The world of classic cars is filled with everything from family hatchbacks that have gone out of fashion, to rare sports cars that paved the way for the first supercars. Whether it’s a monument to nostalgia or the dream car that was just out of reach all those years ago, classic cars have a significant emotional appeal that modern cars can’t quite replicate.
As the car market moves towards electrification, car enthusiasts are looking for ways to preserve the oily machines we’ve grown to love. Owning a classic vehicle goes beyond a means to get from A to B, it’s often a hobby that requires a lot of dedication to keep on the road.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular classics to get your hands on and a few that could be good investments. Although we’re covering common classics here, MotorEasy is sponsoring ‘The 25 Rarest Cars’ at this year’s Silverstone Classic Festival, August Bank Holiday weekend from 25 to 27 August, so make sure to stop by and check out the stand!
1. MGB (1962-1980)
The MG marque has been revived with a series of SUVs and electric vehicles but the classic MG scene is still very much alive and kicking. The MGB model was offered as a convertible or coupe and also had a range topping MGB GT version which we’d suggest keeping an eye out for. It’s a great example of a classic sports car that could be used as a summer cruiser, rally car or restoration project. There’s a great support network of classic MG car clubs, specialists and enthusiasts that can help with ownership tips and parts supply thanks to a shared love of this British marque.
2. Citroen DS (1955-1976)
Its futuristic design speaks for itself but the DS was and still is a rocketship on wheels. Sold as a saloon, estate or convertible, the latter is the most sought after so expect to pay significantly more for a decent example. In the UK there’s a mixture of left- and right-hand drive models so if driving on the curb side doesn’t bother you, there could be a deal to be had. Inside, the one spoke steering wheel continues the modern design, along with a dash mounted rear view mirror. The interior trim is easy enough to replace but original fabric is highly desirable. Mint condition examples sell for around £40,000 so restoring a DS could be a worthwhile investment.
3. Volkswagen Beetle (1945-2003)
The VW Beetle has never stopped being iconic. Decades of production and millions of units mean there’s a healthy supply to choose from. These vehicles are often highly personalised and ooze character at every sweeping body line. Go for a more modern example and the engine range includes some more powerful options and the mechanics are simple enough for beginners to get to grips with. Given its incredibly long run, the market is littered with limited editions in show ready condition, right down to complete rebuild projects so there’s a Beetle for every budget.
4. Mini (1990-2000)
Sixth and seventh generation Minis are becoming an increasingly popular choice. Whilst they don’t yet qualify for free historic vehicle tax or MOT exemptions these are the last examples of the original style Mini. The cult following for Mini means there’s some exceptionally well kept examples with extremely low mileage which have appreciated significantly over the last decade. Genuine unusual colours, specifications and bodywork can make an example particularly valuable and any vehicle linked to Mini greats like Paddy Hopkirk will be of keen interest to collectors.
5. Ford Fiesta (1976-1983)
After a 47 year run, the final Ford Fiesta rolled off the production line at the start of July. First generation Fiestas are likely to increase in value over the coming years since the number of them is now finite. In nearly five decades it’s been through eight generations so if the Mk 1 doesn’t take your fancy there’s plenty of different body shapes to choose from. Although it’s not necessarily the most exotic classic car on the road, the original Fiesta was the start of a hugely successful model and serves as an incredible time warp back to the mid ‘70s.
6. Triumph TR6 (1968-1976)
If mundane classics aren’t up your street, the TR6 is certain to brighten up your day. Don’t be fooled by its small stance, there’s heaps of power and a suitably noisy engine to complete the sports car experience. More TR6s were produced than any other Triumph TR model before it and they were especially popular in America so some examples found in the UK have been imported back here. It’s thought of as one of the last traditional British sports cars and 2023 marks 100 years since Triumph cars was founded.
7. Mercedes SL (1971-2002)
Mercedes’ Sport Light model has been in production since 1954 and was most notably famous for being the first car with gullwing doors. Its first two generations have skyrocketed in price over the years, entering the six figure mark in many cases but the third and fourth generations can still be picked up for under £30,000. This model has been a mainstay in Mercedes’ line up for decades and each iteration has seen countless engine and specification options. The SL’s enduring popularity is a nod to its quality build and luxury finish.
8. Saab 900 Turbo (1979-1993)
The Saab 900 Turbo might be an acquired taste but it’s a slice of the ‘80s that would be a perfect fit for a quirky everyday car that’s practical and great fun. As the name suggests, this model is turbocharged so it’s more sporty than it appears from the outside. The 900 Turbo was made as a convertible and three-door hatchback, the former commanding a premium over the hatch. Four-door saloons and five-door hatchbacks are hard to come by but they are no more expensive than the most common three-door configuration.
9. Bentley Turbo R (1985-1999)
Once worth over £100,000 from new, the Turbo R is now a relatively affordable option to dip your toe into Bentley ownership. Fitted with a 6.75-litre V8, it won’t be the most fuel efficient classic but slightly higher maintenance and running costs comes with the territory when looking at Bentleys. A highlight of the Turbo R is the plush interior, provided it’s in good condition it will be easy to keep in tip top shape but mending wood trim can get pricey. As always, we’d suggest getting the best example you can afford and having it properly looked over by a mechanic before taking the plunge. Buying the right example is the first step to saving a considerable amount of money in the long run.
10. Volkswagen Polo (1975-1981)
Just like the Fiesta, it seems the Polo could meet the same fate and be discontinued in the not too distant future. Snapping up a first generation Polo before its demise could be a wise investment. The passage of time means there’s fewer ‘70s examples to choose from but rarity should help to boost prices in the coming years. ‘80s and ‘90s examples from subsequent generations are more plentiful though. A Polo should be a very reliable pick as long as you find one that’s rust free.