It seems that every month one self appointee classic car pundit or other produces a list of cars that you simply must buy now, before prices skyrocket. Although it’s a useful service it never seems to be based on much more than looking at the classifieds and wondering why Porsche 928s are so cheap.
Running a classic car hire company and parlaying all things related to old motors on a daily basis means I am by nature skeptical of anyone who says a 928 is a cheap and worthwhile investment. But my job does mean I’m always on the look out for the next ‘sure fire hirer.’ I’ve discovered by trial and error that nothing is, in fact, sure fire, it is only ever ‘a bit more likely’. Which perhaps makes the following list redundant. Never mind, here are my current tips for future classics to invest in now – or, to be more realistic, just bloody well enjoy for not much money. Because, after all, if they don’t go up they certainly won’t get cheaper.
1. Alfa GTV or Spider 3 litre V6
Car magazine described it as the best Ferrari that isn’t a Ferrari. The 3 litre 916 series Alfa is brilliant. Never a big seller – particularly as a comvertible – exclusvity is guaranteed and as the last Alfa to have a proper Alfa v6 engine – the Busso unit even has its own wikipedia page – it surely has all the ingredients for a future classic. But buy one to enjoy it – the v6 is one of the best engines ever made and the car looks and handles as well as it goes. 2k bags a reasonable one, 8k gets the best.
2. Jaguar XJ Series 3
Arfur Daley had one (actually a Daimler version) and it’s the car that still says ‘executive smoker’ like no other. But the long, low and lithe Coventry Cat is a properly built car and good ones are getting rare. It does everything a big Jag should – smooth, fast and stylish. Remarkably they’re still being broken in volume, so bag one now and hang onto it. It’s the last ‘proper’ Jag and in V12 form the last twelve pot saloon. Probably ever.
3. Triumph TR7
There is so much, so, so much, to dislike about the TR7. It doesn’t look right, it’s badly built and it has a Marina engine. But. But.. It’s the last proper Triumph sports car designed from scratch and as a classic it’s surprisingly easy to own – simple, fairly modern and with good parts supplier. The TR7 is a distinctive weekend classic that isn’t a MGB. And is a lot better than one. Coupes start at a few hundred pounds.
4. Fiat Coupe 20v
The looks of this Chris Bangle-designed 90s road burner divide opinion but it has future classic written all over it. Back in the late 90s it won every magazine test it appeared in, praised for its distinctive looks, astonishing performance (in Turbo spec) and practicality. Fiats don’t tend to rate well in Britain as classics but the Coupe must surely lay claim to becoming one. They are unreliable but also very cheap. Buy a good one for 2k, enjoy it then garage it.
5. Jaguar XK8
The big two door Jag is proof that future classics almost always have to rise like phoenixes to their pedestal. For most the XK8 is just a big, thirsty, dishevelled old Jag of questionable value. But like the E Type (yes, even the venerable E) and XJS before it, that will change. In a few years we’ll be cursing those who bought good, low mileage and low owner XK8s now, particularly the mental supercharged XKR. It looks good, goes well, handles and is luxurious and practical. It’s also reliable. From £2,000.
6. Mercedes R129 SL
It is the last bulletproof Mercedes, hewn as if from a solid piece on metal, and it is, currently, insanely cheap. Prices of the earlier R107 have gone stratospheric – fuelled by clever specialists – so it seems logical that the equally good, if not better, R129 will do the same. It is, after all, that rare thing – a good, reliable convertible classic car that you could easily use every day. They do rust, there is a lot to go wrong and the V8 is thirsty, but find a 300SL with low mileage and low owners and dive it. From £3,000.
Oh dear. The poor MGF. Forever stuck in the shadow of the MX5 and the MGB. Its sheer ubiquity also plays against its claims to classic status. But it is such a great weekend car, one that looks good, has the right badge and handles tidily and predictably. The F has more character than a MX5 and is more complete than a B. Numbers will dwindle quickly because they’re worth more in bits so put £1500 in your pocket and buy a late VVC with uprated head gasket.
8. Nissan 200SX
In the 1990s Nissan was the sober accountant of motoring. So you would imagine that when Nissan decided to wig out and create a proper old skool coupe, it would all be rather embarrassing. With the 200SX it didn’t quite work out like that. Instead Nissan applied its rational, logical mind to creating arguably the barmiest sports coupe of the 90s. Bolting a turbo to the 2 litre motor created a mad power-slidin’ rear drive driftin’ king. It also looked pretty good too. Nissan has since dispensed with sober suited barminess in favour of well, just barminess. Find one of these rarities and enjoy the 90s Capri from the Far East.
9. TVR Chimaera
Before it all went a bit weird and wacky in TVR’s Blackpool factory there was the the Chimaera, a stylish and dare I say it sensible convertible. It may be hard to imagine now but this was a TVR that went well, was almost practical – it had quite a big boot – and was almost reliable enough to use daily. TVR affiionados, who perhaps relish admiring their cars whilst stood on the hard shoulder, consider the Chimaera a bit soft and sober. More fool them. Prices are still low for what might arguably be the best TVR you should actually buy.
10. Porsche 944
I’ve owned a Porsche 928 so I’m pretty loathe to recommend any Porker as a cheap used buy. But the 944 is worth a punt, particularly as a convertible. The drop top 944 is ridiculously cheap to buy – it’s not as good or as focussed as the 944 but who cares, it’s a Porsche for not much money. Unlike other Porsches, the 944 is comparatively simple and conventional, which makes owning one at least a realistic prospect. The main bugbear is the maintenance – anything with Porsche attached to it attracts a hefty premium, not always with good cause. The Boxster is snapping at the 944’s heels, but there are a lot of very ropey examples around.
If you do decide to dip your town in the bargain basement end of the classic car pool, do your research. These 10 cars represent good, relatively safe buys but any poorly maintained car will cost money. Shop around, suss plenty of cars out then plump for the best you can afford. And enjoy. owning a classic that can be used daily is a real joy.
Feel free to call or email me on 01527 893733 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk 01527 893733