Why choose a modern classic car? Well, there are a lot of things to think about when you’re buying a car, especially if it’s something that’s supposed to be a bit of fun. For example, buying something newer could prove the most fuss-free decision, but depreciation might prove a significant stumbling block.
Depreciation is a significant factor to consider when it comes to the total cost of ownership. A modern car might tick all the boxes and its running costs might be low, so your ongoing expenditure will feel similarly affordable. However, when the time comes to sell, your finances will take a hefty hit if the value of the car has fallen significantly.
Which is all why, if you’re in the market for a bit of weekend entertainment, a track car or a more interesting daily driver, you might well consider a modern classic or performance car. Such a car is often more evocative, interesting and engaging than other modern cars, yet more comfortable, reliable and usable than an outright classic.
More to the point, modern classics tend to be far more resistant to depreciation – they’ve typically done the bulk of their depreciating already, and their collectable and desirable nature may even result in their value rising over time.
This means that if you pick one of the best cars, you can end up with something rewarding and enjoyable to own that won’t have lost much in value on the used car market when the time comes to pass it on. There are no guarantees of course, especially given the ever-changing nature of the automotive landscape, but a desirable modern classic can make for an excellent choice if you do your research and pick carefully.
If this idea is tempting, but you’re not sure what might best suit you or where to start, read on for our 50 future classic car recommendations, including cars of various types and classes that can sometimes be bought for less than £1,000.
Five modern classic coupes that mix svelte good looks with driving excellence.
1. Ford Puma (1997-2002) – Up to £2,000
If you’re looking for an affordable car that’s great fun to drive, make a beeline for a Ford Puma. Its keen handling, tactile controls and accessible, exploitable performance will put a smile on the face of any driver, while low running costs and a compact footprint make it easy to live with.
You’ll want one with the more desirable and eager 1.7-litre engine, as its performance better matches the Ford’s sporting nature. Rust is a common issue however, and many cars have been neglected. Timing belt changes, for example, are often overlooked. But, if you can find a good Puma, it’ll stand you in good stead.
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2. Audi TT (1999-2005) – Up to £5,000
The first generation of Audi TT is an increasingly popular choice in the modern classics marketplace, thanks in part to its elegant design. Examples that are in good condition, with sensible mileages on the clock, are increasingly uncommon, which further bolsters interest and values.
What’s also appealing about the TT is the performance on offer; the four-wheel-drive Quattro 225 version can sprint from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds. Condition is key though, especially given that tired TTs can be problematic, costly and unappealing. As a result, an immaculate, lesser variant of a Mk1 TT is often a better bet than a worn-out 225 or V6 model.
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3. Vauxhall Monaro (2004-2007) – Up to £10,000
With the electric motor revolution in full swing, you may well be looking to get your combustion-engined kicks while you still can, so a coupe with a V8 might be the order of the day. If so, and you want something interesting and lesser-spotted, the Vauxhall Monaro could be just the ticket.
Early versions feature a 5.7-litre V8 that slings 329bhp and 343lb ft to the rear wheels, but a higher-performance VXR model was also offered. Later cars, if you can find one in budget, feature an even more powerful 6.0-litre engine. The surprisingly civilised yet brutish Vauxhall can suffer from rust, but mechanical issues should be few and far between. Think of it as a bit like an older Ford Mustang alternative and a Monaro can make a good deal of sense.
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4. Honda Integra Type R DC2 (1997-2001) – Up to £20,000
The DC2 generation of Integra has long been regarded as one of the finest front-wheel-drive cars you can buy. That reputation, coupled with its increasing rarity, makes it an eminently desirable car. While it’s not about outright muscle, the beautifully engineered Type R still stacks up well on the performance front; make full use of the UK market model’s 8,700rpm limiter and, conditions permitting, the Honda will sprint from 0-60mph in a still-swift 6.5 seconds.
However, rust is a major issue with DC2s. A car might appear sound but if you start digging around underneath, you’ll often uncover some horrors. Consequently, you need to inspect any potential purchase very carefully.
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5. Porsche 911 (1997-2003) – up to £50,000
It would be remiss of us to list an array of modern classics and not mention the 996 generation of Porsche 911. You’ve plenty of choice if you fancy one of Porsche’s fabled rear-engined sports cars, and you need not spend a fortune. Higher-mileage Carreras, for example, are great to drive and can be bought for around £10,000.
Buyers seeking a more exotic and collectable 996 would do well to consider the higher-performance Turbo or GT3 versions, although getting your hands on the latter for £50,000 will require some canny bidding at an auction. In any case, research the potential foibles and collectability of any version that you’re considering.
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Our five top-down modern classics that bring the fresh air in to enhance the fun.
1. Mazda MX-5 (1990-2015) – Up to £3,000
The Mazda MX-5 is often the go-to recommendation for someone who wants a fun and affordable convertible sports car. Justifiably so, given the Mazda’s usability, low weight, sweet handling, unburstable engines, tunability and rear-wheel-drive chassis. The MX-5 also harks back to a less complicated and more entertaining era of driving, and that, to many, is an increasingly desirable trait.
If you have £3,000 to spend, you’ll also be able to choose from first, second or third-generation models. It’ll be easier to find a good later car for that money, but any smart standard example is worth buying and preserving. Just watch out for rust, damage and roof issues.
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2. Porsche Boxster (1996-2004) – Up to £6,000
Buyers who want a drop-top with a bit more sense of occasion should take a look at the first generation of Porsche Boxster. Aside from being gratifying to drive and sounding superb, and even more so with a few straightforward upgrades, the compact Porsche is affordable and – a few major issues aside – relatively easy to look after.
More to the point, early cars in good condition are getting thin on the ground. Consequently, if you want a delightful naturally aspirated six-cylinder sports car with some cachet, now’s the time to get to grips with the pitfalls and pick one up. Don’t overlook the base 2.5-litre model either; in fine fettle, they can be great fun.
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3. Honda S2000 (1999-2009) – Up to £10,000
A more evocative drop-top, such as a Boxster, can suffer from problematic and expensive failures. If that risk worries you, yet you’re still keen on a high-performance convertible that won’t tank in value, Honda’s appealing S2000 could be just the answer.
Early cars offer up a spine-tingling 9,000rpm redline, 237bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. These elements, coupled with fine engineering and a light, responsive and raw nature, really hit the spot for some drivers. Major mechanical problems are also rare, provided the car in question has been maintained, but watch out for corrosion and suspension-related issues.
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4. TVR Chimaera (1993-2003) – Up to £25,000
While it's tempting to include the Jaguar XK here, truth is if you want something that’ll raise your pulse from the moment you crank the engine, you really should consider a TVR Chimaera as an alternative. Its small size, low weight, technology-free nature and brawny V8 make it an immediately engaging and exciting car to drive, yet it’s not so uncivilised as to be unusable.
You might think it a mad idea but, provided you buy one that’s been looked after – proper care of the chassis is crucial, for example – the hand-built Chimaera can be a reliable and easily enjoyed car. Just be mindful of what the ownership experience might entail and buy the best example that you can afford.
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5. Aston Martin Vantage Roadster (2006-2018) – Up to £100,000
Buyers after something more modern, comfortable and tractable should consider Aston Martin’s Vantage Roadster. It offers up the classic front-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout that many want, coupled with plenty of creature comforts and glorious naturally aspirated engines.
It’s also an elegantly styled car, and one that’s guaranteed to turn heads, and it’s not excessively brash or aggressive. That, in conjunction with its fluid handling and stout performance, makes it an eminently appealing car. Get a low-mileage manual example in good condition, look after it, and enjoy. Good V8s can be had for around £40,000, but the costlier V12s are less common and more collectable. If the Aston doesn't appeal, a Bentley Continental GT is a solid alternative.
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These five hatchbacks are practical, compact, fun and surely destined for future classic status.
1. Ford Focus (1998-2004) – Up to £1,000
The first generation of Focus was a landmark car for Ford. It was affordable and practical, and its fresh styling was leagues ahead of the tired and drab Escort that it replaced. More importantly, it was also great to drive.
Most, however, have been run into the ground. This means that any remaining examples in good condition are worth picking up. They’re reliable and comfortable cars too, but watch out for rust and skipped timing belt changes. If you want something more exciting, see if you can find the warmer ST170 variant. Keep an eye out for estate versions of the ST170, too, as those are rare.
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2. MINI Hatch (2001-2007) – Up to £2,000
The revival of MINI was a divisive affair, with many devout fans criticising the new BMW-era cars for being too big, weighty and conventional. However, the first generation of new MINIs captured the attention of countless buyers, in part because of their charming retro styling and an endless array of personalisation options.
They still look good today, and compared to many modern hatchbacks, they’re light, compact, straightforward and fun to drive. A good first-generation new MINI is worth nabbing, regardless of whether it’s a standard One or a hot supercharged Cooper S. Watch out for the collectable early Y-registration cars and MINI-registered cars with OBL on their number plates.
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3. Audi A2 (2000-2005) – Up to £4,000
The A2 was a remarkably innovative car and one quite unlike anything offered by Audi in the past. It featured distinctive looks, lightweight all-aluminium construction, eminently flexible interior packaging, neat servicing touches and a terrifically economical engine line-up. It wasn’t particularly successful however, and it was expensive to build, so it didn’t last long.
Audi’s diminutive hatchback has quite the following these days though, and a properly maintained example can make for a great and frugal practical modern classic. At the very least, a good one should also hold its value. Neglected examples can be rife with problems though, so do plenty of research before committing to one.
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4. Volkswagen Golf GTI (2005-2008) – Up to £6,000
A clean Golf GTI of any generation is always going to nab someone’s attention and investment at some point down the line, and that’s even in the case of the oft-unloved, oft-underpowered fourth-generation GTI. If you want an interesting, usable and higher-performance modern classic, however, take a look at the fifth generation car.
It was a dramatic improvement from its predecessor and, although not as exciting to drive as some rivals, it delivered an unbeatable all-round package. There’s lots you can do to upgrade them too, which adds to their appeal. If you’ve got more to spend, you could even consider one of the more desirable and capable Edition 30 or Pirelli variants.
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5. BMW 1 Series 130i (2005-2009) – Up to £8,000
Comparatively modern hatchbacks with more than four cylinders and rear-wheel drive are rare beasts indeed, which is why the six-cylinder BMW 130i is of so much interest. Aside from its sonorous 3.0-litre engine, and the option of a manual transmission, the compact rear-drive hatch is also good to drive, and a few tweaks will transform it into something far more compelling.
Age and neglect have taken their toll on some, so try to find an example that’s been cared for. The BMW is also very sensitive to specification, with desirable options including xenon headlights and cruise control. Many features are easily retrofitted, however. Later LE variants are more collectable, too, but command a premium.
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These modern classic saloons combine elegance and practicality with distinctive driving experiences.
1. Lexus LS (1990-1994) – Up to £5,000
The first Lexus was the XF10 generation of LS, which made its debut in 1989. To say it was a groundbreaking car would be an understatement; the upmarket saloon turned out to be subtle, refined, comfortable, beautifully built, outstandingly engineered and phenomenally reliable.
It was successful too, and soon outstripped rivals like Mercedes-Benz on the sales front in the American market. In doing so, it laid the foundations of what would become a globally recognised luxury brand. Even today, an early LS is a cosseting car in which to travel. Buy one that’s been loved and you’ll get yourself a reliable, usable and relaxing modern classic. Don’t discount later models either.
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2. Honda Accord Type R (1998-2003) – Up to £5,000
If staid, sedate and supple progress isn’t your thing, and you want an affordable and uncommon saloon that’s a blast to drive, take a look at the UK-market CH1 Accord Type R. It packs a rev-happy 2.2-litre engine and a range of desirable performance features – including sports suspension and a limited-slip differential – and it has plenty of appeal among those who know what it is.
Many have been driven into the ground though, and rust can be a problem, so the number of good cars remaining is dwindling. Aside from checking for obvious issues, it’s worth trying to find an enthusiast-owned example that’s been well-looked after.
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3. Audi S8 (1994-2002) – Up to £10,000
Few would look twice at a first-generation S8, and therein lays part of its appeal. While it may appear an unexciting premium saloon that blends into the background, beneath its aluminium bodywork is a powerful V8, a capable chassis and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The S8, which featured prominently in the film Ronin, still stacks up well today; the updated 1999 model, for example, features a 355bhp V8 that gives a 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. These are complicated cars, so you’ll need to be careful when buying an S8, but get a good one and you’ll be rewarded with a capable and subtle all-season performance saloon.
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4. BMW M3 (2007-2011) – Up to £25,000
The E90 generation of BMW is an excellent choice if you want a saloon with some serious high-performance credentials. It’s still quick too, even alongside more modern cars; its motorsport-inspired 4.0-litre V8 produces a hefty 414bhp in standard models, which can catapult the restrained-looking 3 Series from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds.
It’s a notable generation of M3 too, being the only mainstream example to be powered by a V8 and the last to be naturally aspirated. Reportedly, many owners have ditched their newer F80 M3s to go back to an E90 M3, which says a lot about its inherent quality and appeal. The V8 does require some specialist care however, so don’t buy one without getting to grips with the common issues first.
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5. Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG (2008-2015) – Up to £30,000
Buyers who want a more sledgehammer-like experience, or just to indulge in a muscular and naturally aspirated V8 experience while they still can, should opt for a C63. It’s a sharply styled and responsive car but the engine is the centrepiece of the show – the 6.2-litre V8 thunders out 451bhp and 443lb ft of torque, all of which is gratifyingly channelled to the rear wheels.
Reliability is good too, but some early cars can suffer from head bolt-related issues. In any case, try to find an example that’s been looked after appropriately. Keep an eye out for cars fitted with a limited-slip differential, too, as they’re far more engaging to drive.
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These modern classic estate offer plenty of driving fun, but with extra space in the boot.
1. Skoda Octavia vRS Estate (2003-2005) – Up to £2,000
The first generation of Octavia vRS is a popular choice for many, thanks to its blend of performance, practicality, reliability and affordability. You don’t see many good examples these days either, and smart estate variants are even less common, so if you find one, snap it up.
Much like the fifth-generation Golf GTI, the subtly styled Octavia vRS serves up a great all-round package. Pleasingly, aside from being easy to look after and live with, there’s also plenty of scope for affordably improving a vRS. Just remember to keep the original bits, so you can return it to standard if required.
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2. BMW 5 Series Touring (1997-2003) – Up to £5,000
Elegant styling, refined powertrains, a classy cabin and fine handling make the E39 5 Series Touring a compelling choice, particularly given that you often don’t have to spend much to get one. A tidy straight-six 530i is a fine thing indeed, but the flagship V8 540i is worth considering if you must have more muscle.
Condition is everything, though, so it’s best to just buy an E39 that’s been properly maintained and has a sensible number on its odometer. Not only will it be more enjoyable to own, but it will cost less to run, be less problematic and command more money when the time comes to sell it.
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3. Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Sportwagon (2002-2005) – Up to £10,000
For some, the engine is the focal point of a car. It has to look the part, sound the part and perform brilliantly – otherwise, the whole affair can end up being flat and unexciting. Fortunately, under the bonnet of the 156 GTA is a fabulous 3.2-litre V6 that ticks all the right boxes.
It’s also wrapped up in an eye-catching and suitably sporting package, and an increasingly rare one at that, making it a great choice for those in the market for an appreciating modern classic. They can be finickity cars though, so dig through a few buyer’s guides before taking the plunge.
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4. Volvo 850R Estate (1995-1996) – Up to £15,000
There are a few clues that the 850R’s not just a humdrum Volvo, such as the roof-mounted spoiler, but few would expect it to pack a mean turbocharged five-cylinder engine. In manual models, those five force-fed cylinders put out 250bhp and 258lb ft, which is enough to propel the front-wheel-drive Volvo from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds.
Flat out, it’ll hit 155mph, and that’s all before you start employing myriad tuning options. The 850R makes a sublime noise, too, and is a great bit of motoring madness from Volvo. If you have a bit more to spend however, you could opt for the earlier limited-edition 850 T5-R, which offers a similar experience and is more collectable.
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5. Audi RS6 Avant (2002-2004) – Up to £25,000
If you’re in need to transfer a grandfather clock from point A to point B at a vast rate of knots, an RS6 Avant is a fine tool for the job. Its exterior might not scream performance but its eight cylinders, two turbochargers, 4.2 litres and 444bhp certainly do, as does its 0-62mph time of just 4.6 seconds.
Then there’s the additional benefit of a Torsen-based permanent all-wheel drive system, granting the muscular Audi improved tractability. However, you’ll need to tread carefully; such impressive performance entails unsurprisingly hefty running costs. If that doesn’t put you off, and you want something even more impressive, consider one of the more expensive and powerful limited-edition Plus variants.
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SUVs and Crossovers
Here are five high-riding and high-performing modern classic off-roaders you'll want to watch out for.
1. Suzuki Jimny (1998-2018) – Up to £3,000
A third-generation Jimny might not strike you as a particularly collectable car but they have a considerable following. But, like many others here, they suffer from rust and age-related issues. As a result, Jimnys that are in good shape are increasingly hard to find.
They’re good fun and easy to maintain, so they’re a great option if you’re looking for a fun little project car to hack around in and tinker with. And, come the winter months, you’ll be able to put on a set of appropriate tyres and tackle ice and snow with aplomb. Before buying any Jimny, though, get out a flashlight and take a long, hard look at the underside.
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2. Land Rover Discovery (1989-1998) – Up to £6,000
If you want something a little more civilised than a Jimny, and a 4x4 with wider appeal, you could consider getting a first-generation Land Rover Discovery. Aside from its tremendous off-road capabilities, and inherent Land Rover charisma, being the first in the Discovery line makes it a notable car.
Early Series I variants in immaculate condition can be expensive, and are already in classic territory, but models from later years can be far more affordable. Time is taking its toll on the surviving number though, and that attrition will ultimately push prices up. Just watch out for rot and signs of neglect, as a tired Discovery can cost a fortune to put right.
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3. Jeep Cherokee (1993-2001) – Up to £10,000
You might baulk at the idea of spending several thousand on a first-generation Jeep Cherokee. However, these talented off-roaders have their fans and often command serious money when in fine condition. Properly maintained Jeeps with low mileages are also uncommon these days, which further serves to drive up values.
There’s a lot to like about a good example of the XJ generation of Cherokee, including timeless looks, a compact footprint, decent handling for its class, indestructible 4.0-litre engines and excellent reliability. A healthy one should be pretty taut and quick too. Steer clear of the diesels and 2.5-litre models though, and try and find one of the more sharply styled pre-facelift models.
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4. Subaru Forester (2002-2008) – Up to £15,000
No, we’re not suggesting you spend £15,000 on a standard SG-generation Forester, as pictured – although, if you’re looking to spend less, one of those in good shape and in manual 2.0-litre or 2.5-litre turbocharged form is always a solid buy. Like the Cherokee and Jimny, they definitely have a dedicated following.
Enthusiasts and collectors however should investigate the import-only Forester STi, which was made from 2004-2006. This desirable high-performance Subaru is tough, practical, gratifying to drive and devastatingly quick; its turbocharged 261bhp and all-wheel-drive system grant a 0-62mph time of just 5.4 seconds. They’re not hard cars to source from specialist importers either, and tend to be in exceptional condition.
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5. Land Rover Defender Heritage Edition (2015-2016) – Up to £60,000
The Heritage Edition was a limited-edition model designed to commemorate production of the legendary Land Rover Defender drawing to a close. Just 400 were built for the UK market, immediately making them collectable, and prices have climbed from the outset due to demand, the popularity of the Defender and the end of its long run.
Each Heritage Edition features Grasmere Green paintwork and a white roof, as well as other nostalgic design cues, giving them a distinctive retro look and considerable charm. Keep an eye on auction houses, as they occasionally pop up there and go for less than they might privately or through a dealer.
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Electric and hybrid cars
Electrified cars are the future, and these modern classics are some of the models that lead the charge.
1. Toyota Prius (2000-2003) – Up to £2,000
The first generation of Toyota Prius might not be exciting, evocative or stylish, but it was responsible for bringing hybrid technology to the modern mass market, which makes it a notable car. Its innovative power-split system allowed for the seamless blending of petrol and electric power and, at its launch in Japan in 1997, the production version of the Prius was claimed to average an impressive 57.6mpg.
You don’t see early examples that often either, so there’s some merit to picking up one of these technologically interesting cars. They’re relaxing and refined too, and their impressive reliability means you could use one without fuss on a daily basis.
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2. Nissan Leaf (2011-2018) – Up to £5,000
Okay, so this is perhaps ahead of the curve somewhat, but with early Nissan Leafs dropping below the £5,000 mark, they’re an interesting one to consider. After all, they’re one of the most viable and affordable electric cars out there.
Aside from its affordability, the Leaf was the first mass-produced modern electric car that could feasibly serve as a replacement for a conventional petrol or diesel car. It was also the first mainstream production electric car to use a lithium-ion battery. And, because they’re overlooked and overshadowed, an early low-mileage Leaf could be worth quietly picking up and stashing away.
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3. Honda Insight (2000-2005) – Up to £5,000
The ZE1 generation of Honda Insight is an ideal choice for those seeking a frugal modern classic. It’s an interestingly engineered car too; it has a low-drag aluminium body, a three-cylinder engine and Honda’s electric Integrated Motor Assist system to help deliver remarkable efficiency.
Honda’s uncommon hybrid coupe also weighs just 838kg and, entertainingly, it has a manual transmission. While not quick, the lightweight Insight is quite good fun to drive, and is capable of averaging a remarkable 83.1mpg. They’re reliable too, but there can be issues with the IMA battery. Fortunately, fans of the model offer myriad fixes and upgrades.
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4. Tesla Model S (2014-) – Up to £30,000
While some gripe about Tesla, the company’s products have been almost single-handedly responsible for changing the public’s perception of electric cars. The Model S, its first mainstream model, was no sluggish and unremarkable electric car; it was quick, and devastatingly so in higher specifications, capable and luxurious.
The Tesla’s trump card was its range, with even the initial base variant covering up to 240 miles on a single charge, which was some three times that of the comparable Nissan Leaf. These are still a long way from modern classic status, mind, but early low-mileage Teslas in immaculate condition could be few and far between in the future.
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5. Tesla Roadster (2008-2012) – Up to £100,000
The Model S was Tesla’s first mass-produced car but, before that, it built a low-volume model called the Roadster. Some 2,500 of the all-electric sports cars were built, from 2008 to 2012, and each offered an excellent range of around 227 miles. They’re unsurprisingly quick, too, dispatching the 0-60mph sprint in as little as 3.7 seconds.
Given the way interest in the company continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, picking up a Roadster could be a good idea. And, if emissions zones and related restrictions continue to escalate, it might end up being one of the few sports cars you can actually drive in some places.
If you want dedicated performance, then check out these soon-to-be classic sports cars.
1. Toyota MR2 Roadster (2000-2006) – Up to £3,000
The MR2 Roadster should be at the top of your list if you want a reliable, durable and affordable sports car. It’s also a great choice if you’re looking for an inexpensive track car, as the compact and tough Toyota is a delight to drive.
An unblemished early example is worth snapping up, given Toyota’s renewed focus on driver’s cars and that the third-generation MR2 is edging towards classic status. That, coupled with its rear-wheel drive and mid-engined layout, makes it a compelling choice. The Toyota also resists rust far better than the MX-5, while its 1ZZ engine is more interesting than that found in the Mazda.
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2. Mazda RX-8 (2003-2010) – Up to £5,000
There are a lot of pitfalls with an RX-8. Rust, oil consumption, hefty fuel bills and complete engine failures, among others, are all potential problems. Those gripes, coupled with the terrific rate at which the Mazda lost money from new, have resulted in many cars being neglected or scrapped.
However, if you go in mindful of the problems and buy a decent example, you’ll be rewarded with a distinctive and uncommon sports car. And, if you pick up a 228bhp version, you’ll be able to revel in the 9,000rpm redline offered by the Mazda’s oddball Wankel engine. Alternatively, if you fancy more muscle, take a gander at a Nissan 350Z.
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3. Peugeot RCZ R (2013-2015) – Up to £15,000
Hot Peugeots are always a good bet, in terms of future classic status, and the RCZ R is unquestionably a hot Peugeot. Its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine puts out 266bhp, which is channelled through a Torsen limited-slip differential to the front wheels, and RCZ R can sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds.
It’s a great car to drive too, and more distinctive than a comparable Renaultsport offering or similar. Only some 300 are left on the DVLA’s books though, so finding one could take some time. On the plus side, that low number will do wonders for the residual values and future collectability.
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4. Lotus Elise (1996-2001) – Up to £30,000
The influx of electronic driving aids mean that pure driving experiences are difficult to come by these days, which is why many are looking to older, more bare-bones cars. And if you want one of the best driving experiences around, you should look no further than the Lotus Elise S1. It’s light, naturally aspirated, manual, free from driver aids and sublime to drive, while also being more usable and comfortable than the likes of a Caterham or Westfield.
A clean S1, which has been appropriately maintained, will be a great buy that should stand the test of time. Go for the best-maintained example you can find, and don’t overlook the base 118bhp variants, but remember to look out for crash damage.
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5. Porsche Cayman R (2011-2012) – Up to £50,000)
If you want a seriously capable and collectable Porsche, and want something lighter and more compact than a 911, go for a Cayman R. It landed in the UK in 2011 and, compared to the standard 987-generation Cayman S, was lighter, more powerful and more focused.
It’s still a quick car as well, even compared to current sports cars, with 0-62mph being dispatched in just five seconds in manual versions. Such a superb naturally aspirated Porsche will always do well on the values front in the long run, and even more so when you consider that there are only some 230 in the UK.
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When you want a practical, family car but also lots of performance, then a hot hatch is just what you need. Here are five of our favourite modern classics...
1. BMW 3 Series Compact 2001-2004 (up to £4,000)
A BMW might not be on the hot-hatch radar of many, but the E46 generation of 3 Series Compact is well worth considering. It’s small, agile and rear-wheel drive, the latter of which sets it apart from countless alternatives.
Enticingly, it’s also offered with a 2.5-litre straight-six engine that puts out 189bhp. In manual form, that’s enough to propel the pocket-sized BMW from 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds. There are lots of tuning options too, and a sorted 325ti is great fun and ideal for the odd track day. Rust and neglect are thinning the Compact herd rapidly though, so you’ll need to move quickly to get a fine example for sensible money.
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2. Honda Civic Type R (2007-2010) – Up to £6,000
The first iteration of the Civic Type R, the EP3, has long been a top choice for those wanting a fun – and appreciating – hot hatchback. However, truth be told, they’re not that outstanding to drive; the steering and ride leaves much to be desired, and some can find the VTEC-equipped engine’s delivery and noise undesirable.
If you drive one and don’t gel with its raw nature, we’d instead recommend trying the later FN2. Many find them better to drive, and easier to live with, and they’re also more affordable and suffer from fewer age-related issues. Good ones are rare, and worth snapping up, and the LSD-equipped versions even more so.
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3. Renault Clio Renaultsport (2001-2005) – Up to £10,000
You can’t talk about hot hatches and not mention the Clio 172 and 182. Sure, they’re not without their foibles – such as costly timing belt services – but they’re light, engaging and quick. The hot Clios were also a ray of light in a time where many supposedly hot hatches were getting heavier, more complicated and less entertaining.
The Phase 2 iterations of the Clio Renaultsport featured here are much admired and easier to find, so they’re a good option. Collectors will often seek out the limited-edition Trophy variant (pictured) but, like the desirable Clio Renault Sport V6, they command big money. Don’t overlook an earlier Phase 1 Renaultsport if you spot one, though.
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4. Ford Focus RS (2002-2003) – Up to £20,000
Any high-performance Ford is always a good bet, in terms of potential appreciation and future classic status. The first generation of Focus RS is even more desirable than some, as just 2,146 made it to the UK market. Over time, incidents and age have cut that number down – boosting the Ford’s collectable status further.
The Focus RS is an invigorating hatch to drive too, in part because its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine slings 212bhp and 229lb ft of torque to the front wheels through a limited-slip differential. The way the Ford drives isn’t for everyone but, if you buy a good example, you won’t struggle to sell it when the time comes.
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5. Audi A1 Quattro (2012) – Up to £35,000
If you appreciate all-weather tractability and performance, and you want something quick, desirable and usable, take a gander at an A1 Quattro. The compact hatch is powered by a mighty turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that produces 253bhp, which makes its way to all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. If you nail the launch, the pocket rocket will get to 62mph in just 5.7 seconds.
Only 333 examples of the A1 Quattro were offered worldwide, and just 19 made it to the UK, hence its heady price. However, that rarity will stave off depreciation. Those seeking a more modern experience will also appreciate the A1’s long list of features, which include xenon lights, cruise control and parking sensors.
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When you want ultimate performance and prestige, these are the modern cars that should be on your shopping list.
1. TVR Cerbera (1996-2005) – Up to £30,000
Calling the Cerbera a supercar might be a little bit of a stretch, but the nerve-searing experience of driving one will match, if not exceed, many a true supercar. It’s also exotic and uncommon, making it guaranteed to turn heads when you hit the streets.
Only 848 are registered with the DVLA, which will help on the values front in the future. However, both six- and eight-cylinder variants can be problematic if you’re not careful. The V8’s the better bet, but in any case the trick is to buy one that’s been properly maintained, and look after it. In particular, make sure the TVR’s chassis is in good shape.
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2. Audi R8 (2007-2015) – Up to £50,000
Owning a supercar is all well and good but if it’s too difficult to live with, or too arduous and boisterous to drive in certain conditions, it might just end up parked. If you instead want something usable, which is comfortable and easy to drive, a first-generation R8 could be just the ticket.
They’ve about bottomed out now, in terms of values, so now’s a good time to buy one. A manual version is the best bet and, if you have the budget, a V10 model will deliver the most evocative experience. They can all still generate big bills, even though major problems are rare, so set some money aside.
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3. Ferrari F430 (2005-2010) – Up to £80,000
To some, Ferrari is the pinnacle of supercar manufacturers. Many of its past models also hit the sweet spot for many an enthusiast; screaming naturally aspirated engines and manual transmissions, among other things, are hallmarks of older Ferraris.
The 4.3-litre V8 in the F430, for example, generates an almighty 483bhp at 8,500rpm, which is enough to catapult the svelte Ferrari from 0-62mph in just 4.0 seconds. The V8 uses timing chains instead of belts as well, unlike the preceding 360, granting reduced running costs. The younger age of the F430 should further help reduce the chance of problems, making it a better option for many than an older Ferrari.
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4. Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (2010-2014) – Up to £150,000
It might not be a Lamborghini, but not everyone wants their supercar to be raw, intimidating and best suited for short weekend blasts. If you’re more in the market for a car that feels reassuring, confident and capable, an SLS AMG could prove ideal. It’s more muscular than some, thanks to its 6.2-litre V8, and its gullwing doors and elegant interior lend it a real sense of occasion.
It successfully echoes the original 300SL, too, which adds to its appeal. It delivers supercar pace, with a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds and a limited top speed of 197mph. Such capabilities, coupled with its naturally aspirated V8, gullwing doors and comparatively subtle looks, make it a particularly desirable modern classic.
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5. Porsche Carrera GT (2003-2006) – Up to £750,000
If you want a truly exceptional, rare and unrepeatable car, the Porsche Carrera GT should take pride of place at the top of your list. Ten cylinders, 604bhp at 8,000rpm, a six-speed manual gearbox, a mid-engined layout, a top speed of 205mph, 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, a kerb weight of just 1,380kg and some staggering engineering all culminate in a car that’s in a league of its own.
Porsche only built 1,270 of its mid-engined supercar, making it even more collectable. Yes, maintaining one to an appropriate standard will cost an absolute fortune. But, when you consider that it cost some £330,000 when new, and now often sell for upwards of £600,000, you’re not exactly throwing good money after bad.