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Cheap Coupes

Cheap Coupes Published: 31st Jan 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Cheap Coupes
Cheap Coupes
Cheap Coupes
Cheap Coupes
Cheap Coupes
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Here’s our tips on fine fancy modern fastbacks that won’t break the bank

Any ideas about a cheap Coupé that’s not a Capri?

Why not go modern because just as the Capri was put out to graze a new generation started to grow.

You mean Calibra?

That’s our first thought as it was similar in concept, (albeit Vauxhall Cavalier-based) but looks stunning. There a choice from a straight 2-litre ‘four’ right up 2.5 V6s and a 4x4 Turbo that’s as quick as a Cosworth.

Any others?

Plenty, starting with Ford who tried to replace the Capri, first with the Probe and then the Mondeo-based Cougar. The Probe was a re-styled Mazda MX-6 and was a good, smooth coupé in 2.5 V6 guise but the Jap certainly looked more classical than the Ford it sired. Cougar was a strange one, being based on the estate platform that always look too big but, Mondeo underpinnings and a quick 2.5 V6 that also went into Jaguars, resulted in a coupé that felt nicer than it looked.

What about the Petite Puma?

Little brother Puma was one of Ford’s best cars of the 1990s and probably the Blue Oval’s most credible answer to a modern Capri. Fun to drive with a vivid special 1.7-litre guise, that never figured in any other model since, they are a silent but strongly emerging classic yet are as cheap as chips. The Ford Motorsport Racing Puma is a classic already and the peach of these performance Pumas sell well over five figures. On the other hand, most of the mundane 1.4 and 1.6 Puma litter are pretty tatty as they are worth no more than a normal Fiesta plus they rust just as badly.

Any other Brits?

How about a pair of (Honda-helped) Rovers – the 200/220 Coupé and 800-based alternative that’s more akin to being a latter day Granada Ghia? It’s a bit Andy WIlliams and Perry Como mind, although very nice all the same if that’s your sort of thing. The 200 is a lot sportier, available with a variety of engines; the real scalded cat is aptly labelled Tomcat. It’s a 200bhp 2-litre turbo terror that’s way too frisky for its chassis (Austin Rover had a habit of doing this back then, witness the wild child Maestro and Montego turbos-ed). Thankfully, the cultured 200 is nicely built and developed resulting in a very good choice. The interior is a bit cramped but the novel lift out roof panels are ample compensation and Tomcats are collectible so you’ll do well to get a good one in the region of £3000.

Further jap gems?

Yes and no – the former because while there are some great cars, like the Nissan 200SX, Toyota Celica, Honda Prelude (unlike the Accord and Civic which are a bit ‘Radio 2’) and the aforementioned MX-6. The problem is that the majority are now owned by the tuning and custom brigade and few good ones are left as standard. If we had to pick one, then it would probably be the Celica as you can’t go wrong with this car plus there’s a model to suit all tastes and pockets. The 90’s bulbousstyled GT-Four is turbocharged and four-wheel driven yet attainable for around £4000. And don’t overlook the big brother Supra which with its big straight six engine is the embodiment of the old Datsun 240Z. Speaking of which, have a gander at a 350Z if you want to go really modern or the RX8 Mazda with its novel doors and Wankel engine. High VED levies aside, this pair are worth saving and savouring.

So no Hondas?

Let’s back-track here a wee bit… Some are a bit staid but fine if you like that sort of thing – others are rev-happy ravers, such as the CRX of the 1980s, ditto early Preludes with their clever four-wheel steering and superb engineering. However, the shooting star in has to be the Integra Type-R which is a road racer care of its hand-built racer engines. Very fast (0-60mph in 6.2 seconds) and stylish, yet you pick either UK or Grey Import car (difference is in the headlight styling) for around £7000 and if you buy an original and keep it that way you’ll be sitting pretty ( especially in those special body hugging Recaros) in every sense.

I adore the looks of some Peugeots

You’re talking about the 406 Coupé we wager with its Ferrari 456-like looks, small wonder they were both styled by Pininfarina. They drive as well as they look too and in 200bhp V6 form are no mean performers even if they don’t wear too well. Later elaborately-styled 407 is also worth considering although it lacks the ultimate classiness of earlier models but both come from the era when Peugeots used to handle well!

And the German offerings…?

Hoped you weren’t going to mention them, to be honest! There’s little wrong with the choice of cars of course, it’s just that they are a bit too obvious and more than a bit too common as a result. Also how many are bought and run by serious enthusiasts, like us, rather than someone who simply wants something a bit tasty for Mondeo money? MX-5s are suffering a similar fate… but as we said, there’s no shortage of modern classics with 3 Series Coupés and Audi TTs springing to mind.

If there’s one exception it has to be Volkswagen’s Corrado. Big brother to the Scirocco, it was hailed as the best handling front-wheel drive coupé (before the Fiat Coupé came along) and the top VR6 was junior supercar. Rightly so, VR6s are now commanding the most money but if you don’t need performance, look to the plain 2-litre 16-valve or the purist’s choice, the supercharged G60 for all around £5000. Body repairs are pricey due to the car’s special build and parts supply.

Scirocco was reintroduced a decade ago and modern Mk3s are quite good value costing about the same (say £7000) as the crisply styled and performing Mk1 that’s the best in our view. The stodgier Mk2 replacement that ran from 1982-92 is considerably cheaper and good ones are easy £2000-£3000 pick ups. They perform nicely enough too with Golf GTi 1.8 16-valve power under the bonnet and are bargains when compared to that hot hatch.

Rust is rampant on all VWs of this vintage and as Sciroccos hold little value most are bodged with filler. A shame, as they are far more exclusive than any Golf.

Come on then, what’s your prized pick?

You want to put us on the spot don’t you? Ok, this pair hails from Italy but the one that you’d expect to be prize pick isn’t! We’re talking about the Alfa GTV and the related Fiat Coupé that both hit the showrooms around the same time during the 1990s and are not dissimilar in design both being front-wheel driven, Fiat Tipo based. The real difference lies in their powerplants; Alfa relying on its trusty classic twin cam four and a glorious V6 where as Fiat used its own twin cam 16-valve engine, in normal and turbocharged tunes, that evolved into a five-cylinder in 1996.

Isn’t that the hot integrale unit?

Yes that’s right – it powered that legendary Lancia and in top tune this spelt 215bhp from 20 valves for a shattering performance that’s as quick as any E-type. However, what makes us pick the Fiat’s keys up and not the Alfa ones is that, amazingly and frustratingly, the Fiat is the much more enticing and involving driver’s car, especially handling-wise, where a clever limited slip diff harnesses all that power without the need for fourwheel drive. In contrast the Alfa is a tad wonky when pushed, when you’d think that the sportier brand would have that area covered (the later GT is better in this respect and is also a good buy). All three are much the same price (£5000 for a good cared for one – many aren’t) but your final say may come down to their quite individualistic styling which, getting back to the Capri, is what coupés are chiefly all about remember!



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