There is a wealth of choice if you are interested in a classic car; we pick 10 great purchases
Classic cars seem to be all the rage right now, owning a car characterizes you as a person of substance and style, unless of course you choose an old banger instead of a coveted collector’s car. Any car 20 years or older is technically a classic, but the trick is to identify the cars that will one day become sought-after models, increase in value rather than rust away into oblivion.
Some of the main points of interest are rarity, historical significance and originality, and to get you started we’ve identified 10 of the best classics that you can still buy for a reasonable amount of money.
Our pick of some of the best classic cars to buy:
- Aston Martin DB7
- Audi TT – Mk1
- BMW M3 E46
- Ford Mondeo ST220
- Honda Civic Type R (EP3)
- Lotus Elise – Series 1 and 2
- Mazda MX-5 NC
- Renaultsport Clio 197/200
- Porsche 968
- Porsche 997
1. Aston Martin DB7 (1994-2004)
- Engine: 3.2-litre V6 with supercharger, 5.9-litre V12
- Power: 335 hp – 435 hp
- 0-60mph: 4.9-6.8 seconds
- Price: £19,000 – £65,000
Astons are special cars no matter the model, but most go through a dip in values before going to the desired classic car status. The Aston Martin DB7 has just passed this stage, with the 3.2-litre supercharged cars still offering great value. Just keep a little aside for maintenance and gasoline.
2. Audi TT Mk1 (1998-2006)
- Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged, 3.2-litre VR6
- Power: 148 hp – 247 hp
- 0-60 mph: 5.9 – 7.0 seconds estimated.
- Price: £2,500 – £20,000
When launched in 1998, the Audi TT looked like a concept car that had escaped from a car show. Under those avant-garde looks, the TT shared its chassis with other VW Group vehicles, making it both reliable and fast. The top-end 247 horsepower 3.2-litre V6 sounds great, but the more bountiful 1.8-litre turbo models are hardly slower and you can still find them for a relative bargain.
3. BMW E46 M3 (2000-2006)
- Engine: 3.2-litre inline six
- Power: 338 hp
- 0-60mph: 4.9 seconds
- Price: £11,000 – £45,000
For many enthusiasts, the BMW E46 M3 CSL was a highlight in the long and glorious career of the M3. That’s why those models are now approaching nearly £100,000, so why not opt for the equally tantalizing ‘regular’ M3? We would stick with a manual and avoid the convertibles. It’s still fast enough to scare most modern hot hatches, and is more usable every day than the very tense CSL. It also costs a fraction of the price – for now.
4. Ford Mondeo ST220 (1992-1999)
- Engine: 3.0-litre V6
- Power: 220 hp
- 0-60mph: 7.6 seconds
- Price: £1,500 – £8,000
Speedy Fords rarely disappoint and the Mondeo ST220 offered a great mix of handling, power and comfort, making it a particularly desirable option for the family man or woman in need of speed. With a speed of 255 mph (handy if you happen to be near a motorway), the ST220 took on the established German executive saloons at their own game, only at a much more attractive price point. That is still the case today.
5. Honda Civic Type R (EP3) (2001-2005)
- Engine: 2.0 liter inline four
- Power: 197 hp
- 0-60mph: 6.5 seconds
- Price: £3,750 – £18,000
High-revving naturally aspirated hatchbacks were Honda’s domain for decades, and the Civic Type R (EP3) was arguably one of its best before the switch to turbocharging changed the game. It has to rev to reach its performance potential, but the experience is far more immersive than today’s effortlessly powerful offerings, and few sound quite as good. The real trick is to find one that hasn’t been crashed, modified, or abused within an inch of its life.
6. Lotus Elise – Series 1 and 2 (1996-2011)
- Engine: 1.8 liter inline-four
- Power: 118 hp – 217 hp
- 0-100 km/h: 4.3 – 5.8 seconds
- Price: £15,000 – £32,000+
Colin Chapman’s ‘Add Lightness’ mantra may only get lip service in today’s bloated sports cars, it was the core design philosophy in 1996 when the Lotus Elise was launched.
Weighing only 725 kg (1,598 pounds) in base form, even the least powerful 118 horsepower 1.8-litre Rover K Series engine gave the Series 1 Elise Series pace. Series 2 models were slightly more refined and their Toyota-produced engines were slightly more reliable, but both are excellent weekend cars for those who truly value the driving experience above all else.
7. Mazda MX-5 NC (2005-2015)
- Engine: 1.8 and 2.0 liter four-cylinder in-line engine
- Power: 126 hp – 170 hp
- 0-100 km/h: 7.9 – 9.4 seconds
- Price: £2,000 – £13,500
The MX-5 is the best-selling roadster of all time, although that fact may not make it a great car, its ability to put a big smile on your face no matter the journey. The NC is the third generation model and has yet to become as attractive as its older stable mates, but the time will come, so now is the time to get one. Look for the nippier 2.0-litre models.
8. Renault Clio Renaultsport 197/200 (2005-2012)
Engine: 2.0 liter inline four
Power: 194 hp – 197 hp
0-60mph: 6.9 seconds
Price: £3,250 – £12,000
The Renaultsport Clio 197 and 200 models were the latest in a line of sporty hot hatches that dominated their segment since the very first Clio RS was released in 1998. They are highly regarded by enthusiasts today and received numerous accolades from automotive magazines in their day. There are only minor differences between the two, so rather look for well-maintained examples, as good ones are getting harder and harder to find.
9. Porsche 968 (1991-1995)
- Engine: 3.0-litre four-cylinder in-line
- Power: 237 hp
- 0-60mph: 6.4 seconds
- Price: £10,000 – £30,000
The ’90s Porsche 968 was the culmination of decades of development dating back to the 1976 Porsche 924. Turbo and Club Sport models have long been expensive collector’s cars, but a standard model in good condition is still a great buy, and while it may not have the cachet of a 911, it still seats four and handles like a Porsche should.
10. Porsche 997 (2005-2012)
- Engine: 3.6-3.8 liter flat six
- Power: 325 hp 402 hp
- 0-100 km/h: 4.4 – 5.0 seconds
- Price: £20,000 – £70,000
The Porsche 911 may be the most recognizable sports car ever, prices are always rising, but in 997 form it still offers a sensible entry into the brand. The best deals can be found on the earlier non-S models (especially the PDK automatics), although the most sought-after cars are the facelifted GTS models, especially manual coupes. There are many options between these two extremes, and while no 997 can be considered cheap,
most have the potential to be a solid investment if you find a good one.
What should you pay attention to when buying a classic car?
Buying a classic car can be a daunting experience, so here are some tips to get you started:
- Try more than one sample to have a reference point of what a good one feels like
- Ask a professional or specialist to assess the car before you buy it
- A solid service history is vital – both for future value and to ensure the car has been properly maintained
- Buy a car that will put a smile on your face – if it increases in value, consider it a bonus
- Classics tend not to depreciate like new cars, but make sure to reserve something extra for service and maintenance costs
Use carwow to switch cars
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