A funny thing happens on the way to adulthood: The cars of our youth transform seemingly overnight from late-model beaters to classics. To qualify for classic car status in most states, a vehicle has to be 25 model years old, which means that today, cars built in 1990 are classics. Some, like the original Mazda Miata or the BMW E30 M3, are well deserving of that title. But what about a Mercury Cougar? A Volkswagen Fox? What separates the criminally forgotten from the thankfully forgotten?
Luckily, the folks at eBay Motors — who know a thing or two about moving classic cars — set up criteria and polled a set of automotive experts to separate the wheat from the chaff. They came up with a list of 29 future classics that should go down in history as some of the most notable cars of their era. While the bulk of the list is made up of cars from the past 10 years, they named a number of cars from the not-too-distant past that have just reached or are fast approaching that classic threshold. For the sake of keeping things interesting, we’ve decided to look at the older models to get a glimpse of what the classic car market could look like in the next decade or so.
From well-respected legends to nearly forgotten curiosities, here are 10 cars (in order of appearance on eBay’s list) from the waning years of the 20th century that just might convince you that they don’t make ‘em like they used to.
10. 1985-1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E
Long overshadowed by its rival, the BMW E30 3-Series, the 190E is finally starting to get its due. Mercedes conceived the 190E as both a replacement for the 240 series and as a direct competitor to BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine.” The company spent billions on over-engineering the car to handle like a top-of-the-line S-Class, and as a result, there are plenty of 190Es left on the road today. Still under-appreciated compared to the E30, the compact Mercedes could soon develop a cult following like the older 240 models, and it is a great entry-level modern German classic. The 190E kicks off eBay’s list by coming in at 29th.