This weekend, thousands of classic car fans will descend on the NEC for the Classic Motor Show. Around 2,500 classic cars and motorcycles will be on display in an area the size of 12 football pitches. But why turn up in something modern when, for less than the price of a deposit on a PCP deal, you could rock up in something retro? We’ve scoured Auto Trader to bring you the best options for less than £1,500.
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Ford Mondeo: £300
To be included in our round-up, a car must have a current MOT, be built between 1970 and 1995, and be available for less than £1,500. There will be some who claim the Ford Mondeo has no right to appear in a feature of retro classics, but we beg to differ. This was a game-changing vehicle for Ford, and it even inspired its own ‘Mondeo Man’ tag. This 77k-mile example looks tidy, but it has a short MOT. Worth a punt for a retro rep-inspired road trip?
Renault Safrane: £325
This is an awful lot of car for the money, but we appreciate that for some people it’s simply an awful car. But while large French barges have never been hugely popular in the UK – #depreciationdisasters – there’s a lot to like about the Renault Safrane. It will be comfortable, while the interior looks in good shape, even with a pair of ripped jeans lowering the tone. The heater blower isn’t working and the oil level gauge “has a mind of its own”, but you’d expect a few gremlins on a French car of this age and budget.
Mazda 323F: £350
A subhead of “Pop Up Headlights” suggests that this seller knows how to tug at the heartstrings of a wannabe retro car owner. Whether they ‘pop down’ again is another matter, but for £350, do you really care? Sadly, these things don’t drive as well as they look, but pop-up headlights will earn you some kudos points in the NEC car park.
Peugeot 306: £450
The Peugeot 306 might not have passed into classic status, but we doubt you’ll find a more honest example than this, especially for £450. The MOT history makes for excellent reading, while the fact that it has been owned by the same lady for 13 years is encouraging. Revel in what looks like an as-new interior and reminiscence about the days when Peugeot built terrific driver’s cars.
Citroen ZX: £500
If the Peugeot 306 doesn’t appeal, you’re unlikely to fall head over heels in love with this Citroen ZX, but just look at it! A one-owner car with just 63,200 miles on the clock, and a 1.9-litre diesel engine that could transport you to and from the NEC from just about anywhere in the UK on a single tank of fuel. Few £500 cars offer such a terrific blend of ride comfort and sharp handling.
Ford Escort: £649
By the time this car arrived in 1995, the old Orion name had been gone two years, with the family saloon falling under the Ford Escort umbrella. We admit that this Escort – neé Orion – is about as exciting as a drizzle sandwich, especially in ‘John Major grey’, but it fits the retro tag. Just.
Austin Metro: £700
A sensibly-priced low-mileage retro classic, whatever next? We think £700 is a fair price for a slice of British motoring history, especially when it has just 24,844 miles on the clock. A bit of TLC will have this Austin Metro City looking show-ready in no time at all. As for the sun-damaged rear seat – simply throw a rug over the top. Sorted.
Audi 80: £750
Built at a time before Audi’s image hit an upwards trajectory, the 80 was well-engineered, safe and dependable. In fact, this 1993 example could be used daily without a problem, with 200,000+ miles no issue. The best bit: there isn’t a single advisory listed on the MOT history.
Volvo 740: £900
If you’re hoping to purchase some parts from the UK’s largest indoor autojumble, you could hire a van. Alternatively, why not hire the ultimate load-lugging estate? This Volvo 740 looks a little tired but appears to have done 48,974 miles. A new engine, perhaps? Certainly worth checking.
Volvo 440: £999
Look. At. This. A one-owner from new, full Volvo service history, Volvo 440 with just 57,000 miles on the clock. Last serviced by Volvo just 300 miles ago, you can almost guarantee that it will come with a folder full of receipts and old MOTs. Brilliant.
Mazda MX-6: £1,000
Cars such as this Mazda MX-6 won’t stay around for long. In fact, in the process of preparing this list, three cars have been sold in the time it has taken to complete the job. The understated and elegant styling of the Mazda MX-6 is ageing very well, perhaps more so than its sibling, the Ford Probe. Yours for a ‘bag of sand’.
Citroen XM: £1,000
Some would argue that the XM of 1989 was the last true Citroen: a technologically-advanced replacement for the CX. In truth. It was little more than a glorious failure, certainly in the UK, and was hampered by electrical gremlins and quality issues. The MOT history suggests that the milometer stopped working from 2007 to 2012 so the mileage might be higher than described.
Vauxhall Nova: £1,195
Described as a “much loved Vauxhall Nova,” does this prove Rihanna’s theory that it’s possible to find love in a hopeless place? Let’s not be too beastly to the humble Nova, because this little car provided transport to students, parents and old folk across the land. And it looks a damn sight more appealing than a new Corsa. The MW/LW push-button will provide the cracking and crackling tunes as you make your way up the M40.
Mazda MX-5: £1,395
Finding good examples of the original Mazda MX-5 is growing increasingly tough, especially at this price point. This 1991 example has covered an impressive 181,000 miles and is seemingly in great condition. That said, it’s the second Mazda to leave us wondering if the headlights are stuck in their raised position.
Toyota Supra: £1,400
The Toyota Supra divorced from the Celica in 1986, with the former gaining more power and the latter going off in search of a new front-wheel drive future. In standard 3.0i form, the Supra is more grand tourer than sports car, but for a high-speed cruise to Birmingham, this £1,400 example holds strong appeal. Gold medallion and chest wig sold separately.
Nissan QX: £1,484
You only need to take one look at this Nissan QX to know that it has been owned by a loving and fastidious owner. The 2.0-litre V6 has covered a predictably leisurely 58,000 miles, with the previous custodian enjoying a smooth and squishy ride behind the wheel of this flagship Nissan. It even comes complete with the original ‘Fred Coupe’ dealer number plates.
Seat Ibiza: £1,495
“An absolute time warp classic presented in stunning Seat Indigo Blue, this is a beautiful 30,000-mile example, it’s in stock condition throughout and has been owned by the same lady all its life, so you can imagine how lovely it is.” Not our words, Lynn, but the words of the Volkswagen restorer selling this Mk1 facelift Seat Ibiza. What a gem.
Honda Legend: £1,495
If a Lexus is too obvious and the aforementioned Nissan QX too subtle, have we got a treat for you. No, really, we have. This Legend is Honda’s answer to the ‘Japanese Mercedes’ formula, offering a big, lazy V6 engine, superb cruising potential and probably-shouldn’t-mention fuel economy. The ‘49 MS’ number plate now adorns a 2016 Peugeot 308.
Ford Fiesta: £1,495
Remember when these were two-a-penny? The sheer number of Mk3 Fiestas sold means you won’t struggle to find a used example, but cars in this condition and with such low mileage will become increasingly rare.
Peugeot 309: £1,495
The British-designed Peugeot 309 was destined to be the Talbot Arizona before the bosses had a last minute change of heart. We can’t remember the last time we saw a 309, let alone one in such wonderful condition. It’s for sale at a dealer in Taunton and, judging by the number plates, it has spent its entire life in Somerset.
The classic car season might be drawing to a close, but there’s still time to buy a modern classic for spring 2017. We’ve selected the best on offer at the Silverstone Auctions NEC Classic Motor Show sale, including many icons from the 1980s and 1990s.
Lamborghini Countach LP400 S: £350,000 – £400,000
A Bianco White over red leather Lamborghini Countach: you can’t get more 80s than that. All you need to complete the effect is some Jan Hammer on the cassette player, a pair of red braces and a couple of shoulder pads. The LP400 S was launched in 1978 and featured a host of mechanical and exterior upgrades.
Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 MFI: £240,000 – £280,000
According to Total 911 magazine, the 911 Carrera 2.7 MFI is the best impact bumper Porsche 911 of all time. The bumpers were introduced to satisfy US safety regulations, and weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. The magazine claims “the Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 proved that Zuffenhausen’s G-Series cars could still excite”. This 1975 car was restored in 2015, although “every effort was made to preserve as much of the original car as possible”.
Porsche 911 Turbo ‘Flachbau’: £130,000 – £150,000
From a Porsche 911 famous for its bumpers, to one famous for its nose. This is a 930 Turbo ‘flatnose’ or ‘Flachbau’, so called because of its streamlined nose. It was inspired by the 935 race cars and a mere 50 were built for the UK market. It was actually destined for North America, but a cancelled order led to it leaving the factory as a right-hand-drive model.
Porsche 911 Turbo SE ‘Flachbau’: £100,000 – £120,000
‘Flatnose’ Porsche 911 are like buses: you wait an age for one to come along and then two appear in the same auction. Actually, 911 Turbos share little in common with buses, other than, perhaps, the location of the engine. This 1985 ‘Flatnose’ was registered to Porsche GB and wore the famous 911 HUL number plate. This was the cover star of Car magazine, January 1986, with the accompanying line of “Into the red in second, the speedo shows 95mph.”
Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II: £100,000 – £115,000
We conclude our Porsche triple-bill, but remain in Stuttgart for this Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. The ‘Evo II’ upped the ante, with 235hp as opposed to 195hp offered by the original Evolution, helping to deliver a top speed of 155mph and a 0-62mph time of 7.1 seconds. Only 502 units were ever produced and the one offered by Silverstone Auctions is number 28.
BMW M3 Sport Evolution: £95,000 – £115,000
Proof, if proof were needed, that performance cars of the 80s and 90s are in strong demand, this BMW M3 Sport Evolution – or Evo III – is likely to sell for a price in excess of £100,000. In every sense of the word, the Sport Evolution is the ultimate E30 M3, with the engine pumped up to 2.5 litres, delivering 254hp. It was also sharper and lighter than previous models.
Ferrari Testarossa Koenig Competition: £95,000 – £115,000
The Ferrari Testarossa Koenig Evolution was ranked number one in Car magazine’s top 10 German Mod Crimes of the 80s, although author Chris Chilton did note that it’s “probably the most famous modified supercar of the 1980s”. It was the work of racer Willy Koenig, who felt the Testarossa needed more power and a less stylish body. Like blue eyeshadow and Limahl’s hairstyle, some things are better left in the 80s.
Ferrari 412: £80,000 – £95,000
Time has been incredibly kind to the Ferrari 412, a car that can trace its roots back to 1973 and the launch of the 365 GT4 2+2. It arrived in 1985 and, despite appearances, was much improved on the car it replaced: the Ferrari 400. The V12 engine now had a cubic capacity of 4,943cc, while it was also the first Ferrari to offer Bosch ABS as standard. This particular example was first registered in New Zealand and has covered a mere 6,650 miles in three decades.
Ferrari 355 F1 Spider ‘Serie Fiorano’: £75,000 – £90,000
The F355 arrived in 1994 and was the first Ferrari to feature a semi-automatic soft-top roof. The 355 F1 Spider ‘Serie Fiorano’ is arguably the best of the breed, featuring a quicker steering rack, stiffened and lowered suspension, a wider track, improved brakes and a stiffer anti-roll bar. The auction car was delivered new in Florida, before arriving in the UK in 2014.
Ferrari Testarossa: £75,000 – £85,000
If the Koenig-enriched Ferrari Testarossa was a little too much for you, this might be more appealing. Judging by the pre-auction estimate, you can save yourself between £20,000 and £30,000 by opting for something a little more stock.
Porsche 911 Turbo: £60,000 – £70,000
In model years 1991 and 1992, the Porsche 964 Turbo was powered by a turbocharged 3.3-litre engine developing 320hp, which is lower than the 360hp offered by the 3.6-litre engine, introduced in 1993. This 1992 car was supplied new in the Gulf, before arriving in the UK after a stint in Japan.
Ferrari 308 GTSI: £55,000 – £65,000
The Ferrari 308 GTS made its debut at the 1977 Frankfurt Motor Show – two years after the 308 GTB. Bosch fuel injection was added in 1980 – hence the ‘I’ in GTSI – replacing the four double-choke Webers. This right-hand drive example was delivered new to Switzerland and features a classic red over cream combination.
Audi Cabriolet: £50,000 – £60,000
You’ll have seen this in one of our earlier features: a 1994 Audi Cabriolet, formerly owned by Diana, Princess of Wales. It’s one of a number of cars with royal connections being offered at the Silverstone Auctions sale.
Bristol Brigand: £50,000 – £60,000
This 1987 Bristol Brigand can’t offer a royal connection, but it was owned by Pop Idol winner, Will Young. Nobody is going to pretend owning a Bristol will be a trouble-free experience – you only need to read the auction notes to discover this – but few cars offer such a unique blend of Britishness and exclusivity.
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