- Hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles are unique in how they’re powered by electricity.
- One vehicle that might become a future classic is the Honda Insight, which is the first hybrid-electric vehicle sold in America.
- Another vehicle that might become a future classic is the Toyota Prius, which is arguably one of the most iconic hybrid cars in the industry.
When you think of classic and collectible vehicles, you probably envision cruisers from the ’50s and muscle cars from the ’60s, most of which came with a thundering V8 engine under the hood. Certainly, hybrid and electric vehicles could never become classics—or could they?
Because electrified vehicles are vastly different than their gas-powered predecessors, they will never check the same boxes for collectors as classic American iron. But in the future, a new wave of enthusiasts might have a soft spot for some of the first-generation hybrids and EVs.
Hybrids and EVs that Could Become Collectors’ Cars
There might not be many EVs rolling across the block at collector car auctions yet, but that could change in the near future. Here are some of the hybrids and EVs that are likely to increase in value.
1. Honda Insight (1999-2006)
The Honda Insight was the first mass-produced hybrid-electric vehicle to be sold in the United States. Thanks to its sloping roofline and other aerodynamic design cues, the car was like nothing else on the road at the time.
And the Insight’s otherworldly appearance still helps it turn heads today, which is one of the reasons the quirky car could be a future classic. Furthermore, the Insight gets great fuel economy, even by current standards. Fueleconomy.gov gives the 2000-year model an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 49 mpg city/61 mpg highway.
That impressive rating comes from the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system that pairs a 1.0L three-cylinder engine with an electric motor. Another feature that makes the Insight unique is that, unlike most other hybrids, it was offered with a manual transmission when new.
2. Toyota Prius (2001-2003)
When someone mentions the Toyota Prius, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the egg-shaped, second-generation model. What many people forget, however, is that there was an earlier, first-generation model that didn’t look nearly as odd.
The first-generation Prius, which was introduced in 2001, is a rather tame-looking four-door sedan. But under the hood, it was a technological marvel for the time, boasting Toyota’s Synergy Drive hybrid system.
While the IMA system in the first-generation Insight uses just one electric motor, the Prius’ Synergy Drive uses two motors housed in the transmission. The setup gives the first-generation Prius an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 42 mpg city/41 mpg highway.
Even though the first-generation Prius doesn’t turn heads the way the Insight does, it was still the very first Prius model—and that could make it a future collectors’ car.
3. Tesla Roadster (2008- 2012)
The Roadster was the car that started it all for Tesla, despite the fact it was based on Lotus underpinnings. At the time, the newly-founded Tesla chose to have sportscar maker Lotus supply the body and chassis for the Roadster, while in-house development focused on the electric powertrain.
Even by today’s standards, the first-generation Roadster is impressive. The car is powered by a single motor at the rear, paired with a high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack. A healthy 248 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque are on tap for drivers who want to go fast. When new, the Roadster had an estimated driving range of 244 miles on a full charge.
The Roadster isn’t just going to be collectible in the future, either—it’s desirable right now. Clean examples are already selling for more (sometimes a lot more) than the original MSRP. One of the first Roadsters ever built recently sold for over $250,000, which is more than double the car’s original MSRP of $120,000.
4. RAV4 EV (1997-2003)
If you don’t remember the RAV4 EV, you’re not alone. When the first generation debuted in 1997, it was marketed exclusively toward businesses and fleets. A total of around 1,500 RAV4 EVs were produced, with only 328 being offered to the public before Toyota discontinued the futuristic vehicle in 2003.
Despite its limited production run, the RAV4 EV was an impressive machine that was way ahead of its time. The SUV had a respectable range of 100 to 120 miles when new. Power came from a Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack paired with a single electric motor driving the front wheels.
The RAV4 EV is an interesting piece of history that predates the first production Tesla model by over a decade. Today, the first-generation RAV4 EV is incredibly rare, potentially making it appealing to collectors.
5. Ford Ranger Electric (1998-2002)
Another limited-production oddity is the Ford Ranger EV. From 1998 to 2002, Ford produced around 1,500 battery-powered rangers, most of which were sold to fleets and businesses.
Most Ford Ranger EVs were powered by a large collection of lead acid batteries (the same type of battery used in regular gas-powered vehicles) connected in series. The lead-acid batteries gave the Ranger a range of up to 65 miles on a good day.
There was also a version of the pickup that came with a more modern NiMH battery and regularly got up to 65 miles per charge. Both types of battery packs were paired with an electric motor at the rear wheels.
The Ford Ranger EV is super rare and quirky, which could make it a future classic, especially since Ford has hinted at the possibility of offering a new Ranger EV in the future.
What About the General Motors EV1?
Even if you aren’t an EV enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of the General Motors (GM) EV1, thanks to the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car. GM offered the all-electric EV1 as a lease in select cities between 1996 and 2003. Then, during the final year, lessees were required to return the cars so that they could be crushed.
GM initially produced 1,117 examples of the EV1, and supposedly, all but 40 went to the crusher. The cars that were spared were sent to schools and museums as shells with their electric powertrains removed.
There have been rumors of EV1s being spotted in the wild, but so far, none have crossed the auction block—at least not with their powertrain intact. In 2020, an EV1 shell sold for over $20,000 at a government auction.
And that was just the carcass without a powertrain, wheels, tires, or even doors. If a complete EV1 were ever found, you can bet that it would be nearly priceless.
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