Affordable classics


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)


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