FailCar’s top ten modern classics with investment potential

It’s coming up to that time of year again when I shall find out how little money that ISA has made me. Oh yes, in these days of miserly interest rates, I’ll probably have made enough from it to buy a new set of floor mats for the 205. Or maybe half a tank of petrol.

Although I have a few cars that provide some fallback for a rainy day, none of them are really proper balls-out gambles. You know, sod the ISA, stick some money in something fun that will actually hold proper value and perhaps even make more cash than the annoying people who seldom ‘give me extra’.

I’ve mused on some classics before for this purpose, but here I’m thinking of more modern classics for a tad more money.

So here we have it. These are some of the cars that I think would be worth sticking some money into. I’m not talking about Chris Evans levels of money here. Anyway I reckon @MajorGav will agree to reimburse any losses incurred? [Do Hobnobs count as legal tender? – Ed].

MK1 Ford Focus RS: £7,000

I love the MK1 Focus, I would probably go as far as saying that the boggo model is the best ‘everyman’ car ever. The RS design has aged remarkably well, not too lairy and that Imperial Blue is always going to remain desirable, even if those go-faster striped seats don’t. It has all the hallmarks of a future classic with rallying pedigree, built in limited numbers and well, it’s a Ford with an RS badge.

MK1 Ford Focus RS

I’ve been lucky enough to drive a few examples and all seemed a little different in the way that they wrestled my arms with torque-steer. Still, once you get moving that twitchness goes away a bit and it’s just that awesome chassis that shines through. You can now pick them up from as low as £7k. I suspect like many people who didn’t buy an Escort Cosworth a few years ago, I will be kicking myself if I don’t get in on what seems like a bargain.

Renault Clio V6: £10,000

The Clio V6 is a perfect example of pure petrolhead awesomeness. Take a small city car, stick a V6 in the back and give it a body more reminiscent of a Metro 6R4 than its original R5 Turbo granddaddy. Practicality and turning circle have both disappeared in favour of a properly unique driving experience in this price bracket.

Renault Clio V6

Again the hallmarks of a future classic are there, I seem to recall it had a (short-lived) racing series, it was built by TWR and the early ones are notorious for trying to kill you. To be honest, in future I’m not sure if the P1 or P2 V6 will offer the best investment potential, so I’m tempted to get the cheaper (for the moment) P1 and just clench a bit harder when cornering. I don’t think they’re ever going to drop below the £10k going rate, so maybe now is the best time to get in there.

BMW E46 M3: £8,000

That metallic howl from the M3 is one of those noises that is right there up in petrolhead folklore, along with the warble of an Impreza turbo and the gentle squeak of a French interior working itself apart.

BMW E46 M3

That iconic straight-six engine paired up to a manual gearbox is just a delight, while at the same time the M3 makes quite a capable (if a little thirsty) daily driver. I’ve heard from various sources that the SMG is not as duff as some make it out to be and while I’ve yet to try an SMG E46 I can’t help but think if you’re in for the long haul, investment wise the manual will still be the one to go for.

The fact that you can now pick up a decent one for £8k is incredible. Again, stick to a standard car in one of the less Marmite colours (sob, no Laguna Seca Blue or Phoenix Yellow) and you’ll be on to a winner. You can then go to BMW meets and cry yourself to sleep afterwards because you did not get in sooner on the CSL model.

Honda Integra Type R DC2: £4,500

This still has to be one of my most memorable driving experiences. Back in college a friend owned one and once I had finished taking the michael out of his new ‘ricer with a pram handle wing’ he took me for a drive. Well, that shut me up. What an incredible machine, it was my first unforgettable experience of VTEC and what led me to buying an S2000 some ten years later. As the abused examples begin to disappear, the unmodified examples that made it through the Max Power years are rare and more desirable.

Honda Integra Type-R DC2

I came so very close to buying one last year but at the last moment I had a change of heart as – speaking to @MajorGav confirmed what I knew in my heart – it was the wrong colour. The only colour true colour for the Integra Type-R – especially for investment purposes – is Championship White. And this one was not. These days a good UK DC2 seems to be sitting around £4-5k. I don’t think these will go up dramatically, but I do think gains will be there and they will also hold value indefinitely. In the mean time if you spot a sub 80k non-rusty Champ White DC2 – let me know first, so I can buy it.

Rover 75 V8; £6,000

What’s not to love? In terms of a hardcore re-working of a car, just because they bloody wanted to, the 75 V8 is a peach. A front-wheel drive saloon at the height of the boom in high-mpg diesels is converted by Prodrive into a rear-wheel drive hooligan, with a V8 from the Mustang. The best part about the latter is that the amount of tuning and supercharger kits etc, mean that you can think of both the 75 and ZT V8 as being a cut price alternative to the Vauxhall VXR-8.

Rover 75 V8

In both forms it’s quite a sleeper car and it has one of the best investment characteristics of all. It’s the halo car for a brand that, while basically dead, will long continue to have a loyal following. Think of all the people who attend Pride Of Longbridge. They all want this car. It is to Rover 45 drivers what the Audi R8 is to A3 TDi drivers. I want one, I want it badly and with prices sitting around £6k, it’s very, very tempting.

Toyota Celica GT-four ST205: £3,500

Am I missing something here? In fact, did we all miss something? While everyone was busy fitting a valve to their Impreza turbo that made it sound like the flushing of an aeroplane lavatory, the GT-Four seems to have missed out on getting the love it so deserves.

Toyota Celica GT-four ST205

When it comes to winning a generation over it’s all about getting the hearts and minds, and whilst we may have been unsuccessful with that in Afghanistan, the Celica will always have a special place for some of us thanks to two very special words – Sega Rally.

Never mind the fact it’s great to drive, has incredible usable performance, has the reliable 3S-GTE lump under the bonnet and will crack over 150mph. The GT-Four seems like incredible value now and with rarity on its side, picking one up for £3,500 will soon be a thing of the past.

Jaguar XJ-S: £3,000

The Jaguar XJ-S had some mighty shoes – or is that slippers – to fill coming after the beautiful E-Type. For me the XJ-S seems to have been somewhat of an ugly ducking. While it was once not appreciated, the early models seem to have aged wonderfully, looking elegant with just the right amount of chrome. I’m not sure what happened, but in my youth I lusted after the smooth and sleek XK8, but park one next to an XJ-S and all of a sudden it looks like bloated and featureless lump.

Jaguar XJS

I’ll accept that flying buttresses are not to everyone’s taste, but the lines on the XJ-S look just right. While the thought of a V12 is fun I think going for an auto 3.6 would probably be the sensible option for those who want to actually drive their car. Investment wise, a V12 Convertible in British Racing Green would probably be right on the mark for future desirability. Prices seem to have really jumped in the past few years and this is a trend that will almost certainly continue.

BMW Z3 M Coupe: £10,000

Design wise, it looks like someone who built allotment sheds for a living was called in to stick a roof on the Z3 Roadster. But this is a car that was destined to become legendary from the start. You think we’re the only ones getting bored of modern metal? Well guys behind the scenes do too and that’s how ‘skunkworks’ cars are born. Cars that engineers have fettled with and then gone begging to the bean counters to let them have a play.

BMW Z3 M Coupe

What we got was an odd looking, wide-arched Z3 with a roof and the engine from the E36 M3. While it might look a bit bonkers (and had some bloody awful interior options) the way it drove was anything but silly. The Z3 M Coupe is a real weapon of a car and crucially for investment purposes it already has a cult following, was built in limited numbers and shares bits from the BMW parts bin, so mechanically you’re not going to be at a lathe in a few years time, desperately trying to make a custom door hinge.

As they had a bit of a fanboy image from the get go, many will have been cherished. At the moment they can be had for as little as £10k.

Lotus Elise S1: £8,000

It was the car that put Lotus back on the automotive map, rather being confined to a future as a sticker on an Isuzu, Vauxhall or a Proton. The Elise S1 is beautiful in its simplicity. OK, it’s not quite as raw as the original 7, but the Elise is a car that you could theoretically drive every day. The S1 has some gremlins, namely the K-Series but really, most of them will have been sorted by now with gaskets and bolts that aren’t made of oatcakes. As long as the tub isn’t knackered you should do ok.

Lotus Elise S1

Prices start at around £8k for good examples and they seem to be staying around there. I don’t think there is potential for any short-term big gains but this is a car you could have serious fun with and flog it without making a huge loss. Early cars seem to be creeping up in value and – if you can keep track of the 10,000 variations of limited edition cars – then it would probably be good to go for one of those.

Fiat Coupe 20v Turbo: £3,000

“In Italy no-one grows up wanting to be a train driver” – I vividly remember that advert for the Fiat Coupe from my youth. Up on a giant billboard was a yellow thing that looked every bit as desirable as the Ferrari F355. They still look bloody great today and I think the guy with a beard who designed it went on to do some other stuff, too.

Fiat Coupe 20v Turbo

A five-cylinder warbling turbo lump connected to one of the best looking designs of the 90s. The details on the Fiat Coupe have aged beautifully. Something that can be said of many of its contemporaries, such as the Peugeot 406 Coupe.

You can pick up good examples from £3,000 and having kept an eye on the ads it seems that really good examples can command twice that price.

I’ll probably stop now as I think there must be a limit to the number of cars from my previous eBay watch lists. There are of course more and I would be interested to hear from you on other cars you reckon offer sure-fire investment potential.

I also hear – from the voices in my head – the average 205 GTi is worth a minimum of £20,000 these days…

All images © manufacturers.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
FailCar
PetrolBlog’s very own Stig. Only a select few people know the true identity of FailCar, but his forthright and strong views on automotive matters have won him fans the world over. Like MajorGav, FailCar has a love of 80s cars and has spent the best part of 2011 painstakingly restoring a Peugeot 205 GTi using nothing more than a toothbrush, a lint-free cloth and some Creeping Crack Cure. Some say he lives in an ark-shaped barn in the middle of the country, surrounded by two of every single car made during the 1980s. All we know is, he’s called FailCar.

5 comments

  1. January 21, 2014
    Ant

    Can’t disagree with any of those. The Fiat Coupe has tempted me more than once and a few years ago, when I bought my Beetle, I was giving the Celica GT-Four some serious consideration – it was a flip-up between something old, characterful and slow, or something more modern but quick. The trouble at the time was that I couldn’t find any Celicas that hadn’t been modified or ragged.

    The Integra is certainly one I’m tempted by.

    I’d throw a few others in the mix though, too. One is the Mk1 Honda Insight – already holding their value right at the bottom end of the market, and only likely to become more desirable as driving gets more expensive. That they won’t rust is another bonus. Even the prospect of a ~£1.5k battery change at some point (which may come down a bit anyway) probably won’t deter people. It doesn’t me…

    The other is the Mk1 MX-5. Dirt cheap at the moment but not getting any cheaper for good ones. Prices are already strengthening, and I suspect good, non-rusty cars will go up before long. Certain imports, like V-Specs, already sell as soon as they’re put up. Decreasing supply and increasing demand can only do one thing for prices…

    Reply
  2. January 21, 2014
    failcar

    With you on the MK1 Insight, quite fancy one myself! I like the MX-5 but they are so rotten these days it terrifies me at how they can very quickly become uneconomic repairs. Sills and arches basically need fully rebuilt. BUT on the plus side for investment purposes it means that lots of them will die, making them rarer and worth more.

    Reply
  3. January 25, 2014
    Ben

    I’d love a Mk1 Insight, there seem to have been a lot on the market recently at about £3k, and considering how few there are around, does leave me suspicious that they’re beginning to get very expensive.

    Would be a perfect car for my job where I get paid mileage at a set rate, and therefore a more economical car means profit!

    Reply
  4. March 14, 2015
    Max

    What about a Mark one Audi TT? These were such desirable cars back in the day and are now seriously cheap – I can’t see them getting any cheaper. Added to that the build quality, reliability etc it seems a good bet

    Reply
    • March 24, 2015
      Gavin Big-Surname

      Quite agree. Keep looking at MK1 TTs with envious eyes. Definite future classic, especially as the new one continues to grow softer and less appealing.

      Reply

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