Bob considers which BMWs represent the best value as future classics

Bob considers which BMWs represent the best value as future classics

I’m sure we’ve all got stories about the one that got away. The car we sold, the car we were offered or could have bought for what now seems like a knock-down bargain price. Of course, if I’d known that BMW E52 Z8s were going to go mad in recent years I’d have bought the one I was offered at around £40k by a main dealer not long after it was launched. And all those E30 M3s that were knocking around for significantly less than £10k not that long ago… yup, I’d have hoovered them all up and popped them in a barn.

On the other hand, these cars were designed to be used, so I’m not really a huge fan of them being squirrelled away in private collections, being viewed as investments rather than as the ultimate driving machine. Perhaps the best compromise is to be able to use and enjoy a car while seeing a modest uptick in its value during ownership – it seems like a win-win to me. The $64,000 question will always be which car to buy, what’s going to rise in value, and what’s not? If you’ve got deep pockets, the world’s your oyster, but most of us will be looking in the bargain aisle, hopefully avoiding the stuff that’s actually past its sell-by date.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the best value is usually to be found with four-door models – coupés and convertibles are sexy, apparently, and command higher prices. It’s also a fact that the machines with the largest engine in the range are deemed to be more desirable, and while that might have mattered back when they were new, should it be such a concern when we’re talking about future and current classics? Will you really be trying to wring out the maximum performance from your pride and joy, or are you more likely to be cruising and enjoying the drive? And, let’s face it, any BMW made over the last 50 years or so is more than capable of keeping up with modern traffic.

So what to buy? Anything with an M badge is out of budget, and we’ve missed the boat on machines like the E24 6 Series or an E9 Coupé, and the most desirable E30s seem to be rising in price by the day. However, look carefully, and there are some much more affordable options. How about a 7 Series? E23s look like they offer excellent value for money when compared to an E24, and there are some decent E32s out there too. But for my money, I reckon the 5 Series models potentially offer pretty good bang for your buck.

Ignore the M5s and E28 M535is and look at the more mainstream models, and you’ll find some excellent examples of the E12 and E28 out there which won’t break the bank. Don’t be tempted to go too cheap unless you’re a dab hand at welding or spraying, but smoking about in a nice 520i or 525i could be great fun. If you fancy something a little bit more modern than a shark-nose 5 Series, then there’s still excellent value to be had among the E34s, but perhaps the best bargains can be found in the form of the E39. Still seems weird that the E39 is now on the cusp of being a modern classic, but you really can’t go wrong with a six-cylinder model. Great to look at, brilliant to drive and still worthy of the title of being the best car in the world. What more could you want? Snap one up before it’s too late.

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