Just the name ‘Grand Tourer’ is enough to set one’s imagination off on a fun-filled journey across Europe, scything along smooth motorways at speed in something big and ostentatious. The reality for most of us though is a dreary trudge through rush hour traffic behind the wheel of a modern yet uninspiring family car.
That need not be the case though, one great thing about big and ostentatious cars is that they depreciate faster than they accelerate. So, that hundred-thousand-pound luxury car you couldn’t afford yesterday is now a total attainable weekend car.
To prove the point, we picked some of the best Grand Tourers out there that cost no more than £10,000. In general, a GT is defined as a powerful vehicle capable of completing long distances in comfort, the typical body style is that of a coupe but to expand our options (and include the family) we have included a few worthy saloons too. So, forget the fuel bills and running costs and just think for a moment how much better that imaginary trip to the south of France would be if you were doing it in one of these classy rides.
BMW 6 Series
With the current trend by BMW to fit massive kidney grilles to their new models (think X7 and 7 Series), the Chris Bangle era 6 Series is starting to look a whole lot more appealing.
Aside from its slightly odd looks the big Beemer is a decent GT car, it is spacious up front comes with a range of powerful engines and you can even take the kids and their luggage along too.
The 4.8-litre V8 sounds great and with 367 bhp at its disposal should not have any trouble getting you to Monaco for dinner.
Our choice: 2007 650i
The CLK Mercedes is another big German coupe that is at its best on the open road. It also has more subdued styling if that is your thing and as long as you stick to the latter model years, build quality is good too.
The V8 models provide the right amount of power to fulfil the role of a speedy GT car so we will stick with those.
Our choice: 2005 CLK 500
The 370Z has been around since 2009 and while it may not be as dynamically capable as newer offerings, it has a certain old-school charm that hasn’t diminished even a little bit. Its big, brawny 326 bhp 3.7-litre V6 and rear-wheel-drive layout are pretty special in this turbocharged AWD age, that it can be had with a manual transmission is just icing on the cake.
This may be the sole six-cylinder car in our list (the rest all have GT-style V8s under their bonnets) but it is the one to get if you plan to enjoy some mountain passes on the way to your destination.
Our choice: 2010 370Z Manual
The Audi S5 may not be the last word in dynamic precision but it excels as a GT car, the added safety of all-wheel-drive makes it perfect for winter trips too.
The 4.2-litre V8 fitted to this generation of S5 produced a strong 349 bhp and while the newer forced-induction 3.0-litre V6s may be even stronger, they do lose some of that lovely V8 exhaust sound in the process. The interior is beautifully built and looks as good as some current offerings from rival manufacturers.
Our choice: 2009 S5 4.2 FSI
The flawed but characterful Quattroporte is the sort of car that will make more and more sense the closer you get to your exotic cross-continent destination.
The early cars had the clunky DuoSelect transmission, a conventional automatic was added in 2007 but you may struggle to find one at our price point. Still, even the early cars sound amazing, look lovely and have ample performance thanks to that 395 bhp 4.2-litre V8.
Ignore the horrendous fuel-consumption and remember that you only paid 10 grand for the car anyway.
Our Choice: 2005 4.2 Quattroporte
The first-generation Lexus LS400 arrived in 1989 and immediately established itself as a serious contender in the luxury saloon class.
Its successors have continued to provide smooth and unruffled transport for the more well-heeled motorist. Wait a few years though and cars like the fourth-generation LS460 suddenly become rather affordable.
Its understated looks hide a sumptuous cabin and that 375 bhp 4.6-litre V8 is so smooth you will have to check the rev needle to see whether it is actually on.
Our choice: 2007 LS 460
Big, luxurious saloons are what Jaguar is best at and the seventh-generation X350 (2002-2009) generation XJ is a great example of classic styling combined with modern technology.
The big 4.2-litre V8 could be had with a supercharger in the XJR variants and if you look hard enough you could even find a facelifted X358 2007-on model for our budget.
Make sure that the aluminium body shell is in good condition and that the electrics are all working, otherwise repairs could get pricey.
Our choice: 2007 XJR
There may be more expensive luxury saloons and even ones with more upmarket badges but the S-Class remains possibly the most respect and technically accomplished grand saloons around.
Aside from a dip in quality in the late ‘90s, these cars are built to last. The fifth-generation W221 models were a technological tour-de-force when they debuted in 2005 and they still offer an impressive combination of luxury and performance today.
Forget the frugal diesels and go for a V8 model instead, this is, after all, supposed to be a glorious Grand Tourer.
Our choice: 2007 S500
Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit
If one is to travel long distances in supreme style and comfort, then there can be no better option than a Rolls-Royce. If you happen to have just £10,000 to hand, then that statement comes with a few caveats.
While we have little doubt that you can find a serviceable and roadworthy ‘90s Silver Spirit for this budget, you may also want to pack to the cavernous boot with a few spares and some provisions, just in case.
That big 6.75-litre V8 is undoubtedly up to the task of a long road trip but the electrics, suspension and potentially corroded body panels might not be.
Our choice: 1990 Silver Spirit
Bentley Turbo R
If you are the sporty sort but prefer a relaxing round of golf to football, then a Bentley may be just the thing for you. Oozing class and perhaps a bit of oil, the Turbo R is actually a very underrated continent crusher.
The addition of a turbocharger to the venerable 6.75-litre lump gave this heavy beast impressive acceleration while chassis modifications added a bit more handling ability.
As with the Rolls you may want to set a bit aside for the servicing but then again, this was one of the most expensive cars in the world back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Now it can be all yours for under £10,000.
Our choice: 1990 Turbo R