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December 10, 2017

Dodge Challenger 2009.

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Collectible fever

We look back at the decade’s most sought-after cars

From an automotive perspective, the decade-that-was surely resembled a five-coupon thrill ride. New entrants came into the market (Mini, Smart) while old standbys disappeared (Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, Saturn), and supersized SUVs came in and out of fashion.

Other notable news included the proliferation of gas/electric hybrids; the near-failure of General Motors and Chrysler if not for taxpayer bailouts; and the return of retro muscle cars. In short, the ’00s were one hell of an odyssey.

But, what to make of the previous decade from a car collector/investment perspective? Each year, Hagerty Insurance presents its Hot List — a handful of cars the company feels has future collectibility. Their 2010 list was expanded to examine the entire decade. They selected one car per year, mass-produced from 2000 to 2009 with a suggested retail price of $100,000 or lower, based on factors such as how influential it was, its “cool or unique factor” and its potential value in the collector car market.

So how much can you expect to pay for these vehicles? We asked Toronto-based car appraiser Dean Renwick. His prices are noted below, based on the assumption that the car is in “nice condition” with average mileage.

2000: BMW M Roadster $17,750 - $22,500

The four-cylinder Z3 was a bit of a snooze, but the M Roadster with 240 horsepower and a 0 to 60 miles-per-hour time of around five seconds is a Gen-Xer’s Shelby Cobra. Quad chrome pipes out the back, fat tires, special side grilles and M badges identify this very special Z3.

During its five-year lifespan, only about 15,000 M Roadsters were produced for Europe and North America. This is compared to several hundred thousand standard Z3s. “We believe in the years to come this car will be highly desired by collectors for its gracious curves and powerful engine,” says Hagerty.

Verdict: Forget it. Bimmer fans would be better served getting the much rarer 2000 M3 Coupe. It’s almost three times stiffer than its convertible counterpart, delivering superior ride and handling. And it is (and always will be) a thing of beauty.

2001: Corvette Z06 $25,000 - $30,000

While the 2001 Z06’s 385 horsepower is less than the current base model Corvette, it did mark the return of the vaunted Z06 for the first time since 1963. Enthusiast publications were shocked by GM’s willingness to sell essentially a race-ready Corvette straight from the factory.

The suspension is stiffer than standard ’Vettes and features a larger front stabilizer bar and super-grip tires. This results in a much firmer ride.

Verdict: Forget it. Alas, as good as the ’01 Z06 is, it is barely distinguishable from other Corvettes during the last dozen years. And it has since been outclassed by the 2009 ZR1, which boasts 620 ponies under the hood.

2002: Pontiac Firebird WS-6 Ram-Air $25,000 - $30,000

This was the most powerful Firebird ever produced. GM claimed it was rated at 325 horsepower, but Hagerty says many enthusiasts claim the cars were underrated by up to 40 horsepower. Not bad considering the most powerful Mustang in 2002 had nearly 65 horsepower less.

Verdict: Get it. This is a rare bird, and the exterior seems to suggest Pontiac was channelling the Batmobile. While Pontiac is gone for good, at least the Firebird went out with a show-stopping performance back in ’02 thanks to the WS-6 Ram Air model.

2003: Mini Cooper S JCW $12,500 - $18,500

In 2003, the Detroit Auto Show declared this pocket-rocket North American Car of the Year. “This car made our list not only because it was the first year the John Cooper Works tuning kit was available, but more importantly because anyone who drives one of these cars walks away with a silly grin,” says Hagerty. “It just begs to be driven hard and often.”

Indeed, Cooper S has a supercharged engine generating 163 horsepower. But the JWS boost further ups the power ante to 200 ponies. Given the dimensions of the car, such a motor packs quite the wallop. And you’d need a vehicle that runs on rails if you wanted better handling capabilities given the car’s low to the ground clearance and relatively long wheelbase.

Verdict: Get it. A base-model Mini is thrilling enough; but with the JWS package, this Mini’s speed and cornering abilities make it feel like a midway ride.

2004: Cadillac CTS-V $15,000 - $20,000

This is the Cadillac for the Corvette enthusiast who has to haul around kids and their gear, notes Hagerty.

The CTS-V is only available with a six-speed short-throw manual transmission — one of the slickest shifting units GM has ever produced. Rounding out the package are seven-spoke, lightweight aluminum wheels with meaty Goodyear Eagle 18-inch run-flat tires. Enormous 14-inch vented Brembo disc brakes with four-piston callipers and an advanced, four-setting stability system (derived from the Corvette Z06) help to keep the car in control. Beefy anti-roll bars front and rear and a performance suspension keep the car motoring along with very little body roll.

Verdict: Forget it. If you really crave a Caddy that stands out from the luxury car pack, opt for the exhilarating XLR.

2005: Acura NSX $55,000 - $60,000

The NSX was the first production car to feature an all-aluminum chassis, suspension and body, and was produced from 1990 to 2005 with very little changes. The four-wheel independent double-wishbone suspension features aluminum-alloy control arms and hub carriers that minimize unsprung weight and provide optimum handling.

The breakthrough design influenced other supercars including the McLaren F-1, and Hagerty notes it isn’t uncommon to see an NSX at collector auctions often selling for nearly what the car cost brand new.

Verdict: Get it. Thanks to its gorgeous lightweight body, this car is an absolute thrill to drive and its motor feels far more powerful than 290 horsepower. The NSX remains a thing of beauty today and will never look outdated.

2006: Dodge Ram SRT-10 $35,000 - $40,000

Looking at the Dodge Ram SRT-10, one word comes to mind: outrageous. This Viper-powered pickup was produced solely for the purpose of speed. With 500 horsepower and even more torque, these trucks would run less than a 14-second quarter mile.

More outrageous flare is evident in the rims (an enormous 22 inches) and the colour schemes (like Inferno Red). Then there’s an ominous front-end best with a massive grille and a bulging hood scoop, seemingly concocted to evoke fear in those glancing into the rearview mirror.

The SRT-10 was only made four years ago and while it’s a bona fide truck, nobody would dare haul manure in what is essentially a racing car made to resemble a pickup.

Verdict: Get it. If you’re a truck fan and don’t mind exorbitant gas bills, this baby sticks out from the pickup pack. And since fewer than 9000 were manufactured, this is one rare truck indeed.

2007: Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 $42,500 - $47,500

Following the introduction of the fifth-generation Ford Mustang, the Shelby nameplate was revived in 2007 for the first time since 1970, as a way to pay tribute to the legendary racecar driver Carroll Shelby.

“With its retro looks, 500 horsepower, and Shelby’s autograph on the dash, this car introduced the younger generation to the glorious racing days of the 1960s,” notes Hagerty.

Verdict: Forget it. As powerful as this Mustang is, it has already been one-upped by the current 540-horsepower Mustang Shelby GT500KR.

2008: Dodge Challenger SRT8 $40,000 - $45,000

Mopar enthusiasts waited a long time for this much anticipated tribute to one of the icons of the muscle car era. It is bigger and heavier than its retro-themed competitors, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. But the Challenger takes first prize when it comes to looks (especially when ordered in Hemi Orange). The Challenger is a big, dangerous-looking coupe that makes a ferocious statement — even when it’s merely occupying a parking spot.

Verdict: Forget it. We adore this car, but the optional (and must-have) manual transmission wasn’t made available until the following year. And the stick shift Challenger is surely the one to get.

2009: Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe $25,000 - $30,000

With the death of Pontiac announced toward the end of this decade, the division’s last true sports car was the Solstice GXP. The convertible version sold respectably for several years, but this coupe version was only produced for half a year. “This rare model will certainly be desirable in the years to come,” says Hagerty.

Verdict: Forget it: True, the coupe is rare. But the Solstice is more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car. You’ll get more car for the money by snagging a Mazda Miata or a Nissan Z-car.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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