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Triumph TR4

Triumph TR4 Published: 6th Dec 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph TR4
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Had your fill of MGBs and TRs and want a different drive? Consider one of these then…

BMW Z3

One to watch £1000-£3000+

Why is the Z3 still strangely overlooked when talking classic sports cars? Thanks to its classical long flowing bonnet, short tail, and muscular flanks, the BMW Z3 has a a distinct touch of the traditional sports car about it and should appeal accordingly. Available in a variety of smooth four and six-cylinder engines, to suit all pockets and speed merchants, yet this BMW is easy and economical as a normal 3 Series to run and maintain. With a good club support, the Z3 is slowly getting the appreciation it deserves, as a nice civilised yet sporting alternative to a MGB, TR or even a MX-5.

Mazda MX-5

A classic cliché? £600-£20,000

So many things have been written about the MX-5 since its 1990 launch in the UK that it’s difficult not to fall into classic clichés, because this Mazda really is the ‘new MGB’ and as well as being a modern take of the iconic Lotus Elan all rolled into one. Pretty yet practical and sporting but sensible, no wonder even non enthusiasts love this sports car. The Mk1 is the most classical but the Mk2 is the better all rounder while the Mk3, which can be had as a hardtop roadster, is the most palatial if not performance-tuned. Massive world-wide aftermarket support means it is by far the easiest, modern classic to own and run although there’s too many iffy Mk1s around these days and why good ones command high prices.

Reliant scimitar SS1

Books and covers? £1000-£4000

Reliant’s Scimitar certainly turns heads – albeit mostly for the wrong reasons. Designed by Michelotti – who penned many great Triumphs – the SS1 looks very kit car like and a world away from Reliant’s earlier GTE-shaped namesake. Yet underneath those quirky looks lurks a very competent proper old school sports car in the Spitfire/Midget mould. Initially, Escort Mk3-powered (1.4/1.6), the design came good when relaunched as the Sabre with Nissan turbo power. Inexpensive fun and certainly individual but lacks – dare we say it – classic class?

Jensen-Healey

Famous names that never got on! £3000-£10,000

This was the car Mr Healey himself designed to replace his lairy hairy-chested 50’s classic. A curious cocktail of Jensen and Healey names, and Lotus power, this sportster promised so much but failed to deliver on nearly all counts, particularly reliability, Jensen build hardly helping. Spares and club support is good mind, and values, while still low, are expected to rise, so, with most of the bugs ironed out by specialists, 2017 is the time to buy one before values finally surge ahead as those famous names finally start to gel together.

Triumph TR7

Lucky seven £2000-£6000

Many argue that the TR7 was more a replacement for the touring GT6 rather than the real sports TRs, and this civilised sportster couldn’t be any more different from the rough and ready TR4. But iffy image aside, this much misunderstood Triumph boasts many merits, chiefly a great cockpit environment, unheard of comfort and refinement for a TR, secure handling, fair performance and economy – and great looks, albeit in drop-top form. And all this for the price of a similar Spitfire and half the price of a TR4! Perhaps it’s time we all took a fresh look at the TR7?

Lotus Elan M100

The forgotten elan £4000-£10,000

Who would have thought that you could own a Lotus Elan for less than the price of a Midget let alone a MGB? But it’s possible. There is a catch of course, and that’s because it is the 1990’s replacement Elan SE (or M100). And being front-wheel drive feels more like a sportier GTi without the tin lid. No matter, what it lacks in classic status the Elan more than compensates with its reliability and usability – and who would have thought you could say this about an old Lotus? Prices start from £4000 but some parts are becoming scarce. The 165bhp turbo SE is the one to have; only a handful of normal aspirated ones were produced and most avoid them like the plague – in other words, if you don’t need Turbo pace, this Elan is a real bargain!

MGF/TF

More than just a ‘new’ MGB £400-£7000

The MGF was the MG that fans waited for to replace the MGB and despite being out of the game for some 15 years, the F was the most advanced MG ever – a world away from the Midget and B. A fast mid-engined, sports car, yet the handling is predictable and secure while the Allegrobased Hydragas suspension provided a saloon-like ride; the later conventionally sprung TF rather disappointed here. Build quality was always indifferent on all and the scrappage rates remain alarmingly high, although some specialists are now offering fully refurbished cars and there’s excellent nationwide club support. Still super value, many MGB owners have them as second cars as a modern alternative.

Sunbeam Alpine

Van ordinaire? £3000-£9000+

This car is older than the TR4 and MGB and just as rustic, being based upon nothing more exotic than a Hillman Husky van. However, while this fin-tailed roadster is more a GT than a true sportster, a good Alpine makes an ideal, smoother alternative if you’ve had your fill of harsh MGs and Triumphs and they’re still good value when compared to an MGB or TR4. Spares supply, while not as proficient as those other British badges, is generally okay, too.

Alfa Romeo Spider

Time to graduate? £4000-£40,000+

When launched, over half a century ago, Alfa’s Spider was way ahead of its time. Whilst most competitors – Triumph and MG especially – were throwbacks from post-war designs, the sophisticated Italian came with overhead (twin) cams, proper dual twin choke Weber carbs, glass windows, disc brakes, five-speed transmission, and all-alloy engine that became a classic. Because the car stayed in production for three decades and only bowed out in the early 1990s (see pic), last ones are successfully modernised yet retain that essential character and are strong value against the originals, which are becoming as prized as they are pricey.

Porsche 914

Boxing clever? £5000-£40,000

The sensible pick is the later Boxster, of course! Yet there’s something about the 914 that you either get or you don’t. Intended to replace the 912, what let this mid-engined part VW designed targa-topped sports car down – apart from its high prices when new – was the sluggish unsporting VW engines and while a Porsche version duly arrived, albeit rather late in the day, (914-6) the damage was done and the car never really caught on, especially in the UK because no official RHD versions were ever made. Those-in-the-know claimed the 914 could out-handle a 911 but this Porsche costs as much as a 911 to repair or restore…

Honda S2000

MX-5 for grown UPS From £5500

If you’re after a modern traditional classic sports car, take a good hard look at the Honda S2000, a 9000rpm screamer that can be likened to a grown up, faster MX-5. Launched in 1999 with a chassis upgrade and 17inch wheels for 2004, plus a further chassis rework for 2008 (a year before its sad demise), this car is a real honey. That sweet high-revving 237bhp engine is a gem and truly fast but equally the rear-wheel handling can be decidedly twitchy – a modern hairy Healey in many ways? Superbly built (although watch for overheating, the engine light illuminating and stiff to operate clutches), prices for a not too thrashed 2004 car start from around £5500. Most desired are special run out (100) versions, all clad in Grand Prix white – and it’s a racing cert you’ll be hooked after that first trip to the red line.

Fiat 124 Spider

The Latin MGB £6000-£16,000

Just reintroduced – ironically as a rehashed Mazda MX-5 with Fiery Fiat turbo power – the original was launched in 1966 and enjoyed a 20 year production run (virtually all LHD only) with pre-1974 cars the sportiest and most classically styled. In common with the Alfa Spider, later versions (like our MGB) were sadly spoiled with their crash protection bumpers to appease the US market, where some 85 per cent of them went. The Fiat can be likened to a Latin MGB but is so much more sophisticated and many enthusiasts prefer the Fiat to the posher Alfa sporting the same name. Middle Barton Garage of Oxford is an expert on Spiders and you really need specialist help to buy a good one but once you’ve got over that hurdle you’ll enjoy an Italian MGB that’s rarer yet still surprisingly good value.



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