Fatherhood is quite possibly one of the toughest challenges any man can face in his lifetime, from the early days of midnight nappy changes to the tearful but proud day their child moves out of home, the ride is fraught with unexpected perils and trials no one can know beforehand.
Chief among them is the need to chop in that sporty little car that was such an integral part of life before the kids arrived. Some dads try to hold on to that last vestige of their carefree past for a bit longer, vainly trying to squeeze a baby seat into their two-door sports car for the school run, but in the end the reality of driving around with a pram sticking out the boot forces a change.
If you grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s then your dad also had some rather choice saloons and hatchbacks to choose from, vehicles that are now becoming increasingly rare and sought-after. Had he kept them, they may be worth a fair bit more than today than they were back in the day.
We take a look at some of dad’s cars that we wish he would have kept, not all are priceless classics either, some are just cool older cars that bring back fond memories of a time when SUVs didn’t exist and all electric cars did was deliver the milk.
The Mini was launched in 1959 as an affordable city car that could fit a family of four (at a squeeze) and still have space for a small bag or two.
It became an overnight success and the last one rolled off the line 41-years later. The sporty 1275 GT models are always in demand but any decent Mini is valuable these days.
Triumph Dolomite Sprint
The Dolomite was a decent family saloon but what really raised its profile was the 2.0-litre Dolomite Sprint with its 127 bhp multivalve engine.
It may not have been quite as well built as its German rivals, but it was one of the quickest little saloons in its day. Although, even if dad were to have kept his, it might have rusted away to nothing by now.
Saab was at its quirky finest back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and the 900 offered a great combination of Swedish style and practicality with a healthy dose of performance too.
Built from 1978 all the way until 1998 there were a lot of models to choose from, although the ones you really want are the pre-1994 first-generation cars.
Not all dads were stuck driving beige saloons, some had the good luck of driving something a lot sportier. The Porsche 944 was one of these cars, it offered seating for four at a pinch and was a great daily-driver too.
Developed from the 924, it received the usual incremental upgrades throughout its lifecycle so looks, handling and performance can vary a lot over the years. If dad had one of the Turbo models then they offered up to 247 hp.
Ok, so the chances of your dad actually dropping you off at school in an E-Type were pretty remote, yet these cars went through a serious dip in values in the ‘80s and many were picked up for a bargain so some dads surely had to have owned them.
Today, even the less desirable V12 models are now worth enough to put your own kids through school and then some.
The W126 series S-Class was, as most S-Class models tend to be at launch, a technological tour-de-force. This all seemed to mean a bit more back in the late ‘70s and ‘80s especially when rivals were few and far between.
Seemingly built from a solid block of granite, even high-mileage examples seem to carry on for decades. As a modern ownership proposition, the bigger 500 and 560 models tend to get the most attention but any decent W126 S-Class is a great drive.
The Escort was a bit more common than an S-Class and while most were poverty-spec 1.3 and 1.6-litre models, the RS variants were superb little cars that excelled both on and off the track.
The early ones came equipped with 1.6-litre engines, later the 2.0-litre RS2000 models set the stage for a string of great Ford RS models.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The VW Golf too would have remained a nondescript family conveyance were it not for the introduction of the hot GTI model in 1974.
It became a favourite with families too thanks to the practical hatchback body style. Now on to its seventh-generation, the GTI remains the benchmark in the segment it created.
Peugeot 205 GTI
The Golf GTI may have started it all but by the ‘80s there were quite a few challengers for the hot hatch throne.
The sporty little 205 GTI was possibly its strongest rival, initially fitted with a 104 hp 1.6-litre engine, it ended up with a 126 hp 1.9-litre motor and both models are often regarded as the best hot hatches of their day.
The 2002 was the precursor to the successful 3 Series saloon and it offered solid build quality and a strong engine lineup when such things weren’t always a given.
The 2002 tii came with a 130 bhp 2.0-litre fuel-injected engine, giving it class-leading performance, but any 2002 is a desirable classic these days.
The Capri was in a way, our equivalent to the V8 Mustangs in the US.
We may only have got a V6 in the most powerful variants but they looked cool, went well and any self-respecting dad would have loved to arrive at the school pick-up in one.
The later 2.8-litre fuel-injected cars are the pick of the bunch.
The Sierra arrived in 1982 and immediately made everything else look a bit old hat.
Sure the base models were limp-wristed performers but you could also get the 220 bhp turbocharged Cosworth RS, which is definitely the one your dad would have wanted.
A bit more realistically, a decent 123 bhp 2.0-litre DOHC engine was introduced in 1989 and a few also had torquey 2.8-litre V6s.
Porsche 911 Carrera
The Porsche 911 was already a household name in the ‘70s and while very few found their way into the hands of any dads, we are sure that at least a handful were used to ferry the kids between soccer practice and school.
If you were one of the lucky ones then let’s hope that your dad kept his 911 as prices of these earlier air-cooled examples are now approaching what a brand-new 911 costs these days.
Austin Allegro – The ones dad really shouldn’t have kept
Not all of us were lucky enough to be picked up in a cool car from school, to some, even a nondescript car would have been nice but instead there were thousands of kids in ‘70s Britain who had to deal with the indignity of being collected in a heaping pile of mangled metal called the Austin Allegro.
It looked like it had two front ends, both equally ugly, the Vanden Plas editions were truly grim resembling a shrunken down Jaguar in the very worst way.
Reliant Robin– The ones dad really shouldn’t have kept
Despite its many failings, the Allegro was still not the lowest form of transport around, that honour fell to the Reliant Robin.
A three-wheeled fibreglass aberration that could be driven with a motor cycle license. The 750cc engine was plenty in a ‘car’ that had the unfortunate tendency of falling over around corners, we are sure that