Gentlemen, start your reasonably-priced, vintage-styled, tax-exempt engines — because there’s never been a better time to buy a classic car. As we’re all going to be cooped-up in the confines of our own homes for the foreseeable future, we’ve suddenly got more time on our hands than we know what to do with. And what better way to spend those hours, weeks and months than using them to restore a classic motor?
It sure beats wasting the second wave of lockdown by binging your way through Netflix. But which manufacturer and model to plump for? You might have the garage space, the meticulously organised tools and the desire to join the retro car club, but how will you make the biggest decision of all? It’s easy, actually. Just keep scrolling…
The Jaguar XJ-S is a safe British bet
Who hasn’t always wanted to drive a Jag? And, with those iconic flying buttresses at the back, what a Jag to pick. The XJS drives that finest of fine lines between sports car and daily driver; a luxury grand tourer you could pop to the shops in. The Series I is your best option, powered by the same sort of V12 engine Lamborghini and Ferrari were using at the time.
First released: 1975
Last manufactured: 1996
Look for one between: £10,000 – £20,000
The Ford Capri 2.8i Special is a late-edition icon
Never heard of this particular model? Then you’re in for a treat. Back in 1980, Ford’s Special Vehicle Engineering Group was entrusted with developing the Capri 2.8i. With its seven-spoke RS wheels, colour-coded grille and headlamp surrounds, it’s a cool version of an already-cool car — and these models with V6 engines and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection have proved a sought-after swansong for the Capri.
First released: 1981
Last manufactured: 1986
Look for one between: £15,000 – £25,000
The Triumph Stag is a classic choice of classic
They made over 25,000 Triumph Stags — and can’t you see why? They’re not too big, not too serious and look so British that we hear Edward Elgar strike up every time one trundles by. The thing was envisioned as a luxury sports car back in the day and, even though it doesn’t hold up as such today, the convertible Stag is as canny a classic as you’re likely to find. Go for the Mark II if you can — with the twin pinstripes down the side.
First released: 1970
Last manufactured: 1977
Look for one between: £8,000 – £15,000
The Alfa Romeo Spider Series 2 is begging for a road trip
Don’t get us wrong, fork out for any series Alfa Romeo Spider and you’ll have tons of fun — but there’s something about the Series 2 that swings it for us. Could it be that raked windscreen? The redesigned grille? The improved luggage space for those long European road trips? Perhaps. But we just love that idiosyncratic groove down its side. It’s the simple 1.6-litre, twin-cam pleasures that do it for us.
First released: 1970
Last manufactured: 1982
Look for one between: £20,000 – £25,000
The Ford Sierra RS Cosworth is an alternative classic
Is this a classic? We’d argue so. It may not have the retro, vintage style cues of some of the other motors on this list, but it fits in the 20-to-40 year old age bracket — and more than makes up for any ambiguities under its bonnet. The turbocharged, 2-litre, 16-valve result of a Ford Motorsport project, the Sierra RS Cosworth had a top speed of 149 mph — and can still win hearts and burst eardrums to this day.
First released: 1986
Last manufactured: 1992
Look for one between: £28,000 – £35,000
The MGB GT is a popular classic car for a reason
Famously Britain’s favourite classic car, the MGB is popular for a reason. Built between 1963 and 1995 (although we really, really don’t talk about the later ones) this cheery pocket-rocket was first launched as a four-cylinder, soft-top sports car. Its charm stems from its simplicity — and that’s what led to almost half a million being made. Good news for you, as you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one — but we’d look for a V8 (1973-1976).
First released: 1963
Last manufactured: 1995
Look for one between: £16,000 – £22,000
The Saab 900 Turbo is a guilty pleasure
‘Saab’ and ‘Turbo’ are two words we never think sit well together. On the one hand, you’ve got calm, Swedish serenity — and, on the other, sheer bloody power. But then the Saab 900 was always a car of contradictions. It became wildly popular despite being a very odd brand of beautiful, it could reach 126 mph despite that wildly upright windscreen, and — despite much cooler cars being out there — we really, really want one.
First released: 1980
Last manufactured: 1991
Look for one between: £8,000 – £15,000
The Fiat 124 Sport Spider is a proper Italian sports car
If ‘designed by Pininfarina’ crops up anywhere in a car’s reading literature, you know you’re onto a winner. This little fiery Italian coupé bears all the hallmarks of the famed Italian design house and — while it may not be the most reliable runaround on this list — it’s one of the prettiest. After 1979, Fiat began marketing the car as the ‘Spider 2000’. If you’re after something that might just stand the test and rust of time, go for one of these later models.
First released: 1966
Last manufactured: 1985
Look for one between: £12,000 – £18,000
The Porsche 924 is the full classic package
And, finally, we come to the biggest name on the list. Sexier than Saab and more ferocious than Fiat, Porsche’s classic option is the fabled 924 — the first road-going Porsche to have a front engine rear wheel drive configuration, and the first automatic the carmaker ever built. It was harshly received by some members of the press — but not us. We think there are fewer classics better for style, handling and, most importantly, reliability.
First released: 1976
Last manufactured: 1988
Look for one between: £8,000 – £14,000
Want more vintage motors? Here’s a short history of Gianni Agnelli’s incredible car and yacht collection…
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