Why Some 1990s Car Models Are Suddenly Worth A Ton Of Money

1990s cars have reached the 25-year threshold and are now considered classic cars, making well-maintained ones more valuable.

By Brian Scheid | Updated

1990s car

If you have a 1990s car that your grandparents owned that has been in a garage for the past two decades or have been restoring one as a weekend project, those cars are now worth a considerably higher amount than they were just a few years ago.

Generally, cars are categorized as a depreciating asset that, over time, has its value diminish to zero as the wear and tear on the vehicle strip it of its once vibrant luster and the cost to repair and maintain the vehicle becomes astronomical. Almost all wind up in a junkyard to be relegated to scraps. However, history has shown us that is a true statement up until a certain point, which is about 25 years after production when they become classified as classic vehicles. Then the value of that car begins to increase again.

If you currently have a 1990s car, you might be sitting on a mountain of potential cash in your pocket. Why do these cars become more valuable when they cross that 25-year threshold? Now, of course, that value is determined by whether the model is considered desirable for whatever reason, whether the wear and tear that it endured were minimal, or whether the owner has restored a car to its original early life condition.

According to CNN Business, “That’s because, as the cars have been getting older, so have the people who were teenagers or maybe in their early twenties when these models first came out.” We all remember our first vehicles, and for most kids, they were slightly used cars, but they hold a special place in our hearts even though they weren’t the coolest cars in the world. They were ours and gave us our first taste of independence and the freedom of movement out from being dependent on our parents.

The CNN Business article also mentioned, “They may have wanted them back then, but couldn’t afford them. Now they’ve grown up and have the disposable income to buy that Mitsubishi 3000GT just for fun.” This makes perfect sense, attracting that generation to buy cars they desired when they were younger. What models of 1990s cars are rising in value, you might ask?

The obvious is brands like Ferrari, Bugatti, and McLaren, as they didn’t lose as much value over the last 25 years. Still, we also see increases in brands like Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Volkswagen. When most of us think about the golden age of automobile production, we tend to think of the 1950s or 1960s. The more prevalent feeling is that the golden age was in the 1990s. Ahhhh, 1990s cars. It was the last era that combined a raw mechanical feel of a car with gears and hydraulics, as opposed to today, which has computers, wires, and actuators that drive the functions of the vehicles.

The vehicles that are considered collectible are mostly sports cars of that era. But at the same time, even the Roadmaster has seen a 48 percent increase in value since 2019 and even low-mileage pickup trucks are selling for upwards of $70,000. Values for a Mitsubishi Eclipse, Mazda Miata, Nissan 300ZX, BMW M3, Eagle Talon, Nissan GT-R, and Lexus SC 300 are increasing in value daily.

Suppose you own one or have the chance to purchase one at a rock-bottom price and have the ability to restore them. In that case, this might be the time to start really diving into the vehicles of the 90s because, after this generation of vehicles, you will need to be a computer software engineer to restore the next generation of cars.