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Economy Classics

Economy Classics Published: 13th Dec 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Economy Classics RENAULT 5
Economy Classics VOLKSWAGEN POLO
Economy Classics FIAT 126
Economy Classics CITROEN AX
Economy Classics HILLMAN IMP
Economy Classics NISSAN MICRA
Economy Classics AUSTIN METRO/ROVER 100
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You don’t need big engines – and big bucks – to have classic car fun! Here’s eight economisers that give smiles per mile


The Chevette is the most ‘classic’ car here thanks to its traditional mechanical layout and rear-wheel drive. Launched in 1975 and ran for almost a decade, the Chevette was an amalgamation of an Opel Kadett with Vauxhall Viva and their running gear. A lively little car with entertaining old school rearwheel drive handling. the Chevette was available as a threedoor hatch, two and four-door saloon, estate and van although all are rare fi nds now thanks to rust and apathy. Good fun if you fi nd a good one however


Launched in 1972, the 5 was the blueprint of what was to become the modern supermini. A cheeky little car, kids will love its original dash-mounted gear lever and roly-poly handling. The ‘Superfi ve’ of the mid 1980s gave the car more style and conventionality under that familiar looking skin although it was almost a completely new design. Engines span from 956cc to1.7-litres plus some diesels and the car was produced right up to 1996, so you can buy a modern classic if you wish. Tell the kids from the outset that they’d never get insured for the brilliant Gordini and GT Turbo pocket rockets…


After the Mini and the Ford Fiesta this is the most popular set of wheels for young drivers. Launched in 1976, there’s been numerous styles, including a ‘bread van’ look, a very stylish and sweet natured coupé and a saloon offshoot known as the Derby. All Polos are seen as cool and so popular for customising and tuning. As you’d expect from a VW, they last better than most rivals although rust is still a major concern. Nice cars can command appropriate prices.

FIAT 126

At first we intended to put the classic 500 in – until we saw the prices good ones sell for! So its replacement, the 126, has to substitute for this feature – although few would speak of the cars in the same breath. Launched in the mid 70s with sharper Fiat 127-like styling, many early 126s have been scrapped for their bits to make a hotter 500 including its 650cc engine. The 126 BIS of the late 1980s saw further enhancements including water-cooled 704cc engines and a useful rear hatch. After Fiat fi nished with it, the car carried on under other guises, such as the Polski Fiat, until 2000. Ebay and internet will secure most of the plentiful parts around and it was also popular in Australia.


It would have been natural to put the 2CV in here but prices for good ones can be high, just like its street cred. So look to the little AX of the 1980s. A light, frisky if terribly flimsy neo classic, there’s a good choice including a 1.4 diesel that goes well and is extremely frugal. Build quality was always poor so few AXs remain.


Don’t tell everybody, but the Imp is just as good as a Mini and certainly more usable thanks to its hatchback style that was years ahead of its time. Very advanced mechanically too but sadly, unreliability quickly sullied the car’s reputation which is why it was a sales fl op. But the Imp is great to drive with its sweet rear mounted engine and fun handling. Offshoots include the Sport, Californian fastback and the fl agship Sunbeam Stiletto, all 875cc. Parts supply is reasonable, backed by a vibrant club.


Had to include a Japanese car in the mix didn’t we… However out of the many good choices, we went for this strange left fi eld choice – the Nissan Micra. No not the ‘Ninja Turtle’ version but the original, cleanly style hatchback. Not exciting at all but the Micra is a bit different and dead durable of course – apart from a rust-prone body. Dirt cheap to buy and run, it goes without saying, yet with a fair slice of cred too as they are making themselves felt at custom car shows.


This was the car British Leyland intended to replace the evergreen Mini when launched back in 1980, but it didn’t quite work out that way… In it’s day a car that was just as ingenious and pleasing to drive but reliability and rust issues let it down. A peppy performer with good handling, there’s a wide choice that includes an MG version (ignore the fi ckle Turbo), a plush Vanden Plas OAP special and a range of revised Rover 100s that transformed the ageing design with frisky K-Series 16v engines and – fi nally – fi ve-speed gearboxes. Very mIni-like to maintain and work on, but gas suspension spheres are becoming extremely scarce. Most cars have rusted away or been neglected but genuine low mileage cars owned by retired couples do turn up.

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