Like everything, car values have boom and bust cycles. Just 10 years ago in fact, you could buy an old Lamborghini for not much more than £40,000 ($50,000). If you want to own an important piece of motoring history, a car with racing heritage or a rare special model you should be willing pay extra for that privilege, however, what we can`t figure out is how some ordinary models, produced in large numbers managed to get so expensive. In recent years, a dozen or so cars achieved stratospheric prices on the classic car market, some of which exceed six figures.

Volkswagen T1

The T1 phenomenon is a perfect example of an ordinary, slow, old, and pretty much useless vehicle becoming an expensive item overnight. Volkswagen produced T1 buses, pickups, and vans from 1947 through 1967 and made millions of them. Commonly known as the Hippy Van, the T1 was a cheap and versatile utility vehicle which led a hard life as a delivery truck or a minibus. Powered by a 1.5-liter flat four engine, the T1 had only 42 hp which means it was painfully slow but to be fair it was durable and economical.

Gaining recognition from the surfer crowd, the T1s popularity skyrocketed since the early 2000s. The most sought-after version, the rare Samba minibus recently fetched $198,000 at auction! Even the much more common delivery models, in good condition, can reach $50,000!

BMW M3 E30

In 1985, the motoring world witnessed the birth of one of its biggest performance legends, the BMW M3. The first model was based on a regular E30 3-Series but featured numerous upgrades, different body panels, revised suspension and high revving 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with 195 hp in the early model to 238 hp in later versions. The E30 M3 soon became a racing legend in the world`s Touring Car championships, winning practically every championship it entered and securing its place in motorsport hall of fame. In the early 90`s however, it was replaced by a more mature and faster E36 M3 and was soon was forgotten about.

At the same time, ricers were buying up E30s, with some terrible modifications being done. Not so long ago, you could buy a decent E30 M3 for as little as $10,000. Thanks to the classic car boom and the realization of its nimble handling, rev-happy engine, and beautifully analog driving dynamics, the prices started to rise. Today, nice examples are around £40,000 ($50,000) and if you are looking for rare Sports Evolution model, be prepared to pay close to £90,000! ($112,000). A rather large sum for a car which could be beaten by a modern diesel hatchback!

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Introduced in 1986 and produced until 1989, the RS Cosworth was a proper blue-collar sports car. Built on a 3-door Sierra with rear-wheel drive, the “Cossie” featured a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 204 to 224 hp on tap. With a big spoiler, a totally `80s body kit and powerful engine with lots of turbo lag, the RS Cosworths were a proper handful to drive. Built as a homologation special for rally racing, the Cosworth wasn`t that successful on the track but it remained a favorite as boy racer model throughout the 90s.

For years, the prices of RS Cosworth were below £10,000 ($12,500). If you want one now, hard luck as to buy an RS Cosworth in decent condition, you’re going to have to fork out more than £30,000 ($37,000). For rarer RS Cosworth 500 models, its going to be more than £50,000 ($62,000)! For you Americans out there, you’re going to have to sit this one out. They didn’t bother importing it for some reason.

Porsche 911

Riding on peak of the wave of insane prices has been the Porsche 911. Practically all classic models, from the early ’60s to late`90s have experienced massive price rises which has turned them from affordable daily classics to high priced collector`s cars, sadly with many now locked in climate controlled garages. Strangely, its not like they are limited either. Porsche has produced more than 1 million 911s over the years so the cars are fairly abundant.

The early models are nice to look at but pretty slow, noisy and rust prone. These days, you can get a 3 year old 911 for the same as a tatty classic of the late `70s and early `80s. Of course, the internet has helped spread the charming quirks of the air cooled Porsche, but more significantly, they had dream car status for the kids back then, whom are now wealthy adults!

Lancia Delta HF Integrale

Notoriously unreliable but amazingly handsome, the Delta HF Integrale was arguably the biggest rally legend of the `90s, winning numerous championships. In its road-going form, it was a very capable hot hatch with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and perfectly balanced all-wheel drive. Italian build quality and the high strung nature of the car meant it was expensive and complicated to maintain and it also had rust issues. Lancia produced over 40,000 of Delta HF Integrales from 1986 to 1994 which meant there were loads of them around.

In the early 2000s, decent examples of this 200 hp hot hatch could be had for as little as £4000 ($5000). Today, the situation is quite different, with solid examples changing hands for £30,000 ($37,500). Top of the line models can go for astronomical £50,000 ($62,000). Don`t be fooled, the HF Integrale is still as unreliable as ever but for new owners, its more likely an investment rather than a daily driver!

Ferrari 308 GTB

Everyone thinks Ferraris must be expensive. These days, they’re actually right. The Ferrari 308 from the late ’70s and early `80s was for a while the cheapest way of owning a true, mid-engined Ferrari and experiencing that glorious soundtrack of a carb fed high-revving V8. For years, this model hovered around the £20,000 ($25,000) mark making it actually fairly affordable. The compact sports car offered pretty analog driving experience and sharp handling although hardly ground breaking performance. The 0 to 60 mph sprint took 7.5 seconds, which was fast by the standards of the day but nothing special now.

The 308 was however, a proper Ferrari and for just 20 grand, it offered ticket to the exclusive Ferrari Owners Club. In 2017 those days are gone I’m afraid and today, a decent 308 GTB costs £60,000 ($75,000) or more. Some later versions fetch even higher prices and experts say that those models could even reach six figures before long. Doesn’t that seem like a crazy figure when Ferrari produced more than 12,000 of them?

Mercedes SL “Pagoda”

It is understandable that a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing costs half a million dollars since it is a incredibly rare piece of racing history with some truly unique features and stunning design. How, you might ask does that explain the Mercedes 280 SL, which now costs over £110,000 ($137,000)! With modest performance, no racing history and a lofty production number of 40,000 examples, it seems hard to fathom why this classic is now so expensive. The “Pagoda” generation of the Mercedes SL was sold from 1963 to 1971 and featured six-cylinder engines with a removable hardtop and concave roof, which earned its nickname “Pagoda”.

It was a comfy cruiser with decent driving characteristics but hardly a performance machine. Smaller and slower than the later R107 SL model, the “Pagoda” was around £15,000 ($22,000) pounds in the early 2000s, which seemed appropriate. In just the last few years, the prices for nice examples have risen to £50k ($70k) mark but didn`t stop there and top of the line models now trade for well over $100,000 mark which is insane.