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20 Wisest Buys

20 Wisest Buys Published: 8th Jan 2020 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Looking for a new classic this year? Here’s 20 that would be in our short list for a variety of reasons

Classics are for driving and enjoying in our books but we don’t know of anybody who doesn’t want to be quids in at the end of the day. All told, given the political and national uncertainties, the market is holding up pretty well and certainly better than new car sales but right now it is a buyers’ market so you’re in the driving seat for a good deal.

What we’ve assembled over the next fi ve pages are 20 classics that we think you should consider buying during 2020 because of their general appeal plus future value. Some are known favourites while others are left fi eld alternatives that are sure to have their day in the sun one day. There’s a good selection ranging from budget buys from prestige purchases so there’s something for everybody but all are guaranteed in their own way to give a lot of fun and be better than money in the bank! What more can you ask for?

Ten quick tips for that dream buy

1. Treat a classic as you would any used car purchase

2. Don’t buy the fi rst one you see unless it’s 100% – check out a few to set a reliable benchmark

3. Find out the car’s characteristics and foibles before vetting

4. A service history means a lot

5. Nice honest people sell nice nonest cars – usually

6. First impressions count. Does it fl oat your boat and tick all the right boxes? If not don’t buy!

7. Always hear the engine start from stone cold. Be wary if it’s warm

8. So long as you are insured, have a brisk and lengthy test drive

9. Little details count a lot

10. Finally above all else did you actually like it?

Where to buy

Private sales

This is still the most popular way to buy a classic, although unlike a normal modern car buy, it doesn’t mean you necessarily get a cheaper deal by doing so. Hopefully you get to meet the current owner and as a result gain a better history and thus ‘feel’ of the vehicle as well as the seller’s demure which can indicate whether the vehicle is honest or not. No warranties are given by a private sale and be wary if one is implied as it will be meaningless. Your only legal protection is whether the vehicle was described dishonestly


Classic auctions are always popular with private buyers willing to take a chance and you can get a good deal by standing shoulder to shoulder with dealers and outbidding them. You have more consumer protection at an auction than buying privately because the vehicle must be described with accuracy, although no warranty will be given. Remember, unlike conventional auctions, the vehicles remain static and rarely started up or run so you need to have a good grasp of cars, a gut feeling – and a lucky streak


THere’s nothing more enticing than going into a showroom and drooling over all the lovely classics ready to be driven away. Good dealers, and most are, will have top notch stock or can obtain your car if you give them time. Often as not they will come fully prepped and refurbished with a fresh MoT. On the other hand, not all traders provide written warranties, rather it is more a “Gentlemens’ agreement”. Don’t always think that a dealer is any dearer than other buying avenues either because the classic market can be a level playing field!

Jaguar S-Type

This all too often forgotten upmarket Jaguar Mk2 is finally finding its feet in the classic market so don’t be surprised to find values soaring. Offering more grace, space and, in some cases, pace than the Mk2, the S-type is a sensible added mix of MkX and E-type hardware, including the famous independent rear suspension, to give this elegant saloon more refinement and comfort than a Mk2 can offer. It was the preferred choice of the Jaguar test driver legend Norman Dewis – which is all the more reason to buy one. Their rarity compared to the Mk2 (which it outsold when new) will only cause values to strengthen as well and this includes the most overlooked yet best version of them all – the MkX-nosed 4.2-litre 420/Sovereign.

Ford Classic/Capri

Any rear-wheel driven 60’s Ford is pretty much a hot classic, except for this model? Designed as an upmarket Anglia and a stop gap until the Cortina was introduced, this trans-Atlantic Thunderbird-esque styled saloon looked out of place when new in 1961 but is so alluring now. The Classic played a major role in every mid-sized Ford that followed it, becoming a test bed for unheard of family car fixtures such as standard front disc brakes, four-on-the-floor transmissions, plus an evergreen ‘1500’ engine that was a Ford bedrock up until the 1980s. The super looking Capri coupé – the first Ford to be badged a GT incidentally – is already soaring in value yet the Classic remains a bargain compared to the 105E Anglia. And it’s the better car.

Aston Martin DB7

It’s not simply the fact that this re-jigged Jag saved Aston Martin and introduced the brand to a new, youthful customer that’s causing values to already outstrip a number of later Gaydon generation alternatives – more the point that the DB7 is the closest model Aston has ever made to being the modern equivalent to the DB4 and arguably the most attractive DB ever penned. Arguably, the first cars didn’t drive as good as they looked but the V12 Vantage changed this although some prefer the character of the I6. That 007 never drove one won’t dent the DB7’s image or its desirability a dot because this Aston is much more than the Jag in drag cynics like you to believe. Buy a good, well historied one now and you’ll be sitting pretty in every sense.

Citroën SM

The polar opposite to the simplistic 2CV, the SM was Citroën’s supercar for the ‘70s that was described as the most advanced car in the world when launched half a century ago to showcase Citroën’s talents. Today, this imposing coupé makes a fantastic classic with a (vive le) difference. Maserati powered, the SM is so much more than a DS in drag even though it shares most of the mechanicals. In its day the V6-engined Citroën SM was one of the greatest GTs on earth and the preferred choice of numerous GP drivers, such as the late, great Mike Hailwood, simply on the strength of their speed and comfort. Values are already soaring and are now nudging the £60K mark which will be surpassed as interest grows on the car’s 50th Birthday.

Bentley Mulsanne

It’s an incredible 40 years since Rolls launched its Silver Spirit to replace the Shadow and crucially the Mulsanne revitalised the Bentley name as it was no longer merely a rebadged Rolls-Royce. Mulsanne made Bentleys cool as well as sporting again and the range has much to offer for a comparative pittance. The Turbos, packing 50 per cent more power, are the star cars although the regular range, such as the Eight and Brooklands, offer more smoothness and serenity and are the best ones if you don’t want the Turbo’s performance or added running costs. The Continental coupé spin off provides more style at the expense of comfort and space but common to all is the fact that they represent the last of the old school Crewe classics, which counts for a lot.

Mercedes R129 SL

The sleek and sophisicated R129 SL blends classic and modern Mercedes motoring together beautifully offering a unique blend of speed, style, sophistication that when it replaced the trusty R107, moved the game on by light years. While the earlier classics SLs are the more illustrious predecessors, SL specialists will quietly tell you that the R129 is the SL that they would prefer to take on a long continental cruise. The R129’s considerable talents are not lost on a growing number of buyers, witness how much the price gap is closing to the R107. Perhaps the R129 should be regarded as more ‘classical’ rather than a true classic but for many that sounds like the ideal modern Merc for today’s classic motoring.

Gilbern Invader

Think of specialist Ford-powered classics and most instantly say Reliant Scimitar GTE, overlooking perhaps the better car – the Welsh built Gilbern. Much rarer than the Reliant range less than 1000 Genies and Invaders were built over 16 years but this coupé nd rarer sportshatch is as fast, stylish and practical as any GTE plus the Genie and later Invader were perceived as being sportier to drive if at the expense of refinement compared to the Reliant. A dearer car than the GTE when in the showrooms, their rarity ensures it stays this way with the original BMC-powered Gilbern GT (1959-67) commanding the most money. Gilberns are easy to maintain with parts obtainability that’s probably better than ever thanks to an enthusiastic owners’ club.

Rover P5/P5B

Simply put, the Rover P5 is on par with any Mk2 or S type Jaguar and is a lot cheaper to buy and run. Indeed, some pundits may go further and state that the dignified Rover is not as brash or showy. The fact that the regal Rover is also not as sporting or plentiful will also appeal to some enthusiasts. This Rover has been one of the best kept secrets in the classic market for decades, providing affordable, lazy luxury and yet it was a car that was deemed good enough for Royalty and heads of state – from Wilson to Thatcher the P5 always got their vote. The swift V8 P5b Coupé is the most wanted but the earlier 3 Litre is smoother and sweeter as well as being more stately. Prices are moving north so act fast for the final bargains.


There’s been no shortage of heirs to the Big Healey throne but the MG RV8 states a more valid case than many rivals. A cleverly reworked MGB for the 1990s, yet the RV8 still manages to retain all that’s good about the evergreen sports car plus the 197bhp RV8 is the best driving MGB of them all. Fast yet this modern classic also makes a civilised tourer thanks to a five-speed gearbox and a quaint traditional wood and leather cockpit that has a whiff of Bentley about it. Prices have already distanced themselves from normal MGB values and we can see them matching those of the MGC quite soon. This modern antique appeals not only to MG fans but is also ideal for those who may hanker for a Morgan Plus 8 but don’t want something so rudimentary.

MG Midget/A-H Sprite

Midgets are starting to make it big. Now that the bodged examples are steadily disappearing and owners are willing to pour increasing amounts of money into theirs, the best Spridgets (preferably the ‘round-arch’ MkIII cars) can exceed £10,000 and we can see them following in the footsteps of the Frog-eye over time, more so for the rarer Austin-Healey Sprite. Both the Sprite and Midget offer a lot of primitive, pure and simple sports car fun for the money and don’t let anyone tell you that these miniature MG/A-Hs are not real sports cars. In fact, a contemporary one magazine defended the Spridget by saying that if they are pretend sports cars then it’s a pretend Lotus Seven and it’s hard to argue this view given their similar raw character.

Jaguar XJ-S

Forty five years since it was launched, there are signs that the XJ-S has finally been forgiven that this feline fastback never carried on where the E-type left off. Great car, questionable clothes is how the XJ-S will always be remembered but – just like the Daimler SP250 – those distasteful looks have slowly become more than acceptable; almost stately in fact, especially the convertibles. Anyone who has driven a good XJ-S won’t easily forget the car’s immense GT talents which far surpass those of the E-type. Rarity isn’t an issue but finding a really good one is and which is why their prices vary so greatly. A good honest XJ-S, irrespective of engine size or spec, is not only a truly great car but also a wise future investment.


It’s happened to the Interceptor – and not before time – so why shouldn’t prices and appreciation rise for the Jensen-Healey? With its heady mix of famous names in the production process, including Lotus who provided the engines, this is a upper class classic sports car that Healey himself designed to replace his hairy-chested classic that, on paper at least, could – and should – have taken over from the Elan. Currently, you can buy this prestige pick ’n mix for not much more than Triumph Spitfire money. But it can’t stay this way forever, particularly in the case of the extremely rare GT sports hatch which makes an exclusive alternative to a MGB GT, Triumph GT6 and the Scimitar GTE. With good club and specialist support you can buy with confidence.

Triumph TR6

Fifty years since the last of the true Triumph TR sports car was launched, the appeal of the TR6 is stronger than ever. This final fling of the traditional TRs, it was vintage even when it was new in the showrooms. A clever facelift of the TR5PI, updating its already muscular looking Italian styling with a touch of German efficiency, the TR6 is benefiting from the rising prices of the rarer TR5 PI, pulling up the models’ value yet at the same time the TR6 remains considerably more affordable and usable plus it’s the better driver than the earlier original straight six, fuel injected classic if truth be told. Gruff and gritty, totally fitting its macho reputation, there will always be a strong market for the TR6, slightly more so if it’s the pre 1972 150bhp model.

Triumph TR7 & 8

Like the XJ-S which was introduced the same year, Triumph’s TR7 suffered the same fate and criticism, that the TR replacement was pale shadow of the previous TR sports car strain plus had awful looks which were worse than the Jag’s. However, in common with the jinxed Jag, opinions have shifted of late and this troubled Triumph is now being seen in a new light. Even staunch TR7 critics have to concede that they drive much better than they look and while the TR7 places civility over sportiness it’s still the best handling TR by a long chalk. Lucky Sevens include the original four-speed Coupés so long as they are not hindered by an aftermarket sunroof, all the sensational looking convertibles and proper factory TR8s, the latter seen as the true modern Big Healey.

Mazda MX-5

You can make the case that the MX-5 is too new and too popular to become collectible just yet but Mk1 owners say otherwise because the very best unmolested original models are notably gaining in value, with, to a lesser extent, the Mk2s following suit. Mazda brought the spirit of the classic British sports car back to life when the MX-5 was introduced into the UK 20 years ago and, if anything, the Jap gem is even more popular than ever because no serious sports car is as easy to own or as useable. The Mk1 shamelessly pays homage to the Lotus Elan and is as enjoyable to drive if not so exclusive. Find a good, totally showroom spec example and keep it that way and you’ll not only enjoy the MX-5 as it should be but watch its value ascend at the same time.

Alvis TD-TF

Given the car’s impeccable pedigree, it’s surprising what took the aristocratic Alvis so long to be recognised for what it is, an upper class bargain. More exclusive and yet as elegant as a rival Bentley and styled by Swiss Graber with most of the bodies being built by Park Ward no less, these are smart, swish and swift coupés and dropheads which are easily up to Aston DB2/ MKIIII standards to drive. There’s up to 150bhp in TF21 guise, plus the Alvis surpassed the Aston’s spec by coming with front disc brakes with an all wheel set up for 1963 along with five-speed transmissions. All this and yet the Alvis is simpler to run than a Jaguar XK. The market has cottoned on to their increasing worth but compared to Bentley or Aston are still exceptional value.

Ferrari F550/575

The legendary Michael Schumacher is said to have played a big part in developing this modern day Daytona which bucked the general opinion that a supercar had to be mid-engined. Large and relatively heavy, these powerful front-engined coupés with their huge performance ignore the laws of physics with fabulous handling characteristics. Don’t assume that the 575M is better than the earlier 550M as some firmly believe that the earlier Prancing Horse thoroughbred is the most engaging to master. Get one with the optional Fiorano handling pack if you want to keep yours more as a strong investment but do drive it for enjoyment all the same as they are surprisingly practical. Starting around £80,000 you’ll soon see this Ferrari more than earn its keep.

Porsche 968

The 968 has always been a bit of an unsung hero in Porsche’s portfolio which is strange considering it represented the 944 design at the peak of its considerable heights, being endowed with a 3-litre 240bhp engine, a six-speed transmission and a 928-style frontal. Yet for all of this 968 values remain behind those of most 944s for some strange reason, the exception being the stripped-out back to basic two-seater ClubSport and to a lesser extent the 968 Sport which had the rear seats and a bit of trim reinstated. It’s hard to find a better driver’s car and we can see their values help drag along prices for the regular 968 which is why now’s the time to buy one of the best left to both enjoy and watch their investment potential grow.

Lancia Montecarlo

Big brother to Fiat’s X1/9, the Lancia Beta Montecarlo offers a Ferrari-Dino experience for MGB money. What more needs to be said? Celebrating its 45th this year, a Montecarlo is much more exclusive than the in-your-face Lancia Integrale in our eyes even though it lacks the exquisite engineering of the earlier Fulvia. But as compensation you get Ferrari-esque looks and while the drive isn’t as involving – or secure – as an Intregrale you do get the full sensations of a mid-engine supercar. The original Montecarlo had many flaws, which even brought a halt to production before the S2 surfaced with the brakes being the main beneficiary. With Lancia now all but a spent force in the UK, this car’s classic status is well and truly cemented.

Lotus Elan SE

Launched three decades ago and while the ‘M100’ is nothing like as popular as the original, the Elan for the 1990s is faster, more durable, and much better value. A polar opposite to the retro MX-5, which honoured the Chapman classic, yet he would have heartily approved of Hethel’s front-wheel drive concept instead because, like him, the Elan SE was so visionary and forward thinking. Performance Car even hailed the all new Elan, with its sensational performance and foolproof handling, as the start of a new chapter for Lotus. It wasn’t and is still one of the most underrated sports classics on the market. However, there’s signs of this changing so the time to buy an SE (don’t bother with the basic non turbo car though) couldn’t be more appropriate 30 years on.

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