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Twin Test Alternatives

TOMORROW’S CLASSICS? Published: 23rd Jun 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Twin Test Alternatives
Twin Test Alternatives
Twin Test Alternatives
Twin Test Alternatives
Twin Test Alternatives
Twin Test Alternatives
Twin Test Alternatives
Twin Test Alternatives
Twin Test Alternatives
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Here’s some more modern alternatives to an MGB or traditional TR


The Barchetta was a larger, more conventional replacement for the much missed X1/9 and little more than a convertible body popped onto a Punto platform. The end result is better than you’d give credit for although it feels more like a cabrio than sports car. Performance from the 1.7-litre engine is ample if not exciting, but the Fiat is good to drive, although being only left hand drive may be a problem for some. DTR European Sports Cars of Surrey is selling refurbished cars. “We get Barchettas back on the road because we love the cars… You can find them on eBay for £2000 but those often require £8000 worth of work. Our cars come with a new MoT and year’s warranty for parts and labour – prices from £5500”.


Although the Audi is front-wheel drive, the TT is one of the style icons of the 1990s. It’s great to drive too, with four-wheel drive for most versions and the option of 1.8T or 3.2 V6 petrol engines manual or auto, plus even diesels on later versions. Oh and there’s also coupé or roadster option. Build quality is superb, they are as easy and as inexpensive to maintain as the Golf they are loosely based upon and practicality isn’t bad either. Prices start from under £3000 at auction or around £4500 at a specialist.


If you are not sure whether you want a coupé or a convertible, buy a first-generation SLK and have both – from less than £4000 into the bargain. Aside from meagre luggage carry scope, due to its metal folding roof, the SLK is one of the most usable convertibles you can own all year round care of a simple to use hood plus the refinement, security and comfort of a hardtop whenever you need it. The flipsides are that it’s more a tourer than hard core sportster, most come as an automatic and they have a bit of soft ‘baby SL’ image. The pluses are because it’s based on the C-Class, similar running costs prevail and there’s an army of Merc specialists to contain costs.


Who would have thought that Vauxhall of all people could bring us a classic sports car that’s worth serious consideration? It would have been so much easier to highlight the Lotus Elise instead, but the VX220 clone is arguably the better, cheaper alternative. In essence it’s a Lotus Elise in a modified no less attractive body and relies upon 2-litre Astra power, including a Ferrari-chasing Turbo. The Wrong Badge means that it never caught on like the Lotus and values remain depressed as a result – say from £8000. If it was an Elise you’d have to pay thousands more!


Elsewhere in this issue you can read how to repair and improve an Elan M100 – but what’s a normal one like? Launched the same year as the Mazda, the new Elan was no pastiche like the MX-5, being totally modern, Isuzu-powered and even front-wheel drive! The result is one of the best cars to come out of Hethel for years and what’s more they’re very reliable and really cheap at around £3500, too but it won’t stay that way for ever.  Oh of course, they drive like a proper Lotus, too. But only get the turbo SE.


Here’s a thoroughly modern sports car that’s a classic in many ways. Despite its complexity, the S2000 is fabulously reliable and superb to drive thanks to its cracking rear-wheel drive chassis. You have to use the revs to make progress but the vivacious VTEC engine just screams its head off – willingly! Offered in convertible form only, the GT model includes a hard-top. Overall, an MX-5 for grown ups – from around £6000 for a ten year old car on a main dealer forecourt which is our advice.


MGF is the sportster MG fans had to wait nearly 20 years for, and one which is increasingly taking the place of the evergreen MGB, especially with younger enthusiasts. With its Metro suspended gas-filled chassis and vivid K Series engines, it’s everything you could wish for in a modern classic and although mid-engined, the handling feels fail safe. The TF which replaced it, employed a conventional suspension for tighter handling but an inferior ride – something the MGF excels at. All are super value but the standard of cars out there can be touch and go and cheap ones are only one repair away from the scrap yard (head gaskets, Metro suspension parts). Typical MG specialist and owners club support compensate.


If the MX-5 is a copy of the Elan, and the later Elan SE is to be considered to be a second rate take on the original version… then the Porsche Boxster must be a poor man’s 911! Not really – instead the Boxster rekindles memories of how 911s used to be before they got too civilised and sanitised plus are also now amazing value. Pundits bang on about the base 2.5 model being too sedate slow but we think it’s quite okay although the S and later 2.7-litre models are admittedly better. Less than £6000 can buy one but condition varies and you need to buy well because it’s not a car designed for DIY work on the driveway.


The 350Z signalled the return of the iconic Nissan’ (previously Datsun) Z cars in some style. Aggressively-styled and with V6 power to match those looks, the 350Z (which comes in coupé and roadster forms) remains true to its rear wheel drive roots. The end result is a Healey-like thrill. Check out the classifieds and you’ll find ten year old coupé with service history for £5000 which is outstanding value. Later models boasted revised transmissions and a 220bhp upgrade before the 370Z replaced it.

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