Best Modern Classic Cars to Buy Now

Depreciation is the downside all car buyers have to accept, as drivers we all know that our cars are losing value every day; but there are a rare few cars, where not only will depreciation not be a problem, you may even make a little money! These are the modern classics and while it seems that the very top end of the classic car market has stalled a little, with the likes of Ferraris and Lamborghinis not making quite money for their owners as once they did, many in the trade are now looking further down the price curve in search of cars which could make them a very nice return in just a few years from now.

It's all relative and nothing listed here is going to make you enough to retire on, but there again, you don’t need to be a millionaire to buy one. At these values you can afford to drive it and enjoy it, unlike so many of the six-figure, four-wheel investments which spend their time locked away because they’re simply too valuable to risk out on the road.

As with any market, there are no guarantees, but here are six cars I think might make some money over the next few years.

Ford Focus ST170 estate

Ford RS/ST

The Cosworth Fords grab the headlines, but given that values for some of those are now at, or close to, £100,000 territory I’m sticking with the more affordable RS and ST cars. To an extent it doesn’t really matter which RS or ST so long as they carry that coveted badge, are mechanically cared for, have an honest history and are cosmetically tidy. A really neat Focus RS will set you back around £30,000 and in November a Mk III Fiesta RS Turbo went for £25,000 and a Series 2 Escort RS Turbo another £1,000 on top of that.

Used car valuation experts at Parkers reckon a nice Focus ST170 is worth a punt too and is something of a sleeper, a car that’s under the radar for the moment. Put £5,000 into one today and over the next five years you could double your money – so they say. The ST170 was a highly regarded car in its day and still has a delicacy of steering you just don’t get in the rather over-assisted, computer controlled cars we drive now. It was more restrained in its looks than the RS models and if you want real rarity value and to stand out from the crowd, Ford even made the ST170 in an estate form….

Alfa Romeo Brera

Smart looks were about all the early Breras had to offer because the car was dull to drive, with its clumsy chassis and steering offering little in the way of feedback to the driver; happily for Alfa fans a few hundred cars were sent to the race and rally experts at Prodrive in Banbury for them to work their magic and turn it into a car you’d actually look forward to driving.

A Prodrive version will probably be in the low five-figure territory and if you go onto a well- known website, where people can trade used autos, you’ll soon find a dozen or so priced between £7,000 £15,000 or so, with a couple of really top spec cars for more than that.

The Brera comes with either a 2.2 four cylinder or the 3.2 V6. The smaller engine car is probably the nicer to drive - there is less weight over the front wheels for a start – but anyone who has experienced the sweet Alfa V6 will probably sacrifice that for the six- cylinder experience.

Before the Brera, the last great Alfa two-door was the Sprint or the GTV, but both were a little prone to rust to say the least and there must be some demand for a replacement. The Alfa GT certainly wasn’t that car, but the Brera was at least pretty and if you can find a Prodrive car, nice to be in.

How much are we talking about? Parkers reckon that in four or five years you’ll be looking comfortably into the £20,000s.

Alfa Romeo Brera
Purple Mazda MX5

Mazda MX-5 Mk1

Yes, we know that everyone refers to the little Mazda as THE smart, affordable classic, but there’s a very good reason for this – the little MX-5 will never go out of fashion and the market is now turning its attention to the earliest versions. Made from 1989, you need to be careful of rust in the originals and, some badged as Eunos were imported through unofficial channels, beware as these cars were not rust-proofed at the factory.

Apart from that and the normal caveat about buying a sports car perhaps now getting on for 30 years old, the first MX-5s should make a reasonable little investment.

Classic car industry experts at Hegartys point out that of 50 models they price-watched over the last eight months, in a study that covered high end Ferraris to Ford Capris, the one showing the biggest relative growth was the little MX-5 1.6i, 1989 to 1994 versions, which appreciated by 9%.

Much better than putting your money in the bank!

Original Porsche Boxster

The looks were not to everyone’s taste and there were issues with the early engines and Tiptronic gearboxes but this is a mid-engine, open topped Porsche sportscar and how many people wouldn’t want one of them? It was quick and handled well, made all the right noises and the cockpit was a nice place to be.

The clincher is in the price though. Leaving aside the 100,000 mile plus cars, for £5,000 to £7,500 you should be able to find a nice early example, with plenty of service records proving it’s been looked after.

In Porsche terms this was a mass production car, so there are plenty around, which means it won’t have quite the stellar appreciation of some of the brand’s more exotic models, but for the cost of a second or third hand supermini does it matter? Five grand gets you into a Porsche and that will attract people now and in the future. Which is why a carefully chosen early Boxster will always look after your money and if some in the trade are right, should soon begin to make you some too. Just keep your eye those repair bills!

Porsche Boxster
Nissan 350Z

Nissan 350Z

An unashamed muscle car with powerful looks and a superb V6 to deliver on the promise held out by the styling, the 350Z was a pure sportscar. Nissan made more powerful cars, but none that matched this one for driving purity and accessible, usable performance.

The 350Z was, and remains, a great car to drive with the classic layout of a big engine up front feeding its power to the back wheels. It handled and steered nicely, it went as fast as you will realistically ever need, it sounded fantastic too and it also had one trick up its sleeve few others did – Nissan built it as a convertible too.

A budget of £10,000 will put you behind the wheel of a very nice example and this is another car which a lot of trade insiders reckon will not just hold its value, but be one of those risers over the next four or five years.

VW Corrado

Mention fast VWs and the reflex action is to think of Golf GTi or the slightly manic VR6, but VW made another fast car, the pretty little Corrado coupe which for reasons not entirely clear to this writer, never got the praise it so richly deserved.

The Corrado was the spiritual successor to the Scirocco, for a front wheel drive car it handled very well and not much could beat it in this regard. When it arrived in 1998 it had a 1.8 litre engine and a supercharged variant, the G60 which was a properly quick car. Going on the basis that more is better, VW later added the 2.7 litre V6 model (did you know this narrow angle engine was the basis of Bentley’s W12?) which sounded as well as it went.

So, why is the Corrado in our list of top six classics to watch? Because it was so good, so well built, looked so pretty and still does and because today they’re quite cheap. You may have to search a little to find a tidy one with sensible mileage but £5,000 should be enough to get you one and there’s some evidence that prices are just waking up from their slumber.

It would be a big surprise if this is not one of those affordable classics which show a healthy return over the next few years.

VW Corrado



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