Classic car ownership is something the whole PH office aspires to. It is the hallowed fourth tier of car custodianship; after the main car, the weekend car and the track car comes something old and beloved and not the least bit logical. Something to pet and polish and needlessly take up space. Of course, in an ideal world it would be made by Bentley or Aston Martin and silently appreciate in value like a Jackson Pollock canvas. But we don't live in that world and must all set our sights a little lower.
Fortunately, that's easily done in 2020 thanks to the advent of the modern classic. The powers-that-be effectively bestow revered status on any car older than 25 years, which in 2020 ostensibly makes anything pre-95 a bonafide classic - an administrative quirk that opens up a whole planet of reasonably priced possibilities. Now, clearly that doesn't make a '91 Vauxhall Nova a 'classic' in the traditional or widely accepted sense, but that doesn't preclude it from potential selection in this rundown. ‘Classic' means different things to different people, and buying an old car for personal reasons is every bit as valid as doing it for profit.
That being said, kudos to anyone who believes they're making a clever long-term bet. Nobody needs reminding that the market has conspired to produce umpteen 'how much?’' stories in recent years, so there's always the chance of turning a modest outlay into megabucks. For the purposes of this list, that outlay is capped at £15k - not too much, but not perishingly little, either. A nest egg. To the classifieds with it...
I won’t be the only one this week drawn to their choice because of nostalgia. My mother had an E30 BMW 3 Series as her main car in my formative years, so some of my earliest memories are from the back seat of one. Just looking at these pictures brings back memories of how the seat fabric felt, how the sunroof winder folded back so you open the cabin the elements, and that dim blue light that illuminates when you press the air conditioning button. And, I vividly remember, how you could silently remove the passenger seat headrest to annoy my brother.
I’ve always been drawn to the minimalist functional aesthetic once so prevalent in German design, from Bauhaus to Dieter Rams, and it now occurs to me that my childhood memories of that E30 may be to blame. For example, I find something so pleasing about the three levers to control the direction of the air in this car, which you just don’t find in cars of today. In my main car, a Volvo XC60, I’m frequently mis-tapping the touch screen to turn the temperature up or down. In so many cases an analogue experience is so much more satisfying than a digital one, and that’s part of the reason we lust after these classics.
This example, while stunning, isn’t a complete original as it has borrowed parts and panels from some siblings through the years. But it’s all been thoughtfully considered with original BMW parts and some lovely OZ wheels. It’s been done so well that it’s received praise in the BMW National Concours d’Elegance. It also has a suitably detailed history for a modern classic, which is particularly impressive considering its seven previous owners. This one won’t be for sale long, especially since yours truly is already picturing it in his garage! MD
My first motorsport event was a memorable one; having woken up to the news of Princess Diana’s death, my Dad and I then headed to a small relief road up the side of a hill in West Yorkshire to compete in the MG Car Clubs Sprint and Hillclimb Championship. Scammoden Hillclimb is a pretty simple affair: 0.3 miles of asphalt and three corners up the side of a hill next to the M62. It is pure grass roots stuff, but also proper motorsport. Anyway, I had just passed my test, so it could have been Silverstone for all I cared.
The car I was competing in was a 1966 MGB in tartan red, a car my dad had owned since 1967. I have sprinted, hillclimbed and rallied that car in the last 25 years alongside the more professional motorsport I have enjoyed – so naturally a B was always going to be top of my list for this selection. Sam may scoff at the petrol fumes and reliability record of an old Brit like this, but a car that has managed to finish in the RAC Rally of the Tests top ten four times is, in my eyes, every bit the versatile sports car MG set out to create nearly 60 years ago.
My chosen example has had a few mods to make it a little more fun in today’s climates, with an uprated engine from the original 1,798cc B-Series and set of 14-inch Minilites. But the base is proper MGB; and its spotless panels and interior suggest it’ll be one of the easiest to maintain options on this list for a long time. PD
Well, isn’t this is a find? Having flitted between all the usual suspects for this challenge and found nothing that really tickled my pickle, I went big and simply searched all the eligible cars on PH. Select a maximum price in the classifieds of £15k and a maximum year of 1995 and there are currently 361 cars available. So there was quite a lot of searching…
But the quest feels more than worth it now. Because not only is this an Opel Monza GSE comfortably under budget at £12,995, it’s a manual Monza GSE. And, in the moments of calm between the giddiness, it looks like a really good Monza GSE as well: low mileage, stacks of history, a fully functioning digital dash, those brown seats - tremendous.
Why a Monza? Well, I’m a sucker for a GT, and would have loved an E24 6 Series in here had prices not reached such a silly point. Handily, the big Opel mimics the BMW nicely: lusty, large straight-six up front, five-speed manual in the middle and power going to the rear wheels. I even like the oh-so-80s look, even if nobody will swoon over this like they will a sharknose Six.
It’s certainly a rarer prospect, the GSE, which is another reason why I couldn’t choose anything else. Apparently just 14 are on the road at the moment, which feels eminently believable. Though explaining to everyone what it is might get tiresome, I can’t imagine that cruising around in a Monza ever will - that’s what they call classic appeal, isn’t it? MB
I used to travel to college with a mate in his Austin Mini Clubman estate, with holes in the passenger floor to see the road passing by underneath. I’ve wanted to restore a classic Mini ever since. I’ve spent 100+ hours building a MK Indy R kit car from scratch with no build manual, followed by a Caterham 270R a few years later (may as well have not bothered with the manual for that either), but I’m still yet to take on the onerous task of a ground-up rebuild of a British classic.
But then again, do I need to? After asking for some tips from fellow PHers just last week, a few of you suggested a rolling restoration and that sounds right up my street, even if it does become a nut and bolt restoration one day. This 1992 Rover Mini Mayfair looks fit for the job, with its 998cc engine dumped and replaced with a re-built 1,380cc lump, putting its power down using an X-Pin limited-slip differential.
I can definitely see myself bumbling through the countryside on the next PistonHeads Sporting Tour in this. It will almost certainly be the slowest pick of the group this week, but then who’s in a rush when you’re driving a classic? I just hope my eventual re-build doesn’t take as long as gary71’s ’72 911T… BL
I shan’t lie. I’ve been eager to get a Mk1 MX-5 into a Six of the Best article for a while. Finally, the rules have allowed for one, but even now the MX-5 is still probably still a bit of an intruder. In the company of fully-fledged, smoky, manual choked, 'proper' classics (i.e Pete’s MG), it’s arguably a few years away from blending in. But what can I say? I’m an MX-5 fan, now on my fourth Mk2.
This low mileage '94 1800 V Special, is therefore very appealing. It’s an import, yes, but the benefit over the UK cars is the extra spec you get as standard; electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning (which is worth checking as it will rarely still work) and headrest speakers, as well as a limited slip diff, along with all the wooden Nardi goodies, which look to be in good nick, unlike some others I’ve seen.
I'll admit the price is a bit toppy considering you can still pick them up for circa £1500 but you'll likely be spending that again on rust fixing very soon after purchase (ask me and Ben Lowden how we know!) From the looks of the pictures and the description this one isnt suffering but I would still recommend getting it up in the air to have a proper poke about if you can.
Another plus point: the odometer reads 35,000, which is an incredibly low mileage for a 26-year-old MX-5; you’d really struggle to find lower. Perhaps more surprising is the apparent lack of modifications, this really does look to be original – even those blingy polished wheels are factory-fit options. With minimal maintenance this is a car you could consistently enjoy and, dare I say it, your investment should be safe, if not appreciating in a few years. SL
A few years ago, I was the proud owner of a 1986 Porsche 944. The all-black two-door was very rough around the edges, so it cost me only two-grand, but I absolutely loved it. A change in circumstances and its growing need for TLC meant the 944 had to go far too quickly, but I always promised myself I’d own another transaxle Porsche again in the future. Were I to have fifteen grand spare, this rather lovely 924 Turbo might just be the car I’d go for. And yes, I know it’s a Targa.
Hear me out. Firstly, I love the finish of this rare-spec right-hand drive Series 1. Green on green is a win in my book, and the delicate lines of the 924 body suit the scheme perfectly. This being a Turbo, it’s got the 177hp 2.0-litre under its snout, pushed back in the engine bay for middling balance and a sub-1.2-tonne kerbweight. The big sunroof might reduce structural rigidity a bit, but I like having the sun on my noggin, so for me it’s no biggie.
Anyway, the placement of engine up front and transaxle out back, along with that sprinkling of Stuttgart chassis magic, means that the 924 in any guise is satisfyingly even footed. With a boosted engine, there’s decent punch to enjoy and utilise, too, matching those slick looks with real pace and composure. This car’s in particularly good shape, with “no squeaks or rattles”, according to the seller, and a well-kept leather interior. It’s the perfect setting, you might say, to enjoy one of the purest iterations of a front-engined Porsche. One day... SS
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