PH puts its mouth where its money ought to be and tries to guess which way the wind is blowing
By PH Staff / Saturday, October 3, 2020
You may remember us dipping our toe in these waters last month. 'Affordable' classics was the optimistic title, and we indulged ourselves with a rogue's gallery of mostly nineties contenders. Now we're going to get a whole leg wet. 'Future' classics is a little more problematic than merely cheap ones, on the basis that anything over 25 years-old and under £15k was acceptable by default. This time around we've upped the budget to £30k and opened the criteria to anything 10 years or older.
Naturally that makes many more cars available, but the onus here is spending it on something which will earn (or perhaps in some cases retain) its modern classic status into the long grass of time. As we all know, this is easier said than done. Who could have predicted some of today's wild demand and wilder prices twenty years ago? Finding something for under £30k which is resistant to depreciation is hard enough without heaping future appreciation into the bargain. But that's the challenge. To the classifieds…
TVR Tamora, 2005, 46k, £30,000
TVRs ticked all of the classic car criteria boxes when factory fresh, so every single one of them qualifies in 2020. If a classic is about celebrating the freedom of the past, then what better? Back then a TVR didn't have to be designed with pedestrian safety in mind (so they look superb), didn't have to be engineered with driver safety in mind (so technology doesn't interfere) and didn't have to be powered by a WLTP-compliant engine – so it'll sound brilliant. Everything that was true about TVRs when this Tamora was new only makes them more compelling as a classic prospect; with the brand unlikely to return now, I can only imagine these later cars becoming more desirable. They didn't make sports cars like they used to, really, when TVRs were new, so nowadays they'll be like something from another planet.
I've always loved the T350/Tamora pairing; smaller and better looking (to my eyes) than a Tuscan, but still with that famed Speed Six punch. This one is being sold by the TVR specialist that's cared for it since it was three years old (always a good sign) and the 46k mileage, far from a deterrent, I take as a good sign. Far better to be used and any problems unearthed than left growing stale. Having still never driven a TVR, I'm desperate to discover the genius for myself; this looks like a perfect place to start.
Lotus Exige S, 2007, 20K, £29,500
Out of all the cars that I've owned, the one that I regret selling the most was my Series 2 Lotus Elise 111S. Mostly because it was just so damn special to drive, but also because I doubt I'd have lost a single penny on it in five years.
It did feel like it needed that tiny bit more power so if I bought another Elise, it would probably be a 111R. But with £30K in my pocket, I'd invest in my absolute dream Lotus: a Series 2 Exige of the supercharged variety. For me, Lotus are responsible for setting the sports car benchmark and once you've driven one, nothing else will ever quite measure up.
Values have been steadily rising over the past decade and I really do want to buy another one before they become unobtainable. This 218bhp Exige S with Touring Pack is right on the money and all the car I'd ever need. Where do I sign?
Ford Focus RS, 2003, 4k, £29,995
I tried to play this game myself a few years ago with my 100k garage submission, and it seems five years on I wouldn't have lost much from my £100k investment. Although equally my make-believe self is not quite ready for early retirement just yet either.
A Focus RS MK1 is often referred to as a guaranteed future classic. And based on the values that fast Cortinas, Escorts and Sierras appear to command, we might be kicking ourselves in twenty years time for not investing sooner. The car earned its reputation right out of the box, too: Sparco bucket seats, Sachs dampers, Quaife diff, AP Racing clutch, O.Z. wheels with Brembo brakes, and some timeless styling, too. Add in the fact that only just over 2,100 units made it to the UK, and it certainly has the ingredients of a future classic.
Admittedly this one already has a ridiculous price tag, but it has the ridiculous mileage to underpin it and appears to be in pristine condition. I've owned a couple of MK7 Fiesta STs, and would love to add an RS to the fleet before they become too heavily used or expensive to consider. I must confess however in the real world right now I probably wouldn't buy one with such low miles as the value would decrease with every corner turned. And who wants that?
Maserati Gransport LE, 2007, 32k, £29,950
Given the MC20 makes Maserati cool and interesting again, my choice this week revisits the last time Maserati sports cars were cool and interesting. Because a GranTurismo, for me at least, never quite cut the dash that the GranSport did. And, as far as classic status goes, this car's rarity and status give it collectability that a lot of the later cars don't have.
Essentially, the GranSport realised the potential that had long been lurking in the 3200 and 4200 Coupes. Chassis and powertrain tweaks made it into the proper 911 alternative it always should have been, without losing what had been so good (the noise, the Frank Stephenson styling and the performance) about the standard car. The Limited Edition, as this car is, was the GranSport swan song and are incredibly rare: just 107 were made, compared to more than 2,000 standard cars. How many 997 Carreras are still out there?
So even though a lot of the GranSport appreciation has probably now been done, the LE still looks a safe bet. A Maserati this talented and this good looking isn't going to become any less desirable, after all £30k is about the ceiling for them at the moment, meaning just 30,000 miles and a full specialist service history for this one – perfect.
Subaru Impreza, 2001, 65k, £14,995
Back in 2002 I bought a bugeye Scooby very similar to this one, and of all the cars I've owned, it remains one of my favourites. Incredibly capable, it took me around Europe, towed mcar, and was happy on track days. 100k miles later I moved it on for something less interesting and better suited to family motoring – but missed the boxer rumble so much that I went back in time and bought a 1995 JDM estate that is still in the garage now.
Sure, the front end was not to everyone's liking, and many, like mine, had headlight conversions. But they are getting a little bit of love recently and looking at the PH pricing data the average cost has risen by 2.5k in the last 4 years. This one is the Prodrive edition which ought to be a surefire hit in future classic stakes.
You could argue it is at the top of the price range at the moment, but hold on for a few more years and these will follow in the footsteps of other collectable Subarus – guaranteed. Well, maybe not, but at least you'll have fun why you wait…
Porsche Cayman S, 2010, 15k, £29,980
'Yawn', Matt Bird said when I pitched the 987 Cayman into future classic fray. It's a fair comment. It's like pitching blue-chip stock as an investment. Sure, it's valid – but it's tediously safe. A nicely kept, low-mile Cayman S is never going to be worth nothing, nor is it likely to ever be a proper nest egg generator. Porsche sold too many of them in the UK for the price to ever surge dramatically.
Nevertheless the key here is what the future holds. If electrification continues to steam ahead at the current pace – and the government actually makes good on its threat to ban the salelectrified new cars by 2035 – then the value of immaculate, highly regarded examples of old-world motoring, particularly those powered by naturally aspirated, evocative engines, is likely to increase. Especially among a generation who never got to experience them when new.
That hardly puts this 2010 Cayman S in 911 GT2 territory, but it's a very nice looking example with 15k on the clock and all the kit. There's plenty of room on the odometer to gently enjoy it, and still leave something for the grandchildren to fight over when the world is all carbon neutral and depressingly quiet.
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