The classic car market, in general, has been on a sustained high for almost a decade now and a lot of previously unloved cars have been swept up in the buying frenzy.
It is exactly at such a time that one needs to be extra vigilant when considering an older car as not everything on the road is destined to become a desirable classic. However, if you know what to look for you can end up with a car that is both fun to drive and could well go up in value too.
It is definitely worth doing some homework beforehand to ensure that you get a model that is on the cusp of becoming a desirable collectors’ car, don’t worry though, we have done the heavy lifting for you.
The market may be robust at the moment but values for certain sought-after models are already starting to level off so don’t assume that prices will keep shooting upwards forever. Rather pick one of the future classics from our selection and enjoy the ride.
VW Golf GTI Mk 2 1982-1993
The original Golf 1 GTI hot hatch is now so highly valued that even rusty old bangers command premium prices. Why not look at its successor instead?
The MK2 GTI may have increased in weight but the 16-valve versions had a lot more power, so performance was still firmly in the sporty category.
Finding an unmodified one in good condition will be the hard part but if you do expect to pay around £3,000.
Audi TT (Gen 1) 1998-2006
The original TT was quite a departure from the usual Audi fare that was on offer in the ‘90s.
The styling has aged rather well and there are plenty out there to choose from. Both the 180 bhp and 225 bhp 1.8-litre Turbo models offer strong performance but the rare 247 bhp 3.2-litre V6 is the one that we would opt for.
It was one of the first production cars to be offered with a dual-clutch transmission although we would stick with a manual in this case.
Porsche Boxster (Gen 1+2) 1996-2012
The Boxster has always been an accomplished mid-engined roadster but thanks to a combination of mechanical frailty on early cars and an uninspiring headlight design on first-gen models, prices have been depressed for years.
The mechanical issues turned out to be less wide-spread than originally thought and any surviving cars would either have been repaired or not been affected in the first place.
The looks, well facelifted 986 models look a lot better while a second-gen 987 Boxster has the traditional round headlights and a much-improved interior too.
Prices start as low as £4,000 for the older cars but we would spend a bit more and get a 987. A decent 2.7-litre model can be found for under £9,000 while the more powerful 3.2 or 3.4-litre S variants in pre-facelift form are around £12,000.
BMW E36 M3 1992-1999
The E30 M3 has long been a collectors’ classic, the E46 M3 too is fast gaining momentum as a sought-after model yet somehow the second-generation M3 missed out on all the action even though it has no obvious failings.
The more grown-up nature of the first-ever straight-six M3 may have taken a while to get used to back in the day but compared to any contemporary sports car the E36 M3 is a raw and engaging drive and in Evo spec it still has the performance to put a big smile on your face.
£10,000 is where the good ones start, avoid the early SMG gearboxes though and stick to a manual in either coupe or saloon body styles.
BMW E39 M5 1998-2003
The E39 M5 is considered by many to be the finest M5 of all time, yet prices are still very affordable for this 400 bhp super saloon.
Years of low values do mean that many are in need of a bit of TLC but there is little doubt that in the years to come this V8 machine will be a highly sought-after vehicle. Get in on the action now as good ones can still be found for under £15,000
Mercedes-Benz W126 S-Class 1980-1991
The second-generation S-Class was a big technological tour-de-force when it was launched in 1980 but what really made it stand out was its rock-solid build quality and superb reliability.
These strengths are what make it such a desirable classic luxury saloon today, don’t be deterred by big mileages but just make sure you get one with a full-service history.
The bigger V8s starting with the 380SE offer appreciably more performance than the straight-six variants and they are also most likely to have been looked after better. You can find good ones for as low £5,000.
Ferrari Mondial 1980-1993
The once unloved runt of the Ferrari fold has now started following in the footsteps of its more desirable stablemates but there are still some decent cars out there for reasonable money.
It may have an awkward shape compared to the mechanically similar 328 but it can seat four and you get no less of a driving experience. The convertible is still the only car ever made that is mid-engined has four seats and can drop its roof.
The Mondial QV is perhaps the sweet-spot in the range but any well-cared for example is worth a look. A perfect Mondial is still less than £40,000 while you can pay more than twice that for a comparable 308 or 328.
Porsche 928 1977-1995
Affordable Porsches are thin on the ground these days and while the 928 can still be had for less than you might expect, don’t jump at the cheapest one you find, these cars can be expensive to get right.
Rather look for a well-cared for example, we suggest a later 4.7-litre S or S2 variant, they had more power than the early 4.5-litre cars and if you find a manual one don’t hesitate as these are quickly snapped up by collectors.
£10,000 will get you a runner but expect to pay double that for the best cars.
Aston Martin DB7 1994-2004
The DB7 is the oft overlooked Aston Martin that has yet to follow in the footsteps of earlier DB models. That is good news for those searching for an affordable entry point into the brand, as some DB7 variants can be found for as little as £25,000.
Its looks are still jaw-dropping today and both the DB9 and DB11 have borrowed a lot from its timeless design. The 335 bhp 3.2-litre supercharged models offer the most bang for the buck although the more powerful 414 bhp 5.9-litre V12 models command the highest prices.
That said, even a lovely V12 DB7 can still be found for under £40,000, which is unlikely to be the case for very much longer.
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