As we approach the middle months of the year, the siren call of a classic convertible grows ever-louder. Yet, with the market in vintage cars going through extraordinary growth in recent years, the most coveted of models now carry price tags that put them out of reach for all but the most well-heeled of owners. Here, we look at the antidote: 5 classics cars famed for the driving pleasure they provide – all of which can be had, road-ready and in excellent condition, for under £30,000.
Announced in 1955 as a replacement for MG’s archaic T-series, the sleek and streamlined MGA was different from anything the brand had produced before. With 101,082 cars built, the MGA is a distinctly drivable – spare parts tend to be easy to source, and many clubs and classic car associations will readily provide contacts for repair work. A roadster in excellent condition tends to be on the market for around £30,000, with those requiring restoration often going for considerably less.
Triumph TR 4 A
Designed by Turin-born car designer Giovanni Michelotti – who included Ferrari, Maserati and Lancia among his other clients – the Triumph TR 4 received the touch of a sports car master. Like MG’s MGA, it represented a significant stylistic departure from the earlier TR models, replacing their signature (and rather impractical) cut-away doors with a higher design that allowed for roll-up side windows. The resulting car is was dynamic and assertive in look – something owed in part to its prominent grille and sculpted bonnet. Today, a good example can be found on the market for £25,000
Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 Duetto
First appearing in 1966 at the Geneva Motor Show, the Alfa Romeo Spider shot to fame a year later when it was driven by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Thus endowed with a degree of Hollwood glamour, it gained something of a cult following, remaining an emblem of 1960s youth culture to this day. At the time of launch, the Spider Duetto was surprisingly expensive car, with the UK model costing around the same as the famed Jaguar E-Type. Today, this classic is far more affordable, with examples ranging from under £10,000 to around £30,000 for one in excellent condition.
Lotus Elan +2
Built as a replacement for the elegant yet unreliable Lotus Elite, the Elan first entered production in 1962 as a lightweight, fibreglass-bodied roadster. This +2 variant arrived in 1967, offering a longer wheelbase, a more shapely nose and two rear seats. Doing 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds, it was decidedly lively for a 4-seater, proving a fast, agile and exciting drive. As a production model, it was offered only as a coupé, but a significant minority of owners have replaced or modified the hard top roof in order to turn it in to a convertible. An example in good condition tends to start at around £25,000
Mercedes-Benz 350 SL
Built in the late 1970s, this convertible is a descendant of the beautiful but expensive 280SL. Befitting of its design era, the 350SL is more angular in the corners than its younger sibling, but it nevertheless retains the famous lines and proportions that made the SL range so successful. Moreover, it is arguably a better drive than its 1960s counterpart finding replacement parts should likewise be a less costly process. A model in good condition can be found in the region of £20,000