Classic Cars

5​ collector cars Gen-X, Boomers, and Milennials were searching for during the pandemic

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a desirable car for enthusiasts of all ages.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

In 2020, Americans were given a lot of time to sit at home and distract themselves by surfing the web. Often, they found themselves daydreaming about owning a classic or collector car.

Hagerty has released some interesting results of a survey of the company's web traffic during that period, detailing which vehicles had their quotes searched for the most and what age groups were doing the searching. Scroll down to see the results.

2000-2006 BMW M3 (E46)

BMW E46 Convertible

The E46 generation BMW M3 was available as a coupe or a cabriolet.

Photo courtesy of BMW

Gen-Xers and Millennials are looking hard at the BMW M3s of the early 2000s. Seventy-eight percent of the quotes Hagerty received were from that age group.

The E46 edition of the car was produced as a coupe and a convertible, getting its power from the last of the S54 straight-six engines BMW produced. The automaker sold the model in a variety of special editions but the CSL was never brought to market in North America.

1997-2004 Porsche Boxster

Boxster (986), 1996

Porsche introduced the Boxster in 1996.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The Porsche Boxster celebrated a big birthday this year, but last year it was the first-generation model that was on the minds of browsers. Boomers represented 51 percent of the quotes for the Boxster followed by 33 percent by Gen-X.

The mid-engine Boxster was Porsche's first road vehicle to be originally designed as a roadster since the 914, which was in production from 1969 to 1976. A couple different engine choices were available for the first-gen Boxster when it was new and the model underwent a mid-generation update for the 2002 model year.

1984-1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

1989 Jeep Wagoneer

This 1989 Jeep Wagoneer sold for over $100k at Barrett-Jackson.

Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer's popularity is picking up just as Jeep announced that they're bringing the SUV back. The new Grand Wagoneer is expected later this year.

Hagerty reported that 65 percent of all quotes for the vintage version of the SUV were from Gen-X and Millennial buyers - the target market for the new one as well.

1993-2002 Pontiac Firebird

Pontiac Firebird

The Pontiac Firebird was discontinued just before the Great Recession hit causing the brand to fold.

Photo by Ken Morris/Shutterstock.com

The final generation of the Pontiac Firebird is still turning heads, nearly 20 years after it left the market. During the pandemic, 63 percent of the quotes that were searched for are from Gen-X and Millennials

1990-1998 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

The third-generation Mazda Miata went out of production six years ago.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Gen-X and Millennials represented 56 percent of all quotes for the second- and third-generation Mazda Miata. The second-gen MX-5 debuted in 1997 and was put on sale for the 1999 model year. This was the generation that got rid of the pop-up headlights.

The third-gen Miata was in production from 2005 to 2015. Design-wise, the car stayed pretty true to its roots but there was one notable innovation. This generation was the first to have a retractable hardtop variant.

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The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

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Pricing for the new SUV starts at under $30,000.

Mazda

Mazda is known for building high quality, engaging vehicles, and its SUVs are no exception. All of the automaker's utility vehicles are stylish, and offer a solid driving experience that not many can at their price points. A brand-new Mazda SUV is on its way soon that will feature a more rugged personality and styling aimed at active outdoors enthusiasts. The 2023 CX-50 entered production earlier this year, and Mazda recently announced pricing for the new vehicle.

The CX-50 will hit dealers' lots in March as the first Mazda built in the automaker's joint production facility, which it shares with Toyota in Huntsville, AL. It's similar to the CX-5 crossover, but is larger and features a more rugged outdoor-oriented personality. Mazda wills sell both for the time being, as the CX-5 is a best seller for the automaker, with almost 170,000 units sold last year. The popular crossover also got a refresh for 2022.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is intended for people that want to take it off the beaten path.Mazda

The CX-50 comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Mazda offers a turbo version with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque when running premium fuel. Both engines come paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard.

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 will go on sale this year. Its starting price lands at $28,025, including a $1,225 destination fee. The top 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus starts at $42,775 after destination.

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