Old cars that are enjoyable – and very profitable – investments. We pick 10 that would be both a pleasure to drive and potentially a lucrative investment
Have you wasted hours perusing ads for classic cars with no real intention of buying? We have. And trust us, it’s a slightly disheartening pursuit.
Why? Because classic car prices have rocketed in recent years – and not just for the exotic stuff. Even relatively humble classics, such as 1980s hot hatchbacks, have doubled or tripled in value.
That’s bad news for many of us. But if you have the requisite cash (and garage space), it could be very good news indeed. After all, what other investment provides so much enjoyment as a classic car? Beats putting money in the bank, if you ask us.
Hagerty Insurance estimates that the UK classic car market has grown by 8.4% in the past six months alone. However, the 10 cars on our list easily top that figure – all have increased in value by more than 30% over the same period.
Audi Sport Quattro
Squat and stumpy, what the Audi Sport Quattro lacks in looks, it makes up for in blistering all-weather performance. The short-wheelbase Sport Quattro was born from Audi’s desire to win rallies. Pictured is the fire-breathing ‘Group B’ competition car, but 220 roadgoing versions were also built (minus the Boeing-spec rear wing).
The Sport Quattro packed a 306hp, five-cylinder punch, and four-wheel drive meant it could outpace many 1980s supercars on a wet, slippery B-road. When new, it cost nearly twice as much as a Porsche 911 Turbo, but the aggro-Audi has since proved a wise investment. Values have shot up by 36% in the last six months alone, with a typical Sport Quattro now selling for £202,000.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
You could argue that the Mini Cooper was the first hot hatchback. In spirit, perhaps – but the Mini is technically a saloon so we’re awarding that accolade to the Golf GTI. Launched in 1975, the iconic GTI is now into its seventh generation. However, it’s the Mk1 cars, sold up until 1984, that are attracting the attention of investors. The early 1.6-litre GTI has shot up 33% in six months, to an average price of £10,463.
Fortunately, the Golf GTI is still one of the most affordable classics on our list. And good availability of parts means it shouldn’t be expensive to maintain either. Plus, there’s the driving experience, which is sure to put a smile on your face. Just watch out for those notoriously under-achieving brakes…
Think ‘supercar’ and what springs to mind? If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, the answer is probably the Lamborghini Countach. This low-slung wedge of Italian machismo certainly ticks all the boxes, including a powerful V12 engine and styling that remains just as head-turning more than 40 years after it was launched.
The Countach was on sale for 16 years, from 1974 to 1990, but it’s the purer-looking 1970s cars that are most prized by collectors. Hagerty Insurance says a Countach LP400S is typically worth just short of £300,000, having shot up in value by 42% in the past six months. Try getting that kind of return from a savings account or ISA
Ferrari 512 BB
When the Countach was launched, its arch-rival was the Ferrari 512 BB, or ‘Berlinetta Boxer’. Its mid-mounted V12 engine was quite radical for Ferrari at the time, although its styling is far less in-yer-face than the Lamborghini. Perhaps that’s why the Boxer’s successor, the Testarossa, was such a textbook example of 80s excess.
With 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 180mph (depending on which set of figures you believe), the Ferrari is certainly no slouch. And the car’s price tag is accelerating at an equally rapid rate; values are up more than 30% in six months, to an average of £163,750.
Ford Cortina Lotus
Often referred to simply as the ‘Lotus Cortina’, this is another road car that has its roots on the racetrack. British sports car manufacturer Lotus took Ford’s humble family saloon, tuned the engine, added the short-ratio gearbox from the Elan roadster and attached lightweight alloy body panels. Throw in Lotus badges and natty green stripes and an instant classic was born.
There were two generations of Lotus Cortina. The first (pictured) was built from 1963 to 1966 and the second from 1966 to 1970. Both are appreciating classics, but the latter car has seen the biggest increases in value. An average example is now worth £28,175 – up 33% in six months.
Cards on the table, we think the Jensen FF is drop-dead gorgeous. There aren’t many body parts we wouldn’t trade for one. But this British bruiser isn’t just a pretty face. It was the first non-off-road car to have have four-wheel drive – pre-dating the more famous Audi Quattro by more than a decade. And it was the first production car with anti-lock braking (ABS). A bit of a game-changer, then.
There was also a rear-wheel-drive version of the FF, called the Interceptor. However, it’s the 4WD car that has appreciated most in value – up 32% in six months. That means an average FF now sells for £97,700. Worth every penny, we reckon.
Volkswagen T1 Camper
The Volkswagen Camper (also called the Microbus) is more than just a car, it’s a lifestyle – your ticket to bonfires on the beach and instant surfer cred. It’s also one of the few camper vans that doesn’t look like a domestic appliance on wheels. Original T1 versions of the Camper (like this one from VW rental company Retro Campervan) were made from 1950 to 1967 and have a distinctive split windscreen.
We’re not sure how many surf dudes can afford a T1 Camper in 2015, though. With prices rising 31% in the past six months, a typical example will now set you back £36,750. You could have a well-equipped BMW 5 Series for that kind of cash. But then you can’t live in a 5 Series…
Another air-cooled German, the Porsche 911 needs little introduction. This rear-engined sports car has been continuously in production since 1963 and has a fanatical following. Porsche prices are on the up in general, but the 911 3.0 SC Targa has seen the biggest boost; its value has increased by 35% in six months to an average £31,275. Blame the arrival of the new, retro-look Targa, which has made this previously-unfashionable 911 cool again.
The Targa has a removable roof panel and a fixed rear window, making it a halfway-house been a coupe and convertible. So you could say it offers the best of both worlds. It still has a flat-six engine in the back, which produces 200hp in the 3.0 version. A ‘whaletail’ spoiler was an option
Nowadays, Maserati mostly busies itself with diesel-engined saloons and its forthcoming SUV. But in its heydey, the Italian marque built supercars to rival the best from neighbouring Ferrari and Lamborghini. One of its finest efforts was the Bora, a wedgy, V8-engined object of desire with a top speed of 171mph. In 1971, that was very fast indeed.
The Bora is a bit of a bargain compared to the Countach and 512 BB also on our list; an average example of the 4.7-litre version sells for £81,725. Not only that, but the Bora has increased in value by a whopping 42% in the last six months alone, making it a great investment. However, with less than 600 cars produced, it may not be easy to find one.
The Fiat Dino uses the same V6 engines as the Ferrari of the same name. But while a Ferrari Dino can cost in excess of £300,000, the Fiat version sells for just £30,900. Or £65,050 if you want the rarer open-top Spider version. Does that make the Fiat good value? Classic car buyers seem to think so; prices for the coupe and Spider are up 43% and 45% respectively in the past six months.
There are two versions of the Dino: the 160hp 2.0-litre and the 180hp 2.4-litre. The latter, badged ‘2400’ also had independent rear suspension, rather than the simpler leaf-spring set-up of the original car. The Dino has gone up in value more than any other car in recent months, so grab youself a slice of budget-badged Italian exotica while you still can.