Classic Cars (UK) - - The Hot 30 -


‘I like the un­der­dogs,’ says ten Holder, ‘and when you think of the Fer­raris, Lam­borgh­i­nis and Maser­atis that the Grifo com­peted with, it does get for­got­ten in com­par­i­son – but it shouldn’t.’

The in­ten­tion was ob­vi­ous from the start. Renzo Ri­volta be­gan his tilt at the Fer­rari mar­ket with the four-seat Iso Ri­volta IR300 in 1962 but wanted to take the next step, so went back to Ber­tone (and a young Gior­getto Gi­u­giaro) for a fab­u­lous fast­back body on a short­ened Ri­volta-type chas­sis. The chas­sis work was down to Giotto Biz­zarrini, who had turned a 250GT into the 250GTO for Fer­rari. So the Grifo’s pedi­gree is hardly in doubt. Nei­ther was its in­tended tar­get – the grif­fin sym­bol refers to a heraldic beast said to be a fierce en­emy of horses (es­pe­cially pranc­ing ones, we as­sume). But ten Holder’s fond­ness for the car isn’t about his­tory.

‘I re­ally love the Ber­tone styling – I think it’s just a fab­u­lous­look­ing car. It must be the Grifo’s great­est qual­ity, and while we can all ar­gue about these things, I don’t think there’s a bet­ter­styled Ital­ian car from this pe­riod.’

The ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence be­tween the Iso and the oth­ers is un­der the bon­net. Where that other great anti-fer­rari start-up, Lamborghini, cre­ated its own V12, Iso used Chevro­let V8s to power its cre­ation and there’s un­doubt­edly a bit of lin­ger­ing snob­bery about this that has held the Grifo back in value terms when com­pared with the V12 ri­vals.

‘You just have to ap­pre­ci­ate the ad­van­tages of the en­gine,’ ar­gues ten Holder. ‘I spend about half of my time in the UK and half in the USA, so I’m used to Amer­i­can V8s and I love them. The Grifo en­gines were blueprinted and tuned to give huge power but they’re still very re­li­able and a frac­tion of the cost to re­pair, com­pared to an Ital­ian V12.’

The Maserati Ghi­bli’s four-cam V8 is no low-bud­get item ei­ther, but the Grifo is now more costly than a Ghi­bli – our £250k would get you the best Ghi­bli 4.9SS, but prob­a­bly just a Grifo GL and not a 7.0-litre. The big-block Grifo was in­tro­duced in 1968, two years be­fore the restyle that saw Se­ries II Gri­fos de­velop a slop­ing nose and pop-up lamps. Some used even larger 454ci (7.4-litre) V8s

‘I don’t think there’s a bet­ter-styled Ital­ian car from this pe­riod’

be­fore the fi­nal two years of Se­ries II pro­duc­tions switched to 5.8-litre Ford V8s. Nowa­days, a per­fect 7.0-litre Grifo is closer to £350k than our £250k, but only 90 were built from a to­tal of 413 or 414 Gri­fos. Per­haps 20 of the Se­ries I cars were right-hand drive.

Ten Holder is back­ing these 1965-69 small-block cars with their lighter front ends and bon­nets free of vast ‘pent­house’ bulges.

‘Yes, they made fewer 7.0-litre Gri­fos, but they’re all rare. I like the per­fect, orig­i­nal looks of the Se­ries I cars and they should be fast enough for any­one – 350bhp and 0-60mph in first gear, for a man­ual car. The dif­fer­ence with a Day­tona? Just the brand. So their val­ues will get closer.’


Justin Banks is some­thing of an evan­ge­list for the Church of Fa­cel Vega – he’s owned a few and speaks about them both with ex­pe­ri­ence and pas­sion.

‘The Fa­cel II is one of the best cars ever made. It’s much bet­ter than the HK500 it re­placed and has the best dash­board in any car, ever. The myth of the mar­que and model is sec­ond-to-none, and a Fa­cel II makes early Six­ties Fer­raris seem com­mon­place.’

Their low build num­bers (184 pro­duced, just 26 in RHD) mean the flip-side of show­ing up mass-pro­duced Fer­raris is a se­verely re­stricted choice of cars to buy. How­ever, the strong up­ward trend in Fa­cel val­ues has meant money is fi­nally be­ing in­vested in re­turn­ing them to ap­pro­pri­ately op­u­lent con­di­tion.

‘They’re all get­ting re­stored,’ says Banks. ‘If they had an ex­otic Euro­pean en­gine they’d be val­ued so much higher al­ready; I think they make a non­sense of As­ton Martin val­ues and I see no rea­son why they should drop from the point they’ve reached now.’

With 390bhp and 150mph po­ten­tial, the Fa­cel II could keep up with any­thing else made be­tween 1961 and ’64, save a 250GTO. Per­haps the mes­sage about the Chrysler V8 pow­er­plant – a strength rather than some­thing to be sniffy about – is fi­nally get­ting through. The Fa­cel II was tipped at £200k in our 2015 Hot 30 and you’d now strug­gle to get the best un­der our £250k limit.


We’ve tipped the GTA be­fore – an ap­pear­ance in 2016’s ‘£100k and up’ slot didn’t pin down val­ues at that point, but this is one of the few clas­sics that has been bridg­ing the gap be­tween fast-ris­ing ‘young­timers’ un­der £100,000 and the blue-chip cars fetch­ing half a mil­lion or more.

‘It’s an icon of its pe­riod,’ says Collo. ‘They have an in­cred­i­ble look, they won ev­ery­thing back in the day and they’re so much fun to drive. I’d say they com­bine ev­ery­thing de­sir­able in one car, with this ter­rific Alfa Romeo brand her­itage.’

They have a lot in com­mon with the Lo­tus Cortina MKI in our £50k se­lec­tion – a fab­u­lous race pedi­gree and a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue with fakes. The prob­lem of bo­gus cars is not quite so eas­ily solved as it is with the Cortina, as Alfa’s rac­ing arm, Au­todelta, wasn’t par­tic­u­larly con­sis­tent in the way it built the cars or in­deed kept records, so the best in­surance is to buy one with im­pec­ca­ble his­tory from decades past.

‘Fakes are a prob­lem,’ says Collo. ‘But there are peo­ple who can look for clues. Check the chas­sis num­ber and then ask Max Banks at Al­fa­holics – he’s one of the most knowl­edge­able guys around. There were street ver­sions – the Stradale – and pure com­pe­ti­tion ver­sions, the Corsa. The best Stradale might make £250k, a car with good pe­riod com­pe­ti­tion his­tory a bit more, an ex­am­ple with less his­tory and a few scars, a bit less. But every­body wants them.’

>Pan­hard et Levas­sor 7hp ton­neau TIPPED BY TIM SCHOFIELD

Sur­prised? It’s not our nor­mal sub­ject mat­ter, but Tim Schofield makes a strong case for this in­flu­en­tial Vet­eran.

‘It’s about the life­style and friend­ships you make while en­joy­ing en­gi­neer­ing in its early forms. Un­til you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced the start of the Lon­don to Brighton run… the noise, the smoke, the

steam, the smells of a chilly dawn in Hyde Park sur­rounded by hun­dreds of other such cars, you won’t know what a great feel­ing it is to be part of such an an­cient event. And that’s not the only trip you can do – the Vet­eran Car Club is ac­tive and you could be out al­most ev­ery week­end.’

There’s no doubt that el­i­gi­bil­ity for that one an­nual event in Novem­ber dom­i­nates the mar­ket for Vet­eran cars. But it shows no sign of stop­ping, and nei­ther does the growth in Vet­eran val­ues, says Schofield. ‘Look over the last 20 years and you’ll strug­gle to find other cars that show the same sus­tained, steady growth as these Pan­hards and their kind. They’re sur­pris­ingly com­pe­tent, twin­cylin­der ma­chines and with a 1901 or 1902 build-date, they get an early-ish start num­ber on the Lon­don to Brighton.

‘They are the root of mod­ern motoring – the “sys­teme Pan­hard” is the name for the front-en­gine, rear-drive, front-steer­ing lay­out. These are pre­mier-league Ed­war­dian cars but at £170k to £200k, where a big four-cylin­der car of the era would be at least £100k more. Orig­i­nal coach­work is im­por­tant and so is the pa­per­work to prove the car’s prove­nance, but lots of Pan­hard in­for­ma­tion is in the pub­lic do­main so it’s sim­ple to check.’

>Lancia Aure­lia Con­vert­ible TIPPED BY STEPHEN HAL­STEAD

‘The Lancia Aure­lia B24’s mar­ket is a tale of two cars,’ says Hal­stead. ‘On the one hand you have the Spi­der, which has rock­eted in value in re­cent years, with one ex­am­ple sell­ing at auc­tion for £1.5 mil­lion in 2016. On the other hand you have the Con­vert­ible which, de­spite track­ing around 40 per cent be­low the Spi­der un­til 2002, has been un­able to match its sib­ling’s growth. In the last four years, the most paid at auc­tion for the Con­vert­ible was £255k. This makes me think the Con­vert­ible has a long way to go be­fore it reaches its true po­ten­tial.’

That’s the ar­gu­ment – but what about the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two? They’re anal­o­gous to the Porsche 356 Speed­ster and 356 Cabriolet; what’s now the more valu­able car was sim­pler and less well-equipped. The Spi­der has a wrap­around front screen, no wind-up win­dows, a split front bumper and a spindly lift-off fold­ing roof. It has a more charis­matic dash­board, with three large di­als rather than the Con­vert­ible’s two, but can you tell we’re strug­gling for ma­jor dis­tinc­tions? ‘Both cars used Lancia’s 2451cc wet-liner V6 and transaxle gear­box, so de­spite a slight weight in­crease for the Con­vert­ible, per­for­mance is very sim­i­lar,’ says Hal­stead. ‘The Spi­der is rarer – just 240 made – but there were only 521 Con­vert­ibles pro­duced, so we’re still talk­ing about a very rare car. It’s more prac­ti­cal and com­fort­able to drive than the Spi­der too.’

A spe­cial­ist’s in­spec­tion is vi­tal, es­pe­cially if the car has been re­stored – that may sound odd, but an older or less care­ful restora­tion may have harmed the car’s long-term value by fail­ing to repli­cate orig­i­nal fea­tures and stan­dards. Aure­lias of­ten ex­pe­ri­enced en­gine changes early in life, al­though the one fit­ted in the car should at least be cor­rect for the age and se­ries. But as a useable, cut-price sis­ter car to a mil­lion-pound mas­ter­piece, it’s tempt­ing.

‘Few other cars show the same sus­tained growth as these Pan­hards’

Ear­lier cars with small-block en­gines de­velop 350bhp and are primed to close in on Fer­rari Day­tona val­ues

Su­per-low pro­duc­tion num­bers and grow­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the op­u­lent Fa­cel II means val­ues now re­flect their real worth

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