I look through this thread and agree with some selections and others I think to myself your've got to be kidding ! I think demand and market $ generally dictate whether a car is really a classic collectable, and no it doesnt need to be ultra expensive to be collectable. For example a Datsun 120Y in coupe or sedan form was worthless 15 years and isnt worth anything now... A diehard Datsun fan will disagree with me, but I generally agree with what motoring journalist thought about them when they were new... crap then and crappier now. A Datsun 180B was a good car in its day, but there isnt any real demand for these today either, same goes for 74 -> model Toyota Corona's and Mazda 929's. Alot of peoples selections are no more significant than those Ive just listed.... sorry for being harsh no offence intended
Some cars that were never officially imported to Australia such as the Toyota Soarer and Mazda 20B/13B Cosmos were all the rage 5 or 6 years ago, but have you ever tried selling one for anything close to what you paid for it in Oz?? In most cases you'd have to give them away for next to nothing. The only thing attractive about some of these cars is for engine transplants into real Japanese classics such as your 60's/70's Nissan GTRs, Mazda Rx3's, Datsun 1600 (510's) and 240Z's etc.
As for future modern classics my list partly comprises of the following
- late 80's early 90's Toyota Sprinter (AE86??)
- Nissan GTR's R32/33/34 because its undeniably King of the Track
- Subaru WRX STi especially 2 door variants
- Mazda Mx5 - modern day MG
- Honda s2000 because I own one
claim to having highest HP per litre in its time
- Bathurst edition Toyota MR2's (maybe locally significant)
- Late model Toyota Supra turbo models (You can thank fast and furious), it also has real muscle car looks with real performance... in other words its not a hair dressers car !
- Late model Nissan Silvia turbos
- Mitsubishi Starion's, a often overlooked Jap muscle car with muscle car appearance.
The main problem I see with alot of 80's/90's Japanese cars is that most of them look very similar and boring. The example I used earlier... there isnt really much difference between a Soarer and a Cosmo cosmetically apart from badging. The 60's and 70's was great for auto makers, with new materials such as plastic becoming available, it changed the way manufacturers made components and parts. I think designers were given more freedom and it showed in what was produced... look at the body lines of cars makers from 30/40 years ago. You could easily distinguish a Mazda from a Datsun just by looking at body lines in the distance.
To become a classic in my eyes it needs to be able to make the people who owned them when they were relatively new vehicles reminisce about their youth. These are the people who will generally be buying them again in 15- 20 years time if we still have oil of course.