Classic cars better than cash in the bank: Sub-£10,000 collectibles

2 months ago 189

The classic car industry has boomed since the pandemic hit.

With enthusiasts and collectors having more time on their hands - and, in some cases, extra disposable income - the demand for older models and parts for overdue projects has soared in the last 18 months.

The surge in classic car interest comes at a time when precious few bank accounts offer returns in excess of one per cent.

In our first in a series of 'Classic cars better than cash in the bank', This is Money has teamed up with experts at Hagerty to list 10 models from past eras that will cost less than £10,000 today but are projected to rise in value faster than the average savings account. These are their recommendations for four-wheeled investments...

Ford Sierra 1600 (1982-1993)

Fondly recognised as the 'jelly mould' car, Fast Ford versions of the Sierra can be worth over six figures. But bag yourself a fine example of a once-mainstream Sierra 1600 and you could see prices creep higher

When the Sierra arrived in the early eighties, it was ahead of its time. An ultra-sleek body made it one of the most aerodynamically efficient family cars the world had ever seen. In fact, only the Porsche 924 sports car and Citroen GS were more drag coefficient than the Ford at the time. This svelte design also earned it the moniker of the 'jelly mould' car.

It was penned by Uwe Bahnsen - the man responsible for the Capri MkI and MkII and Escort MkIII - and, despite polarising opinion proved pretty successful. Some 160,000 were sold in Britain in the first year it hit showrooms - only the Escort was bought in bigger numbers. 

While the XR4i versions are worth big money today and RS500 Cosworth editions sell for in excess of £100,000, more modest survivors are less valuable. But that's not to say they aren't appreciating. Hagerty says the once-mainstream 1600 five-door version has added around 8 per cent in value in the last 12 months.

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: Once everywhere, good quality Sierras are now exceptionally rare. Instantly recognisable by anyone over the age of 35, the smaller-engine models can be bought for less than 10% of the value of an RS Cosworth according to the Hagerty Guide. 

Fiat Panda 4X4 (1986-1992)

Value increase (£): £2,538

The Panda 4X4 has become so desirable in recent years that Hagerty has turned to tracking values separately from the general Fiat supermini

If you thought today's generation of crossover cars, combining SUV styling with hatchback dimensions, set a trend, you've likely forgotten Fiat's incredible MkI Panda 4X4 from the late eighties.

Take the Italian firm's tiny supermini, jack it up slightly and send drive to all four wheels and you have the ultimate - and mega capable - small off-roader.  It was launched by Fiat in 1986 - some three years after the conventional Panda debuted. 

The 4X4 got a slightly bigger 769cc engine producing 34hp and was created specifically for Italians who lived in the mountains and needed a vehicle that was not just cheap but capable of tackling difficult terrains.

Until this year, Panda 4X4 values have been included as part of the general Panda. However, there has been such a big increase in demand that it's been separated and tracked alone by Hagerty. Expect to pay twice as much for a MkI four-wheel-drive version than the standard front-wheel drive cars. 

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: These are still a regular sighting in Italian ski resorts, and for very good reason: the car's all-wheel drive works really well and makes it a very practical small car. Plus, the styling is really very cool. Hagerty didn't track this as a separate model until 2020, but since then values have risen significantly.

Rover SD1 2300 (1977-1986)

Enthusiasts will tell you that if you want an SD1 you need to grab a version with a V8 motor. But their values are already growing at a rapid rate, while the 2300 with a V6 under the bonnet is still a British iconic car with a bruising engine for under £10k

When most of us think of the SD1 our mind's are cast to a time when the police force didn't use four-cylinder Vauxhall Astras and Kia Ceeds and instead had mighty V8-powered Rovers. In fact, the SD1 should stick in your brain for more than that, with the shapely Rover often referred to as the 'poor man's Ferrari Daytona', due to the cars' incredibly similar silhouettes and the car used in The New Avengers and The Professionals.

While eight-cylinder versions of the SD1 are the ones most collectors will be desperate to get their hands on, the V6-powered 2300 is a worthy option for under £10,000. In fact, you can get your hands on a very good example for less than £5,000 right now.

While it might be missing two of the cylinders that enthusiasts hanker over, this remains an iconic British car with a big engine - and big potential for value increase. They've gone up by around 10 per cent in the last year - and they deserve to go even higher.

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: The 2300 may not have the kerb appeal of the Vitesse, but it's still a great car and you tend to get more for your money. Corrosion is an issue and very few have survived; values have been climbing in the Hagerty Price Guide over the last two years.

Jaguar XJ6 SI 2.8 (1968-1973)

Value increase (£): £1,000

The Jaguar XJ6 is a lot of car for £6,250 - and prices are on the rise fast, with average sales of the S1 2.8 going up by £1,000 from 2019

It's hard to believe the XJ6 first went into production over half a century ago, with the big leaping cat built in various guises until the plug was eventually pulled in 2019. 

The model recommended by Hagerty for a sub-£10,000 purchase today is the original Series I - though not just any version. While the XJ12 might be the one that draws the headlines, the one the experts suggest is the 2.8-litre XJ6. 

It's a lot of car for the money. It's beautifully styled with a design that has aged wonderfully well. Combine that will marshmallow-like soft suspension, a lavish interior and silky-smooth straight six-cylinder engine and it has the recipe for cosseting classic ownership.

One that's in more than adequate condition should cost just over £6,000 - though prices are rising all the time, with the XJ6 SI 2.8 adding around £1,000 in value in the last 18 months or so. 

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: The first series, six-cylinder XJ6 is the most collectable of these big cats, and a few are still available for under the £10,000 mark. This is a huge amount of car for the money and prices have been rising steadily in the Hagerty guide.

Triumph TR7 (1975-1981)

Triumph promised that the TR7 - or the wedge- was 'the shape of things to come' from British sports cars in the 1970s

If there is one car on this list that is guaranteed to get your noticed, it's the TR7.  The shape was worlds apart from the TR6 it successor, moving from oval headlamps and a wood interior to a wedge-shaped silhouette, pop-up headlights, plastic dashboard and tartan seats.

While Triumph declared that the wedge was 'the shape of things to come' in its advertising, it - like many other British Leyland products - was riddled with reliability problems. 

Previous owners will tell you tales of  rusted bodies, leaking engines and worrisome oil pressure histrionics - but a well-maintained and cared for example might be a smart investment, especially if you have somewhere dry to store it. Hagerty's tracking of sale values since the end of 2019 shows average prices paid have risen by almost £1,000.

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: Immediately recognisable, values of this British wedge sports car have been rising in the Hagerty Guide for the past two years.

Costs that might eat into your classic car profits

The arrival of greener E10 unleaded across the UK next month will mean classic car drivers will need to use super unleaded fuel

While all 10 of these cars could provide healthier returns than putting your cash into a savings account, there are regular costs that will ultimately eat into profits.

Not least the cost of refurbishing and maintaining these cars, as well day-to-day bills to keep them running. 

For instance, just three of the models in this list potentially qualify for free classic vehicle taxation (granted they were registered before 1981), while the others dating back to the 1980s are charged from £170 a year.

Owners will also need suitable provisions to store them, with many susceptible to rust if kept outside for prolonged periods, especially during winter months. 

That means anyone without a garage or secure barn at home might need to pay extra charges for storage.

The latest burden on classic car costs is due to arrive next month with the switch to E10 petrol across the country

Most - if not all - of these vehicles feature in our list will not be able to run on greener unleaded introduced on 1 September and instead have to fork out to use super unleaded fuel, which will remains at an E5 mix (meaning it has 5 per cent bioenthanol rather than 10 per cent in E10). 

Currently, this costs over 12p-a-litre more than conventional petrol. While classic cars tend to be driven far less than daily drives, higher fuel bills will be limited by mileage. 

Honda CR-X (1984-1986)

The CR-X offered affordable fun from a lightweight and dependable two-seat sports car. First-generation versions of the dinky Honda are starting to become more valuable

The CR-X is one of the Japanese Domestic Market - or JDM - cars that is seeing a recent rise in demand. Second-generation examples are creeping higher, but not quite at the same rate as the first-generation model.

It set a new precedent when it arrived on the scene in 1984. It was lightweight, sporty, offered plenty of performance and - most importantly of all - didn't often break. For vehicles in that period, this was an unseen combination of traits. 

The CR-X was essentially a shortened version of the Civic on sale at the time, though with an unconventional slab-back shape. It was sold in the UK with either a 1.5- or 1.6-litre petrol, with a the latter developing 135bhp and good for a top speed of 120mph. Nimble on its four corners and extremely reliable, it offered enjoyment and affordability. 

The two-seat sports car is hard to find in 2021, particularly because it wasn't a raving success when it was new. Because of this, the few first generation models are becoming more valuable, rising by 14 per cent in the last year alone.

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: Hagerty have tracked many Japanese cars rising rapidly over the last 12 months. The CRX is still within the budget, but for how long?

BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster (1996-2002)

If you're considering a Z3 as a sub-£10,000 modern classic to keep, the 2.8-litre Roadster (pictured) is the one to pin point

A few years ago you could pick-up a fairly good example of a Z3 for peanuts. However, pick the right version today and it could become an appreciating asset - granted you look after it.

The one Hagerty says you should be trying to locate is the 2.8 Roadster. This didn't hit the market until 1997 but - unlike the standard 1.9-litre petrol engine provided enough grunt to match the macho looks. The 24-valve straight six motor provided 186bhp and came with either a manual or auto 'box and a slightly wider track. These usually came better equipped, too, with goodies including a power hood, air-con, 17-inch wheels and leather seats thrown into the deal. 

Buyers are warned to keep an eye out for some sticking issues with the manual transmission, rust on door bottoms and the top controller modules for the power hoods. Find one in good fettle and it could be a sound investment, especially as values have gained by 12 per cent in the last year or so.

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: Hagerty's Z3 M values have been soaring, but the standard Z3 Roadsters are now following suit as they become accepted as true classics. Later model 2.8 engine still pack a healthy amount of power but without the 'M' badge premium.

Porsche Boxster (986) 2.5 (1996–2004)

Once considered the 'poor man's Porsche', the original Boxster is become very collectible some 25 years after it first launched. Hagerty says you can get a good example of a standard 2.5-litre model for less than £10k

When the famed German sportscar maker first unveiled the Boxster some 25 years ago it was often referred to as the 'poor man's Porsche' - the one people buy when they can't afford a 911. But having remained on sale for a quarter of a century through four different generations, attitudes towards its most affordable model have softened.

And now values of the original Boxster are starting to climb, with experts suggesting collectors buy good examples now as prices are predicted to surge.

While the latter 2.7-litre and 3.2-litres 'S' versions are the ones most enthusiasts scuffle over, the original 2.5-litre flat-six engine is the one Hagerty recommends, based on values still being under £10,000. With a 0-to-60mph times of 6.5 seconds, a top speed of 139mph and sublime handling, it's not both a steal and stylish. With Porsche's long track record of build quality, they've likely lasted the test of time better than other European rivals.

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: Hagerty have tracked other 'entry level' Porsche models such as the 912 and 944 as their prices rose in recent years. The first-generation Boxster is now taking the same path. Values are only moving slowly, but are likely to increase.

Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG (1994-1997)

Value decrease (£): -£225

The original C-Class AMG model hit the market in 1994. Values have been rising in recent years, though there was a blip in the last 12 months that has kept it just under the £10,000 threshold. Hagerty says its prime to surge again

The first C-Class was unveiled to the world by Mercedes-Benz in 1993 as replacement for the legendary 190E. It also debut the first AMG version of the family saloon car, the C36.

Under the bonnet is a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre straight-six engine with a then-impressive 280bhp as it went head-to-head with fellow German rival, the BMW M3. With a 0-to-62mph time of 6.7 seconds, it remains an impressively quick car today. 

Values a year ago were marginally higher than they are today. However, Hagerty says this isn't something to be concerned about, as the C36 AMG is a model it is fully confident will continue the upward trajectory in values seen in recent years, with 2021 values being just a blip on the radar. 

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: After a surge in value in the Hagerty Guide in 2018/19, the C36 AMG price slipped slightly in the last 12 months. This is likely to be a correction, as these are very special cars and seem to offer very good value for money compared with other equivalents from the era. 

Renault Clio Williams 3 (1995)

Value increase (£): £4,775

The average value of Renault Clio Williams 3 have risen by almost 50% in the last year. That means you will need to get your hands on a slightly rougher version of the French hot hatch to meet the £10,000 budget. While this is currently possible, it might not be for too long

The Renault Clio Williams has become an iconic 1990s hot hatch. It combines everything that's great about this classification of car: based on a fairly mainstream, inexpensive small hatchback, packed with practicality and featuring a disproportionately large and powerful engine under the bonnet. 

The 145bhp 2.0-litre 16-valve engine was mighty and established in the Clio Williams as part of Renault's plans to go rallying and needing a road-going model on which it can base the competition car on, despite the name being shared with the F1 team that was dominated Formula One at the time using Renault powerplants.

Memorable for its gold Speedline wheels (which are notoriously expensive to have repaired correctly if kerbed), the Williams 3's paint was a slightly lighter shade of Monaco Blue compared to the Sports Blue of the earlier renditions. 

It's the earliest '1' variation that demands the highest fees, though all Clio Williams cars are now becoming rapidly-appreciating collectibles. In fact, values have jumped almost 50 per cent in a year, meaning you will have to get a fairly poor example with quite high mileage in order to meet the sub-£10,000 requirements set here.

John Mayhead of Hagerty says: The rise in value of the Clio Williams even caught Hagerty out, and we had to increase values significantly in 2020. The Williams 1 is the most collectable, but rougher versions of the Williams 3 are still available within budget… for now.

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