If you need a "safe" investment, buy one of these.
Given my line of work, I'm constantly being asked by friends and family what car to buy. Recently I was asked for advice on a a secondary car in the $10,000 to $12,000 range. The key requirements were for it to be fun to drive, not front-wheel drive (he already has a GTI as a daily), and will hold its value or possibly go up in value. No investment is guaranteed, so these cars may not go up in value, but here are five awesome "collector" cars for around $10,000 that are also fun to drive.
As one of the greatest affordable convertibles of all time, the Honda S2000 is the easiest answer to the $10,000 collectible question. The 2.0-liter VTEC four-cylinder produces around 240 horsepower, which is still good by today's standards. Aside from being a bit cramped for tall drivers (like my friend), the only other problem is that $10,000 S2000 examples will likely have high mileage. Luckily, this is a Honda, so many people have recorded well over 200,000 miles in a S2000 with few mechanical issues.
For those who need a large car, or just want a little more oomph, the Pontiac GTO is a great option. Though it was badged as a Pontiac, the fourth generation GTO was actually built in Australia. The car was sold initially with a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 producing 350 hp. The LS1 was eventually replaced with a 6.0-liter LS2 making 400 hp. Both engines could be mated to a four-speed automatic or six-speed manual (you know which one to get). Amazingly, it is possible to find an LS1 or LS2 car with a manual and less than 100,000 miles for under $12,000. Not bad for such a powerful car with potential collector value.
The rules of this search prohibited any FWD cars like the Volkswagen Corrado or Mk1 GTI from making the list, but it did allow for AWD. Amazingly, both the Mk4 and Mk5 generation Volkswagen R32 have fallen into the $10,000 to $12,000 range. Though the Mk5 has more power, the Mk4 seems like the safer investment because it was only offered with a manual while the Mk5 was dual-clutch only. Volkswagen has killed the VR6-powered Golf, in favor of a four-cylinder turbo. The Golf R is much faster than the R32 it replaced, but few engines can top the sound of VW's 3.2-liter VR6.
The MazdaSpeed Miata was another obvious choice for this list. If nothing else, it's the only turbocharged Miata to ever leave the factory. Only 5,428 were ever built in 2004 and 2005 due to a fire at the factory. With 178 hp on tap, the Speed Miata was the most powerful MX-5 to come from the factory. This car has sat around $10,000 on the used market for years, so the investment seems very safe.
The final car on the list is the Mercedes-AMG C-Class - not often talked about in "collector car" conversations. While old BMW M cars have skyrocketed in value, old AMG cars can still be purchased at a relative bargain. We found several AMG powered C-Class models for around $10,000. The original C36 is the best bet for a future collectible, and comes with a 276 hp 3.6-liter V6. Mercedes only imported around 200 examples of the C36 into the US, so our other options may be easier to find. The C43 was also built on the W202 chassis, and came with a 302 hp 4.3-liter V8. We also found the supercharged V6 C32 and V8 C55 models for less than $10,000.