Auto Trader is great if you’re looking to buy a five-year-old Ford Focus or nearly-new BMW 3 Series. But what if you’re after something a little different?
Armed with a virtual blank chequebook, we trawled the depths of the classifieds in search of quirky classics and rare oddities? If you’re hooked on classic cars, one of these might catch your eye.
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Auto Union 1000: £13,995
When Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer merged in 1932, the result was the Auto Union parent company. Twenty-five years later, Auto Union launched the first model under its own name: the Auto Union 1000 Coupé de Luxe. Technically it was similar to the DKW 3=6, albeit with a 1,000cc engine developing 44hp.
This 1958 car was recently imported from South Africa and would have been one of the first off the production line. The seller claims it is “very genuine and rust free”, while the odometer is showing 25,000 miles.
DeLorean DMC-12: £29,995
As a supercar, or even a sports car, the DeLorean DMC-12 couldn’t hold a candle to its contemporary rivals. It was too big, too heavy and the Renault V6 engine – whilst good in its own right – wasn’t the V8 or V12 lump demanded by supercar buyers of the early 80s. And yet, against the odds, a starring role in Back to the Future ensured the DMC-12 would become one of the most iconic cars of the 20th century.
As a 1981 car, this DMC-12 was one of the first to roll off the Belfast production line and the ad claims it has (time?) travelled 17,000 miles. Buy this and everyone will stop and stare. Not a car for shrinking violets.
Fiat 126 Bis: £2,950
The Fiat 126 was introduced in 1972 and was faced with the unenviable task of following the Fiat 500. Fifteen years later, the 126 Bis arrived, featuring a new 26hp watercooled engine and practical hatchback rear end.
We’re not entirely sure what’s going on with a couple of the photos on this ad, but the 1989 126 Bis looks to be in remarkably good condition. Quick, it most certainly won’t be, but the green and white stripes are good for an extra 5hp. Probably.
Alfa Romeo 164: £7,940
The Alfa Romeo 164 shares its ‘Type Four’ platform with the Saab 9000, Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema, and is, in our opinion, the prettiest of the lot. Add the glorious Busso 3.0-litre V6 engine to the mix and you’ve got all the ingredients required for one of the most alluring executive cars of the 1990s.
Which is why this left-hand-drive example appeals. Sure, at £7,940, it might be a while before a buyer arrives with a bag full of cash, but you’ll struggle to find a better one. It was sold new in Japan, before being imported by the dealer selling it today. With a mere 27,000 miles on the clock and what appears to be a faultless interior, we’re struggling to avoid falling in love.
Austin Champ: £14,990
Had it not been for the Land Rover, the Austin Champ might have enjoyed considerable success in the UK and export markets. Like the Land Rover, it was inspired by the Willys Jeep, but by arriving four years later than its more famous rival, the Austin Champ was doomed to failure. It wasn’t reliable enough for the military, while the civilian market had already fallen for the Land Rover.
Which kind of makes survivors such as this all the more interesting. It’s one of two for sale on Auto Trader, the other one being totally original and with just 1,700 miles on the clock. But we find this fully restored example all the more appealing, although we readily admit that we might be swayed by the military specification.
Daihatsu Cuore Avanzato: £2,995
The Daihatsu Cuore Avanzato TR-XX R4 – to give its full and slightly comedic name – is like a rare Pokémon. They don’t come up for sale very often, and when they do, their diminutive dimensions make them incredibly hard to spot. We don’t suggest chucking a Poké Ball at this Avanzato would be a good idea, but we’d wholeheartedly recommend owning one.
The four-wheel-drive kei car on acid is powered by a 660cc turbocharged engine and weighs less than a bag of sugar. To drive, the Avanzato is an absolute riot, not least because it redlines at 8,500rpm. A quirky future classic if ever there was one.
Citroen CX: £13,440
We looked on a well-known classic car website and found a selection of Citroen CXs for sale at prices ranging from £1,500 to £10,000. Not bad for one of the the most technologically advanced cars of the 1970s. At £13,440, then, this 1987 CX could seem a little on the expensive side.
Purists might prefer a S1 model, but this 1987 S2 GTi looks to be in tip-top condition, having arrived from Japan. It stands every chance of being among the best in the country, but will anybody be prepared to fork out £13k for the privilege?
Lancia Trevi: £2,994
The Lancia Trevi was introduced in 1980 and was essentially a four-door saloon version of the Beta. Although this one has a valid MOT, it is currently listed as SORN, making it one of five manual versions registered as ‘off the road’ by the DVLA. Indeed, the only Lancia Trevi on the road has an automatic transmission.
Some contemporary reviews criticised the “awful fascia”, but we find it fascinating and so of its time. As an Italian car of the early 80s, you might want to check that everything works.
Morris 575: £9,995
And now for something completely different… Anyone who keeps an eye on classic car auctions might recognise this from the Historics at Brooklands sale in August 2016. There, this Morris 575 pick-up – which just happened to be the Morris motor show car when new – sold for £6,720.
Now on sale for £9,995, the dealer is hoping to make a tidy profit, but try finding another one like this. Note: the MOT expired in October 2016 and there are a few issues that’ll need sorting before this pick-up rides again.
Volvo 480: £2,995
The Volvo 480: notable for being the Swedish firm’s first front-wheel-drive car and the only one in its history to feature pop-up headlights. It was unveiled in October 1985, before being shown to the public at the 1986 Geneva Motor Show. Production took place at the old DAF factory in the Netherlands, while the 1.7-litre engine, seen here, was sourced from Renault.
It might not be a sports car, but the shooting brake styling remains achingly cool. The ad suggests that this 1992 480 ES comes with plenty of history, although it failed an MOT in January 2017, with the tester noting problems with the parking brake.
Pontiac Firebird: £9,995
KITT – an acronym for Knight Industries Two Thousand – was one of the most famous TV cars of the 1980s. For a generation, Michael Knight’s Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is up there with the General Lee and The A-Team GMC van.
This is your chance to play at being Michael Knight in the UK, and you needn’t pay more than the price of a good city car. Note: this 1989 car has been untaxed since November 2015 and the MOT expired in October 2016.
Honda Prelude: £19,995
Stunning, isn’t it? When the fourth generation Honda Prelude arrived in 1992, it upset the European establishment by becoming the coupe of choice. All of a sudden, cars like the Volkswagen Corrado and Vauxhall Calibra seemed a little passé. Visually and technically, the Prelude stole the show, and it helped that it was stunning to look at.
The electronic four-wheel steering was a significant improvement compared to the old mechanical version, while the 2.3-litre engine, as seen here, was the unit to have. Of course, the elephant in the room is that price. At best it’s ambitious, but we can’t help but scroll through the photos with wonder. As the cliché goes: try finding another one like this.
Jowett Jupiter: £26,000
Following new investment at the end of the Second World War, Yorkshire-based Jowett developed the Javelin. The Jupiter, as seen here, was the roadster version, built between 1950 and 1954. It turned out to be quite a competitive sports car, enjoying considerable success at Le Mans.
This 1951 Jupiter might not have an illustrious motorsport career to its name, but it looks quintessentially British. Sadly, Jowett died in 1954, bringing to an end five decades of proud Yorkshire history.
Mazda MX-3: £1,000
The Mazda MX-3 arrived in March 1991 and was notable for featuring the world’s smallest six-cylinder engine, as well as previewing the new 323 platform, not set for release for another three years. Seeing this makes us mourn the passing of the affordable small coupé.
Sadly, this one-owner car isn’t powered by the sweet-sounding V6, meaning you’ll have to make do with the more conventional 1.6-litre unit. The automatic transmission will only serve to blunt the performance, but at £1,000 we’re finding it hard to ignore this sharp-suited coupé.
Mitsubishi Starion: £9,995
The Mitsubishi Starion evolved throughout the 1980s, gaining wider arches and upgrades. Arguably, it looks best in its original, naked form, as highlighted by this 1983 stunner. That it shares its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with the Lancer Turbo only serves to increase the levels of desire.
The ad claims the car has been fully restored, while the engine has been rebuilt. We like the fact that it still wears its original dealer sticker and number plates. Given the values of some modern classics, this Starion looks sensibly priced.
Opel Senator: £9,985
Back in the day, the Opel Senator was a credible rival to the premium Germans, especially when powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six engine. The Senator had it all: acres of space, excellent engineering, and a surprising turn of pace. Rust has killed many of them, but some have managed to survive.
This must be the best in the country. With 40,000 miles on the clock, the dealer claims it has been dry stored, which helps to explain why it was last taxed in 1991. On the plus side, it passed an MOT in May 2016 with no advisories.
Reliant Scimitar SS1: £2,995
In his book, The Worst Cars Ever Sold, Giles Chapman said: “If ever there was a golden opportunity to revive the small sports car, then Reliant had it in the mid 1980s. The fact that the ship was spoilt for a hap’orth of tar showed just what an amateurish outfit the company was. And then, of course, along came the Mazda MX-5.
Harsh, perhaps, because in turbocharged guise the SS1 is a cracker. Sadly, this isn’t a turbocharged car, but it does boast a near blemish-free MOT history. Logic dictates that you should spend £3k on an MX-5, but fortunately some folk like to think differently.
Saab 900: £5,995
You can’t create a gallery of quirky cars without mentioning Saab, so here’s a slice of Swedish greatness. Of course, the smart money’s on the 900 Turbo, but it’s important to remember the unsung heroes of the range, such as this flat-nosed gem.
Steel wheels, cream paintwork (read: hearing aid beige), and a basic specification only serve to make this ‘demo plus one family owner’ car all the more appealing.
Triumph Acclaim: £2,450
The Acclaim was the last car to wear a Triumph badge, but it’s also notable for being the first of many Anglo-Japanese cars to be built in the UK. It was based on the Honda Ballade, which ensured the Acclaim offered greater reliability than Triumph customers had grown accustomed to.
This 1983 car is a late example – production finished in summer 1984 – and has an excellent MOT history. From the photos at least, it appears to be in brilliant condition.
Fiat 132: £6,995
The chances are you may never have seen a Fiat 132 in the UK. Indeed, you can count the number left on the road using the fingers of two hands. The 132 arrived in the UK in 1972, taking over from the old 125 saloon. It was never a big seller here, which helps to explain why so few are left.
This 1978 example was imported from Malta, so it should have escaped the ravages of rust. The 2.0-litre twin-cam engine gives it a surprising turn of pace, although it’s genuinely hard to value a car as rare as this. Does seven grand for a Fiat saloon from the 1970s represent good value for money? You decide.