 M3 and E36 M3 coupes lead the market for their respective chassis while the rest of their variants were brought along for the ride. While the E46 coupes did suffer from water intrusion problems that the sedan never had due to their pillarless windows, the more highly sought after cars will have had any leaks cared for well before they became an issue.

We would also be remiss to note that the E46 was also the last chassis of the M3 to be powered by an NA inline-6 instead of a V8 or twin turbo engine. To a sizable portion of BMW enthusiasts the driving experience of the S54 cars outweighs the extra power of the newer M3s. This is increasingly important with the trend of collector cars skewing towards an exciting driving experience over a fancy piece of technology or massive power numbers.

**Only one car for sale in market price

850 rear

2.) 1990-1999 BMW 850i 6-Speed (non-CSI)

2019 BaT Average Price: $24,050.00

2019 Craigslist Average Price: N/A*

Erik’s first choice is the non-CSI E31 chassis BMW 8-series with a manual transmission. We have to be very specific here because while all of the automatic 8-series cars might as well just be an Oldsmobile and all of the 8-cylinder cars have cylinder delamination issues, the 850 with a manual isn’t much of a stretch from an 850CSi.

The 8-series was BMW’s 1990’s halo car, it was a massive Grand Tourer loaded with every piece of tech that BMW had in it’s arsenal. The car was the result of $900 million dollars and a decade of BMW’s R&D time. The modern 8-series really doesn’t do the name justice as it isn’t enough of a departure from the standard BMWs we see today, the E31 was a truly spectacular car.

While the 850CSi is a great car and we are not doubting it, we are certainly doubting if it is really twice the car of an 850i given that they sell for twice the price. That’s no exaggeration, in fact the $50,000 mark is the entry level price for an 850CSi and a well sorted car can easily eclipse $70,000. For what’s effectively a bumper, intake manifold and fancy suspension, that’s quite a premium.

*Only two results found both were automatic cars being sold at an average price of $19,250.00

 

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3.) 1991-1993 GMC Typhoon/Syclone

2019 BaT Average Price: $15,497.00*

2019 Craigslist Average Price: N/A**

As the Rad era of collector cars gains steam, Erik puts his third bet on a small GMC with an automatic transmission, AWD and a turbocharger. No, it is not a GMC Terrain but rather the much radder GMC Typhoon. The Typhoon, and it’s Syclone pickup truck sibling, came completely out of left field and created the vehicle that nobody asked for but everyone wanted. Taking the 190 HP Vortec V6, that was standard in the GMC Jimmy, and adding 14 PSI of boost from a Borg Warner turbocharger, GMC was able to coax 90 extra horsepower out of the mom-mobile. This allowed the Typhoon to reach 60 MPH in 5.3 seconds and run a 14.1 second quarter mile time.

While, these numbers sound tame to the uninformed, it was all about how the power was delivered. The typical rattliness of a GM interior of the era with all the turbolag of early 90’s turbocharging made it quite an event to get one of these up to speed. Today, those who grew up in the era of minitrucking and muscle cars have fond memories of the Typhoon and the Syclone while the younger generation love the looks and story of these ridiculous little trucks.

Between these two trucks, there is more interest in them than in a subprime auto loan, and the total number of people interested in them vastly outweighs the total production numbers. That market scarcity will likely drive the value of the truck up, much like the Porsche market had a few years ago and if you are looking to get onboard before the Typhoon ship leaves port, 2020 might be the last year that they’re affordable.

*Pricing is average of Typhoon as not enough Syclones were sold in the last year to create average.
**Only one vehicle for sale in marketplace at this time at $12,500, not enough vehicles for average price.

Jana’s Picks:

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1.) Mercedes Gelandewagen

2019 BaT Average Price: $35,242.00

2019 Craigslist Average Price: $35,400.00

There are few people living a more tragic life right now than the offroad enthusiast. While sedans and wagons are being axed in favor of various trucks, it’s not XJ Cherokees and Mercedes G-Wagens leading the wave rather its Ford Escapes and Hyundai Santa Fes, its a wave of crossovers with open differentials, extra tall springs and compact car suspension. While this is a nuisance, it is also watering down the crop real-deal off-roaders. Luckily, until 2019, the Mercedes Gelandewagen was a rare holdout.

The G-Wagen represented Mercedes at it’s best, it was bulletproof reliable, comfortable, could be driven literally anywhere and, most importantly, relied on perfecting technology instead of packing the vehicle full of widgets. The truck was originally the replacement of the Volkswagen Iltis for the German military but has extended far beyond that role proving itself as much of a capable off-roader as it is a civilized daily driver.  The truck began it’s cult following during the 1980’s and 1990’s in America as a grey market import before Mercedes had even begun to import them directly in 1997.

The G-wagen lies in that sweet spot between the CJ Jeep and the Range Rover, both luxurious and reliable but still capable of winning the Paris-Dakar rally. In an era where families default to crossovers as their family cars, actual solid axle off-roaders are quickly becoming the collector car of choice for many people as they begin to wonder what they’re missing. While the vast quantities of existing G-Wagens does hurt it’s collectability, the trucks that are at the top of the auction totem pole right now are the cabriolet models and AMG models, however the grey market 3-door models are proving to be very desirable as well. If you want to get in on the Gelandwagen before the weenies do, the time is nigh!

 

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2.) Mercedes W110/W111 Fintails

2019 BaT Average Price: $14,891.67

2019 Craigslist Average Price: $5,950**

The big body W111 Fintails are already gaining a lot of attention within the Mercedes collector community. While they’re a shoe in for collectability and are rather undervalued currently, we think that the often forgotten W110 little fintail will see its day as well. We aren’t just taking a shot in the dark by including the little fintail models, we’re including it because with millennial interest in everything vintage and European 60s era cars being the bedrock of the collector world right now, the odds are in the W110’s favor.

The W110 was the entry level of Mercedes in the mid-1960s and were all examples bulletproof Mercedes engineering from their peak of reliability. Utilizing the best technology in the world at the time to create a car that drove every bit as well as it looked. The W111 however, was something to behold, timeless 1960’s styling coupled with the drivability of Mercedes at their peak made for something truly special. Add the 3.5L V8 option in the 280SE Coupe and you have a sleeper of a bavarian autobahn missle.

One of the biggest items of note in the fintail market is the price disparity between the Fintail sedans and the W111 coupe. While the sedans all sell for around the same prices under $20,000, a decent example of a W111 coupe starts in the $50,000 range with prices ranging well over $100,000 for a V8 car. That being said, the fintail is one of the few cars that appeals to both millennials who can barely afford to eat and the pebble beach-type baby boomers.

** Not enough vehicles in marketplace for accurate average price

Citroen+2CV+Front1

3.) Citroen 2CV

2019 BaT Average Price: $13,380.50

2019 Craigslist Average Price: $15,750.00*

What isn’t to love about the 2CV, it is a bizarre little French peoples car with Bauhaus styling, an aircooled 2 cylinder engine and suspension that moves front to back in lieu of up to down. This car has won the hearts of everyone from The Greatest Generation to Generation Z in a typical avant garde French fashion and it even became a Bond car. Why do we think it will appreciate in value though?

The 2CV lies in a sweet spot for millennial buyers, it is cheap, quirky and retro. Millennials are collectively reaching a point of financial stability where they can make small luxury purchases and at $13-15k average price, the 2CV has a price point that is just within reach of the average 30 year old car enthusiast. While other cars exist in that price range, the 2CV is able to attract more attention per dollar than anything else in its price range. It is more unique than an aircooled Beetle, more usable than a Fiat 500 and most importantly, with the 1920’s officially 100 years behind us, the Bauhaus styling of the 2CV allows the pre-war look but without the pre-war price point.

While there are literally millions of 2CVs in the world, there are also no shortage of special editions. The Cocorico, Perrier, SPOT, OO7 Edition, Bamboo and Charleston are just a handful of the special edition options. These special editions will likely lead the pack, as those with more money can likely spend a bit more to get a more unique 2CV. So far the trend is holding true with the top 3 prices on Bring-a-Trailer being held by a Bamboo edition and two Charlestons respectively. We may be wrong on the 2CV for 2020 but it will certainly see its day soon, so why not get it while it’s hot?

*Only 2 cars for sale in marketplace, not enough for average price

Carbitrage Choice:

Tonys EF

1.) 1988-2000 Honda Civic and variants

2019 BaT Average Price: $10,813.52

2019 Craigslist Average Price: $2,383.90

This is it, the one car that every one of us here at Carbitrage concurred about, this is the car that we will bet the farm on, the Golden Age Honda Civic.

The 1988 through 2000 Honda Civic and its variants are actually 3 different bodystyles known as the EF, EG and EK chassis as denoted by the VIN designation of the top trim levels. Together they account for what is often referred to as Honda’s golden age, where instead of producing automatic CUVs with questionable styling, Honda was busy making some of the best FWD cars in history.

These cars crept their way into the car enthusiast lexicon in the late 1990s where street racers began to take notice of their enormous potential as a racer. The lightweight chassis combined with indisputably the best 4 cylinder engine in the world at that time gave the car an enormous leg up in motorsport. The Civics of this era were the most successful FWD cars in quite some time and properly captured the ethos of both the hot hatch craze and, later, the sport compact movement.

The trouble in finding a golden age Civic is not in finding one but in finding one that hasn’t been robbed a dozen times, engine swapped with a hammer and slathered in bondo. The highest priced USDM models are easily the EM1 Si and CRX Si with prices well into the $30k range, however across the board they are all getting hot. A smart buy might be to get an ’88-’91 Civic Si hatchback or EX sedan, ’88-’91 RT4WD Wagovan, a ’92-’95 EH3 Civic Si hatchback or a Midori Green EJ6 Civic hatchback, as those particular cars all have their own cult followings. Average price for a collector model will be much higher than that of the average Craigslist find but that is due to the poor quality examples bringing down the average price.


The Carbitrage Bear Market List for 2020

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Ryan: 1997-2006 Porsche 911 996 (non-GT3)

Ryan: Porsche 996 non-gt3

BaT Average Price: $24,896.90

Craigslist Average Price: $20,015.78

If you want to get into a Porsche 911 for as little as possible, you’re in luck because the standard 996 Porsche 911 shows no sign of going anywhere at all. This is not a bad thing by any means because the 996 is a very good car but it gets a bad wrap as it was the first generation of watercooled Porsches. It’s price point and performance are exactly why this is the default entry-level track car for many and why most cars and coffee European sections are seas of endless 996s.

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Erik: 1992-1999 BMW M3 E36 (USDM-spec only)

BaT Average Price: $14,322.00

Craigslist Average Price: $11,616.67

Much like the 996, the American market E36 M3 is a perfectly fine car that is bookended by two significantly better variants. On one end the E30 M3 is beloved by all and affordable to few, on the other end the E46 M3 exists and by existing it suppresses the value of its older sibling to a price point permanently within it’s shadows. As the E46 wave starts in 2020, we bet that there will be plenty of examples for sale making you ask if an E36 is really worth $20,000 when you can just get into an E46 for the same price.

honda_accord_4

Jana: 1986-1989 Honda Accord CA Chassis

BaT Average Price: $1,900*

Craigslist Average Price:$2,450

These cars are the secret of the Honda community, it is a bargain cheap version of the golden age Hondas that doesn’t get stolen as much. That being said, it seems that even to Honda people, the CA chassis Accord is a sleeper. These are quite fun cars with just a little more space than a Civic without significantly higher curb weight. That being said, parts availability is atrocious, the aftermarket is almost entirely hand-me-downs adapted from other chassis and may god help you if you are unfortunate enough to have one of the PGM-carb models. Our advice, buy the CA Accord to love it but not to make money off it.

*only one car sold in 2018, outside of date ranges, 7/2018 sales price was $5,800.

z8 alpina

Carbitrage Pick: 2000-2003 BMW Z8

BaT Average Price: $161,678.57

Craigslist Average Price: N/A

The BMW Z8 is another car that we all love but is still being placed on the bear market list. With the exception of a couple of very expensive sales in the last year, the Z8 has been very stagnant in recent years when viewed on Bring-a-Trailer. While this would normally pique our interests, it’s six figure price range is holding the car back with economic uncertainty becoming a factor at such lofty prices. In the long run we do expect to see the Z8 grow in price so it might not be a bad buy as a long term investment if you suddenly found yourself with $150,000 burning a hole in your pocket.

What cars do you think would be on the Bear or Bull list for 2020? Let us know and tell us why and we may talk about your answers on the Carbitrage podcast.