Anglia Car Auctions is holding one of its classic sales this weekend. Forget exotic Ferraris – you’re more likely to find a rare, one-off Austin Montego in the King’s Lynn saleroom. There’s clearly an appetite for these borderline classics, however, as the auction hall is always packed and top money is often made.
We’ve had an enjoyable browse of the catalogue and picked out 10 cars we shouldn’t want, but do. Would you be tempted to take any home?
1: AC Invacar
It’s surprising the kind of cars you can pick up through the Motability scheme today. But back in the 60s and 70s, disabled people were leased fibreglass Invacars from the government. Finished in ‘Ministry Blue’, these little three-wheelers provided mobility to those who struggled to get about.
They seated just one person, and the government announced the end of the scheme in 1976. Officially, it lasted until 1981 – but some people were so attached to their ‘invalid carriages’ that they kept hold of them until as recently as 2003. But then the Government banned them entirely from UK roads as they were declared unsafe.
Most were handed back and scrapped, but a few have escaped into private ownership and the hands of collectors. This is one of them. It’s in need of total restoration – we assume it’s been locked away in someone’s garage – and it will never be road-legal. But that doesn’t stop us wanting one. It’s a piece of social history – and it’d be a shame for it to head to the great scrapyard in the sky.
2: Austin Marina pick-up
The Austin Marina has a reputation for being one of the worst cars of all time. With underpinnings closely related to the ancient Morris Minor, the Marina’s handling was understeery at best and terrifying at worst.
A decision was made to build the Marina at the ex-Morris Motors plant at Cowley, despite it being largely unchanged since the 1920s. This meant production costs increased dramatically, as British Leyland had to partially rebuild the plant.
Despite this, the Austin Marina was priced well, and sold in good numbers. As well as the regular saloon, estate and coupe models, pick-up and van versions were also sold in small numbers.
There are very few Marina pick-ups left on the road, and this one has been restored to near-concours condition. What’s not to like?
3: Austin Allegro
Jeremy Clarkson once said: “Deciding which is worst (between the Marina and Allegro) is like deciding which leg you’d like amputated.”
A little harsh, but we see his point. Launched as British Leyland’s answer to competition from the continent, such as the Citroen GS and Renault 16 (and a year later, the Volkswagen Golf), millions was spent on the development of the Allegro. A total of £21m was reportedly invested in the design alone – remarkable when it, well, looks as it does.
The press hated it – picking up on its notchy gearbox, weird (square) steering wheel and reliability issues (rear windscreens simply falling out were widely reported). But the British still bought it in serious numbers – and there’s still a keen group of enthusiasts keeping them on the road today.
This example being sold at Anglia Car Auctions sounds to have a stack of history, and has even appeared on television. And while £1,500 doesn’t buy you a lot in the classic car world, we’d happily snap this up.
4: Austin Montego Vanden Plas convertible
Even back in the late 80s/early 90s when the Montego was on sale, it was a little bit rubbish compared to rivals such as the Ford Sierra and Vauxhall Cavalier.
As was often the case for British Leyland cars, the Austin Montego suffered reliability issues, but that didn’t stop people buying it (in the UK at least). To give it its due, some of the technology it featured was quite advanced – some high-end models even had a talking dash, and this Vanden Plas boasts leather seats, electric windows and alloy wheels.
BL never officially sold a convertible version of the Montego (why would it?), but Tickford apparently offered a conversion – as seen here. You might think that’d make it bit, er, flexible – but someone’s gone to the trouble of having an engineer’s report done stating that it’s not an utter blancmange. Or something like that.
5: Honda Civic
It’s a brown Honda Civic. Even we can’t be excited by this, can we? Well…
For one thing it’s a proper shatchback (a hatchback converted into a saloon) – a term coined by our very own Gavin Braithwaite-Smith. And that makes it rare and therefore desirable. Kind of.
It’s also brown. Which is in fashion now. Sort of.
But most importantly it’s a Japanese car that’s led an easy life, living in a garage and covering just 16,600 miles over its 24 years. If there’s a car that has as much life left in it as this Honda Civic for its lower estimate of just £400, we want to know about it.
6: MG Metro
Yeah, we’re a little bit biased here, having recently added an Austin Metro to the MR Fleet.
This 1982 model, first registered in October of that year, must have been one of the very first MGs launched – which would go some way towards explaining exactly why it’s down as a Morris 1100 on its V5.
Power from the regular 1.3-litre A+ series engine was turned up to a dizzying 72hp and could hit 60mph in 10.1 seconds. Other improvements for the MG included red seat belts and carpets, and a sports steering wheel – all desirable to the hot hatch buyers of the 80s.
Administrative errors aside, this example looks to be in stunning condition. While more popular rivals such as the Peugeot 205 GTI and Ford Fiesta XR2 would make top money in this condition, this Metro looks to be a bargain at around £2,000.
And you could argue that it’s more desirable than a Peugeot 205 GTI. While 205s are still commonplace, the Metro is usually overlooked by those after an 80s hot hatch. So many have now rusted away, or had their engines stolen to be transplanted into Minis. They’re now pretty rare – with howmanyleft.co.uk listing just 103 left on the roads.
7: Nissan Micra
The humble Nissan Micra actually has quite a following with young drivers looking for a cheap, reliable classic car that’s cheap to run.
Is the Nissan Micra a classic car? Well, the bullet-proof first-generation K10 model was first launched in 1984, while this example is 24 years old. As a rival to the popular Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Nova and Austin Metro, the Nissan Micra was particularly successful – peaking at over 50,000 sales in the UK in 1989.
Popular with elderly drivers, it’s quite common to find early Micras that have been cherished and covered very few miles. This appears to be one such car – with just 44,700 miles on the clock.
8: Renault Megane
Normally a Renault Megane wouldn’t excite us in the slightest. But this has an amazing 334 miles on the clock.
It’s a bit bizarre how cars like this are bought and never used – but they do turn up from time to time. Apparently a retired spinster of a school teacher bought this from a main dealer in November 2000, and never exceeded 30 miles a year.
The longest journey he’s thought to have completed in it was just eight miles home from the dealership. It’s been MOTed and serviced regularly so it comes with the paperwork to support the mileage, and is described by Anglia as ‘absolutely as new throughout’.
It’s quite possibly the cleanest first-generation Megane in the country. Maybe even the world. Now that’s surely good enough reason to put your hands in your pockets.
9: Talbot Samba cabriolet
Ten years ago there were more than 23,000 Talbot Sambas left on the road. Today, there are just 13. And this is likely to be one of a handful of soft-top versions.
Based on the Peugeot 104 and manufactured by the PSA Group in France, the Samba boasted the title of being the only supermini available in a cabrio body style from the factory, as well as claiming to be the most economical car in Europe.
Designed by Pininfarina, the Talbot Samba cabriolet is perhaps one of the Italian design house’s lowlier moments. It was eventually killed thanks to competition from within PSA Group in the form of the 205 – which was also available as a cabriolet.
Even when new, there wasn’t a lot of love for this car. But its rarity, along with offering soft-top thrills for not a lot of money (in terms of both running and buying costs) means you should definitely not overlook it at Anglia this weekend.
10: Vauxhall Cavalier convertible
Launched in 1981 as part of an ambitious plot to knock the Ford Cortina (and its replacement, the futuristic Sierra) off the top spot for company car drivers, the second-generation Cavalier got a warm reception when new compared to a lot of cars featured here.
It became a sales success, particularly against the dated Cortina. When the Sierra arrived a year later, many were put off by its futuristic styling and the conservative Cavalier proved a tough competitor for a number of years.
As well as the popular four-door saloon and five-door hatchback models, Vauxhall also offered a two-door saloon. This was quietly dropped in 1985, but spawned the convertible version featured here.
Perhaps surprisingly (ahem), the Cavalier convertible has never proved to be desirable, and even today tidy examples are worth very little. This one being sold at Anglia Car Auctions this weekend has had one lady owner from new, and all proceeds from the sale are being donated to Kidney Research UK.
If you’ve never found an excuse to treat yourself to a Cavalier convertible, this could be it. We’ll be right behind you.