Low interest rates have encouraged many to invest their savings in a classic car. However, old-fashioned rules of supply-and-demand mean prices have risen fast – particularly for sought-after cars, such as classic Porsche 911s and 1980s hot hatchbacks. Research by Footman James insurance reveals some of the fastest-appreciating models over the past 12 months. It’s official: these cars really are better than money in the bank.
Rise in value: 8%
The Stag has gained a new lease of life from its starring role in C4’s restoration show, For the Love of Cars. As presenter Ant Antstead explained, the car’s well-documented problems (overheating, timing chains, cylinder heads, rust… we could go on) have largely been solved by enthusiastic owners. So there’s no reason for a modern Stag to be unreliable. Besides, look at the positives: gorgeous Italian styling and a brawny British V8. Oh, and an 8% increase in value over the past year. Expect to pay upwards of £10,000 for a tidy Stag.
Rise in value: 11%
The Volvo P1800 is also a TV star of sorts; it was driven by Roger Moore in 1960s spy drama, The Saint. And a 1966 P1800s holds the Guinness World Record for ‘Highest Mileage on a Vehicle’, having clocked up more than three million miles. Safe to assume these Swedish coupes are tough, then – but they’re subtly stylish, too. The P1800 ES estate is even cooler, if you can find one.
Rise in value: 14%
The various evolutions of the Austin Healey roadster – 100, 100-6 and 3000 – have witnessed a 14% rise in value over the past year. Best served with a warm shandy outside a country pub, these handsome drop-tops epitomise the British sports car – albeit at a price much higher than that other iconic Brit: the MGB. Healeys also had considerable success in motorsport, and remain in demand for classic racing and rallying.
Rise in value: 15%
Motoring Research looks back wistfully on the days when a tidy Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera could be yours for £10,000. Now you’ll fork out three or four times that much. And don’t get us started on rare-groove RS models, which have rocketed into the stratosphere. Reckon on £1 million for a 911 2.7 RS in concours condition. Don’t worry if you can’t afford a 911, though. Prices of other Porsches, such as the 944 and 914, are also creeping upwards. Indeed, any classic Porsche seems a solid investment.
Aston Martin DB4
Rise in value: 19%
The DB5 was glamorised by James Bond, but its DB4 predecessor is prettier. Designed by Touring of Milan, the DB4’s elegant, understated lines become the template for Aston Martins for several decades to come. It wasn’t until the DB7 of 1994 that the British company finally pursued a new direction. A good DB4 could cost upwards of £350,000, with Vantage and Zagato versions considerably more. No wonder most are squirrelled away in air-conditioned garages.
Rise in value: 28%
Take a Sunday drive in the country and the chances are you’ll see an AC Cobra. Only you probably won’t, because the vast majority of these charismatic cars are replicas. Real Cobras – either the 4.7-litre 289 or the mighty 7.0-litre 427 – are extremely rare and prices can reach seven figures. For a blue-chip investment opportunity, how about the very first Cobra, hand-built by Carroll Shelby? It’s up for auction at Monterey in August.
Ferrari 275 GTB
Rise in value: 28%
You’ll need a few million in the bank for a Ferrari 275 GTB. But what price beauty? This two-seat grand tourer was built from 1964-1968 and ranks as one of the best looking Ferraris ever. Which makes it one of the best looking cars ever, obvs. A 3.3-litre V12 produces up to 300 hp in four-cam 275 GTB/4 versions. Classic Ferraris have always been a safe bet, but the 275 is exceptionally tempting – values have soared 28% in just 12 months.
Rise in value: 29%
Speaking of beauty, feast your eyes upon the Jaguar E-Type. This British icon is regularly cited – along with a certain Lamborghini further up our list – as the most stylish car of all time. Even Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made”. E-Type prices vary widely depending on spec, with early Series 1 cars more desirable than later V12s. The low-mileage S1 Coupe pictured here is currently for sale at £249,995.
Morris Minor Traveller
Rise in value: 35%
Now for something more ‘real-world’. Although with prices up by 35% in a year, the days of the affordable Moggy Minor are numbered. Launched in 1952, the Traveller estate has an external ash frame with a vertically-split tailgate, à la Mini Clubman. It stayed in production until 1972 – two years longer than the Minor saloon. Prices range from £2,500 for a rusty-but-usable project to around £15,000 for a Minor minter.
Volkswagen Golf GTI (Mk1)
Rise in value: 43%
Another to file under ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’. Many moons ago, Motoring Research bought a tidy Mars Red Mk1 Golf GTI for £450. We still wake with cold sweats wondering what that same car would be worth now. There’s some argument about whether the 1976 Golf really was the first hot hatch (the Renault 5 Alpine/Gordini beat it to market by several months). But its place in hot hatch history is assured, with the best examples now selling for £20,000+.
Land Rover Defender
Rise in value: 43%
Nothing boosts classic values quite like rarity (so how does that theory work for the Proton Persona? – Ed.) and the end of Defender production earlier this year means numbers are starting to dwindle. A direct descendant of the 1948 Series I, the Defender is slow, noisy, uncomfortable, hopelessly outdated and – by all accounts – not particularly reliable. Yet it’s brilliant fun to drive, and unstoppable off-road. Best of all, you needn’t be too precious about it – old Land Rovers wear their knocks and scratches well.
Peugeot 205 GTI
Rise in value: 44%
Silverstone Auctions has just sold this car for £30,938. That’s £12,000 more than estimate and a world record for a 205 GTI. So what makes this French hot hatch so valuable? Partly, it’s rarity again. Many 205s were crashed – the car’s appetite for lift-off oversteer catching out unwary owners. Others fell victim to the Max Power modifying boom. Yet more have simply rusted into oblivion. If you can find a good one, keep it garaged and save it for sunny days. Driving experiences don’t come much better.
Rise in value: 62%
We’re back in the realm of ‘cars as art’ – but who wouldn’t want a Miura on display in their front room? Along with one in the garage, of course. The 1966 Miura invented the recipe for the modern supercar, with jaw-dropping looks and ferocious performance. A glorious 3.9-litre V12 is wedged beneath its slatted rear window, giving a top speed in excess of 170mph. Prices have leapt by 62% in the car’s 40th anniversary year. You’ll struggle to find one for less than £1 million now.
Rise in value: 113%
The clue is in the name: the Fiat Dino has the same 2.0-litre (later 2.4-litre) V6 engine as the Ferrari Dino. However, even with prices up a huge 113% in a year, it’s still vastly cheaper to buy than its more glamorous cousin: upwards of £30,000 for the Fiat versus at least £200,000 for the Ferrari. The Dino Spider convertible is much rarer (around 25% of sales) and considerably pricier – reckon on £100,000 or more. If only you had bought one a year ago…
Top brand: Aston Martin
Rise in value: 80%
Footman James also tracked price rises by car brand in the four years since 2012. Aston Martin saw the biggest increase, was average values up by an impressive 80%. Jaguar was in second place, up by 68%, with Austin Healey third (52%) and Bentley fourth (39%).