Even the "cheapest" classic supercars are now incredibly expensive.
Back in 2005, Top Gear aired one of the best cheap car challenges in series history. The hosts were given only 10,000 GBP (around $13,000) to buy an Italian, mid-engined supercar. Today, this challenge seems like it would be almost impossible, but 12 years ago the three hosts were each able to find a car. Clarkson chose a battered Maserati Merak with a fake SS badge, May chose a Lamborghini Urraco with electrical issues, and Hammond chose a seemingly functional Ferrari 308 GT4.
During the challenge, it became clear that all three cars had massive mechanical faults, and none of them were as quick as a modern day diesel hatchback. All three cars proved that old supercars aren't really "super" anymore, but at least they were cheap to buy.
Unfortunately, we now live in a world where any classic exotic now commands an insane premium. Even the Ferrari models that no one ever liked are now relatively expensive. Back in 2005, the Top Gear host purchased all three of their cars for less than $36,000 and basically destroyed them during the course of the challenge. Looking back on this, Top Gear could have never predicted that all three of these cars would eventually appreciate in value. We did some digging, and we found that it isn't really possible to buy even one of these cars for less than Top Gear spent buying all three. Let's start with the most expensive of the three, the Lamborghini Urraco.
We found a low mileage 1976 Urraco P250 for sale for a whopping $148,500. Even a few years ago the Urraco went for over $100,000 at auction. Although this wasn't a very fast Lamborghini, only around 21 of the 800 examples produced ever made it to the US, which may be why they are now so expensive. Next is the Ferrari 308 GT4. This car was so slow and soft, that people initially called it a Dino instead of a Ferrari. It may not be as expensive as the Lamborghini, but a good 308 GT4 commands anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000.
The Maserati Merak is by far the cheapest of the three cars, perhaps because it is less well known than the Ferrari or Lamborghini and only has a V6 instead of a V8. We found a running and driving Merak in decent condition for just under $40,000. There are cheaper Merak examples out there, but we only need to watch Top Gear to know that buying a rough one is not a good idea. What we have learned from our search is that classic car prices have clearly gotten out of hand, and that many of the cars that used to be cheap when Top Gear showed them are now extremely expensive.