>Alfa-romeo 1300 GT Junior TIPPED BY MAARTEN TEN-HOLDER
‘These Alfas are still a great buy at £25k,’ says Maarten ten Holder. ‘I think everyone in my office wanted one of these when I raised the topic. Half my team are racers, and there’s enough about the driving appeal of these GT Juniors to appeal to them.’
We need to consider the Junior’s place in Alfa’s confusing line-up of 105-series Giulia coupés see it in its proper context and appreciate what good value it represents. First came the 1600 Sprint GT in 1963, then two years later the 1300 GT Junior joined the range. All models featured the famous ‘step front’ nose, like that of the car in our pictures, until the 1750 GT Veloce arrived in late 1967 with four headlamps and no step. The 1300 GT Junior retained its step-front until 1970, when it was revised with the newer nose but only two headlamps.
‘The step-front cars are more expensive, but they’re worth it,’ explains ten Holder. ‘The styling is a big part of the car’s appeal and that earlier front end is the classic look for a Giulia coupé, yet you can buy a step-front Junior for less than a four-headlamp GTV. They’re pretty but can also look understated if they’re not red.
Values of the 1600 Sprint GT and GTV are now well past the £25,000 mark, probably somewhere between £35,000 and £50,000 depending on their condition, which leaves the Junior looking like great value with the influence of some more valuable siblings to keep the market rising.’ For a long time the Juniors were overlooked (by those who hadn’t driven them, anyway) as underpowered and less sporting than the Sprints and GTVS. On the road, however, you’d only notice the lesser cubic capacity when heavily laden or perhaps trying long overtakes up hills – the twin-carb, twin-cam engine is in a high state of tune and with the Junior’s low gearing it loves to rev and make its voice heard.
‘The Junior still has a five-speed gearbox,’ says ten Holder, ‘so you have no worries about motorway driving. It will sit happily at 80-90mph, but the fun comes through the bends – they’re some of the best-handling, most accomplished coupés of their time.’
Buying any of this family of Alfas is a task that needs to be taken on with care. A good one will be no trouble at all and a joy to own – the car in our pictures has needed nothing more than routine servicing in the four years the owner has had it – but putting right bodged bodywork or years of missed maintenance can be expensive and hair-tearing.
‘It’s worth considering a left-hand drive car for sale on the Continent,’ says ten Holder. ‘It’s going to make your choice of Juniors much larger.’ That choice has been confused in the UK by the numbers of Juniors that have been re-engined with larger twin-cams or even Alfa’s much newer twin-spark engine. The question of what this does to the cars’ values is probably down to personal preference, but the prospects for the future are a bit clearer, says ten Holder. ‘Original-specification cars are always a safer buy. I think modified Juniors will struggle to appreciate as much as a well-preserved or restored original.’
Look out for paperwork that shows attention lavished by a dyed-in-the-wool Alfisti – in the UK, names such as Alfaholics, The Alfa Workshop, Classic Alfa, Ian Ellis, Peter Smart or Veloce Sport on the bills are encouraging, but these cars haven’t always been valuable and an expert inspection can pay dividends.
‘These are some of the most accomplished coupés of their time’
>Jaguar XJ-S PRE-HE manual TIPPED BY JUSTIN BANKS
Here’s a car we tipped in the Hot 30 a couple of years ago – but then it was in the ‘up to £10k’ price bracket. Justin Banks says the rarest and most sought-after XJ-S variants cost rather more than they did a couple of years back, and has little doubt that they will continue to rise even further.
‘There are plenty of younger ones around but the firstgeneration cars with black bumpers really stand out,’ he says. ‘They’re already pretty scarce but if you go for a manual-gearbox version you’ll have the ultimate collectible XJ-S.’
Some sources say only 352 manual V12 examples left the factory, perhaps a few dozen of those being pre-he cars. These letters stood for High Efficiency, demonstrating that all things are relative when discussing 5.3-litre V12s, and introduced a number of changes to the engine and ignition system for 1981. HE cars are slightly more powerful and less willing to devour petrol, but it’s the 1976-80 models that show the XJ-S as its Browns Lane creators intended – little brightwork, a dashboard devoid of wood, and some with cloth seats.
‘The manual gearbox is the four-speed from the E-type V12,’ says Banks. ‘I haven’t seen a fully restored XJ-S yet, but there are a few really good survivors if you look hard enough. They’ve been unfashionable for so long, but they’re incredibly smooth and well engineered and I think the image of these early cars has definitely turned a corner. Pay an extra £10k over an automatic example and the gap will widen further.’
>Mercedes E320 Cabriolet TIPPED BY TIM SCHOFIELD
Mercedes sold about 1300 E-class Cabriolets in the UK between 1991 and 1997, including 557 with the 24-valve straight-six and four-speed automatic. As part of the W124 family, you can expect bank-vault build quality and it’s this, combined with many cars’ lifelong role as summer weekend transport, that provides today’s choice of well-preserved minters.
‘Most are between £5000 and £15,000,’ says Tim Schofield. ‘There’s a four-cylinder E220 cabriolet but the six-cylinder cars are preferred and it’s much easier to see these rising in value as the best ones separate themselves from the rest – they should be £20k soon. I see them as a more modern equivalent to the stackheadlamp Mercedes four-seater convertibles of the Sixties, but the E320 perhaps has the advantage of seeming classless. They’re not show-offish and don’t provoke envy, and of course they’re durable and great to drive – any distance, every day, if you wanted to.’
As relatively complex luxury cars they should be inspected by a specialist. Give attention to signs of oil and water mixing, potentially indicating a cracked cylinder head. The powered roof should work quietly and smoothly as the rear side-windows drop automatically. Sportline models offer more tautness for twisty roads but the E320 is no sports car and should be bought more on condition than specification, perhaps with the exception of colour, says Schofield.
‘Just think what you’d choose on a new car today. Modern subtle metallics are preferable, pale metallic blue and black seem to sell well. I would avoid Transit van white.’
>Austin Seven Open Tourer Tipped by edward bridger-stille
You needn’t spend all of that £25k to buy an Austin Seven, of course – you might get three for that price. But some strange things are happening in the market and a cobwebbed, barn-stored boat-tail A7 body sold at auction for £18k in 2016, while sporting two-seat Ulster, Nippy or Speedy models are regularly advertised north of £20k – even if they’re replicas.
‘The four-seat open tourer is the one I’d choose,’ says Edward Bridger-stille. ‘Proper family fun. All models are simple to mend and cheap to run. Owners and bystanders alike simply smile as they pass… I’d have one in the kitchen if my wife allowed it.
‘Age – as in Vintage or post-vintage – is not that important, though the gravity-tank cars built before 1932 are worth a bit more. Useable open cars start at about £6k-8k, while £10k-12k buys you a nice one and £15k should secure an immaculate rebuilt car.’
Austin Seven motoring both requires and promotes a more carefree attitude. Pre-1933 cars have just three forward gears, all have feeble brakes and tiptoe handling from the transverse leaf springs and beam axles. But the operative word is fun, as Bridgerstille reminds us. ‘It can be as tatty as you like as long as it’s reliable. The rest of it delivers in spades – you can even go racing at weekends. It’s an easy car to enjoy and with such a strong club scene, excellent spares support and a well-loved image, they will only rise in value.’
>Maserati 4200 Tipped by Stephen halstead
‘A Maserati 4200 can be picked up for as little as £10,000,’ says Stephen Halstead. ‘But for a good example with low mileage, around £18,000 will buy you one of the best, which I think represents terrific value. It may be lacking the unique boomerang tail lights of the 3200, but the Coupé remains a beautiful modern classic. Under the bonnet you’ve got a proper Ferrari V8 – the F136 that’s shared with the Ferrari F430, California and 458.’
For many less wealthy enthusiasts, the immense pull of the Maserati name has led to fraught relationships with Biturbos and more recently 3200GTS, but here at last is an inexpensive Maser’ you can live with, says Halstead.
‘They’re usable as daily transport, but electrics are their Achilles’ heel. So often after you fix an electrical fault another appears in its place, so it can feel a bit like maintenance whacka-mole at times. Check the car’s service history, then test every switch and button.’
For those with the Cambiocorsa transmission it’s also essential to check the clutch wear – a plug-in process at a Maserati specialist – and ensure the software is up-to-date. The F1 pump runs the transmission and is failure-prone, so a receipt for a recent replacement is encouraging for buyers, especially if the owner has upgraded the pump’s relay from 30A to 50A.
‘Where else will you find a relatively cheap and easy-tomaintain Italian supercar for less than £20k?’ asks Halstead. ‘The 4200 is a superb car and arguably more interesting, less common and significantly cheaper than an equivalent 911. Prices can really only go in one direction from here.’
Step-front cars like this one are more expensive than later models but the iconic stylng cue is worth the extra outlay, reckons our expert
£18k buys you a superb, low-mileage Maserati 4200 – ‘terrific value’, reckons Stephen Halstead