As we wave goodbye to winter, it’s not only time to relish the lighter evenings, it’s also time to hit the road. Except, while thoughts may turn to Jaguar E-types, Lancia Deltas and Maserati Biturbos, reality kicks in and you suddenly grasp the concept that these sought-after vehicles command a high price tag!
Don’t despair though, as you don’t need an exuberant budget to grab a slice of nostalgia and burn up the tarmac as the weather improves. A brief glimpse through the classics for sale highlights one big theme – the cars once common as muck are affordable yet with added rarity factor. Think about it – at car shows which draws your attention most? It’ll be the car your father used to own, or the car where you got to know your first love. Unless you’re made of money, chances are this didn’t happen in a Ferrari Dino – your wheels would be more humble than that. Your wheels would probably be the family wagon – from a Ford Cortina to a Ford Fiesta MKI.
You may scoff at the idea of running around in a Ford Sierra or Daihatsu Applause, but with a lack of driving aids, saloons and hatchbacks from the late 1980s and 1990s are a lot more fun. Here are six examples for less than £2k.
Despite the best efforts from everyone at Rover, paired with an already poor reputation cast a destructive shadow over the SD1, regardless of the vast improvements it received over its ten year lifespan. Yet, the final production run in 1986 led to a seriously quick and genuinely desirable vehicle – the Vitesse. While you’ll be lucky to find someone willing to part with their Vitesse for £2k, you can find a range of other examples – from 6-cylinders to the rarely spotted diesel model. And what do you get with ownership of Rover’s long time flagship model? Well, besides looks to leave all hotblooded petrolheads following you home; you’ve got a slice of British motoring history with enough clout to send lesser cars diving for the nearest hedgerow.
There was unprecedented pressure on the Ford Probe when it was unleashed onto the public and thrust into the British market in 1992. We still had fond and loving memories of the Capri, imprinted in time as a cult piece of engineering good enough for ploughing through cardboard boxes and with headroom for Martin Shaw’s perm. However, as a joint collaboration with Mazda, the Probe had a rocky 5 years on the market before the plug was pulled. You can get one now for under £1k, with balanced handling on offer and enough punch to leave you grinning inanely upon every blip of the throttle.
While you are no longer able to acquire one with an MoT for £300 anymore, spending double that should secure you a solid example of Jaguar’s executive saloon from the time of Dalton’s Bond and Power Dressing. With lashings of smooth power and a bodyshape oozing retro square stance, a good example of an XJ40 will turn heads where ever you go. The best part? It’s no ‘Grandad wagon’. If boy racers want to lead you into a traffic light drag race, the XJ40 will leave them openjawed. 0-60mph times are enough to trounce most modern cars – except for the 2.8-litre variant, which is the one to avoid.
We can hear you snorting, but hang on with this one. In terms of industry the Nissan Bluebird was hugely important – a fact overshadowed by the critics claims of blandness and being ‘grey personified’. While it may not have set new standards in the speed department, what it did prove is that Britain could build cars to Japanese design just as well – if not better – than rival manufacturing countries. The Nissan factory was constructed in Sunderland, churning out high-quality Bluebirds – of which very few remain. Yet, the engines hit that mythical hybrid task of remaining frugal on petrol yet torquey when required.
With values on the floor, you won’t be purchasing a Maestro with financial incentive on your mind. Instead, you’ll be grabbing a bargain – as there are a surprising number of low-mileage cars, often with only one or two owners on the V5, kicking about for less than £800. Don’t think we’ve lost our mind though – as the plucky little Maestro has more to offer than you think. Besides practicality, you’ve also got enough under the bonnet to keep up with modern day traffic and still clip 40mpg.
Ford Granada MKIII
Although the fresh-faced Sierra was proving to be a problem child in the forecourt for dealerships, the bigwigs at Ford decided to ignore all public opinion and press on with a radical third incarnation of the popular Granada. Although far removed by this point from John Thaw’s tailsliding Flying Squad star in ‘The Sweeney’, it still lived on as a prime choice for the British police force and those seeking comfort on a budget. Perhaps most famous for exploding on screen in the likes of 2012’s Shadow Dancer and various detective serials, it was also the first car to be fitted with ABS across the range as standard. A dull fact, we know, but just drive one and you’ll feel the charm from behind the wheel.