MERCEDES TEMPTATION

Classic car magazines can be guilty of unrealistically low ‘Prices from £Xk’ headlines in the hope of snaring new readers, but at Classic Cars magazine we focus on what you’d really pay for a car in a condition that you’d actually want to own. So when the latest issue says that a Mercedes 230 SLK can be yours from £2.5k, we’re talking about a good example with 60-70k miles and full service history.

Incredible value for such a refined and once expensive roadster, and one with the party trick of a push-button, folding electric hardtop. Even the 320 V6 isn’t much more than twice that for a similarly well-looked after example. All you have to do is navigate your way around the poorly maintained examples that have been glossed up for a quick profit, so it’s worth checking out the buying guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine which details the most serious and expensive faults, and shows you how to spot them. After that all you need to do is seize the best bits of our sporadic summer, yours at the push of a button.

Buying advice and market analysis is part of 16 pages of buying information in every issue of Classic Cars magazine, including Quentin Willson’s Smart Buys, Russ Smith’s Market Watch, in-depth buying guides and Ads on Test.

For more details of the latest issue, visit classiccarsmagazine.co.uk

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MARKET WINNERS OF THE MONTH

There’s a lot of talk this year about the classic car market cooling off, particularly the high-value auction darlings typified by Mercedes 300 SL Gullwings and Roadsters, chrome-bumper Ferraris and pre-impact bumper Porsche 911s. You can look for deeper meaning to this, but the most rational explanations seem to be over-supply from vendors trying to cash in on a boom, and buyer disillusionment with the belief that values will values will continue to soar at the same rate.

 

 

But this cooler mindset doesn’t apply evenly throughout the classic car market, as evidenced by the Market Movers data in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine. The top ten climbers have all grown by at least 23 per cent since the last update, with some surprising top performers like the Austin Atlantic and Ford Corsair GT each jumping more than 40 per cent and even numerous classics like MG Midget MkII and MkIII climbing 33 per cent. Porsche 968 Club Sports and BMW CSLs have both shown another recent spurt, at 38 and 33 per cent respectively, so it’s hard to generalise where the recent growth has concentrated, and ever more challenging to predict where it will strike next. 

Buying advice and market analysis is part of 16 pages of buying information in every issue of Classic Cars magazine, including Quentin Willson’s Smart Buys, Russ Smith’s Market Watch, in-depth buying guides and Ads on Test.

For more details of the latest issue, visit classiccarsmagazine.co.uk

To see the digital edition for Android devices click here

To see the digital edition on iPad or iPhone click here

DEATH FOR DOLLARS : THE FORD PINTO

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All you need to know about the Ford Pinto: It was a compact car. It was introduced for 1970. It had an identical twin - the Mercury Bobcat. It was a best seller. Or, at least, that’s what Ford wants you to think. It actually enjoyed burning people alive. Don’t believe us? Read on.

Is the Ford Pinto the most infamous car in history?

Is the Ford Pinto the most infamous car in history?

Lets set the tone. Ford desperately needed an economical, compact car to compete with invading imports from Japan and Europe. Ford executive Lee Lacocca brought the idea of an inexpensive, small, light car costing less than $2000 to the table. To keep the car light, everything was scaled down with an inline-four engine under the bonnet. It appeared to be the perfect answer to an economic climate pushing wages down and fuel prices up. The Ford Pinto finally arrives for September 11, 1970. 

Lets set the scene two years later. A factory fresh Ford Pinto suffers engine problems and stalls in traffic. A fellow motorist travelling at 28mph hits the Pinto from behind and watches in horror as the Pinto is engulfed in a fireball, burning the driver, one Lily Gray, to death and permanently disfiguring her 13-year-old passenger, Richard Grimshaw. In true American fashion, this accident resulted in a lawsuit - with Grimshaw suing Ford for crafting dangerous cars within their factory premises. 

The danger could be found with the fuel tank, positioned between the rear bumper and the rear axle, which in the event of a shunt could separate the filler neck from the tank and spray fuel up the underside of the car. In the nastiest of circumstances this would lead to horrendous infernos where inhabitants jammed in the cabin had hot death to look forward to.  A further issue with the rear end design found protruding bolts from the differential puncturing the fuel tank - leaving you with rather poor fuel consumption into the bargain. 

Ford responded to the Grimshaw lawsuit claiming that the Pinto was as safe and robust as any other car on the road at that time. However, Grimshaw’s law team managed to obtain information gathered from rear-end collision tests on the Pinto, carried out by Ford itself in 1970, well after the first Pinto had left the production line. These results documented that out of 11 collision tests, eight vehicles impersonated a blast furnace - catching fire to a spectacular degree. Just to make things interesting, the three that didn’t go up in flames had safety devices installed. 

It wasn’t until journalist Mark Dowie started researching the subject that he discovered Ford’s Cost-Benefits analysis of the Pinto’s defect - basically, human life wasn’t worth spending money on.  Fitting extra safety features would set the Ford Motor Company back the sum total of $137 million. A large sum of money by any account, but Ford bigwigs opted for a different route. They were more than happy to continue churning out the Pinto unchanged, as litigation from victims were estimated to cost less than $49.5 million. They even went ahead and predicted that 180 people would perish in Pinto fires.

Ford didn’t therefore install any safety features on their Pinto and, by September of 1977, flaming Pintos were killing estimates of seventy people each year. To spice things up further, it was discovered that Ford lobbied to delay a Federal Bill of 1970 enforcing compulsory safety standards around the rear of vehicles. It finally became law in 1978, just as Pintos were recalled for refit. Richard Grimshaw was finally awarded $125 million in damages - although, strangely, this was reduced to $3.5 million.

Did Ford really fix the problem? Installing a deeper filler neck and a protective shield did appear to reduce fatalities - but the Pinto will be forever known as the car equivalent to a serial killer.  The ‘Devils-Hatchback’ is the confirmed cause of at least 27 deaths in America. 

This is a shame, really, as the entire fiasco overshadows the little Pinto’s merits. It was surprisingly spacious, it could achieve  reasonable fuel economy and, considering its basis, wasn’t all too horrific to gaze over. Yet, movie moments such as this help cement the Pinto firmly in place as a health hazard.

Should you buy a Pinto? Well, seeing as they are rarer than hen’s teeth in Britain, why not go for a Ford Fiesta? Besides the tendency to cook you alive, they are remarkably similar.  

A NEW WAVE OF BARGAIN CLASSICS IS HEADING TO THE UK FROM AUSTRALIA. SO WHAT’S GOING ON?

A new wave of bargain classics is heading to the UK from Australia. So what’s going on?

A new wave of bargain classics is heading to the UK from Australia. So what’s going on?

Demand for good right-hand drive vehicles combined with currency fluctuations has seen a flow of classics return to the UK from Australia. 
Sydney-based classic dealer Supercar Secrets said it originally built its business by importing cars from the UK for Australian buyers. But over the past year, it has sent both barn finds and fully-restored cars in the opposite direction.
Mark Haybittle, co-owner, said: ‘All these classics have barely any rust and low mileages because they tend to be used at the weekends as fun cars, and because of the market conditions they’re proving very attractive to UK buyers right now. 
‘It’s very similar to what happened with the Californian cars. We’ve had a few enquiries before, but as the dollar has really dropped in the last year, there’s been a lot more demand from Britain.’
But a more international market, and the ease of overseas bidding, is also making a huge difference. ‘Tiny’, a member of the sales team at the Sydney-based auction house Shannons, added: ‘We have noted increased demand from overseas since the introduction of online bidding. The demand has come from all over the world – a Sunbeam that recently returned to the UK is a good example. 
‘It’s as much about online bidding and the rarity or quality of the particular vehicles that’s driving this demand as weaknesses in the Australian dollar.’ 
Simon Purdue of Cosmopolitan Cars, North Hobart, Tasmania, reckons that although top-end cars feature in the list of cars coming to the UK from Australia, it’s not exclusively so. 
‘A friend of a friend recently sent a 25,000km out-of-the-box E28 M5 to Munich Legends in England. The seller was willing to accept A$50,000 (£27,000) here in Australia, but could not get a buyer to settle on what seemed like a lot of money. Munich Legends sold it for £56,000.’ 
Purdue currently has a Porsche 911 Turbo in stock that has two owners, with 90,000km on the odometer, and is ‘totally original’. He knows of two similar cars that have sold for A$93,000–95,000 (£50,000–51,500). He believes his 930 could be tempting for a UK buyer.
Supercar Secrets’ Haybittle added that 1970s and 1980s supercars, including the Porsche 911 and Ferrari 308GTB, were proving the most popular. He has also exported Jaguar Mk2s, Triumph TR6s and Rover P6s back to their country of origin. 
Kristian Appelt, Director of Adelaide-based Iron Lady Imports, thinks people moving to, and leaving, Australia is also having an effect: ‘In the past we mainly shipped cars from the UK to Australia, often for ex-pat Aussies returning home. 
Now traffic for cars from Australia to the UK has increased to the point where it is a fairly even split. Demand is definitely up and the closer the exchange rate approaches 50p to the Australian dollar, the more demand increases.’
He added: ‘We’ve seen an increase in people travelling to Australia for work, taking cars back with them, especially “cashed up” ex-pats with highly paid roles in the mining industry.’  
The message is clear – if you’re looking to buy, don’t discount Australia. 

David Simister, with additional reporting by Brett Nicholson and Jack Yan

RANGE ROVER VALUES STALL AS ANNIVERSARY APPROACHES

Range Rover values stall as anniversary approaches

Range Rover values stall as anniversary approaches

Prices for the second-generation Range Rover are failing to take off in its 20th anniversary year, traders have told CCfS's sister newspaper Classic Car Weekly.
With air suspension for a controlled ride, a lusty V8 to ensure enough performance, and an ‘old-money’ image which other brands fail to match, the Range Rover P38 offers compelling arguments for purchase. Yet it’s at an all-time price low. With prices for this luxury 4x4 now well under £1000, it appears to be the ideal time to buy a good example.
Mark Smith of Woodside Garage told CCW that the market is dormant for P38s: “There’s no real collectors’ market yet except for rarities such as the Autobiography or the Holland and Holland. Interest seems to have vanished in recent months – people are looking at the later L322 Range Rovers, and Classics fly off our forecourt. The issue we’re seeing with the P38 is prices are very low – a really nice car I had in stock sold for £1600, most of my part exchange cars go for £500 through auctions, and at that price point people expect to be able to get their hands dirty.
“A P38 is far too complicated for most home mechanics, so they’re just not interested.” He added that P38s acquired a reputation for complexity, and these prices may in part be due to the cost of repair bills.
Mark Calzoni of Land Rover specialist Simmonites also confirmed that prices are slow currently: “They’re getting old now, and they’re not really friendly cars for the home mechanic. They’re prone to electrical issues, the air suspension causes problems, and the 4.6 litre blocks were notorious for cracking. 
“It’s unlikely we’ll see much movement in values in the near future because it’s just too troublesome a car for many to take on. The only plus point is that, unlike many classics, they don’t tend to rust!”

• Woodside Garage 01525 862727
• Simmonites 01274 833351

FAST FORD VALUES GOING NUTS SAY MARKET EXPERTS

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Low-mileage Brooklands set to be this month’s second £35k+ Capri

The Ford Capri 280 is dubbed Brooklands because of its colour.

The Ford Capri 280 is dubbed Brooklands because of its colour.

A delivery-mileage Ford Capri is being tipped to sell for as much as £45k when it goes under the hammer on 27 February– barely a fortnight after another low mileage one made £35,500 at auction.

Silverstone Auctions is selling the 1987 280 Brooklands – which has just 936 miles on the clock – with a £35-45k estimate at its Race Retro sale. It’s set to be the second Capri MkIII to go for upwards of £35k in the space of month. Market experts are saying it’s part of a wider price surge affecting fast Fords from the 1970s and ‘80s, including hot Escorts.

The auction house says it has noticed an increase in interest in performance Fords, with blue oval-badged classics getting far more enquiries than other cars on websites like CCW sister site Classic Cars for Sale.

‘The fast Ford market seems to have gone nuts over the last year or so. If this car had come to us five or six years ago I’d say it’d have been a £18-22k car, so cars like these have comfortably doubled in price,’ says sales manager Will Smith.

‘It’s the same for hot Escorts and Sierra Cosworths, and the Escort RS Cosworth is really on the up. It’s not a trend that exclusively affects Fords – it’s more acute with them because they’re so popular with the enthusiast-driven market.’

Regular CCW reader Albert Clarkson, who owns a 1986 Capri 2.8 Injection with just 586 miles on the clock, reckons the price rises will put many of these cars out of reach of grass roots enthusiasts and into the hands of collectors. 

‘£35k is silly money for these cars. I remember the Lotus Cortinas and the Escort MkI Twin Cams really going up in price, but now it seems more and more Capris are going for a lot of money,’ he says. ‘I’d never sell mine because I enjoy it too much, but now it’s not unrealistic to think it’d go for a similar price.’

Classics Central, which is selling a 1981 Janspeed 3.0-litre Capri at its 28 February auction with a £35-40k estimate, says both the delivery mileage Brooklands and Anglia Car Auctions’ £35k 2.8i are systematic of a wider market trend for fast Fords going up in value.

‘Capris that are special or particularly well preserved are going up rapidly, as are all fast Fords from the 1970s and 1980s – they are really are dynamite for the market at the moment. You only have to look at what happened with Silverstone Auctions’ Escort RS Turbo, which went for £60k back in November, to see that,’ says managing director Justin Lazic. ‘Mediocre examples haven’t changed that much in price, but rare and low mileage examples that can’t be repeated have easily jumped up. What it doesn’t mean is that a guy’s regular 2.8 Injection is now worth ten grand where it might have been six, a significant car can easily be five or six times the price it was.’

ENDANGERED SPECIES

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We salute near-extinct classic cars that have all but vanished from the roads. Prepare to be surprised...

 

They were once as common on Britain’s roads as broken white lines – yet plenty of the family favourites of yesteryear have all but vanished from the motoring landscape.

These are the mass market gems that have been largely forgotten by today’s buoyant classic car market, which focuses on hot hatches, luxury saloons and sports car before reaching out the hand of enthusiast salvation to the Ls and GLs of this world.

While the E-types, MGBs and Range Rovers have found fans willing to put time and money into their maintenance and resurrection, there are plenty of other models whose numbers have been depleted.

Austin Montegos and Renault 9s fell by the wayside as rust, banger racing and second-hand market woes sent vast numbers to the scrapyard in the sky. This isn’t only a great shame, but it also strips us of our motoring heritage.

These humble everyday chariots deserve to be saved – and there’s now show in Scotland aimed at championing cars of which fewer than 500 remain. How Many Left?, inspired by the eponymous car data website, takes place at the Grampian Transport Museum this weekend.

All of the cars you’ll find over the next few pages are eligible to take part – which means they’re also great examples of classics that deserved to be saved. Some of which are more suprising than you might think…

 

Hillman Super Imp (1963 - 1976) - 500 remain on the road

Although journalists and owners alike confirmed that the humble Hillman Imp was more practical - yet just as amusing to drive as the market-leading Mini - the Imp has dwindled in number due largely to an unfashionable image in years gone by. With an engine positioned in the rear to attack overseas rivals and rampant corrosion issues even when new, the prospect of 37bhp and all-independent suspension just wasn’t enough to triumph over its unusual nature - which is a shame, as the Imp was and remains a competent package brimming with cheeky charisma.

 

MGC GT (1967 - 1969) - 444 remaining on the road

When launched, the six-cylinder MG was given a savage shoeing by the contemporary motoring press. Too heavy an engine, too much understeer and the potential to permanently part wives from their husbands led to the undesirable diminutive of ‘The Widower’. However, it’s subsequently come to light that the cars were supplied with the wrong tyre pressures, and but for this oversight the MGC would have got a fairer hearing. But it’s too late for the huge number of MGCs that have bit the dust, providing replacement parts for its more well loved four-pot and V8 brethren. More fool us – prices for MGCs are on the rise and nowadays, used as a relaxing cruiser, they make a good deal of sense.

 

Austin Maxi (1969 - 1981) - 401 remaining on the road.
Once a sensible practical commuter, you’d be lucky to clap eyes on an Austin Maxi these days. Branded for years alongside its Allegro and Marina siblings as a class-conscious laughing stock, the outlook for remaining Maxis appears optimistic - thanks to a committed owners’ club and its contemporary stance as an unconventional template adapted, and still used, by mainstream hatchback manufacturers. With five-speed cruising on offer it was also hugely advanced - showing the Golf MkI a thing or two. 

 

Hillman Avenger (1970 -1976) - 369 remaining on the road.
Despite being given the spotlight as the support car for the 1978 Scotland World Cup Football Team, the Hillman Avenger has suffered a surprisingly low survival rate.  Made in Britain when patriotism swayed customers into ownership, the Avenger handled with aplomb, providing good looks and practicality into the bargain. The tuning potential kept many a teenager off the streets, too and it even found brief success exported into the USA as a Plymouth and in South America as a Dodge.

 

Rover SD1(1977 - 1986) - 310 remaining on the road  
A world beater upon launch, there was so much right about the Ferrari Daytona-inspired Rover SD1. Sadly, there was a lot wrong with it, too - reliability and build quality was so poor that it shocked even the firmest of BL devotees to the core. Rust issues set about destroying any chance most SD1s had of survival, with large numbers sent off to the metal claw as Japanese rivals proved dependability with a budget saloon was no pipe dream. 

 

Austin Montego(1984 - 1994) - 296 remaining on the road.
Available with a wide range of engines and various trim levels to keep pushy executives and retirees alike more than content, the Montego used to trundle over Britain’s roads in the sort of numbers that’d give Carol Vorderman a headache. Unable to offer anything over the ordinary and branded with a parent badge most considered to be a lame duck, the Montego offered all the second-hand desirability of a Chinese-burn. Rusting around the edges in spectacular fashion, the Montego was soon deemed worthless - but with such a reputation it’s easy to overlook the Montego’s merits. Besides keeping the Austin name alive throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the Montego provided dependable transport for thousands of families and, in Vanden Plas trim, would even speak to you using the voice of Nicolette MacKenzie.

 

Austin Allegro (1873 - 1982) - 291 remaining on the road.
Once the face of the dying British car industry, the Allegro is so deeply embedded into history and culture as a failure that the humble Austin’s merits are overshadowed. Although it failed to sell in the numbers hoped by BL management, thanks mainly to unappealing looks and a reputation for poor build quality, nearly 700,000 vehicles still found homes. Utilising hydragas suspension for all-round comfort and an endearing driving experience, the Allegro makes for an excellent introduction into classic car ownership.

 

Vauxhall Chevette (1975 - 1984) - 202 remaining on the road

Envisioned as a baby Chevrolet and based on Opel Kadett underpinnings, the shovel-nosed Vauxhall found favour with the British buying public remarkably well – from 1975 to 1978 it was the highest selling hatchback in the UK. Well-loved for its practicality and versatile body style options, 415,000 found homes across the United Kingdom. It also proved to be a useful rally car too, with the likes of Tony Pond and Pentti Arikkala behind the wheel. The latter took the 1979 British Open Rally Championship, finally defeating the Ford Escort’s domination.

 

Triumph Dolomite Sprint  (1973 - 1980) - 186 remaining on the road
Although the Triumph Dolomite had been around since 1965, the ultimate incarnation didn’t arrive until June 1973. The Dolomite Sprint offered 127bhp from a 16-valve powerhouse and a huge amount of equipment as standard - wood trim, tinted windows and alloy wheels. Then there is the gloriously 1970s vinyl roof. Good looking, rapid and utterly droolworthy, the sad decline in numbers of the Dolomite Sprint is a national tragedy. Ceasing production to introduce the Triumph Acclaim, some say the Dolly Sprint was the last true BL car.

 

Morris Ital (1980 - 1984) - 174 remaining on the road

Viewed as a facelift too far, the Ital was an effort from BL to keep the Marina going throughout the 1980s -although it offered better quality than its predecessor, the designer body couldn’t mask that the underpinnings were pure 1970s British Leyland. This meant that rival models from Ford and Vauxhall took the market lead, helping consign the Morris name to the history books. Although named after claims that design house Ital penned the lines, they actually only acted as consultants - Harris Mann, designer of the Allegro and Princess, penned the facelift. Then again, the Morris Mann would probably have sounded stupid anyway.

 

Triumph Acclaim (1981 - 1984) - 170 left on the road

Not only was the Acclaim the Triumph car company’s swansong, but it also marked the start of radical change in British manufacturing. For years British cars had been deemed largely unreliable, but the Acclaim changed all that, with a great reputation for staying in one piece – it had the lowest percentage of warranty claims for a British Leyland car. With good reason – it was actually a Honda Ballade, built at Longbridge. Effectively, it was the first Japanese car built within Europe, and was the start of a long collaboration between BL/Rover and Honda.

 

Ford Sierra XR4i (1983 - 1992) - 150 remaining on the road

Think of a fast Ford Sierra with a big wing and chances are you’ll summon up memories of the Cosworth. The XR4i got there first, however – and thanks to its 2.8-litre Cologne V6 managed to push the fascination with fast Fords into a new era – 160bhp in a relatively lightweight bodyshell yields a still-not-too-shabby 7.8-second 0-60mph sprint. Tin worm, rampant car thievery and neglect have killed off many XR4is, which is why the very best are now becoming highly prized.

 

Renault 9 (1981 - 1988) - 121 remaining on the road

You’d think Robert Opron - the creative force behind the Alfa Romeo SZ and the Citroën SM - might have brought a taste of the exotic to the Renault 9. Yet swooping back roofline aside, the 9 lacked the flair of its 11 hatchback sibling, which may explain why no-one seemed to care for what was a highly regarded car at the time of its launch. The Renault 9 won the 1982 European Car of the Year award, beating exotica such as the swoopily styled Ford Sierra. It even saw action on rally stages. But as with many saloon cars, the Renault 9 soon succumbed to banger status and then disappearance. Turbo models are well worth seeking out, however – they share mechanicals with loopy and well-lauded Renault 5 Turbo.

 

BL Princess  (1975 - 1982) - 121 remaining on the road

The definition of badge engineering, the famous wedge design could be found with Austin, Morris or Wolsely badging before finally dubbed ‘The Princess’. Utterly controversial due to BL disgruntlement and a bold Harris Mann design, the Princess was far from a bad car - it offered acres of space and made for an effortless cruiser whether venturing onto the motorway or exploring the city. The six-cylinder engine kept everything smoother than Frank Sinatra’s vocals, too.

 

Bond Bug (1970 - 1974) - 114 remainingFord_Sierra_ID7812.jpg on the road

While most three-wheelers provide snorts of derision from smug car snobs, the Bond Bug always elicits a smile. Yes, it may have a platry 29bhp but then it only weighs 394kg – it’s got enough get up and go to raise a smile, and can hit 76mph, if you’re brave. However, many have been stolen, never to be seen again, while others bought as playthings have long been forgotten, as the need for a practical car that can carry more than two very committed people becomes a priority.

 

MG 1100 (1962 - 1971) - 97 remaining on the road
While it pains us to discover only 97 MG 1100s still grace our presence, in reality we are lucky to have them at all.  Although the shape is as common as a badly written Steven Segal script, only 157,409 MG 1100s were crafted in the Cowley factory. As a plush version of the beloved Morris 1100, sales were slow to start with and thanks to corrosion issues most didn’t see the 1960s out. With an engine also used in the Mini, the beating hearts of many MG 1100s still live on -albeit at the cost of sending the rest of the vehicle off to the scrap man.

 

Lada Riva (1981 - 2012) - 54 remaining on the road

Despite its poor reputation in the UK, the Lada Riva is a remarkable car – it’s the third highest-selling car ever made after the Ford Model T and VW Beetle, and only went out of production in 2012. It was cheap, utilitarian transport that could be worked on anywhere. It was slow, cramped and about as much fun as a vet’s dissection how-to guide, but it didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t. However, while we Brits like that about our Land Rovers, we’re less keen on those attributes in our family saloons. As such many UK Lada Rivas have succumbed to the scrappage scheme. 


 

Jaguar MkX(1961 - 1970) - 50 remaining on the road

Revitalising Jaguar’s look for the 1960s, alongside the svelte E-type was this enormous offering. Easily capable of seating six fully grown adults in style, the MkX was amazingly agile for something wearing the same dimensions as a small house.  It wasn’t uncommon to find the front wings wearing damage as owners underestimated its girth when venturing down narrow streets or entrances. In true Jaguar style, disc brakes and power steering were standard - although the complexity of the vehicle rendered it economically unviable as time progressed.

 

Morris Isis (1955 - 1958) - 44 renaming on the road

If you were the owner of a Morris Isis back in the day, you could truthfully claim to have an Austin Healey C-Series engine under the bonnet.  As an attempt to push the Oxford underpinnings further up market, the Isis offered 86bhp from the 2.6-litre six-cylinder engine with upgraded brakes and stronger suspension to deal with extra weight. The Traveller variant was effectively Britain’s first people carrier, with a third row of seats available with legroom for children and adults alike.

 

Ford Consul GT (1972 - 1977) - 22 remaining on the road

Once seen on telly powering around London with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman in The Sweeney, the Ford Consul GT became an icon of the 1970s. With power, presence and practicality Ford’s executive saloon ticked all the boxes, and thanks to a rear-wheel drive set-up could be slung around with gusto for raw driving excitement. The GT was as hard as nails - No wonder the blaggers’ Jaguar S-Types couldn’t escape - but thanks to this aspect most ended up on the banger racing circuit.

 

Audi V8  (1988 - 1993) - 14 remaining on the road.
With the potential to explode at any given moment, the Audi V8 was largely avoided on the second hand market by all but the brave or unaware. Once going for pennies, expensive repair bills sent the majority into the hands of scrap merchants.  This is a shame, as the V8 rightly deserves its place alongside the Quattro as a significant part of Audi history - it was the first sign that Audi was about to instigate a heated executive saloon war with rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

 

Daihatsu Domino (1982 - 1989) - 13 remaining on the road.
One of the smallest Japanese cars ever to be imported into Britain, the Domino found homes across the UK thanks to its economical engine and ease of ownership. Sadly, due to unremarkable road manners and the safety aspects of a carrier bag, the Domino became a worthless throwaway for those running cars into the ground on a budget. However, if you can find one they are well worth saving. And we even managed to get through that without making a pun. Save one now, as numbers are falling like dominos. Oh, darn.

 

Fiat Regata (1983 - 1990) - 11 remaining on the road.
Launched during the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Regata sold by the bucket load, with close to two million rolling out the factory gates. However, with niggly build quality issues and a square look that dated quickly, no one bothered to keep their Regata or, indeed, maintain them with any degree of mechanical sympathy. Pumping out a small amount of horsepower and rusting so badly fist sized holes could be found in the wheelarches, constant repairs ground owners down resulting in very few examples currently left on the road.

 

Volvo 265 (1974 - 1980) - 10 remaining on the road

Classless, steadfast and practically indestructible, the 260 series was something of an oddity from Volvo during the 1970s. Besides wearing the same looks as its previous siblings albeit with lashings of extra chrome, under the bonnet grumbled a freshly conceived V6 engine pumping out 148bhp. The 265 Estate offered all the usual Volvo flare yet with a tad more grunt - but thanks to a thirst rivalling Oliver Reed and little to show how upmarket you were bar a slightly larger grill, the 265 never sold in the numbers akin to other Volvo innovations.

 

Peugeot 204 (1965 - 1976) - 10 remaining on the road
Launched in 1965, the 204 quickly became one of Europe’s quickest selling family cars. Employing a transmission-in-sump layout akin to the BMC Mini alongside clean cut and chic styling, the technological advancement hidden away put the 204 top of its market. With over 1.3 million being produced, its sad to discover that Peugeot’s servo-assisted brainchild been largely forgotten by the British classic car scene.  While speed may not have been it’s forte, it kept families moving without issue until 1976.

 

VW Santana (1980 - 1987)  - 7 remaining on the road

Nowadays the Volkwagen Passat is well-known for its stoic abilities to transport the family in comfort and with minimum fuss. Minimum excitement too, but it wasn’t always that way – and it wasn’t always a Passat. From 1981 to 1985 the VW’s mid-size saloon was the Santana and while looking at it didn’t evoke memories of South American guitarist, it did have neat ItalDesign styling cues. Alas they weren’t enough to save the Santana from sliding into unloved banger territory, and then oblivion. The Santana name lives on in China with a new 2013 model.

 

Mazda RX-3 (1971 - 1978) - 6 remaining on the road

While the Mazda RX-3 can still be found on drag-strips and race tracks, having undergone some serious steroid-laden surgery for special events, the popular RX-3 used to roam our main roads in droves. It’s not surprising to see why the 100bhp import found adoring fans, with all the chuckability of a Frisbee and a successful racing pedigree to back up a before unseen Japanese desirability factor. Now rarer than a comprehensible mobile-phone advert, the rotary powered RX-3 is almost mythical.


Citroën LNA (1977 - 1986) - 5 renaming on the road

Built to take on the European supermini market, the LNA may have trumpeted Citroën badging but underneath breathed pure Peugeot 104Z, with the flat-twin 2CV engine upped to 652cc - churning out 36bhp. Introduced for 1977 and eventually bowing out as the AX arrived in 1986, sadly the interesting twin-pot engined variants never made it onto UK soil.  A million were produced, but now only 5 solitary examples survive, with both Mother Nature and Father Time being rather unkind to the Peugeot/Citroën mongrel.

 

Audi 60 (1965 - 1972) - 4 remaining on the road

Although largely overlooked due to sheer ignorance, the Audi 60 was hugely advanced when unleashed onto the buying public in 1965. With neat looks and solid engineering alongside a Daimler-Benz co-developed engine and highly sophisticated road manners, the only downside was a lack of straight-line performance. As the genesis point for modern Audi saloons, the now near extinct 60 is worth hunting down for a cost-effective chunk of German automotive history.

 

Talbot Tagora (1980 - 1984) - 1 remaining on the road
Considered slab-sided, ugly and now near extinct, the Talbot Tagora has been largely ignored by those searching for a viable classic. Viewed as an iconic failure, arriving in a cut-throat marketplace sporting a woeful combination of Peugeot and Chrysler engineering, the Tagora left drivers feeling underwhelmed.  If you were to forgive the stench of failure, you’d find the Tagora is comfortable, roomy and - in V6 form - quicker than Alastair Campbell’s temper. Apparently, there is only one example left alive from a batch of 23,400 - making it as one of the rarest cars in existence.

Calum Brown

FREDDIE MERCURY'S MERCEDES S-CLASS WANTS SOMEONE TO LOVE IT

Freddie Mercury's Mercedes S-class wants someone to love it

Freddie Mercury's Mercedes S-class wants someone to love it

Freddie Mercury's final set of wheels - an unrestored Mercedes-Benz S-class - has been put up for sale in Scotland.

The car, a black 420SEL with a matching leather interior and telephone, was bought new by the former Queen frontman's production company Goose Productions in 1986 and kept until his death in 1991.

When sold in 1996 by Sothebys, it was claimed that it had been Mercury's favourite car - taking preference over his 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. However, it was only used by the buyer for four years and then laid up, and has since fallen into a state of disrepair.

Current owner Ross Waite said he came across the car at the back of a yard in his workplace in Fife. 'It had belonged to a former empoyee who decided he didn't want it any more and had left it there to rot. I did some research and discovered that Freddie used to own it.'

Ross added: 'It's time for it to go to someone who can restore it - I can't afford to. I'm inviting offers - it's of more interest than most SELs, but equally it does need a considerable amount of work.'


Interested? Contact Ross Waite on 07867 431443

INVESTING IN A CLASSIC

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Most of us invest in a classic car through appreciation of style, engineering and class, or from sheer nostalgia - although there are those who prefer the financial side…

Buying a Ford Sierra once cost pennies - now it's a different story.

Buying a Ford Sierra once cost pennies - now it's a different story.

Pensions are a difficult thing to manage these days; if you want a decent payout in the next 30 years we’re advised to put away £750 a month by the big wigs. £750! Only the top cretins of the country could manage to do that without sacrificing pleasures such as food, mortgage or tax payments.

For this reason, people have long been investing in artefacts that have the potential to increase in value over a short period of time, often making considerable sums of money in the process. Gold, wine, art, stamps and coins are popular collector’s items, but you will need a small fortune to buy into these nowadays. Classic cars have outperformed all of these however, with yet another considerable price jump this year. The idea of a car stock market isn’t just for those looking to boost their pension plan, it’s been worked by many simply looking for a decent investment.

In the 1980’s the likes of the original Mini and the first Land Rovers were floating around on the cheap. These vehicles are now selling for ten times the value they were bought for. A decent Mini currently changes hands for over £10,000, with a complete rust bucket going for well over a grand. Even in decent condition during the 1990’s the Mini could be bought for as little as the equivalent of £500 today. A Series I Land Rover going for £2000 in 1987 is now worth up to £20,000 in decent nick.

The biggest value leap is the E-Type Jaguar – worth a few grand in decent condition back in the late 1980’s – now worth over £75,000. This price explosion is put down to the ever-growing desirability of the brand, with new models consistently boosting the repertoire.  These vehicles don’t appear to be sliding back down the price ladder, but the problem is, who the hell has a spare £75K to fork out in order to buy them?

And what about insurance to keep them safe? Maintenance? Running costs?

The good news is that Classic Car Insurance is usually very affordable, with low premiums for low yearly mileage usage. We could fill numerous articles on insurance aspects, so we’ll leave you to shop around until we approach the subject next month.

Further good news is that older cars are often very, very basic with very few electronic aspects to trash your life. This doesn’t mean they don’t need maintaining however, and more complex designs won’t suffer fools gladly. Burn out the clutch on your old Jag and you’ll wish you’d never been born. The vehicles can’t simply sit in a shed or sit outside to be ignored and then sold on ten years down the line either, they need to be started, run and driven occasionally to keep all the parts working and oiled.

But, you don’t have to invest in something from the 1960’s or even the 1970’s. Vehicles that have been at rock bottom prices for the past 15 years are beginning to twitch just as the old Land Rovers, Minis and Jaguars did thirty years ago.

So, what if you’ve been toying with this idea or looking for a little something to bomb around in and then sell for the same price you bought it? The choice of car is endless – with Ford Sierras and Lancia Deltas still in reach for mere mortals, although not for much longer. 

Not everybody is equipped financially to just start collecting at the high-end level, but buying one you can personally afford will bring enjoyment and likeminded petrolheads into your life – cars cut through all language barriers. 

HOW THE FERRARI 308/328 SURPRISED EVERYONE

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For years we doubted that the Ferrari 308 and 328 would climb in value much, simply because by Ferrari standards these were mass-production models, and they lacked the iconic supercar status enjoyed by their V12-powered big brothers.

How the Ferrari 308/328 surprised everyone

How the Ferrari 308/328 surprised everyone

In the end their virtues of handling delicacy and pretty Leonardo Fioravanti styling have helped them to attract a new generation of buyers, that and the market’s increasingly broad appetite for anything Ferrari and old. The price analysis table in the latest issue of Classic Cars shows that over the past year the rarer glassfibre bodied cars from the start of production are averaging £133k, and even the steel-bodied cars average £60k in a price range of £33-145k.

For those of us who’ve been around for a long time it’s easy to be shocked at how expensive these former bargain £18k classics have become, but when you remember how expensive and exclusive they were new, they seem to have found a more logical place in current the classic car price hierarchy. 

Buying advice and market analysis is part of 16 pages of buying information in every issue of Classic Cars magazine, including Quentin Willson’s Smart Buys, Russ Smith’s Market Watch, in-depth buying guides and Ads on Test.

Phil Bell

Editor, Classic Cars magazine

For more details of the latest issue, visit www.classiccarsmagazine.co.uk

PRICE RISE SPARKS MGB SHORTAGE

Price rise sparks MGB shortage

Price rise sparks MGB shortage

Specialists are reporting a serious shortage of good-quality early MGBs and MG Midgets coming onto the market as values continue to rise.
The situation particularly applies to chrome-bumper MGBs, which it appears owners are now keeping and paying to have restored. Later rubber bumper car values are still relatively static.
David Abram at Norfolk-based MG Mecca said there was a real problem in sourcing excellent earlier MGBs in particular, with Midgets also hard to find.
“Obviously we have many contacts but even still we are finding it difficult to source cars at the right price,” he said. “Most cars are needing work to prepare them to the standards we would require to offer them for sale. We are not really sure why this is happening, apart from the fact people are hanging on to cars.”
David added that only the best MG Midgets and MGBs were commanding higher prices. While rising values have encouraged more owners to restore the early cars, there is now a gap in the market between highly-priced restored cars and examples needing expensive repair work. As a result, a widening gap for good-condition cars in the middle of the price spectrum has emerged.
Steph Gammons at MG specialist firm Brown & Gammons in Hertfordshire said the current economy meant people were tending to keep their MGs. 
He said: “With interest rates still low, people are still saying that they may as well enjoy a classic sports car than just having money sitting in the bank. We are still getting cars in, and continuing to source them from the USA.”
Peter Snowden, manager at MG specialist Snowdens of Harrogate, said: “I think it’s because people are realising what good value these cars are. Most of their main rivals are twice the price.
“I think people are wanting to keep them, and they are prepared to spend money on restoration. You can now expect to pay the mid-teen thousands of pounds for an excellent roadster.”

• Brown & Gammons, 01462 490049, www.ukmgparts.com
• MG Mecca, 01953 717618, www.mgmecca.co.uk
• Snowdens of Harrogate, 01423 502406, www.snowdensmgs.com

DELOREAN'S NEW COMEBACK

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The DeLorean DMC-12 is returning with a limited production run in the USA taking advantage of a new law.

DeLorean Motor Company, Texas is about to sell new cars again.

DeLorean Motor Company, Texas is about to sell new cars again.

DeLorean Motor Company, Texas can now build up to 500 DMC-12s a year due to new legislation, which allows old cars to be re-created and sold again. It hopes roll out the first car as early as next year.

DeLorean Motor Company acquired what was left of the original set-up 30 years ago including millions of spare parts. They have also manufactured many parts from new which means they have an ideal platform to begin production. 

‘It’s huge for us. It means we’re back as a car company again,’ says Stephen Wynne, CEO of DMC. The new DeLorean is expected to have a 300-400bhp power unit. 

There’s talk of improving the brakes, shock absorbers and wheels for greater performance, but the company still want to retain the car’s unique image. 

‘There’s no reason to change the appearance of the car, as we go into the programme, we’ll decide what areas need to be freshened up,’ says Stephen Wynne. 

The new DeLorean DMC-12 is expected to sell for around $100,000 (£70,000) and it’s hoped that 325 cars will be available in 2017.

HERE'S WHY THE BMW Z3 M COUPE IS A RARE COUP - FOR NOW

Here's why the BMW Z3 M Coupe is a rare coup - for now

Here's why the BMW Z3 M Coupe is a rare coup - for now

Depreciation is a Robin Hood-like principle, stealing from wealthy new car buyers and delivering into the hands of poorer enthusiasts. And it applies to even the most desirable of marques – witness how you can buy a 15-year old Porsche, Ferrari or Aston for the price of a well-specced new family saloon.

But some cars, like the oddball BMW Z3M Coupé, are chased hard by enthusiastic buyers from the minute they slip into the secondhand market. And the analysis in the current issue of Classic Cars magazine shows how they lost just half of their value in the first three years before clawing their way back from a £10k low.

Now the climb is steepening, but at £20k they still seem good value for something so distinctive and pure to drive.

 

Phil Bell
Editor, Classic Cars magazine

EU DIRECTIVE TO EXEMPT PRE-1984 CLASSICS FROM MOT TEST IS 'LUNACY'

EU directive to exempt pre-1984 classics from MoT test is 'lunacy'

EU directive to exempt pre-1984 classics from MoT test is 'lunacy'

A new European directive calling for almost all pre-1984 classics to be made exempt from MoT tests has provoked an angry response from industry experts.
Classic car specialists told CCFS that the newly agreed European Roadworthiness Directive, which argues that vehicles over 30 years old should be exempted from safety testing, will put drivers’ safety at risk. 
Malcolm Gammons, managing director of Hertfordshire-based MG specialist Brown & Gammons, said: “The lunatics have escaped. We don’t even agree with pre-1960 classics being exempt from testing, as no one benefits. 
“We even had one customer in recently saying that his car wasn’t handling very well and we discovered the reason – he had 42-year-old tyres!” 
The new EU agreement suggests that cars which are at least 30 years old, out of production and running to their original specification should be exempted from roadworthiness testing. 
However, because the rules are an EU directive – rather then an EU regulation, which must be followed to the letter – it is up to the UK Government how it chooses to implement them. A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We are planning to consult nearer to implementation of the Directive and will of course be seeking the involvement of stakeholders with an interest in classic cars as part
of that process.” 
If the EU Roadworthiness Directive was implemented now it would bring the MoT exemption date forward from 1960 to 1984, and mean thousands more classics would no longer be required to pass an annual MoT test.
Stephen Hill, director of Thornfalcon Garage, which offers owners of pre-1960 classics a voluntary MoT-style safety check, said: “Exemption from MoT should stop at 1960. Cars of this age are owned by enthusiasts and tend not to be used every day.
“If exemption is extended to 1984 there will be people paying £2-300 and just driving away up the road without having to worry about it being MoT’d.”
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs said they had given the news a cautious welcome, because they were in a position to discuss with the Government how the new directive could be interpreted in the UK.
A spokesman for the organisation said: “The task now is to work with our national Government to ensure the most favourable outcome to the interpretation of the legislation.
The current MoT exemption for classics was brought in across Great Britain in November 2012, with Northern Ireland following suit last September. The UK government has until April 2018 to implement the EU Directive.

MODERN JAGUAR S-TYPE VALUES RISE

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Supercharged R version leads saloon’s charge into the classic world

Modern Jaguar S-Type Values Rise

Modern Jaguar S-Type Values Rise

Auctioneers are tipping the second generation Jaguar S-type, introduced in 1999, as a classic investment despite its current values being overshadowed by the larger XJ models.

Prices for the Geoff Lawson-penned executive saloon are currently stabilising, and specialists believe more desirable variants like the range-topping S-type R are now going up in price.

Rob George, co-director of Anglia Car Auctions, said: ‘The R model had the word classic written all over them even when they were new.

‘The 3.0-litre V6s in manual form fly along too and they’re all real driver’s cars, but for many the diesel model is the best.’

Barons’ Laurence Sayers-Gillan says the V8 models, and especially the S-Type R, are becoming more collectable but other models aren’t being snapped-up.

‘There hasn’t been a lot of interest because of the looks, but it’s not a bad car.

‘The normal V8 is a lovely car and it’s well built. The V8s are becoming more sought after.’

North Wales Jag Centre’s Matthew Norbury says very early (T- and V-plate) models are thin on the ground and suspension maladies have seen many S-Types being scrapped, but values of the performance R model are now on the rise.

‘You can get a mint pre-facelift model for around £1500, but facelift models (2005-on) will be dearer. S-Type Rs are going up in value and you’d be looking at £6000 for a very good example.

‘The R’s perhaps the best car you could buy pound for pound, but it’s important to buy on history and not on mileage.’ 

Richard Barnett

 

Looking to buy a Jaguar S-type? Here are our tips:

The bodywork tends to survive well, but on early models the floors can rust through, and that can be terminal. The doors, which are deep, can suffer from car park dings but smart repairs can put that right.

Later diesel models can suffer from diesel particulate filter problems and can blow if they are neglected. Diesels are also very oil level-sensitive and can blow up if they are over-filled.

Petrol engines, as long as they have regular oil changes, tend to be indestructible. Gearboxes are equally strong but on diesel models a failed oil cooler (replacement: £400) can wreck the ‘box, which can cost £3200.

Electrics tend to be pretty trouble free, other than the front wiring harness which can bring trouble. S-type buyers should also change the battery straight away and go for the highest-quality one available, which usually solves lingering electrical maladies.

WHY MY LOVE FOR THE PEUGEOT 205 DIMMA HASN'T DIMMED

Peugeot 205 GTI Dimma

Peugeot 205 GTI Dimma

I've always had a 'thing' for the Peugeot 205 T16. A cherished model example I've had since I was seven adorns my desk, I had a book with a tasty cutaway drawing of one on the centrefold when I was a kid, and even in the Nineties Group B rallying was still a strong enough cultural memory to keep its flame alive – plus it was still winning the Dakar. As the last car to win a World Rally Championship under Group B rules, it had a reputation as the pinnacle of rallying achievement.
So imagine my excitement, as an impressionable ten-year-old, when a neighbour took delivery of one.
The operative word there is 'impressionable', mainly because the car in question was nothing of the sort, but rather a 205 GTi fitted with a Dimma bodykit. Of course I had absolutely no idea of this at the time – especially as the owner in question had seemingly replaced all the windows with giant Ray-Ban lenses so you couldn't see whether it had an engine in the back or not. It was also bright red – at the time I didn't know that all Peugeot's factory T16 road cars were finished in grey.
But somehow that didn't matter, because the sight of it made my day. And here's the thing – it still does.
Dimma somehow managed to extricate themselves from the early-Nineties Max Power malaise with a strange degree of dignity. I think it's simply because rather than going for the silly paint jobs, ugly for-the-sake-of-it body alterations and inappropriate wheels, their wide-bodied kits with faux-vents hinting at a mid-mounted engine – for the Peugeot 205 and Renault 5 – simply replicated the Group B versions line-for-line. Also, because they were still a hot Peugeot or Renault at heart, there was the sense that although they were 'fakes' there was something more 'honest' about them than, say, a Toyota MR2 made to look like a Ferrari F355. As a rubbernecker, you were being charmed rather than conned.
Dimma were also well aware that performance needed to match looks too, so they offered a Turbo Technics engine upgrade as an option as part of their bodywork conversion. The result is that this 205 GTi boasts straight-line performance capable of worrying a TVR.
The result is a genuine period curio that deserves to be cherished and preserved as a 'genuine Dimma', rather than pulled apart and returned to factory standard. Because such things were once a major part of aftermarket hot hatch culture when such cars were visited with a youthful second lease of life, and Dimma represented the most positive, acceptable face of it all in its pre-laddish heyday. To pretend that era never happened and lose the better examples to over-zealous value-chasing restorers would be a real shame.

WHO'S LAUGHING NOW? THE FORD PROBE

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The Ford Probe is a gloriously dreadful car. Take that statement in. An oxy-moron? You bet. Like bad sex or healthy cake. However, it’s having the last laugh - if you want to get all anal about it.

Forget the dubious name and the build quality woes - The Ford Probe is great fun.

Forget the dubious name and the build quality woes - The Ford Probe is great fun.

The Probe is one car that Ford would like to forget ever existed- just as we do with healthy cake or bad sex– a face slappingly awful Japanese/Ford combo that looks as weird and as plastic as anything featured on 1980s Doctor Who. Except, this car isn’t from the decade of shoulder pads. Don’t let the pop up headlights and first production date of 1988 fool you – this is as 1990s as the Macarena or the Waif look. And like the Waif look and the Macarena, time hasn’t judged the Probe kindly.

With a name like ‘Probe’, it’s the blue oval at the front that saves it from mockery and gives it the small cult following it enjoys. This is the definition of irony, however, as the car itself is in fact a Mazda. And not one of Mazda’s finest moments, at that. 

There was a huge amount expected of the Probe when it was unveiled and thrust onto the market within Britain during 1992. The Capri had been a huge success and was already imprinted in time as a cult piece of engineering; its replacement had the public foaming at the mouth with excitement, especially after Ford and Mazda had merged. Ford’s people pleasing styling mixed with incredible reliability created a deal that benefited everybody. Honda and Rover were getting together and now Ford had Mazda under its wing. West and east mixed and it was magical.

Except, it didn’t last long. Honda and Rover fell out and Ford cut ties with Mazda; but not before the Probe had enjoyed five rocky years on UK markets. Mazda rebadged the Fiesta in this time too, resulting in the rather awkward Mazda 121.

Sales in Britain didn’t hit anywhere near where Ford bigwigs had hoped, down to huge prices and questionable build quality. Panel gaps on certain models were large enough to fit garden ornaments, the ride was deemed harsh and legroom in the back was pitiful if you were over 4ft 8in.

Looking like something out of a Barbie party pack, expensive, christened with a dubious name and offering the build quality of a shredded wheat – it was never going to be a big seller. Between 1992 and 1993, the Probe had £2k taken off its sale price (from £14,800 down to £12,700), which proved that the original asking price of £19,350 was a pipe dream as large as the hoover dam.

Its rivals were cheaper and offered a wider array of engines, which is curious, as out of all its rivals it’s the Probe that has developed the fan clubs and following.

And there is a good reason for that – it’s good fun. Most cars of character are monsters with jittery rides or ferocious fuel consumption or dreadful build quality or comedy handling or huge design flaws or truck like driving experiences or square looks. While the Probe certainly doesn’t look square, it ticks a lot of those boxes. Yet, you forgive it because it shows you a good time.

Every small back road and every motorway is a fantastic experience thanks to the smooth 163bhp V6 or 128bhp straight four paired with a neat gearbox and chuackable handling. And they are cheap, I mean really cheap. £750 secures you a Probe with tax and MoT ready for taking that corner in a rigorous manner and then blasting along the straight. Numbers are thinning and its not very often that you come across one parked on the street, it’s therefore very quickly becoming a very different and special purchase.

And its practical. Lack of rear legroom aside, the boot is a decent size and front passenger comfort is sublime. It’ll fit your golf clubs and your kids, your dog, your weekly shop and your partner all at the same time. No other £750 sports car can do that. Not many £750 cars can do that; certainly not one taxed and MoT’d.

Values are starting to kick-start themselves into life again. If you are tempted, watch for accident damage and ignition problems which plagued these models from new. V6’s often need new timing belts and many have sat around outside - brake discs can rust and exhausts suffer extensively.

So, what’s the verdict? Well, it’s a mixed bag of brilliance and flaw that didn’t sell very well and was, simply, an MX-6 with Ford badging. It has a scary number of design faults but its fun, cheap and practical - all of the things that Fords should be.

Should you buy one? Hell yes – it’s easy to live with and not bank-breakingly expensive to run. They aren’t going to be around forever – enjoy them while you can as what they are: A retro Ford that is gaining status as fast as they are disappearing from UK roads.

A recipe for a fantastic future classic and a gloriously, gloriously bad car that you will seriously fall in love with.

THE INBETWEENERS CAR: FIAT CINQUENCENTO

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It’s got a boot smaller than Victoria Beckham’s breakfast, it’s got a serious lack of power steering, it doesn’t work with a conventional design and is built like a wet cardboard box. Famous solely for being picked on throughout Channel 4’s The Inbetweeners, don’t rule the Fiat Cinquencento out as a great car to own. This is as close to roller-skating on the road as you can legally get.

The Fiat Cinquencento now has cult status thanks to The Inbetweeners.

The Fiat Cinquencento now has cult status thanks to The Inbetweeners.

People with no money or sense could often be found buying a Fiat Cinquencento back in the day. Weak gearboxes, rampant build quality issues and Italian poilitician-esque reliability sent most customers scurrying furiously into the arms of Volkswagen, Ford and the Japanese.  In typical Fiat fashion, Cinquencentos have all but disappeared from our roads- but they've got a legacy that will live on thanks to Channel 4 comedy The Inbetweeners. 

Almost like origami held together with a rubber band, or sitting in a helmet with wheels, the Fiat Cinquencento made for a perfect reflection in car form of our four favourite onscreen teenagers. The famous Fiat Cinquencento first appears in episode three of the now cult sitcom, a gift to Simon (Joe Thomas) from his parents upon passing his driving test. His reaction can be viewed below, although the Hawaii edition is a fictional aspect. (Choice language rampant throughout the video - you have been warned!) 

Suffering serious abuse throughout the three-season run, the Fiat eventually ends up in a lake with a smashed window and  headlights blaring - and is never heard from again. A fitting place for it really, as the Fiat Cinquencento isn’t what you would call robust motoring.  

The driving experience is unbearable after more than an hour, unless you are genetically engineered just to drive a Cinquencento, due to a rigid seating position and off-set pedal arrangement. Reliability is pretty poor, coming a lowly 29th from bottom in a Top Gear survey covering 137 models back in 2003, ending with a 74.9% satisfaction score in 2005 (18th from bottom) and making various motorists lives agony. Oh yeah, and then there is the crash protection - or lack thereof.  If it weren’t making your life hell, it would simply send you to it instead.

So, in reality, chances are that Will, Simon, Jay and Neil would never have made it to school without the assistance of the AA.

There are upsides to the little Italian Fiat, however. There is an immense sense of speed on offer despite not going very quickly, almost like a distressed go-kart. The experience is rather exhilarating too; due to the impending sense of death upon leaving first gear. Handling is also charismatic in the same way Sean Penn is charismatic - unforgiving on bumpy surfaces due in part to firm suspension and flimsy construction; it’s the B-roads where this supermini belongs. And, at the end of the day, you have the car from The Inbetweeners at your control. Forget the James Bond Aston Martin, this is the king of showing your classy nature - in that you clearly couldn’t care less. 

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t expect miracles from such a budget car. Complaining about the lack of rear legroom is like bemoaning the difficulty in parking a limousine. Complaining about the trifling issue of boot space is akin to getting grouchy over a 4x4s fuel consumption - the Fiat Cinquecento is what it is. Besides, there are a number of things you can fit in the boot.

Things you fit into the boot of a Fiat Cinquencento:

A Penny

A Bic Biro

Most of the spare wheel 

Warwick Davis

 

We can’t forget that the little vehicle was actually revolutionary for Fiat, too. It opened up a new market to Fiat - and can claim to have set the path towards the uberpopular contemporary 500. 

And of The Inbetweeners car itself? It’s still alive despite being vandalised at Thorpe Park by a party of insulted Down's Syndrome children, having the passenger door ripped off to be replaced with a mismatched colour, literally being sexually abused -  all before ending up underwater.  It was put up for sale in aid of Comic Relief, quickly becoming the most expensive secondhand Fiat Cinquencento ever.

NEW WINDSCREENS FOR CLASSICS

New windscreens for classics

New windscreens for classics

Pilkington Automotive will unveil a new website at the NEC Classic Motor Show this weekend, capable of supplying 6000 different windscreens for more than 600 different vehicle manufacturers, covering everything from AC to Zastava. 

The company’s Queenborough factory in Kent has made classic windscreens for the aftermarket since the late 1950s and still retains the vast majority of its tooling. 
To order a windscreen you can simply log onto the company’s website and type in the details about your car and location to find the nearest distributor. Orders take roughly six weeks to complete. In many cases, the original classic cars were built with glass from a Pilkington company, such as Triplex, Sigla, Bilglas, and SIV, and the glass can be supplied with the original trademark. What’s more, the company can create bespoke windscreens and is happy to work with enthusiasts and clubs who still have original CAD data, designer drafts or technical drawings.

All glass from Queenborough is handmade and Pilkington can adapt, rebuild or modify its tooling to produce a suitable windscreen. Bespoke ‘screens for kit cars and replica classics are also available.

“We at Pilkington Automotive know that finding the right windscreen for a classic car can be a long, arduous and costly task,” said Mike Rotin.
“With the launch of Pilkington Classics we can bring our knowledge and expertise to the market place and, in most instances, fit the replacement windscreen for the customer.”

TIME FOR SOME TR6 APPEAL

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Sheer numbers have long kept prices of the brawny Triumph TR6 in check – nearly 95,000 – compared to the near 70,000 TR4/4as and just over 11,000 TR5/250s built. As a result, TR6s have sold for around half the price of a TR5 in similar condition.

Time for some TR6 appeal

Time for some TR6 appeal

The Analysis table in the latest issue of Classic Cars reveals that the 13 TR6s that have come to auction over the past year have sold for £4-32k with an average of £16k and most exceeding their pre-sale estimates. So the characterful TR6 is no longer cheap, but it still represents a lot of fun for the money compared to a lot of classics out there.

Buying advice and market analysis is part of 16 pages of buying information in every issue of Classic Cars magazine, including Quentin Willson’s Smart Buys, Russ Smith’s Market Watch, in-depth buying guides and Ads on Test.

For more details of the latest issue, visit www.classiccarsmagazine.co.uk

To see the digital edition for Android devices