Affordable classics


Andrew Frankel

View profile

Like me you may be watching with ever increasing astonishment as classic car prices climb through the roof, up through the cloud base and into the stratosphere.

I wrote a few weeks back about the likelihood or otherwise of the trend continuing and for those who missed it and for what it may be worth, I don’t see a collapse coming in the same way as we did back in 1990 but nor do I see the trend continuing forever for history tells us that what goes up must, sooner or later, always come down at least a bit.

In the meantime, what to do if the classic you’ve always yearned for is now simply out of reach? Here are a few examples of cars that provide the vast majority of the thrills of their starry stable-mates, but are still available at a fraction of the money.

Ferrari 365GTC/4

Photo: Brett Weinstein

To my eyes this 2+2 contemporary of the fabled 365GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ is both prettier and more usable and for reasons other than its fairly useless rear seats. It has power steering which means you miss the truck-like low speed manoeuvrability of the Daytona, and self-levelling rear suspension so it’s far more comfortable too. It’s a little heavier than a Daytona and a little less powerful too, thanks to different carburation, but the truth is that by modern standards neither car is remotely quick.
Guide price: £95,000

Porsche 911E

Photo: Stephen Hanafin

The real sleeper in the old 911 range. Forget RS Carreras whose prices have now passed £500,000, the car they’re based upon – the 2.4-litre 911S – is now also a truly expensive car. The E is almost forgotten, but essentially it is a 911S with an engine detuned from 190bhp to 165bhp. Sounds a lot, doesn’t it? But what the numbers don’t tell you is that what you lose in top end power you gain in mid-range torque. The truth is you’d need to drive the wheels off a 911S to get away from a well driven ‘E’.
Guide price: £36,000

3 Aston Martin DB 2/4 MkIII

Photo: Stephen Hanafin

Always fancied a DB5? Have you seen the prices? The good news is that the earlier 1957-59 2/4 MkIII is not just a fraction of the money, if you like driving more than making like James Bond, it’s actually the better car. The last product of Aston’s Feltham days, while DBs 4, 5 and 6 were essentially Grand Tourers, the 2/4 MkIII was a gentleman’s sports car, complete with WO Bentley-designed twin cam straight six motor. Quick, taut and beautifully balanced, a good MkIII is a revelation. Just never call it a DB3 in front of Aston cognoscenti.
Guide price: £140,000

4 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT

Photo: Marco Annunziata

We’d all love one of the 500, an ally-bodied Alfa GTA, but the prices are for most simply prohibitive. But the car upon which it’s based, the Sprint GT, can be had for around a tenth of the money. And while its steel body means it’s heavier, slower and less responsive, it’s at least half as much fun as a GTA, which appears to make it a bargain. I’ve been lucky enough to race both and a GTA is a true paragon, but did I giggle any less slithering around in the Sprint GT? Possibly, but not much.
Guide price: £37,500

5 BMW 325i Sport

I’ve always wanted an original E30 BMW M3, particularly in final iteration 2.5-litre Sport Evolution form, but currently they are far out of reach. But there’s another E30 BMW also with a 2.5-litre engine but with six rather than four cylinders. I’m old enough to remember testing them when they were new and loved every moment I spent in them. And for a modest four digit outlay rather than the very substantial five digit expense of an original M3, as good a cut price substitute as you’ll find.
Guide price: £2850

There are plenty of other examples at all price points in the market (a Peugeot 205XS is damn near as good as a GTI and can be bought for a few hundred quid), so if the classic you wanted has now priced itself out of consideration, don’t despair: good and affordable classics are still out there – you just need to know what they are.

All guide prices for Condition 1 cars (well-presented with no obvious faults)


You may also like