modern classic cars

These are the best modern classic cars of the last 50 years

From the Audi Quattro to the Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk2, these four timeless motors are the ideal investments to add to your car collection

Modern classics. Modern. Classics. Doesn’t quite ring true, does it? And yet, there is some big business to be had in these middle-aged motors. They may be younger than every E-Type, and fresher of face than a Ferrari 250, but they’ve still got some high-octane, gear-shifting stories to tell.

So, if your classic car collection is starting to show its age — rusting up, slowing down and just generally getting on in gears — then perhaps it’s time to introduce some new blood (or should that be oil?) into your garage. And we’ve got just the wheels.

The Peugeot 205 GTi is a hot hatch high point

modern classics Peugeot 205 GTI 1.9 1

Oh, you’d never include a small, mid-eighties, French city car in your collection of classics? Well prepare to do a U-turn on that misplaced opinion. And, in this nippy, revvy little racer, it’ll be a breakneck manoeuvre.

Launched in 1984, production of the 205 GTi ran for ten celebrated years and marked a high point for Peugeot in its parade of otherwise mediocre motors. But this fuel-injected exception to the rule — especially the unpredictable 1.9 litre model with disc brakes all-round, half-leather seats and 15-inch Speedline alloys — is an investment well worth making.

The VW Golf GTI Mk2 was an icon refined

VW Golf GTI Mk2 modern classic

The first Volkswagen Golf GTI, retrospectively named the Mk1, wasn’t expected to sell more than 5,000 units. But, by the time the Mk2 sped onto the scene — and boy, could it speed — there were almost half a million Mk1 hot hatches on the roads.

And so, for VW’s second crack of the whip, the brand largely stuck to their naturally-aspirated, straight-four guns. They kept the same 1.8 litre engine, the same hot red grille pinstripe and even certain paint colours, such as Mars Red. But the best Mk2 GTIs rolled off the production line post-1990, introducing the car’s iconic “Big Bumpers”. Find one of these, preferably in Oak Green Metallic, and you’re onto a winner.

The Saab 99 was where our Scandi obsession started

modern classics Saab 99 GL silver 1

Everyone loves the Saab 900. But where did it come from? From what egg did the iconic Scandi sedan hatch? We’re glad you asked. That honour lies squarely at the 25-inchers of the Saab 99, originally developed in the late Sixties as a new, larger family car for the marque. In fact, the first prototype 99 was created simply by cutting a Saab 96 down the middle, and widening it by 20 centimetres.

The resulting car went into production for 16 years, spawning such limited runs and special editions as the water-injected Turbo S, the limousine-wheelbased Finlandia and the ‘luxurious’ GL. If you’re searching for one, the latter is your best bet; a quaint 2-litre, 4-speed slice of Swedish history.

The Audi Quattro is a masterstroke of engineering

modern classic car audi quattro

For Audi, it would appear that four, not three, is the magic number. The German carmaker’s Quattro was not only the first ever sports car with permanent four wheel drive, but it even named itself after the number as a result. It won four World Rally Championships (two Drivers’ and two Constructors’). And it’s still in high demand almost four decades after it first roared onto roads. But we can see why.

At once boxy and elegant, the Quattro was a shot in the arm and a punch in the face for the sports car industry; brashly proving that these turbocharged, intercooled icons don’t all have to look like Lamborghinis. If you’re looking to buy, we’d suggest snapping up a late eighties model.

Want something a little higher class? Whatever happened to the Bentley Azure?

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