In a turbulent market, even great cars can slip into a backwater. We asked six experts to tip those set to move again soon
In a classic car market that constantly ebbs and flows, more gems have undeservedly been left straggling behind than you may think. With the help of six experts, we tip 30 diverse buys before 2018 brings them back up to speed
After the boom there has been no bust. Yes, the market has selfcorrected, but that’s taken place mainly at the top end. In the mid-tolower price ranges many cars have continued to gently increase in value, with the odd outlier exceeding expectations. Whether it’s bagging a high-end rarity, a supercar bargain or an affordable roadster, our six experts have dug deep to pick the cars to buy now before prices move again.
>Fiat 124 Spider TIPPED BY EMANUELE COLLO
‘I think you can get a good 124 Spider for way less than £25k,’ says Emanuele Collo. ‘It looks great and reminds me of a Ferrari 275 GTS. One is many, many times the price of the other but you can probably have the same amount of fun, if not more, with the Fiat. Handling is great, it’s supremely chuckable and is combined with that sweet Aurelio Lampredi-designed twin-cam engine. For me, the 1.6-litre in particular is almost as good as the 1.6-litre Alfa Romeo unit, and that’s a serious compliment.’
There’s a big variety of models including early, pure, chromebumper models through to later impact-bumper cars. Engines range from the first 1.4-litre unit, to 1.6- and 1.8-, and the later 2-litre lumps. The character of each is dictated by carburettor, fuel injection and even supercharger (on the Volumex) fuel systems.
‘My preference would be an early chrome-bumper car in Giallo Positano (yellow) or another Seventies colour scheme,’ says Collo. ‘Impact-bumper cars suit smaller budgets but still have lots of character, and the later Volumex engine is also quite interesting.’
Early chrome-bumper models usually get all the glory and attract higher asking prices with, as Collo points out, the 1.6-litre variant being a particular sweet spot. However, the Pininfarina Spidereuropa seen here, and up for sale at Spider specialist DTR European Sports Cars, proves just how good later variants can be.
Despite twin-tube bumpers and the larger rear light clusters, its Tom Tjaarda-designed lines remain sleek and purposeful. Inside, a parcel shelf replaces the plus-two rear seats and there’s more in the way of mod cons including electric windows and side mirrors.
The 2-litre twin-cam now features Bosch L-jetronic fuel injection and that has a distinct calming and modernising influence on the driving experience. Gone is the carburetted intake blare, with the engine eliciting a smoother, much more refined character. This ensures this 124 Spider is more at home as a city cruiser and excels as a long-distance touring option – another bonus is the lofty 32mpg fuel return.
You get a short-throw, positive gear change and beneath all that fuel injection plumbing there’s still the engine’s inherent willingness to rev – plus enough aural pleasure through the exhaust back box to keep you interested. Out on B-roads it remains pure 124 Spider – poised, balanced and totally predictable as long as you don’t do anything silly, such as lift of the throttle mid-corner when charging hard.
When buying, bodywork is key, because a full restoration will be expensive and for later examples possibly more than the car’s worth. Post-1975 metal was of poorer quality and has a greater tendency to rot, particularly around the wheel arches and sills, the latter from the inside out. Parts availability is first class and, unlike the 275 GTS, it has Fiat running costs.
There’s also the badge question. The Fiat Spider never officially hit UK shores, so it’s always been under the radar and never fully appreciated. This car from Pininfarina, which took the production reigns post-1981 for the final two years, will have all and sundry looking at the ‘f’ badges on bonnet and boot and trying to guess what on earth it is.
As for a popular rival for your cash, ‘Drive an MGB and a 124 Spider back-to-back and there’s no comparison,’ Collo advises.
‘It’s at least as much fun as a Ferrari 275 GTS but at a fraction of the price’
‘The MX-5 MKI is a defining roadster in the world of modern classics’
>BMW Z4M Coupé TIPPED BY WILL SMITH
‘I love the quirky fastback looks of the Z4M Coupé. It’s a real nod to the past,’ enthuses Will Smith. ‘With that big straight-six and a manual gearbox it’s a real high-performance M car – for me once they moved on to turbochargers they lost their heart and soul. The interiors are clean and simplistic and on the road it just does everything so well.’
Smith believes the Coupé will continue to command a premium, currently £10k-£15k, over its soft-top equivalent. ‘The rigidity of the hardtop means it’s the better handling of the two. Once people cotton on to the model I think it’ll be a safe place to put your money and it will continue to increase in value.’
In the current market £20k will buy a nice car, but for a lowermileage example you’ll be looking at up to £25k. The most popular colours seem to be dark shades, with black interiors. ‘Check the service history carefully, ensuring that the all-important running-in service has been done at the correct interval,’ says Smith. ‘Avoid heavily modified cars and inspect carefully, looking for evidence of accident damage. Be patient with your search and always buy the very best you can afford because it will only serve to get you a higher price when it comes to selling. The Z4 or ‘M’ forums tend to be a good place to start, with friendly advice and genuine enthusiasts on hand to steer you in the right direction.’
>Mazda MX-5 TIPPED BY TIM SCHOFIELD
Tim Schofield also chose the Mazda MX-5 MKI in the £10k price band of our 2014 Hot 30 list, which indicates how the model has moved up in the market.
‘Sub-£10k will still buy you a circa-20k miles, Uk-supplied car on an G or H (1989-90) plate but you’ll now be looking at closer to £15k for the very best,’ he says.
‘My ideal has to be a red-with-clothinterior car and ideally with fewer than 20k miles on the clock. Like all these cars, subsequent models put on weight, so go for the original with pop-up headlamps.’ For Schofield’s £15k top price you’ll get the best example of what is a defining roadster in the world of late-eighties and earlynineties modern classic cars. With 115bhp, delicately balanced handling and fingertip-light steering, it’s a joy to pilot.
‘This mass-produced two-seat Japanese roadster draws obvious similarities to the MGB but just edges it in terms of performance and design. It’s such a pretty little car and one that resolutely remains on my wishlist.’
Schofield advises avoiding modified or high-mileage or cars or any that have been thrashed. ‘Find a loved one with original paint and trim, totally stock just as it left Mazda, that’s been garaged and had summer use only. These are now becoming cars sought by collectors and it might one day make the same kind of money that the as-new £30k MG Midgets made at Bonhams’ last auction.’
>Mercedes Benz SL55 AMG TIPPED BY DANIEL DONOVAN
With a 476bhp supercharged V8, at launch this was Mercedesbenz’s most powerful road-going car yet and a real slayer of supercars. ‘It’s still a great all-round car today,’ says Daniel Donovan. ‘And you get a former F1 pace car for the price of a Volkswagen Golf. It was supremely important, commanding a £20k premium more over list price when new. Plus the roof comes down too. Who would have thought one day it would only cost £20k to buy?’ For that price Donovan says you can expect a good car with 40k-60k miles on the clock, but an excellent low-mileage example will cost more.
Ensure any potential purchase has been properly maintained, serviced at the correct intervals and provides a totally trouble-free driving experience. Poor-quality examples can cost a fortune to put right, so it’s imperative you buy a good one. ‘They’re pretty bulletproof cars and an SL55 AMG does everything it says on the tin. It’s comfortable, fast, and a coupé and a convertible at the same time. You can drive any distance in a single sitting and still get out feeling as fresh as you did when you got in. They also already came fully loaded, with the only options being confined to wheels and a panoramic sunroof.’
From a financial point of view, he expects them to follow suit of the 107 Series brethren. ‘Ten years ago the 107 was a £20k car and now it’s worth £40k. I think the SL55 AMG will easily fetch £40k-£50k in eight years.’
>BMW M5 TIPPED BY STEPHEN HALSTEAD
‘The original M5 is one of those cars we all wished were on our parents’ driveway in the Eighties,’ says Stephen Halstead. ‘The M535i might have slightly racier looks but the M5 is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s got understated looks, with just a nod to the designation with its front and rear M5 badges, but a whopping 282bhp under the bonnet. Low-mileage examples are quite hard to come by but well worth the investment.’
That said, Halstead says not to be put off by those with a few more miles on the clock, just ensure a full service and maintenance history is included and, ideally, some new or recent brake discs. ‘You also shouldn’t be put off by some wear in the leather seats and a nick or two – remember, these E28s are 30 years old and were typically used as daily drivers – but keep an eye out for cracks in the dash. Owners’ clubs and forums can offer a wealth of insight on what to look for, but if you’re uncertain it’s worth enlisting the help of a knowledgeable dealer to assess a potential purchase.
‘There’s really only one direction the prices for these will be going and with fewer examples coming to the market it may be a good time to take the plunge and get that dream Eighties sedan onto your own driveway or, preferably, into your garage.’ And once there, you can enjoy its thrilling performance at will.
>BMW M635CSI TIPPED BY EMANUELE COLLO
For more than a decade we were told the M635CSI was the next big thing, but values stayed at around the £20k mark. Until now. A 15,300-mile example sold for £100,100 at the NEC Restoration Show in April this year, though Emanuele Collo reckons that was a spike rather than the norm. ‘£50k will buy a top example, with very good ones being achievable in the mid £30ks,’ he says.
The shark-nose profile of Seventies BMWS reached its zenith not in that decade but with the 1984 release of the M635CSI. Here was the ultimate thrusting Bavarian super-coupé, and yet one that managed to remain discreet, bordering on a sleeper, thanks to minimal use of the ‘M’ for Motorsport badge.
And it’s those E9 series aesthetics that Emanuele Collo cites as the big BMW’S biggest selling point. ‘I love the shape and it’s ageing very well. In today’s market the overall shape of a car is important because more and more people will maybe not drive their cars as much and will be into appreciating their beauty.’
However, its looks aren’t the only reason you’ll want to buy one, because shoehorning in a modified version of the M1’s six-cylinder M88 engine transformed the model’s performance. How does 68bhp over a standard 635CSI, itself no slouch, grab you?
‘Open up the bonnet and look at that M1-derived engine – it’s a piece of art. Its 286bhp was seriously impressive for the period and 0-60mph takes just six seconds, but it’s also a very useable classic and with ABS it’s starting to get like a modern car – you wouldn’t be worried if lending it to a friend.’
Your visual clues that this is something special are limited to a few M badges – front grille, rear bootlid and one on the tachometer, plus a small strip of Motorsport colours on the steering wheel – and that’s your lot. Leave them wanting more.
The seating position is spot on, visibility is excellent thanks to slim A-pillars and lateral and medial support are first class thanks to its body-hugging seats. And that’s a very good thing because for a big lump this car can certainly handle. Thanks to stiffened suspension there’s very little body roll, and prodigious levels of grip when you lean on it.
Wind up that engine and it undergoes metamorphosis, transforming from an easy-natured burblefest to a full-on Teutonic demon. It will hit 155mph and barrel four adults and luggage along the autobahn in great comfort, yet return to being a plain Jane 635 when you get back into town.
Corrosion is the biggest enemy of this generation of BMW, so check the body thoroughly because front wings, roofs and sunroof panels are particularly prone to rust. Matching engine and chassis serial numbers are also key because some examples are likely to have been re-shelled when values were low.
‘It’s a stunning car, and I do think it has big potential,’ is how Collo sums it up.
‘How does 68bhp more than a standard 635, itself no slouch, grab you?
>Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato I TIPPED BY JOHN MAYHEAD
Like many classic cars fans, John Mayhead has a familiar reason for choosing the Junior Zagato. ‘I kick myself that I didn’t buy one of these when they were about £10k. They’re cracking little cars. Many consider them to be the best handling of the 105-Series Alfa Romeos, plus Ercole Spada’s styling is sharp enough to draw attention at any classic car meet.
‘They’re light, agile and very well balanced. The all-alloy engines, either 1290cc or 1570cc, are revvy, sound wonderful and tend to be very reliable if well maintained.’
With most mechanical parts being interchangeable with the other cars in the Giulia series they are relatively easy to maintain and upgrade. ‘Companies such as Classic Alfa and Alfaholics supply a range of replacement parts, plus options to improve handling, cooling and power.’
Like any other 105-series Alfa, the Junior Zagato’s weaknesses are corrosion and electrics. Rust tends to strike in the usual areas: sills, front and rear valances, boot floor and wheelarches.
‘Being a low-volume car – only 403 examples of the 1600 Junior Zagato were built – finding trim items is nigh-on impossible, and you’ll have to have body parts fabricated. That said, prices are rising: good ones are now regularly advertised in the mid-£40ks and values seem to be on the up. You should get a good return on your investment – try finding another Zagato-bodied classic Alfa Romeo for this money.’
>Austin-healey 3000WILL TIPPED BY SMITH
In this price bracket Will Smith opts for the ‘Big’ ’Healey. ‘Prices of all ’Healeys have started to move on in the last 18 months – they were dramatically undervalued before that,’ he says.
‘People are starting to realise that they’re such great drivers’ cars and offer the quintessential British sports car experience. And their race and rally pedigree adds a further element of interest.’ Given the choice he would plump for either the earliest 100/4 or the last of the 3000 models. You’ll find one or two of the former below the £50k mark, but you should expect them to need work; of the later six-cylinder cars you’ll have significantly more choice.
‘The MKIII is slightly more refined than other Big ’Healeys,’ Smith continues, ‘and of course you get two more cylinders and a power hike over the earlier four-cylinder cars. However, with any example, there’s a real honesty and sweetness about them.
‘Parts availability and specialist back-up are strong but they’re so straightforward mechanically that you can easily fix one yourself. Home market cars command a premium over left-hand-drive examples – expect to pay 10-20 per cent more for right-hookers but don’t be put off by conversions, especially if completed by a marque specialist.’
Smith adds a word of caution, though. ‘Make sure you buy one that’s had the chassis and body restored in the last ten years. Then you’ll have a great-looking car that everyone loves and that you can enjoy driving without worry.’
>Porsche 993 Coupé C2 TIPPED BY TIM SCHOFIELD
The last of the air-cooled 911 range is one of Porsche’s most desirable models for those looking to spend about £50k, reckons Tim Schofield. ‘For me it’s an obvious choice. It has pretty, rounded styling and all the modern comfort and driver aids you expect in a much more expensive vehicle, but all in a classic
package. It’s purer in two-wheel drive than four-wheel drive, and definitely go for a manual gearbox.’
This is a car that’s mileage-sensitive from a Porsche collector’s point of view. ‘You’ll be looking to pay £50k-£60k for a 65k-80k mile car, with a good-colour, low-mileage example up around the £75k mark. Early service history and Mots give comfort that the mileage is genuine and correct, but recent service history is key. Has it been owned and not driven? Talk to the people who have serviced it.’
Parts availability is very good and there’s a raft of dealers and independent specialists who can look after the model. ‘With any purchase, look at the last four to five years. Has it been quickly detailed – a quick coat of paint, interior Connolised – to look good in the showroom or garage for two months? The value is in keeping the car with the spec it was born with; a different rear spoiler, wheels or side mirrors may look good but detract from originality. Prices have climbed in recent times and while that may continue they’re more common on the market now.’
>Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 TIPPED BY STEPHEN HALSTEAD
‘Cossies are fast becoming collectors’ items and while I’d be quite happy with one of the 5545 Sierra RS Cosworths, it’s the RS500 that’s particularly exciting,’ says Stephen Halstead. ‘Just 500 were converted by Aston Martin Tickford and they’re good for 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds. It’s essentially an evolution of the RS Cosworth, with an additional 23bhp and upgrades to the engine and suspension. Rarity plays a large part of the appeal, as does the feeling of owning a car that won 40 British Touring Car races on the trot. The enormous spoiler might not suit today’s tastes but this is an eminently practical car with loads of boot space that’s so much more exciting than its modern equivalent, the Focus RS.’ Prices are, unsurprisingly, on the up – what could have been bought for around £30k a few years ago will command around £50k today but they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. Low mileage examples – sub-40k – are upwards of £70k.
‘Check the chassis numbers and VIN to ensure you’re looking at a genuine RS500 and watch out for aftermarket and replaced items such as spoilers and bumpers which, like some other parts, are no longer available from Ford. This is a model that may well have been thrashed early in its life, so service history, garage receipts and a thorough inspection and test drive are essential.’
‘The 993 C2 has modern comfort and driver aids in a classic package’
>Porsche 911 (930) Turbo 3.3 TIPPED BY WILL SMITH
Some names are indicative of their era – ‘blower’ in the Twenties, ‘roadster’ in the Fifties and ‘turbo’ in the Seventies. What we have here is the car responsible more than any other for the last of these, bringing turbocharged race technology to the road and endowing the 911 with epic supercar performance. Well, not this car exactly, because the earlier 3.0 Turbo has long since broken through the £100k barrier, so it’s the later 3.3 that Will Smith has chosen in this price bracket. ‘The very first time I drove a 930 Turbo I was blown away by the performance,’ he says. ‘Even today I can’t quite believe it came out in 1975. The leap in performance was a game changer for the car industry.’
And that’s not hyperbole. In later 3.3-litre flavour that extra 300cc, combined with the integration of an intercooler, means the 3.3 gained a whopping extra 40bhp, raising it to 300bhp. Also for 1989 only you got a Getrag G50 five-speed transaxle. A five-speed ’box in a 911 Turbo? ‘Heresy!’ I hear you cry. So what does all that add up to? Monumental performance, that’s what.
At low speeds it’s all a bit ‘so what?’ But build the revs, get the KKK turbocharger on boost and you experience an automotive double punch to kidneys – this is flat-six, air-cooled Porsche, but not as we knew it. The overall package, no-nonsense interior, big brakes, superb grip and handling, all wrapped up in a muscularly curvaceous package that’s topped off with the mother of all rear spoilers remains as viscerally potent today as back in the day.
There’s a lot of choice out there, says Smith, so it doesn’t necessarily matter which one you go for. ‘Right-hand drive cars are more prone to rust, so check the bodywork thoroughly because full body rebuilds are achingly expensive. They’re quite easy to appraise – you can see the welds and check if they’re original factory ones. And lift the carpets to inspect the floorpan – you can’t do that with the cars of today.’
Be sure to check for accident damage. Read any feature written on the ‘widow maker’ theme and the 911 (930) Turbo is always there. And for good reason. Get your cornering wrong by entering too fast or booting the throttle too early and the model’s infamous snap-away handling at the limit will bite you in the seating department. But get it right and satisfaction is guaranteed.
The best bit thing about the car pictured here – for sale at Hexagon Classics in London – is that you get to try to attain that goal with the wind in your hair. Shades on, roof down, turbo whistling on full boost – life doesn’t get much better.
‘I challenge anyone not to smile when the turbo kicks in and you experience that raw explosion of power,’ says Smith. ‘I took a friend out in one. He was amazed and when he returned to America he bought one on the strength of that passenger-seat ride. It’s so of its era. Simple, beautifully built and, of course, it has that all-important motor sport connection.’
‘The explosion of power when the turbo kicks in will make anyone smile’
‘A 911 2.4T will cost the same money but I’d rather have the Maranello’
>Lancia Fulvia HF Fanalone TIPPED BY JOHN MAYHEAD
‘I’ve been singing the praises of the Lancia Fulvia for years,’ declares John Mayhead. ‘And I still think that they’re underrated cars. Even the most collectable – the HF “Fanalone” – is relatively well priced for buyers. It has that great combination of racing history, instantly distinctive styling, Italian cool and a real gem of a 1584cc V4 engine.
‘Although earlier Lancia models had achieved some rally success, it was the Fulvia that began the marque’s dominance from 1972, when it took the first of Lancia’s manufacturer titles. The HF, or High Fidelity, sported an aluminium boot, bonnet and doors, plus added lightness through removing the radio, bumpers and other unnecessary items, but it still had only a 1.2-litre engine with a modest 88hp. It took the larger 1.6-litre engine in 1968 for the car to start winning in earnest. The Fanalone (big headlamp) cars, with their ZF transaxle, magnesium wheels and glassfibre wheel arches offered 115hp in basic specification, but the works cars put out a great deal more.’
Although the HF Fanalone is the collector’s favourite, Mayhead reckons the great thing about the Fulvia is the sheer breadth of the model range. There’s something for every budget, with a standard 1.3S coupé starting at less than £10k.
‘Look out for rust, especially in box sections and sills. Parts are not easy to find, although this is slowly improving. If you want something slightly rarer the Fulvia Sport Zagato is another option. These are still out there being advertised at less than £30k.’
>Ferrari 550 Maranello TIPPED BY EMANUELE COLLO
‘I dreamt of this car when it was new,’ says Emanuele Collo. ‘There was an English magazine that tested a series of cars, including a Peugeot 106 Rallye, Lotus Esprit V8 and Ferrari 550 Maranello. It was a black car and I can still remember it on the race track looking very mean. I think it made a greater impression on my generation than some of the Ferraris that followed it’
A key factor for Collo is buying one of these in the correct colour. ‘Red is too boy racer, and that’s reflected in lower dealer prices for cars in that hue,’ he says. ‘The image of this car is of a discreet, long-distance tourer, so light blue, green or any shade of grey works best.’
Check the maintenance history of any potential 550 Maranello purchase because, as with any Prancing Horse, servicing costs are high, so it’s important to be sure the one you’re looking at has received the correct level of care.
‘Prices have softened slightly. You can definitely get one in this price bracket, although some people are asking significantly more than that. The range is probably currently sitting between £75k and £140k. Now is the right time to invest a bit more though, because the gap in the medium-to-long term for the better cars will only get bigger.
‘The chance to buy a proper V12 big GT Ferrari for a reasonable amount of money is too good to miss. A Porsche 911 2.4T will cost roughly the same but I’d definitely rather have the Maranello.’
>Jaguar E-type Series I FHC TIPPED BY TIM SCHOFIELD
‘In my opinion, this is an infinitely more appealing choice than an Aston Martin from the same period,’ says Tim Schofield. ‘A restored example with matching numbers would be the ideal choice, finished in a period correct colour – opalescent silver grey or opalescent blue are my favourites.
‘These E-types still continue to perform very strongly at auction and over the past three years they have consistently outperformed the general collectors’ car market.’
Check for body corrosion and matching numbers and that the car is in its original specification and colour. ‘You also need the right names associated with any restoration and general servicing and maintenance of a car. In this price band you’ll probably secure a 4.2-litre car that scores eight out of ten. We did sell a fair-to-good 3.8-litre example for less than £100k recently, but it had body and trim imperfections. Keep in mind the earlier the car, the more valuable.’
>Bentley Continental T or widebody Conti’ R Mulliner TIPPED BY DANIEL DONOVAN
‘For this price, it has to be the Bentley Continental T or a widebody Continental R Mulliner,’ says Daniel Donovan. ‘At the time of launch the list price of these cars was circa £280k and they were built to special order only. It was the epitome of a “gentleman’s carriage” and today a super-low-mileage example will most definitely be one for the future.’
For £70k-£80k you’ll get a good example of either of these quality handbuilt behemoths. ‘They’re quite happy driving at 20mph or 150mph,’ says Donovan. ‘As big cars, they do wallow a little in corners but you’ll never get fed up or tired driving one.’
Bentley did make more right-hand-drive than left-hand-drive examples and lefties now carry a premium of around 20 per cent. Otherwise there were no real option boxes to tick when these cars were new, although some customers did pay huge amounts for a bespoke interior or a one-off exterior colour. ‘There’s no premium for either today,’ says Donovan. ‘Those tend to be quite garish. Last year we had a yellow car with a peacock hide interior and it was quite an eyeful.’
‘With regular services and oil changes they’re virtually indestructible and surprisingly affordable to maintain. There are plenty of independent specialists who will do just as good a job as a dealer and at a fraction of the cost.’
>Aston Martin V8 Volante TIPPED BY JOHN MAYHEAD
Nothing of the period intimidates in the rear-view mirror like an Aston Martin V8. The sheer design brutality of this big slice of British beefcake lends it a snarling presence.
‘The V8 is the epitome of Seventies cool – big, powerful, purposeful and slightly ostentatious,’ says John Mayhead. ‘It’s very much the car of the moment and one that must continue to grow in collectability. As ever with Astons, the Volante is the most desirable option and with a top Hagerty Price Guide valuation of £268k you can still find a superb example within this price range.’
Pop the door on this stunning Warwick Blue example, currently for sale at Aston Martin specialist Desmond J. Smail, and the luxurious interior provides an interesting juxtaposition to all that external aggression, with magnolia Connolly hide, thick dark blue Wilton carpets and a profusion of walnut.
Under load the 5340cc quad-cam V8 is animalistic with its quartet of Weber 42 DCNF carburettors greedily ingesting fuel and air and twin exhausts emitting hefty bellows.
The power-assisted steering is light but at low speeds you’ll be aware of the car’s heft. That weight means that the V8 is no sports car. Instead it remains an incredible devourer of asphalt and a peerless gentleman’s tourer.
With 320lb ft of torque there’s never a deficit of heave but make sure you bag a European-spec car or, even better, a rare right-hooker. ‘US safety legislation prevented the production of a soft-top Aston Martin V8 until 1978,’ explains Mayhead. ‘When the V8 Volante was released it was an instant success in the US, despite an additional 70kg over the coupé and a conservative 262bhp against the European 305bhp. Today the most desirable cars are the later Vantage models, especially those with the X-pack engine and 16in Ronal wheels. RS Williams prepared a tiny number to 6.3-litre or 7-litre spec but these command a hefty premium and have long since broken this price bracket.
‘Specialist support is good but like any old Aston, running costs can be high,’ cautions Mayhead. ‘Parts are also expensive, but the canny buyer can sometimes find components that were fitted to other makes that will help to soften the blow. Finding a well-maintained car is key. Oil needs changing every 3000 miles. Standard V8s were relatively cheap only a few years ago, so some were neglected. Repairs to the steel sills, which weren’t treated by the factory and require chopping off the bottom of the aluminium wings for access, can account for substantial restoration costs.’
In recent years it’s relative youngsters like the V8 Volante that have seen most growth in the Aston Martin world and buying a good example should prove an excellent investment – with the added benefits of brooding top-down looks, thumping performance and larger-than-life aural output.
‘It’s an incredible devourer of asphalt and a peerless gentleman’s tourer’
>Ferrari F512M TIPPED BY DANIEL DONOVAN
If you’re buying a Ferrari, it should be a 12-cylinder, reckons Daniel Donovan. ‘As the last of the iconic Testarossa series, the F512M is one seriously wellput-together car and highly underrated. Maranello ironed out the defects of the earlier car, such as chassis twist when driving fast. It makes all the right traditional flat-12 noises, not a high-pitched roar that’s fantastic for five minutes and then gets grating. In addition you can turn off the anti-lock braking if you want to and have the sensation of driving the old way.’
Only 501 cars were manufactured worldwide including just 75 for the US market. ‘They are still a closely guarded secret in certain circles,’ explains Donovan. ‘However, after 25 years they can go to the USA without being federalised and when that happens it can only enhance their value. Current US cars sit at around $440k$500k (£340k-£385k), a huge leap in value compared to what one is worth in Europe. You can bet there are more than 75 buyers for an F512M over there and if anything the US model is a bit ugly and less pure, so it all stacks up from an investment point of view.’
F512MS are pretty reliable cars but key checks you need to make include when the cambelts were last changed and evidence of regular oil changes – even if the car hasn’t been used. Colour isn’t critical, although you can’t go wrong with traditional Rosso Corsa. ‘It epitomises Eighties’ styling and is certainly a supercar worthy of Miami Vice,’ says Donovan.
>BMW Z8 TIPPED BY STEPHEN HALSTEAD
BMW’S decision not to fit an automatic gearbox to its Z8 roadster may have cost it sales in period, but Stephen Halstead reckons that means all of today’s examples are real driver’s cars. ‘Although I doubt it could ever reach the status of a true Bond car – despite starring in The World Is Not Enough – the all-manual Z8 has been punching well above its weight, more than doubling in value in the last decade. It’s become a highly sought-after car and prices are expected to keep rising.’
He believes its popularity is largely down to the most beautiful coachwork in the Z series, along with rarity and performance. ‘It’s far more iconic than a Z3 and it’s the retro Fifties style of Henrik Fisker’s design that sets the Z8 apart. Just 5700 were produced, against 300,000 Z3s, and on the road it’s no slouch. The 4.9-litre V8 delivers 400bhp and the precise gearbox, combined with the car’s light weight, ensure a thrilling driving experience. That said, the ride can be a little harsher than its saloon stablemates.’
With the Z8 now highly sought-after, he expects prices to keep rising. ‘Expect to pay at least £200k for a low-mileage, concours quality example – if you’re lucky enough to find one. Support is second-to-none, with OEM parts relatively easy to come by thanks to BMW’S own 50-year commitment to keeping spares.’
>Bentley 3 Litre Tourer TIPPED BY TIM SCHOFIELD
According to Tim Schofield one of the most enjoyable things about 3 Litre Bentley ownership is the doors it opens to the rallies and events you can take part in. ‘Pre-war rallies and races such as The Flying Scotsman and Le Mans Classic are some of the most thrilling motoring events to take part in and the 3 Litre is a perfect toe-in-the-water car in which to participate. It’s relatively easy
to drive, an iconic design and, most importantly, it has good brakes! An original-bodied example with matching numbers would be the best option to acquire. The values of a Bentley is inherently linked to those matching numbers, originality, coachwork type and how pretty it is.
‘A long-chassis saloon or rebodied open tourer should be yours for less than £250k. On the other hand, a beautiful short-chassis tourer with original coachwork will be significantly more, and that’s before you factor in cars with fabulous histories.’
Schofield offers a note of caution. ‘Today there are more 3 Litres than were built by Bentley in period, so ensure a specialist looks at the car for you. All have numbers, including significant mechanical parts, that can be checked and verified. You can buy some great publications for a relatively small amount of money that will give you great insight, and there are also websites that will allow you to check chassis numbers.
‘Driving a 3 Litre depends on the gearbox and set-up – some are tricky but rewarding to use. And no two are the same, so trying more than one car is a must.’
>Maserati Ghibli Coupé TIPPED BY EMANUELE COLLO
The Ghibli’s GT style is what attracts many people into the classic car world, believes Emanuele Collo. ‘They read in Classic Cars magazine about driving to the south of France in one, and that draws them in. Never mind that the reality is you might get stuck in traffic and the car will then start overheating; you’ll then find yourself worrying about it the whole way. We are all here because we dream of something and the Ghibli Coupé is the type of car that propagates this dream feeling.’
Collo also reckons that the model remains undervalued when compared to similar classics of the same period. ‘It has all the right ingredients including that race-bred V8 engine, the elegant Sixties styling, plus it’s almost as good to drive as a Ferrari Daytona and the brand is just fantastic. I don’t mind a bit that Ferrari is always regarded as being the number one.’
Both the 4.7-litre and the more powerful 4.9-litre SS models fall into our price bracket here, although the Spider soft-top is well north of £500k. ‘Beware of rust, of course, watch out for bad restorations and avoid US automatic specification cars. Mileage isn’t such an issue because these are quite strong cars. Try to ensure any purchase is in its original colour and specification. People buying them in period had a bit more fantasy in their choice compared to Daytona owners – a Ghibli is best in bronze, copper or green.’
Whichever Ghibli you go for, the car’s strongest suit remains those unsullied GT looks. ‘It’s so purely Sixties,’ enthuses Collo.
‘The Ghibli has all the right ingredients and it’s as good to drive as a Daytona’
>Ferrari 365GTC TIPPED BY TIM SCHOFIELD
This generation of Ferrari exudes style in every way, before it all got a little diluted in the Seventies and then hardcore in the Eighties. Factor in small production numbers and rarity and the result is that the many are fighting over the few.
You could happily spend many evenings inside this car just taking in its understated ambience, with the prancing horses that adorn the three-spoke Nardi steering wheel and the cool black Veglia Borletti gauges your only indicators of who built it.
‘With only circa 170 of these cars built over two years it is the rarity and beauty of the vehicle which, for me, makes it a more attractive and better option than the Daytona,’ says Tim Schofield. ‘It is one of the most desirable grand touring Ferraris from the late Sixties. It handles better than a Daytona too.’
He’s right. Where a Daytona can feel leaden, particularly at low speeds, this 365GTC – currently on sale at Hexagon Classics – provides a firm but surprisingly subtle ride, its unassisted ZF worm-and-roller steering lightening up at speed and faithfully transmitting road surface nuances to the driver.
The best bit is the 4.4-litre V12’s flexibility. With 320bhp on tap it offers a beautiful surge of mid-range punch. And like all the best Italian powerplants, the higher you rev it the better it responds.
Therein lies the glory of Maranello in this period. You’re buying into the era primarily responsible for the Ferrari legend. With its quad Ansa tailpipes singing and the triple twin-choke Webers fuelling the dream, all’s well in the Sixties GT world.
‘You’re buying a significant car and one that I’ve always thought is undervalued, says Schofield. ‘It’s hugely pretty with quite a small number built. I’ll never know why the ones you see for sale on the auction block and at events lag behind the Daytona in price.’ You could buy the 365GTC for the seductive Pininfarina aesthetics alone. Where the Daytona sits with the Aston Martin V8 in the school for brutes, this car is from an altogether more stylish pen. You’d never tire of its rear three-quarter and dead-on rear views, both of which are simple, chic and suggestive of force within.
‘It defines Ferrari in that period as a maker of luxurious GT cars and it will always be sought after,’ says Schofield. ‘For the last ten years they have remained at a similar sort of value ratio to a 275GTB, Daytona or Lusso – but I’ve always thought that’s not quite right. History is important and matching numbers are more important than they’ve ever been. With a Ferrari it’s become a huge factor that it has a red Classiche book [proving Ferrari certification], which seems to give the market the reassurance that the car must be all right. You’ll get a very good example for £500k.’
Go for a discreet Sixties metallic colour, such as this example’s Grigio, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to spend as much time visually savouring the car as you will driving it.
‘This is one of the most desirable grand touring Ferraris of the late Sixties’
‘The Vantage is a mean-looking car and makes you feel like James Bond’
>Porsche 911 2.7 RS TIPPED BY EMANUELE COLLO
‘It’s a bit of an obvious choice,’ admits Emanuele Collo, ‘but it is iconic and I’ve always thought it was the ultimate package. When I first got the classic car bug my ultimate dream was to take a 2.7 RS through the Alpine mountain passes.
‘It’s not rare, but it is fantastic to drive. The engine is glorious, with just the right amount of power, plenty of torque and it makes a great sound. Factor in exquisite handling transmitted through that tactile steering and you’re in driving heaven.
‘Prices rose to around £700k a few years ago but have now softened, adds Collo. ‘You have some choice because there are quite a few on the market. Many have been heavily modified, so go for a standard specification car. Avoid cars raced in later years and then badly restored, re-shelled or with non-original engines.
‘Fakes abound, so getting it inspected by a specialist is a must. Colour is down to personal preference but Grand Prix White is too common and almost always used for replicas. I like purple.’
The number currently on the market gives the buyer some negotiating power. ‘If you can get one cheaper than a few years ago, that’s great. It’s like a Mercedes-benz 300SL Gullwing – prices will go up and down but it will always be collectable – it was considered so even 20 or 30 years ago.’
>Aston Martin Vantage TIPPED BY DANIEL DONOVAN
‘The Aston Martin V8 stuck with me ever since I saw Timothy Dalton drive one across a frozen Czech lake in the James Bond film The Living Daylights,’ recalls Daniel Donovan. ‘The Vantage is a genuine British supercar with the panache of a Rolls-royce, complete with Wilton carpets and Connolly hide interior and genuinely capable of reaching 175mph. It’s a mean-looking car that will make you feel like James Bond and the rasp of the exhaust pipes will make you smile every time you put your foot to the floor and blip the throttle.’
Given the value, it’s crucial to check it’s a matching-numbers car; the engine and gearbox numbers must correspond to the build sheet. ‘Unlike some Astons they never dipped to be £10k or £20k cars and have always been important, so most have been treated and maintained well. Prices vary between £350k and £700k depending on mileage and exactly what it is. We sold a 90k-mile car for the lower price last year and the very last left-hand drive X-pack car for £435,000.’
A Volante will generally command a 25 per cent premium over a coupé and right-hand drive cars are more desirable than left-hand drive. You also need to factor in power output because
the standard Vantage has 400bhp while those with the X-pack kick out a walloping 432bhp. ‘There were also 20 POW (Prince of Wales) Vantage-specification Volantes with no flip tail and not quite so muscular bodywork.’
>Bentley S-type Continental Fastback TIPPED BY STEPHEN HALSTEAD
‘Both the S-type and R-type Continental Fastbacks have increased in value over the past ten years but the S has lagged behind to the extent that it might well be undervalued right now,’ offers Stephen Halstead. ‘If that price gap between the two models closes you could see HJ Mulliner S Continentals changing hands for even more significant sums.’
The R was the original model and built for speed, so it has enjoyed the most attention from enthusiasts and buyers alike. The S Fastback is a rarer beast; Mulliner produced just 151, including 123 with right-hand drive, versus 193 R-types.
‘The S-type also offers a little more comfort than its predecessor, with electric windows, air conditioning, automatic transmission and power steering, so the driving experience was more suited to long-distance touring.
‘While nowadays you may not want to put quite so much strain on the car, or miles on the clock, it’s a timeless post-war classic in which to enjoy some of our beautiful country roads. After all, the car was designed to provide a speedy drive, carrying four adults in supreme comfort.
‘They are not easy to come by and finding one with a sound chassis may be a bit of a challenge,’ cautions Halstead. ‘But it’s worth the effort if you can pick up a 1956/57 model for around £450k.’
>Jaguar XJ220 TIPPED BY WILL SMITH
‘The Jaguar XJ220 is half the price of a Bugatti EB110 or Ferrari F40,’ explains Will Smith. ‘But just look at it – it’s absolutely spectacular. I had a model of one when I was six years old and I still have that sense of childhood excitement when I see a Jaguar XJ220. Yes, the design was flawed because it should have had a V12 rather than the V6, but it’s still monumental and so quick to drive.’
Prices currently range from £350k to £500k depending on specification and condition. ‘I think the upper end of that will buy the very best UK right-hand drive car in the right colour combination with almost delivery mileage. They’re so far and few between, especially in right-hand drive, so expect to pay a 10-20 per cent premium for one of those.’
Running costs are fairly steep, so make sure the bag fuel tanks have been replaced. Fundamentally though, XJ220S aren’t that complicated mechanically. Smith suggests having Jaguar itself or a specialist such as Don Law inspect any prospective purchase for you. ‘When you get into this kind of money you need to ensure the car hasn’t been crashed or abused.’
Smith cites the driving experience as an XJ220’S finest virtue. ‘It sounds boring at tickover, but get the revs up and it’s the turbocharger that’s the overriding force you can hear. And oh, it flies. It’s stonkingly quick even by today’s standards. It was the fastest car in the world when it was new and for that reason alone I’d have one.’
Fun, chuckable, with buckets of character and sleek Tom Tjaarda-penned lines, the 124 Spider makes a great and affordable classic
So many E28-generation BMW M5s led hard lives as daily drivers so good ones are scarce. Worth hunting for though
It took a long time for buyers to appreciate the M635CSI’S style and abilities, but now’s the time to move quickly
Despite their popular appeal ‘Big ’Healeys’ were left behind by the market, but now that’s changing
The opportunity to buy a 550 Maranello while prices are still reasonable is too good to miss – but avoid red, says Collo
Earlier six-cylinder Astons are so expensive that the V8 cars are better value, but that’s driving prices
Maserati’s Ghibli Coupé has a great engine and styling yet remains undervalued compared to rivals, says Emanuele Collo
The Jaguar XJ220 was the fastest production car in the world when it was new but it’s still half the price of its rivals