Driving the detectives: the coolest TV cop cars

Coolest TV cop car Porsche 911

Juliet Bravo was one of the first police dramas I remember watching on television, occasionally looking up from playing with my cars on the living room floor to see the sight of a Rover SDI during the opening titles.

In reality, you were more likely to see a Mk2 Ford Escort panda car – or an Austin Mini, Metro or Maestro – as you were an SD1 during an episode, but that Rover – along with the iconic theme tune – has stuck in my mind for nearly 40 years.

For others, the first memory of a television police car might be the Ford Zephyrs and Zodiacs in Z Cars, which are arguably as famous as the actors who played the parts of the Newtown police officers.

And that’s the thing about TV police dramas: you might not remember the episodes or even the actors, but you’ll almost certainly recall the cars. Sorry, Elvis Costello, we weren’t watching the detectives, we were watching the motors.

Here are the coolest TV cops, according to me.

Lieutenant Columbo’s Peugeot 403

Peugeot 403 Columbo

Cars driven by television detectives tend to fall into one of two categories: extremely flashy or extremely ropey. Much like his raincoat and dishevelled appearance, Lieutenant Columbo’s Peugeot 403 falls into the second group.

Peter Falk, who played the ace detective, was given the choice of the cars parked up behind Universal Studios and he selected the Peugeot 403 convertible a day before filming was due to start.

According to Peugeot, Columbo’s 403 convertible (one of a few used during filming), probably arrived in the U.S in the hands of an Air France employee who transferred to California. Around 2,000 were produced.

The Professionals’ Ford Capris

Ford Capri Professionals

Thanks to the Zephyrs and Zodiacs used during the filming of Z Cars, Ford knew that television was a terrific marketing tool. Which is why it was all too happy to supply Capris for The Professionals.

Bodie’s Stratos Silver 3.0 S and Doyle’s Tibetan Gold 3.0 S are arguably the most famous Capris to appear in the long-running crime series. Many cardboard boxes were harmed during the filming.

Jennifer Hart’s Mercedes-Benz 450 SL

“When they met, it was moyder.” What can I tell you about Hart to Hart? Not a lot, aside from the fact that Stefanie Powers was my second crush and that her character, Jennifer Hart, drove a Mercedes-Benz 450 SL.

It meant that, before I knew any better, the R107 was the ‘Hart to Hart Mercedes’. The American show gets a 6.7 rating on IMDb, which suggests it wasn’t a televisual masterpiece, but the SL certainly ticks the ‘cool’ box.

Jim Bergerac’s Triumph Roadster

Jim Bergerac Triumph Roadster

It’s just as well this isn’t the Radio Times, because my knowledge of Bergerac extends to the fact that it was set in Jersey, there was a character called ‘Hungerford’ and the lead character was played by the guy who went on to play DCI Tom Barnaby in Midsomer Murders.

DCI Barnaby drove a Ford Mondeo, Rover 75 and Jaguar X-Type, all of which are unable to compete with the elegance and class of the Triumph Roadster used in Bergerac. In 2013, the actual car sold at auction for £23,000.

Inspector Gadget’s Gadgetmobile

Inspector Gadget Gadgetmobile

This is a trip down memory lane, because I’d all but forgotten about Inspector Gadget’s Gadgetmobile. Is it me or does the car resemble something that could have been penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro?

You could argue that the Gadgetmobile was a pioneering crossover because when it had finished patrolling the streets or chasing ne’er-do-wells, it could change into a van for transporting Penny and Brain. Clever.

Harriet Makepeace’s Ford Escort Cabriolet

Glynis Barber in a Mk3 Ford Escort Cabriolet. Enough said.

Inspector Morse’s Jaguar Mk2

Inspector Morse Jaguar

According to John Thaw, the Jaguar Mk2 from Inspector Morse was a “beggar to drive”, but it’s arguably the most famous TV detective car of all time. Put it this way: the Mk2 is commonly referred to as the ‘Inspector Morse Jag’.

The 1960 car was bought by Carlton TV and featured in all 33 episodes of the series, complete with a non-standard black vinyl roof. In 2005, the car sold at auction for more than £100,000.

Freddie Spender’s Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth

Spender Sierra Cosworth

When the most stolen car in the country arrived in “the car crime capital of Britain”, there was only going to be one outcome. The first Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth used in Spender was stolen and later found burnt out in Newcastle.

According to The Chronicle, the producers were forced into arranging a £100-a-day minder for Freddie Spender’s Cossie. Spender was a great series, and certainly better than Jimmy Nail’s singing.

Gene Hunt’s Audi Quattro

Gene Hunt Audi Quattro

I’m not entirely sure how Gene Hunt managed to afford an Audi Quattro, but it contributed to one of the greatest televisual feasts of the past decade and gave rise to one of the most memorable phrases of popular culture.

In many ways, Gene Hunt’s previous outing in Life on Mars was superior to Ashes to Ashes, but his Mk3 Ford Cortina from the original series was outshone by the famous Tornado Red Audi.

Saga Norén’s Porsche 911

The Bridge Porsche 911

Last, but by no means least, is this the coolest TV cop car of them all? The Jäger Grün Porsche 911SC from The Bridge hit the headlines in 2018 when it sold for £141,500 at auction, with bidders keen to grab a slice of Scandi-noir history.

In episode four of series four, Saga Norén (played by Sofia Helin) revealed that she won the car in a bet with her tutor at police college. The actress wasn’t a fan of driving it, saying “it’s very hard to drive. It’s so old”.

These are my coolest cop cars, but I’m fully aware that you may have other favourites. Whether it’s a Ford Granada from The Sweeney, a Ford Anglia from Heartbeat, Luther’s Volvo or Dave Starsky’s Ford Gran Torino, please send your nominations to BBC Points of View

Joe Macari: London’s most amazing supercar showroom

Joe Macari showroom

Nestled in a nondescript corner of south London, Joe Macari is a haven for supercar spotters. From blue-chip classics to seven-figure hypercars – oh, and a Lamborghini tractor – the showroom is crammed with automotive exotica.

Owner Joe set up his business servicing Ferraris and Maseratis in 1988, and it’s been an official aftersales centre for both brands since 2007. He’s also a talented racer, with Le Mans and FIA GT1 on his CV.

Video: a tour of the Joe Macari showroom

Today, Joe Macari continues to specialise in high-end Italian cars; we counted upwards of 20 Ferraris at the time of our visit. Other nationalities are represented by Bugatti, McLaren, Porsche, Shelby, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and more.

Watch our video for an immersive showroom tour, then read on to discover our personal favourite cars.

Bugatti Chiron

Joe Macari showroom

Front-and-centre in the showroom, what else but the world’s fastest hypercar? The Bugatti Chiron’s 8.0-litre quad-turbo W16 develops 1,500hp and 1,180lb ft of torque. Zero to 60mph takes 2.4 seconds and VMax is electronically limited – yes, limited – to 261mph. No road-legal tyres are safe beyond that speed, apparently.

This Ruby Red/Nocturne Black Chiron has covered just 400 miles from new. Options fitted include a carbon fibre steering wheel and Comfort seats. Yours for a mere €2,825,000 (£2,447,000).

Lamborghini Miura

Joe Macari showroom

To paraphrase Prince, ‘Could you be… the most beautiful car in the world?”. The voluptuous Lamborghini Miura is certainly at the top table, battling the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari Dino and Peugeot 406 Coupe for all-time catwalk kudos. Just us on the Pug? Right, moving on…

This 1969 Miura S featured in the film Road Hard and has rare factory-fitted air conditioning. It’s advertised at £1,349,950 – around half the price of the low-mileage, ex-Saudi royal family Miura SV in the background.

Italdesign Zerouno

Joe Macari showroom

Italdesign was founded 50 years ago by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the man who penned the BMW M1, Alfasud, Lotus Esprit, Mk1 Volkswagen Golf and more. The Zerouno is his company’s first own-brand supercar: ultra-rare and ultra-expensive. Only five were built, at €1.5 million (£1.3 million) apiece.

Powering the Zerouno is the naturally aspirated 610hp V10 from the Lamborghini Huracan – truly one of great road car engines. With lightweight, all-carbon fibre bodywork, suffice to say it’s no slouch. This particular car wasn’t for sale at the time we visited.

Porsche 993 Carrera RS ‘Black Snake’

Joe Macari showroom

This modified Porsche 911 Carrera RS is a far cry from the Zuffenhausen original, but nobody could doubt its performance or pedigree. In 1998, driven by Horst von Saurma, it lapped the Nurburgring in 7min 46sec, setting a new road-car record.

Externally, the Porsche has the bolt-on wheelarches and monster rear wing from a 993 GT2. Its flat-six engine is boosted to 530hp by two turbochargers, while its four-wheel-drive system comes from a 993 Turbo. You’ll need £244,950 to drive home in this former Lord of the ‘Ring.

McLaren 675LT

Joe Macari showroom

A meaner, leaner version of the 650S, the McLaren 675LT remains one of the finest supercars we’ve driven. In 2016, we said: “The 675LT hurls you towards the horizon with a ferocity that’s intoxicating, addictive and mildly terrifying… Its chassis is so intuitive, its responses so immediate, that it feels hard-wired into your brain”. 

This car is the drop-top Spider version – one of 500 made. Finished in stealthy Chicane Grey with acres of exposed carbon fibre, it’s offered at £249,950.

LaFerrari and Ferrari F50

Joe Macari showroom

Take your pick from two of Ferrari’s finest: the LaFerrari Aperta in the foreground or F50 behind. We sense that banana in the background is struggling to make up his mind…

The F50 has a carbon chassis tub and racing-style rose-jointed suspension, plus the small matter of a 519hp F1-derived V12. The LaFerrari ups the stakes with an 800hp V12 and 163hp electric motor (963hp total). The price, if you’re interested, is ‘on application’.

Fiat Abarth 595 SS

Joe Macari showroom

There have been many replicas, but you’re looking at the real thing. One of Joe Macari’s personal collection, this Fiat Abarth 595 SS is permanently on display in the showroom – and worth around £60,000.

Abarth tuned the Cinquecento’s two-cylinder engine to a mighty 34hp, fitting new pistons, an uprated oil pump and a spikier cam. The engine lid was permanently propped open to aid cooling. It’s no Ferrari, but probably offers a similar quota of smiles per mile.

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Chrysler Voyager heritage

Great Motoring Disasters: Chrysler

Chrysler Voyager heritage

As the future of Chrysler is revealed in Italy, we look back to our 2015 piece on its last big retrenchment from the UK market…

So, Chrysler is withdrawing from the UK. Not that there’s a lot of withdrawing to be done, the American brand’s armoury having already shrivelled to three models following the Delta’s unnoticed deletion.

That leaves the little Ypsilon supermini, the Grand Voyager and the 300C, which not so long ago was the car that galvanised Chrysler’s UK appeal, many considering its handsome, square-edged look worthy of a ‘mini-Bentley’ epithet. Some even fitted glittery radiator grilles to heighten the illusion.

But the heavily facelifted 300C has failed to rekindle the appeal of the original, leaving its ageing mechanicals exposed to acid comparison. And while plenty of Voyagers, Grand or otherwise, have found berths outside British homes over the years, including one Tony Blair’s, the appeal of the big MPV has long since faded, not least against products of the kind sold by Chrysler’s sister brand Jeep.

Chrysler Fiat

And the Ypsilon? This imaginatively styled hatch pioneered the premium supermini over three decades ago with the flat-tailed Lancia Y10, but there are plenty of other tailgated babies that do plush a lot more effectively than this rough-riding Fiat Panda reskin.

Its prospects over here were not helped by the fact that neither it nor the Delta were Chryslers at all, both being rebadged Lancias launched here well after their less-than-rapturous Italian debuts. Cynical rebrandings don’t often work in car world, and that’s why you rarely see them today.

That said, the market-positioning ambitions of both Chrysler and Lancia do vaguely coincide in that both aim to play the premium game. Until Lancia disappeared from Britain in the early ‘90s that’s where it just about sat, while Chrysler has been attempting to reclaim the moderately upscale territory it occupied 60 years ago.

Which will not be the work of a moment in its homeland, and has no resonance in Europe because the brand was barely here back then. Instead, what Chrysler has been most consistent about during its half century or so of troubled European manoeuvres has been the annexing, hijacking, repurposing and general buggering about with other company’s hardware, of which the lazily relabelled Delta and Ypsilon are only the latest example.

Chrysler: classic badge engineering

If you’re old enough, you may remember the now-abandoned Chrysler pentastar adorning the front wings of machines as disparate as the Hillman Imp, Humber Sceptre, Sunbeam-Lotus and various long-forgotten vans. And if you’re French and of similar age you’ll recall that same badge appearing on the front wings of Simcas, a long extinct brand that in the early ‘70s made the best-selling car in Europe in the slightly ungainly shape of the Simca 1100, a car that successfully did the Golf’s job seven years before the VW arrived.

Chrysler Horizon

The reason for the pentastar’s occupation of front wing real estate was that Chrysler bought into and eventually owned the British Rootes Group that made Hillmans, Singers, Sunbeams and Humbers, and did the same with France’s Simca. Ambitions to emulate Ford of Europe and GM’s success with Vauxhall and Opel was its mission. Eventually it rebranded the Simcas and Rootes model as Chryslers, the French cars gradually supplanting the British ones because they were better.

That much better, in fact, that the Simca 1307/1308 won the Car of the Year award in 1976, this now-forgotten model known to us as the Chrysler Alpine. That victory was followed by another for 1978, with the Simca/Chrysler Horizon that replaced the Simca 1100.

A version of the Horizon was also sold in the US (and as the Dodge Omni, too) these ranges scoring an impressive three million sales in 10 years on both sides of the Atlantic. Less impressive was the fact that though ostensibly identical, the European and American Horizons shared no more than about two parts, Chrysler completely failing to capitalise on the cost-savings that such scale-economies ought to have generated.

‘Amateur corporate bungling’

It was the kind of amateur corporate bungling that would get Chrysler into plenty more trouble in the decades to come. But it did manage to offload its ramshackle European operations on Peugeot in 1978, which bought them for reasons that it was hard to fathom, despite the acquisition costing a nominal dollar. All Chryslers were renamed Talbots, and within a decade Peugeot had steered Talbot to its death.

But the Chrysler name returned to the UK in the 1990s, this time on 100 percent American cars, a UK importer shrewdly reckoning that it could usefully add a few choice Chryslers to supplement its Jeep line-up. These were selected from a range revitalised after another of this long-lived US brand’s near-death moments.

Chrysler Neon

The Voyager MPV wasn’t a bad alternative to a Ford Galaxy or Renault Espace, and despite being a saloon in a hatch-dominated market, America’s much-trumpeted Neon was engineered for right hand drive and shipped our way too. The trumpetings were mainly about the fact that Chrysler had finally managed to spit out an all-new car, and at a temptingly low price, the Neon making a certain low-rent sense in the US. Its super-low sticker price, surprisingly potent motor and cheeky face were some sort of compensation for the cacophonously chafing cabin plastics and the grim noises emerging from beyond the front bulkhead.

But travel to the UK inflated the Neon’s price towards the preposterous, the British importers cleverly (or cruelly…) speccing the car up with automatic transmission, plastic-look leather and moulded walnut that snagged a surprising number of geriatrics who thought they were getting a rattling good deal.

Dodge Viper

And excitement was added to the range via the familiar rebadging tactic, the victim this time the spectacular AC Cobra reinterpretation that was the V10 Dodge Viper. Not many were sold – it was a bit unsubtle for Britain, its roof possessed with the weatherproofing qualities of a broken window – but it certainly added excitement.

DaimlerChrysler calamity

Chrysler 300C Mk1

And then in 1998 Daimler bought Chrysler, a calamity for most concerned, although this unlikely liaison did yield a few interesting offspring, among the best of them the Chrysler 300C. This was a big car that should have bombed in Britain’s premium-obsessed executive market, but such was the brilliance of its confident, square-shouldered styling that it became gotta-have-it wheels for those of lightly blingish persuasion.

Chrysler PT Cruiser

Less convincing was the PT Cruiser, an American hot-rod-alike-turned mini-MPV that actually sold pretty here despite the minimal relevance of its hot-rod referencing and a cabin that did not reward close inspection.

It was followed by the Crossfire coupe, whose Mercedes SLK innards dulled an interesting design to numbing effect, and the Sebring, a style-free zone that had none of the 300C’s design panache, and when propelled by an obsolete VW diesel was as miserable as life with a pneumatic drill. There was an even more dismal Dodge version, but that’s another sorry story.

Did I mention the Sebring convertible? Chrysler UK didn’t, its publicists concluding that the best way to off-load these machines was to avoid subjecting its numerous shortfalls to the scrutiny of the press.

Squandered momentum; enter Fiat

The momentum gathered by the 300C’s success was about to be squandered during the ructions of Daimler’s departure from its self-made North American mess, Chrysler’s acquisition by clueless money-shufflers Cerberus, the 2008 recession and the company’s lifesaving takeover by Fiat. On the other side of the Atlantic that critic-defying, life-saving manoeuvre by Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne has ended up saving Fiat itself, Chrysler and Jeep in particular enjoying prosperous new times at home.

But Marchionne’s often cavalier approach to product development is how Chrysler’s UK range has ended up half-filled with ageing Lancias, this terminally wounded, once famous brand retreating to Italy with a Chrysler in its line-up called Voyager. There was a Thema-badged 300C in the range too, but that has already died.

Chrysler 200

Though Chrysler isn’t doing badly in the US with its all-new 200 (pictured above), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has concluded that rebadging Chryslers as Lancias isn’t going to work in Europe, making the case for selling right-hand drive Chryslers here a slender one at best.

Instead the future is Jeep-shaped, and Chrysler will once again die a UK death. Given the brand’s pinball trajectory over the decades, I wouldn’t bet against it returning again one day.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

How to buy a classic Porsche 911

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2Jeremy Clarkson once declared that “you can’t be a true petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo”. Not for the first time, though, Jezza was wrong. With a few recent exceptions, modern Alfas are just gussied-up Fiats. And the classics, while bursting with brio, are less dependable than a Southern train..

No, if there’s one car every enthusiast should aspire to own, it’s a Porsche 911. This quirky, rear-engined coupe has evolved – and occasionally revolved – over more than five decades. Fast, fun and engineered with typically Teutonic thoroughness, it has inspired an automotive cult all its own: witness the number of dedicated 911 magazines in newsagents. And it’s still going strong: the millionth example recently left Stuttgart, and special editions, such as the 911R, sell out before they even reach showrooms.

Video: Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 

Convinced? Now for the bad news. We’re not alone in this view, and used Porsche prices have risen sharply over the past decade – outpacing even the already-buoyant classic car market as a whole. Still, even if Brexit bites and the stock market takes a nosedive, good 911s – particularly earlier, air-cooled cars – are likely to remain highly sought-after

If you want the full, 100% proof 911 experience, you need one the original pre-1989 cars; and they don’t come much better than the last-hurrah Carrera 3.2, now available from around £30,000. The lovely 1989 example tested here was kindly supplied by Canford Classics.

How does it drive?Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2

The classic Carrera isn’t an easy car to drive, but that’s key to its appeal. You need to engage your brain, exploit its strengths and work around its weaknesses. And learning those takes time.

Despite being shorter and narrower than a new Porsche Cayman, the original 911’s cabin doesn’t feel short on space. Well, not unless you’re squeezed into the toddler-sized rear seats. It’s comically sparse by 2017 standards, though, with controls scattered seemingly at random and floor-hinged pedals skewed towards the centre of the car.

Ergonomic eccentricities are soon forgotten when you fire up that trademark air-cooled flat-six, however. It whirrs, rumbles and churns: not musical, but deliciously mechanical. And the howl it makes at high revs will reverberate inside your skull for hours.

The 911’s unassisted steering and spindly gearlever demand measured, deliberate inputs, yet positively fizz with feedback. It feels lively and light-footed, effervescent even. Those characteristic front wings bob up and down, following the contours of the road, while the all-round disc brakes offer confidence-inspiring bite.

You never forget this is a rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive car – one with no electronic safety aids, no less – but the Porsche is hardly the ‘widowmaker’ of urban legend. It simply requires respect and a certain degree of restraint, especially when it rains. A new hot hatch will be quicker whatever the weather, but you’ll be having more fun.


Tell me about buying onePorsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Chris Lowe, lead technician at Canford Classics, is a big fan of the Carrera 3.2: “It has better brakes and a more powerful engine than the 911 SC it replaced, and larger wheels make it more drivable day-to-day”, he explains. “Plus, it’s still air-cooled, so it doesn’t stray too far from the original formula. Overall, they’re just super-cool cars.”

The 3.2 was sold in three body styles: coupe, convertible and Targa. Coupes are generally considered most desirable, although the removable-roof Targa is now firmly back in fashion. A ‘tea tray’ rear wing was optional as part of the Sport pack, along with stiffer dampers and shapelier seats. Alternatively, buyers could go the whole nine yards with the 911 Supersport: a 3.2 with the stretched wheelarches and beefed-up brakes of the 930 Turbo. 

Rust is the fatal foe of any classic 911, so Chris advises checking bodywork carefully: the roof pillars and sills are the main trouble spots. Take a fine-tooth comb to the paperwork, too. “Originality is key to value,” says Chris, “so ask for the Certificate of Authenticity from Porsche, which details the original specification – including any options fitted.” Also, be prepared to budget for mechanical maintenance: “Many 3.2s are due engine or gearbox rebuilds, and the same goes for suspension. Bushes will usually need to be replaced.”

It’s also worth noting that the post-1987 G50 gearbox – as fitted here – is slicker and more user-friendly than the original 915 unit. As such, G50-equipped cars tend to be worth more. 

VerdictPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2

Is the Carrera 3.2 the ultimate retro daily-driver? Perhaps, even if the aforementioned rise in values means most owners now reserve their cars for sunny Sundays and special occasions. 

In truth, the G-Series 911 felt a little dated by the mid-1980s, yet it has aged remarkably well. To drive, it feels raw, vital and life-affirming, while its essential robustness stands in marked contrast to the flimsy over-complication of many modern cars.

Three decades hence, when scores of present-day ‘991’ 911s are festering on scrapheaps with undiagnosed software gremlins, one suspects the classic Carrera will still be going strong. It’s a sports car icon, both of its time and timeless. Buy one now before prices get even crazier.

Many thanks to Canford Classics (01929 472221) for the loan of this immaculate 1989 911. The car is currently for sale, priced at £55,000.

See more from Canford Classics

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For sale: the ultimate hot hatch

Peugeot 205 T16Jean Todt isn’t the kind of guy who makes false promises. So when he arrived at a London press conference in 1981 with a pledge to build a championship-winning rally car by 1985, he was to be taken seriously.

This was the very genesis of the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 – or T16 for short – a car that would enjoy three years of success in the manic Group B era of world rallying, including total dominance in 1985 and 1986.

With a very special Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 heading to auction at the Artcurial sale in Monaco, we take a brief look at one of the greatest cars ever to grace the world rally circuit. You’ll need to dig deep, as this particular car is very special.

More Peugeot on Motoring Research:

One vision: to end Audi’s dominance

Jean Todt arrived at the newly-formed Peugeot Talbot Sport team having enjoyed success as a co-driver with Guy Fréquelin in the 1981 World Rally Championship. In a Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus, the pair finished first in the manufacturers’ championship, with Fréquelin narrowly missing out to Ari Vatanen in the drivers’ title challenge.

Indeed, the aforementioned press conference was held at the conclusion of the 1981 championship, by which time Peugeot – inspired by the success of the British-based Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus team – had decided to throw its considerable might behind a challenge for the title.

Peugeot-Talbot had toyed with the idea of creating a mid-engined/rear-wheel drive version of the Chrysler Horizon, but Audi’s trailblazing Quattro led to a change of plan. The future was four-wheel drive and Peugeot knew it had to adapt or face defeat.

That the 205 T16 would be so successful should come as no surprise: Peugeot’s approach to its development was as all-encompassing as it was brilliant. Todt’s single-mindedness and dogged determination was matched by the full backing of the Peugeot board. The company threw serious money at the project, offering Todt what was essentially an unlimited budget.

The requirement to build 200 road cars for homologation purposes was considered from the outset and Peugeot’s marketing department knew full well what an all-conquering rally car could do for sales of its more mundane models. The standard 205 was still two years away from reaching Peugeot showrooms.

This, of course, meant that the 205 T16 had to look like the conventional 205 front-wheel drive hatchback. And, indeed, in isolation there’s more than a passing resemblance between the two cars.

But something has to give when you’re creating a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive rally car aimed squarely at ending the dominance of the Audi Quattro. The 205 T16 is pumped up to the max – complete with longer wheelbase and wild haunches – as if a regular 205 had consumed one too many tins of spinach. Dare we suggest that Gérard Welter’s regular 205 is the more aesthetically pleasing of the two?

A timetable for successPeugeot 205 T16

Peugeot’s timetable for the project was tight and rigid. The engine – a 1775cc turbocharged unit based on the four-cylinder XU block – was chosen in February 1982, while the first mock-up of the exterior was completed just two months later.

The first major prototype parts were available in September of the same year, ahead of the construction of the first prototype in November. The first car ran in February 1983 before the 205 T16 was homologated in 1984.

By August 1984, the Peugeot 205 T16 had secured its first big win, with Ari Vatanen and Terry Harryman guiding the car to victory at the 1000 Lakes Rally, ahead of a pair of Lancia 037s.

The team enjoyed a terrific end to the season, picking up wins at the San Remo and Lombard RAC rallies: enough to secure fourth place in the overall standings. The writing was on the wall for Audi: it was about to lose its favourite game.

Ari Vatanen started the 1985 season with two back-to-back victories, but it was Timo Salonen who picked up the pace, most notably following Vatanen’s near-fatal crash in Argentina. This was also the year in which Attilio Bettega was killed at the wheel of his Lancia 037.

Salonen secured the title in his first season for Peugeot in what was the 205 T16’s first complete championship. Peugeot won again in 1986, with Juha Kankkunen winning the drivers’ title and Salonen finishing third.

Sadly, following devastating crashes in Portugal and France, the development of Group B cars was frozen in 1986 and teams were banned from competing in 1987. This signalled the end for the 205 T16, at least from a WRC perspective, although it went on to enjoy success in Rally Raid, Pikes’ Peak and rallycross.

The 205 T16 also led to the development of the Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid and Citroen ZX Rallye Raid cars. Its legacy lived on, as would its place in the motorsport history books.

One for the roadPeugeot 205 T16

Of course, the rally hero is only half the story, because Peugeot built 200 road-going 205 T16s to satisfy homologation rules. All would be left-hand drive, finished in the same shade of grey and assembled at the old Simca factory in Poissy.

But while the rally version developed between 340hp and 550hp depending on spec, the road-going version was forced to ‘make do’ with 200hp. It was enough to give the 205 T16 a top speed of 130mph and a 0-62mph time of six seconds dead.

Just imagine seeing one of these parked in a dealer showroom. At a penny short of £27,000, Peugeot was, in the words of Car magazine, asking “Ferrari money for a 1800cc Peugeot”, at a time when nine of 10 enquiries were about diesels!

It would take a certain somebody to dismiss the cheaper and quicker Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera in favour of a French wideboy. If you were one of the enlightened few, we salute you.

There were some similarities with the 205 driven by your mum in the mid 80s. The doors, windscreen, headlights and grille are at least faithful to the car you’d find in the supermarket car park.

But while you might raise the hatchback to load your groceries into a regular 205, doing so in a T16 would merely unveil the engine sat behind the two seats. In terms of kerb appeal, the 205 T16’s rear clamshell must be up there with the 300 SL’s ‘Gullwing’ doors and the Miura’s headlight ‘eyelashes’.

It was, of course, designed to be purely functional, providing access to the car’s structure, engine and four-wheel drive transmission. Such ease of servicing between rally stages would have been hugely beneficial to Peugeot Talbot Sport, not to mention your local Peugeot mechanic.

Some sacrifices would have to be made in order to live this homologation special. The 205 T16 isn’t what you’d call practical, with the front ‘boot’ filled with the spare wheel, ancillaries and petrol filler cap. And although Peugeot added some sound insulation to the cabin, there’s only so much you can do when the engine is situated behind your head. And contemporary reviews point to the wail of the turbochargers as being as pleasant as fingernails on a blackboard.

But does this matter? It’s not as though Peugeot didn’t offer a more useable, accessible and cheaper alternative. Besides, the creation of the roadcar allowed the T16 to go racing, and we can all raise a glass to that.

The best 205 T16 in the world?Peugeot 205 T16

You’ll need to dig very deep in order to secure the example being auctioned at the Artcurial sale. The pre-auction estimate of €275,000 – €325,000 (£243,000 – £287,000) reflects the very special nature of car number nine.

It is one of four T16s finished in the same pearl white as the works cars, as ordered by Jean Todt. The cars were reserved for key figures in the model’s history, namely: Jean Todt, Jean Boillot, Didier Pironi and André de Cortanze.

Number nine was presented to André de Cortanze, the then technical director of Peugeot Sport, who played an integral part in the development of the T16. He requested that his car was fitted with an alarm, radio and telephone, although it’s unclear whether he actually made use of said items.

That’s because the car has covered a mere 284 kilometres from new and as such is presented in original condition. Little wonder the pre-auction estimate is so punchy. For reference, a ‘regular’ 205 T16 sold at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge Auction for £155,451 in 2016.

But don’t worry if you can’t stretch to the Artcurial car, Bonhams is offering another 205 T16 at the 2017 Quail Lodge Auction in August. Precise details are unknown, but we do know that it has covered just 1,200 kilometres.

Turns out that Peugeot 205 T16s are like World Rally Championship titles: you wait an age for one to come up and then you find two in quick succession.

Peugeot 205 T16, Graham Robson
Car, March 1985

Champions League 2017: when cars play football

This weekend, all footballing roads – or more specifically the M4 and A48 – lead to Cardiff as the Uefa Champions League bandwagon rolls into town. At the end of the day – read: 19:45 – Juventus and Real Madrid will kick-off with high hopes of scooping Europe’s biggest prize since Amar Pelos Dois won the hearts of Kiev.

These days, football and cars are as intertwined as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ferrari 599 GTB and the tunnel beneath Manchester Airport. In Cheshire, (dis)tastefully modified cars are as common as fake tan, must-have handbags and sunnies the size of dinner plates.

But while it’s easy to poke fun at footballing car culture – hat tip to Stephen Ireland for services to the industry – the fact remains that football is big business for the car industry. And that’s not a throwaway cliché, Clive.

The Champions League gives 110%

Nissan certainly thinks so, which is why you’re forced to endure endless ads when Gary, Jake and co. have finished over-analysing misplaced passes with old pros. The Japanese firm signed a four-year Uefa Champions League sponsorship deal in 2014, reported to be worth €54.5 (£45m), replacing Ford, which had sponsored the tournament for 22 years.

Whichever way you look at it, that’s an awful lot of Nissan Micras. Or 3,750 base-spec models, to be precise.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

For Nissan, the benefits are obvious. Around 200 million fans are expected to watch the final on June 3, not to mention the countless others who have tuned in since the tournament kicked off back in June 2016. Although quite how many cars Nissan sold off the back of The New Saints vs. Tre Penne is anybody’s guess.

“The Champions League has massive power in terms of views that it can give us,” Jean-Pierre Diernaz, vice president for marketing, Nissan Europe, told the BBC in 2016.

“We are a growing brand around the world, but with the exception of Japan, and possibly the US, we are a challenger brand. To go a step further we need to grow awareness. The Champions League has massive power in terms of views that it can give us.

“It is working in terms of making sure our brand is growing,” the Frenchman said.

Interbrand’s Top 100 Best Global Brands ranks Nissan as number 43, with the brand valued at $11.066m in 2016, an increase of 22%. Messrs Iniesta, Thiago Silva and Aguero kicking a ball about in a studio are doing more than just bookending the commercial break.

A game of two halves

But the car industry’s involvement with the Champions League final goes far deeper than Yaya Touré kicking a football through the roof of a Nissan X-Trail. Real Madrid vs. Juventus presents a compelling automotive sideshow in Ingolstadt vs. Michigan. Or Audi vs. Jeep.

Audi calls itself a “partner of premier international clubs” and has been the vehicle partner of Real Madrid since 2003. The internet is awash with photos of players smiling gleefully at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu as they’re presented with the keys to their new highly-specced Audi.

Hats off to the Audi PR team for convincing Ronaldo to risk a moment of ‘helmet hair’ in the name of corporate sponsorship. He’s probably just thankful that he escaped the possibility of being given a club Chevrolet when he left Manchester United. Hard luck, Rooney, De Gea, et al.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

Not that Audi is a one-club company. Its sponsorship of FC Ingolstadt 04 is understandable, as are its links with Bayern Munich – that must sting, BMW – but a partnership with FC Barcelona? Proof that business is more important than fierce rivalries. When sponsorship deals get Messi…

Jeep: a no-nonsense player

Jeep’s sponsorship of the ‘Old Lady’ dates back to the 2012-2013 season when it signed an initial three-year deal worth €35m, or €11.7m per season. To outsiders, seeing the famous Jeep logo adorning the equally famous black and white stripes of Juve might seem like just another sponsorship deal, but to car enthusiasts and those with a thing for economics, the link is more obvious.

Juventus is controlled by the billionaire Agnelli family, the investment company with a 29.41% share in Fiat and a 22.91% share in Ferrari. In 2015, the Fiat-founding family signed a merger agreement with Chrysler, which created Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and created an indirect link between the American SUV brand and the city of Turin.

Not that Juventus has encountered anything other than smooth roads this season. Having secured the Serie A title, Juve made light work of Barcelona at the quarter final stage and saw off the attacking threat of Monaco in the semis as the Italians marched to the final in Cardiff.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

Top, top cars

Victory at the National Stadium of Wales – Uefa regulations prevent it being called the Principality Stadium – would net the winning team €15.5m, while the other finalist will receive €11m. Enough for the clubs to pick and choose from their corporate sponsor’s range of vehicles.

Leaving aside the fact that the players are given the keys to the cars of their respective club sponsors, you’re unlikely to see Ronaldo splashing out on a new Q2 or Buffon spending any time using the Renegade online configurator. The players can pick and choose from the world’s elite range of supercars.

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The animal arrive👍🔝

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s car collection has been well documented and includes a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse he bought to celebrate winning Euro 2016 with Portugal. He announced the purchase on Instagram with the simple caption: “The animal arrive.”

Not to be outdone by his Real Madrid teammate, Karim Benzema often arrives at training in a black and chrome Bugatti Veyron. Meanwhile, Toni Kroos drives a Ferrari 488 GTB.

Welshman Gareth Bale, who is hoping to recover from an injury to play in the Cardiff final, reportedly gave up driving supercars because he believed it was the root cause of a succession of hamstring injuries. Bale was a member of a £30,000-a-year supercar club.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

Legendary Italian ’keeper, Gianluigi Buffon is unlikely to suffer any supercar-related injuries ahead of the Champions League final. The 39-year-old Italian is more interested in clean sheets than expensive motors, choosing to squeeze his 6ft 3in frame into a Fiat 500. In his first year as a pro he’d turn up at training riding a Vespa. Once a legend, always a legend.

Predictability, many of Buffon’s teammates at Juve don’t share his love of mundane motors, with some opting to keep it in the family by driving a Ferrari. For Dani Alves it’s an FF, Leonardo Bonucci drives an F12berlinetta, while Claudio Marchisio has chosen a 599 GTO.

At the end of the day…

Not that this precludes the Juve players from partaking in the odd promotional job for Jeep. “Smile and think of the paycheque,” mutters Giorgio Chiellini as he manages something that might pass as a grin. Almost.Champions League 2017: when cars play football

Come Saturday evening, Juventus will be all smiles if they overturn the odds by beating the favourites Real Madrid. Will Italian-American grit triumph over German precision engineering in the battle of the sponsors, or will the Japanese score on the break?

It’s back to you in the studio, Gary.

Richard Hammond Citroen Saxo VTS

Richard Hammond has bought a Citroen Saxo VTS – and we’re jealous

Richard Hammond Citroen Saxo VTS

If the current episode of The Grand Tour is anything to go by, Richard Hammond is about to nip out and steal a chainsaw… in a Citroen Saxo VTS.

According to Amazon Prime’s clever X-Ray feature – which provides extra information about what you’re watching on screen – Hammond loves the Saxo VTS so much that, after the show was filmed, he went out and bought one. The lucky so-and-so.

During ‘Conversation Street’, the presenters were charting the rapid fall in numbers of Citroen’s hot hatch, which had dropped from around 4,500 in 2008 to 491 when the episode was filmed. We’ve just checked the latest figures, and they show that the number on the road has now fallen to 464 –with 946 declared as off the road.

Fabulous, proper and fizzy

“By 2019 they’ll all have gone,” said the ‘Hamster’, which was enough to see him off to the classifieds in an attempt to save the “fabulous, proper, fizzy little hatchback” from extinction. Good man.

That he loves the Citroen Saxo VTS so much should come as no surprise. In his days as a presenter on Men & Motors, Hammond pitched the French tearaway against a Caterham Super 7 Sprint, before driving home in the Citroen.

Weirdly, in a different episode, former radio presenter and drag racer, Dave Lee Travis – aka the ‘Hairy Cornflake’ – proclaimed the Saxo VTS to be “the closest you can get to an old-school GTI”. High praise indeed.

Later, in 2008, Hammond named the Saxo VTS as one of the ‘best second-hand boy-racer bargains’, saying it’s “another belter from Les Francais. The Saxo VTS is virtually a cult car among the young and to see why, you only need to drive one.

“It looks cute, with reasonable performance and good handling.”

This isn’t the first time Richard Hammond has bought a Saxo VTS. In series 18 of Top Gear, he paid £550 for a 1999 model and went racing against Clarkson and May. Sadly, the car’s MOT expired in 2012, so we can only assume that it has gone to the great rallycross track in the sky.

The Price is right

The hot Saxo’s fall from grace is hardly surprising. The Saxo VTS, with its 120hp 1.6-litre 16v engine, developed a bit of an image problem: a kind of hot Nova for a new generation. Lads believed that a Saxo VTS and a pumping stereo was the key to getting a girl undressed.

Citroen didn’t help matters when it asked Katie Price, AKA Jordan, to perch on the bonnet of its four-wheeled bra remover.

Citroen Saxo VTS and Jordan

It meant that – for all of its qualities as a typically French hot hatch – polite, gentle folk stayed away from the Saxo VTS, allowing it to spiral into the abyss. On the flip-side, this means values are stupidly low, so you needn’t spend more than £1,000 to secure a good one.

Compare and contrast with the values of other French heroes – most notably the Peugeot 205 GTi, Renault 5 GT Turbo and Peugeot 106 Rallye – and the Saxo VTS looks a bit of a bargain. Prices won’t stay this low forever.

Take a leaf out of Hammond’s book: rescue a Citroen Saxo VTS today. You won’t regret it. Just don’t let a girl called Katie sit on the bonnet.

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

We reunite Ford Lotus Cortina TV star with its owner after 40 years

Ford Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years onSome people remember names, others never forget a face. A select few of us even recall our online passwords. Rob Jones, however, has an uncanny memory for car number plates. Hey, we all need a party trick.

Rob knows the registration marks of every car he’s ever owned, from the MG Midget he bought after passing his test to the SEAT Leon Cupra he drives today. And one of those remembered registrations – FGF 113C – led to an emotional reunion with the car he owned 40 years ago.

Like many great love stories, our tale begins on a sofa in front of the telly. The show was ‘Car SOS’, and presenters Fuzz Townshend and Tim Shaw were battling to restore a Mk1 Ford Cortina GT from little more than a bare shell.

Made in DagenhamFord Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

Seeking inspiration, the team visited Ford’s heritage workshop in Dagenham. Their mission: to drive the GT’s big brother – the legendary Lotus Cortina. Rob nearly fell off his sofa. This immaculate white-and-green classic, hailed by Tim as “a sensation of the era”, wore the same number plate as a Lotus Cortina he’d bought in 1976.

“It had to be the same car,” explains Rob, “but I searched through my old photos to be sure.” The Polaroid print he found proved it beyond doubt. There was Rob, in glorious faded sepia, wearing a pair of turned-up flares and leaning on a Lotus Cortina, registration: FGF 113C.

The Ford heritage workshop is usually off-limits to the public, so Rob contacted Motoring Research – having seen our gallery feature on the Dagenham collection. A few excited emails later, Rob had a date in Dagenham. Even better, it was on his birthday.

From road to racetrackFord Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

Before our heart-warming ‘boy meets car’ moment, a few words on the Lotus Cortina. This skunkworks special was launched in 1963 and is arguably the first fast Ford. It packs a 106hp 1.6-litre Lotus engine and close-ratio Ford gearbox, clothed in lightweight alloy panels.

Tipping the scales at just 826kg, the Lotus Cortina reached 60mph in 9.9 seconds, plus a top speed of 108mph. It was an instant hit on the racetrack, with Jim Clark winning the British Saloon Car title in 1964, then Alan Mann Racing clinching the European title in 1965.

A total of 3,301 Mk1 Lotus Cortinas were built before the squarer Mk2 arrived in 1967. By this point, well-publicised reliability problems and the launch of the Escort Twin Cam meant the Cortina’s star was fading. But it has gone supernova since, with prices for concours examples stretching well into six figures.

Show some appreciationFord Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

Rob negotiated a rather better deal. “I paid £370 for my Cortina,” he laughs, “then sold it for £500 eight months later. I didn’t own it long as I kept having problems with the starter motor. The ring gears would slip or jam – I ended up replacing them about once a month.”

There are no such issues when, four decades on, Rob twists the key of his old car. The twin-cam engine bursts raucously into life, its throaty bark reverberating off the walls of Ford’s workshop – a huge warehouse that used to be a truck factory. Rob’s smile says it all.

“This brings it all back,” he beams. “I was a Lotus fanatic, but I couldn’t afford an Elan – so this was my dream car at the time. It’s been lowered a couple of inches since I owned it, but otherwise nothing much has changed.”

For the custodians of Ford’s heritage fleet, Rob’s visit provides a valuable chance to fill in the blanks about this Cortina’s history. “We don’t know much about the car before it came to us,” they admit.

A Christmas crashFord Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

One story in particular raises a few eyebrows. “Yeah, I crashed it,” admits Rob. “I’d just finished my Christmas shopping. I pulled out of a pub car park in Newbury [sober, he adds] and got sideswiped by an Austin 1100. It ploughed into the nearside wing and I ended up paying a £25 fine as it was his right of way.”

On the rain-drenched roads of Dagenham, Rob is being extra-careful: “I didn’t want to push it in the wet. I’m very conscious the car is worth a few quid more than when I owned it.”

It’s clear Rob loves being back behind the skinny wooden wheel, though. “It’s just lovely. I remember that twin-cam sound – and the smell. But the steering is so heavy compared to a modern car. You need muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger to do a three-point turn.”

A great motoring memoryFord Lotus Cortina TV star reunited with owner 40 years on

Rob has owned many cars over the past 40 years, including several self-built Ginetta sports cars, but the Cortina is the one he wishes he’d kept. “Just being back behind the wheel felt special. I’d have another, definitely. I just need to discover one in a barn.”

Seeing Rob reunited with his Lotus Cortina reaffirmed our belief that cars are more than mere transport. They bookend periods in our lives, our memories of past journeys and destinations inexorably linked to the vehicles we travelled in.

For Rob, driving the car he owned in 1976 is the closest he’ll get to time travel. And unlike his flares, the Lotus Cortina hasn’t aged a day.

Greatest turbocharged cars

#TurboTuesday: 10 of the most exciting turbocharged cars ever made

Greatest turbocharged carsWhat’s the most exciting turbocharged car ever made? It’s a matter of opinion, but we’ve lined up 10 of our favourites for you to enjoy – because #TurboTuesday. Expect an eclectic mix of forced induction goodness…

Audi Quattro

Greatest turbocharged cars

Our A-Z of exciting turbocharged cars kicks off with the Audi ur Quattro. In a stroke, this four-wheel drive coupe changed the face of world rallying and put Audi on the map. To drive one is to love one, largely thanks to the five-cylinder soundtrack and huge amount of grip.

BMW 2002 Turbo

Greatest turbocharged cars

The BMW 2002 Turbo was Europe’s first mass-produced turbocharged car and, in common with other blown cars of the era, it suffered from tremendous lag. This made it ‘interesting’ to drive, but there was no denying this thing had presence. Only 1,672 were made, all left-hand drive.

Bugatti Veyron

Greatest turbocharged cars

Volkswagen acquired the rights to the Bugatti name in 1998 and set about creating the most hyper of all hypercars. Featuring a quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W16 engine, the Bugatti Veyron – in Super Sport guise – is recognised as being the fastest road-legal production car in the world.

Daihatsu Charade GTti

Greatest turbocharged cars

Proof that you don’t need quad-turbochargers and a massive engine to deliver excitement. The Daihatsu Charade GTti is a forgotten gem of the late 80s and early 90s which was, in its day, the most powerful 1.0-litre car you could buy. A hot hatch for those who defied convention.

Ferrari F40

Greatest turbocharged cars

Draw up a list of the world’s greatest turbocharged cars and the Ferrari F40 will be tussling for position at the very top. Built to celebrate the firm’s 40th anniversary, the F40 was the successor to the 288 GTO and arguably one of the most iconic supercars ever built. Its 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged engine develops a mighty 471hp.

Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500

Greatest turbocharged cars

As if the standard Sierra RS Cosworth wasn’t mad enough, Ford cranked up the bonkers-o-meter to create the RS500. The task of creating the limited edition nutjobs was left to Aston Martin Tickford, with a larger Garrett T04 turbocharger a significant part of its armoury. A total of 500 were built, hence the name.

Lotus Essex Turbo Esprit

Greatest turbocharged cars

This was the genesis of the turbocharged Lotus Esprit: the oh-so 1980s Lotus Essex Turbo Esprit. Finished in the blue, red and silver of Essex Petroleum, the Turbo Esprit featured a Garrett T3 turbocharger and boasted a top speed of 150mph. The Essex went on to feature in For Your Eyes Only, while the Turbo Esprit inspired its own computer game.

Porsche 911 Turbo

Greatest turbocharged cars

Could this be the ultimate game of Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe? Good luck catching a Porsche 911 Turbo by its rear wing.

Renault 5 Turbo and Turbo 2

Greatest turbocharged cars

For the huge TURBO decals alone, Renault deserves a huge amount of respect. For similar reasons we almost included the Renault Fuego Turbo. Almost.

TVR 3000M Turbo

Greatest turbocharged cars

A turbocharged TVR – what could possibly go wrong? The 3000M Turbo was introduced at the 1975 London Motor Show and was the car for those who felt the Porsche 911 Turbo was a little too obvious.

The cost of a car the year you were born

01_Year_BornYour first encounter with a car was probably when your parents drove you home from the maternity ward. Safe to say you won’t remember much about the journey, but did your folks ever reveal their choice of wheels for this momentous drive?

Make no mistake: they’ve probably never driven in a more careful and considerate manner. This got us thinking: how much did it cost to buy a car in the year you were born? To find out, we’ve selected a broad selection of cars from 1950 to 1999.

The 1950s: Tutti Frutti


This was the decade in which Britain got back on its feet. Still recovering from the effects of World War II, the nation’s economy began to improve, with a surge in housebuilding and a raft of new time and labour-saving devices.

The car industry was also beginning to find its feet. Trips to the seaside and picnics in the park were made possible by a new and exciting range of family cars, with the Morris Minor, Standard Vanguard, Ford Popular and Rover P4 just four examples.

America’s obsession with fins and chrome was influencing British car design, with two-tone paint jobs also proving to be rather popular. The future was bright.

According to a copy of Motor, October 1948, the Ford Anglia was the cheapest four-wheel car in Britain. In 1950, the Anglia – an ancestor of the current Ford Focus – would have set you back £310, the equivalent of £9,888 in today’s money.

To give that figure some context, the average house price in 1950 was £1,940.  


Costing significantly more, the Austin A30 of 1952 was – together with its replacement, the A35 – one of the most popular cars of the 1950s. None other than James Hunt was a fan, as was Wallace of Wallace & Gromit fame, who drove an A35 van.

In 1951, an Austin A30 would have set you back £507, with the A35 – which arrived in 1956 – starting at £541. The most expensive A35 was the Countryman, which commanded a price tag of £638. That’s the equivalent of £15,106 in 2016.

Other vehicles of note include the luxo-spec Humber Hawk, which would have cost £695 plus £290 in purchase taxes back in 1955. In today’s money, that’s £24,371, about the same price you’ll pay for a Ford Mondeo Titanium in 2016.

It would be remiss of us not to mention the Mini. Though synonymous with the Swinging Sixties, the Mini burst onto the scene in 1959, with prices ranging from £497 to £537. It quite literally changed the shape of British motoring and laid the foundations for a new decade.

Year/Car/Price new (2016 adjusted)

1950: Ford Anglia – £310 (£9,888)
1951: Austin A30 – £507 (£15,685)
1952: Ford Consul – £717 (£20,332)
1953: Ford Popular – £391 (£10,154)
1954: Austin A50 – £649 – £720 (£16,347 – £18,135)
1955: Humber Hawk – £985 (£24,371)
1956: Austin A35 – £541 – £638 (£12,810 – £15,106)
1957: Berkeley Sport – £574 (£12,956)
1958: Austin A40 – £676 – £698 (£14,713 – £15,192
1959: Mini – £497 – £537 (£10,502 – £11,348)

The 1960s: Good Vibrations


The 1960s: a decade of flower power, free love, the first man on the moon, the Beatles, the Mini and miniskirts. Britain was the centre of attention, with the nation leading the way in fashion and pop music.

And England won the football World Cup, which is something we’re reminded about every four years…

If London felt like the centre of the world, the likes of Coventry, Dagenham, Luton and Cowley were the epicentre of car manufacturing. Sadly, by the end of the decade, the rot had set in, with the British motor industry already in decline.

In 1960, the original Skoda Felicia would have cost £744, the equivalent of £15,628 when inflation adjusted. Today, that price will secure you a Skoda Rapid, or a superior Octavia, if you’re prepared to do a little haggling.


Another car of note is the Ford Lotus Cortina. Back in 1964, you could drive away in this super-saloon for £1,100 – about a third of the average house price. Inflation adjusted, that’s a little over £20,000. Good luck securing a Lotus Cortina for that price in 2016.

In 1966, as England lifted the still gleaming Jules Rimet trophy, the Porsche 911 was still in its infancy. You could have celebrated the Three Lions’ triumph by purchasing a 911 for £3,438 (£60,041 in 2016). Today, you’ll need at least £76,412.

There was an alternative. The four-cylinder 912 – so often unfairly overlooked – was available for the much cheaper price of £2,466. That’s the equivalent of £43,066 – quite a significant saving. All of the flash, a lot less cash.

As if to bridge the gap between the 60s and 70s, Ford launched the Capri in 1969. The ‘car you always promised yourself’ became a firm favourite of the 1970s, not least because of its low price. Just £890 for the ‘European Mustang’ – what a steal.

Year/Car/Price new (2016 adjusted)

1960: Skoda Felicia – £744 (£15,628)
1961: Hillman Super Minx – £854 (£17,761)
1962: Ford Classic – £723 – £779 (£14,542 – £15,668)
1963: Hillman Imp – £508 – £532 (£9,796 – £10,259)
1964: Lotus Cortina – £1,100 (£20,797)
1965: Saab 96 – £729 (£13,343)
1966: Porsche 911 – £3,438 (£60,041)
1967: Rover P6 – £1,358 (£22,826)
1968: Renault 4 – £599 – £629 (£9,823 – £10,315)
1969: Ford Capri – £890 (£13,939)

The 1970s: Go Your Own Way


The optimism of the 1960s was washed away in the 1970s, with the decade remembered for its conflicts, political unrest and unemployment. Many people also consider the 70s to be the decade that style forgot.

An unfair reflection? Perhaps. Families were richer than ever and people had more social time than before. The likes of David Bowie and Marc Bolan gave rise to new-found self-expression, while women enjoyed more freedom than in previous decades.

Of course, from an automotive perspective, the 70s will be remembered for the decline of the British motor industry and a new wave of cars being imported from the Far East. But how much did you have to pay for cars in the 1970s?

We kick things off with the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow: the car that saved the company, while – in the long term – tarnishing its reputation. Oversupply led to falling values, with the Silver Shadow developing a reputation for being associated with ‘end of the pier’ entertainers and some rather shady characters.

It wasn’t always like this. In 1970, a Silver Shadow would have cost £9,272 in old money, the equivalent of £137,780 in new money. Take a moment to consider the average house price in that year – £4,975.

A year later, Jaguar unveiled its first V12-engined car: the Jaguar E-Type V12. Not the best time to be launching a gas guzzler, considering the imminent fuel crisis, but at £3,139.39, at least it wouldn’t break the bank.

In 1972, a basic Ford Cortina cost a mere £963 – not a bad price for the fastest selling car in Britain. In today’s money that’s £12,294. Try getting a new Ford Mondeo for that price.


But that’s nothing compared to the £1,894.75 Renault was asking for the brilliant and forward-thinking 16TX. Its 1647cc engine helped to propel this smooth-riding hatchback to 50mph in under 9.0 seconds, while the big Renault was also generously equipped. Great car, sadly missed.

We’ll leave the 70s with two cars that went on to lead very different lives. The rather brilliant BMW 2002 Tii cost an eye-watering £3,659 in 1975, while, a year later, the 1976 Car of the Year Chrysler Alpine cost £2,164.49.

One of those cars has gone on to become a gilt-edged classic car, while the other rusted into oblivion.

Year/Car/Price new (2016 adjusted)

1970: Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow – £9,272 (£137,780)
1971: Jaguar E-Type V12 – £3,139.38 (£43,866)
1972: Ford Cortina – £963 (£12,294)
1973: MGB – £1,393.06 (£16,604.87)
1974: Renault 16TX – £1,894.75 (£20,682)
1975: BMW 2002 Tii – £3,659 (£34,431)
1976: Chrysler Alpine GL – £2,164.49 (£16,399)
1977: Renault 4 – £2,595.29 (£16,879)
1978: Ford Capri 2.0S – £4,035 (£22,661)
1979: Fiat Strada – £3,044 – £3,742 (£15,785 – £19,405)

The 1980s: How Soon Is Now


Big hair, big shoulder pads and big cellphones: welcome to the 1980s. If the years before were brown and nicotine-stained, the new decade ushered in an era of brighter colours and renewed optimism.

Greed was good, or so we were told. As Madonna sang, we were living in a material world and she was a material girl. It was the decade of MTV, yuppies, video games and blockbuster movies. And, let’s not forget, the hot hatch…

We kick things off with the TR7. Triumph claimed it was ‘the exciting car you can afford’, pitching it alongside the £35,100 Ferrari 512 BB. A bold approach for the £6,361 sports car, but “… in these hard times, you’ve got to economise somewhere”.

Two years later, Fiat celebrated the Panda’s first birthday by slashing its price to £2,995. “Fiat [has] discovered a way of making Pandas breed like rabbits.” Well, quite. The equivalent price today: £10,372. That’s cheaper than a 2016 Fiat Panda…

By 1985, the Citroen 2CV was about to enter the twilight years, with £2,774 securing some ‘Tin Snail’ action. In 1986, SEAT was a relative newcomer in the UK, with the Spanish firm asking between £4,095 and £5,771 for its neatly-styled Ibiza.


Oh, Rover, where did it all go wrong? Actually, that’s a rhetorical question, because its demise has been well documented. In 1988, the not so small matter of £19,944 could get you behind the wheel of the fastest road-going Rover: the 800 Vitesse.

Consider that price for a moment. That’s perilously close to BMW M3 or Jaguar XJS money. But what a car: 2.7-litre 24-valve V6 engine, 140mph top speed and more gadgets than a branch of Dixons.

We close the curtains on the 80s by mentioning the Lada Riva. Back then, a budget car probably meant something from the Eastern Bloc, with the Riva available for ‘just’ £3,495. Compare and contrast with the £5,995 Dacia Sandero Access.

Year/Car/Price new (2016 adjusted)

1980: Triumph TR7 – £6,361 (£28,088)
1981: Mazda 323 – £3,399 – £4,499 (£13,172 – £17,435)
1982: Fiat Panda – £2,995 (£10,372)
1983: Ford Escort RS1600i – £6,700 (£21,366)
1984: Saab 900i – £8,510 (£25,944)
1985: Citroen 2CV Special – £2,774 (£8,054)
1986: SEAT Ibiza – £4,095 – £5,771 (£11,206 – £15,793)
1987: Citroen BX GTi – £10,205 (£27,009)
1988: Rover 800 Vitesse – £19,944 (£50,656)
1989: Lada Riva – £3,495 (£8,462)

The 1990s: Spice Up Your Life


What’s the story, morning glory? Welcome to the 1990s: the decade of Brit Pop, the Spice Girls, the Tamagotchi and Noel’s House Party. Yes, it was a bit of a mixed bag.

Football very nearly came home, Blur and Oasis often came to blows and Jarvis Cocker bared his bottom at the Brit Awards. House prices rocketed from £59,785 in 1990 to £101,550 by the turn of the Millennium.

Looking back, cars weren’t exactly cheap. The Daihatsu Charade GTti might have been the world’s most powerful 1.0-litre car, but you’d need £8,299 to secure a slice of three-pot turbocharged loveliness.

Today, the equivalent price will secure a Ford Fiesta ST-2. A year later, a Renault 19 16v – a forgotten gem from the 90s – would have cost £12,725. In today’s money, that’s more than the new Renaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S.

Check out the price of a Jaguar XJS 4.0 Convertible in 1992. At just shy of £40,000, it was about two-thirds of the average house price. Expensive? At £77,284 in today’s money, that’s more than a Jaguar F-Type S AWD.

In 1993, the Citroen ZX Volcane turbodiesel would cost less than £13,000 – not bad for what was arguably the world’s first diesel hot hatch. At £21,895, the Vauxhall-based Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe looks expensive, as does the £15,499 Hyundai Sonata 2.0 CD.


But that’s nothing compared to the launch price of the Porsche Boxster. At £33,950 it sounds good value, but inflation adjusted that results in a figure of £57,510. There are two things to consider here.

Firstly, the average house price in 1997 was £76,103. Secondly, you can buy an entry-level 718 Boxster in 2016 for a mere £41,739. You’ve never had it so good.

We’ll say goodbye to the 90s by referencing the Bristol Blenheim. The price in 1998 was an eyebrow-raising £119,000, which is around £37,000 more than the average house price. You pays your money, you takes your choice…

Year/Car/Price new (2016 adjusted)

1990: Daihatsu Charade GTti – £8,299 (£18,640)
1991: Renault 19 16v – £12,725 (£26,102)
1992: Jaguar XJS 4.0 Convertible – £39,900 (£77,284)
1993: Citroen ZX Volcane TD – £12,630 – £12,995 (£23,590 – £24,272)
1994: Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe – £21,895 (£40,252)
1995: Hyundai Sonata 2.0 CD – £15,499 (£27,826)
1996: Land Rover 90 County V8 – £14,468 (£25,096)
1997: Porsche Boxster – £33,950 (£57,510)
1998: Bristol Blenheim – £119,000 (£195,520)
1999: Lexus IS200 – £20,500 (£32,575)

Prices sourced from Car, Autocar, Autocar & Motor, Motor, What Car?