Classic Cars (UK) - - The Hot 30 -

>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’


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

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