MEET THE RI­VALS

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Epic Battles -

1958-61 AUSTIN-HEALEY ‘FROGEYE’ SPRITE £4000-18,500

The car that sired the Austin-Healey Sprite (and there­fore the MG Midget) ma­jors on its cute-as-a-but­ton looks and evoca­tive driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Small won­der you can now con­vert a later Midget to look like a Frogeye.

1962-73 LO­TUS ELAN S2-4 £7250-36,000

The ear­lier the Elan, the rarer, more de­sir­able and more ex­pen­sive it is, so buy­ers on a bud­get tend to ig­nore the 1500/1600 in favour of the later S2-4s. Pretty, with fizzy en­gines and han­dling to die for, but not ex­actly cheap.

1989-97 MAZDA MX-5 NA £500-5000

Mazda’s unashamed Elan homage is still cheap enough and ubiq­ui­tous enough to de­liver cham­pagne sports car thrills on a le­mon­ade bud­get. Time­less styling, high build qual­ity and inch-per­fect han­dling add up to a com­pelling pack­age.

1979-81 TRI­UMPH TR7 DROP­HEAD COUPÉ £1000-6000

Oft-ma­ligned – un­fairly, for the most part – the drop-top TR7 ar­rived to the party late thanks to Tri­umph’s wob­bles over pend­ing US rollover leg­is­la­tion. More cruiser than sports car, but sur­pris­ingly en­joy­able to drive none the less.

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