The 10 best classic cars to buy for under £15,000...
After 3 months away, I'm back doing classic car things!
Alright, I've been gone for a while now, mostly because I've been too lazy to write these things, but now I'm back! I've done TEN classic cars this time for around £15,000. I've gone big and dangerous this time, as you can see. I'd love to write the whole nonsense about how much people love classic cars these days and making money off of them, but I've done that 100 times before and nobody wants to read that over and over again. So... enjoy!
1. 1990 Porsche 928 S - £14,995
I've always been a big lover and defender of the 80s and 90s front-engined Porsches. In the modern era, when people associate Porsche so deeply with the 911 and the big SUVs, a lot of people overlook the 924, 944, 928, 968, etc. as future classics... and then proceed to spend nearly £200,000 on an original 911 GT2. What they typically fail to see, however, is that all of them are absolutely fantastic cars. And I'd safely say the best of the front-engined range is this; the Porsche 928.
This one, the S version, has a 5.0L V8 - producing around 305 horsepower - which, regardless of the fact this specific car has an automatic gearbox - has a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds, and a top speed of slightly more than 155mph.
Of course, one of the key things about old Porsches is how they look - the design language they used to have more often than not makes them all instant classics. And this model has no reason to be different; the silhouette is rounded and sleek, the S variant has a small but needlessly cool spoiler over the boot, and of course has those iconic and quite literal pop-up headlights.
Other things? Well, it's done 197,000 miles, which for a Porsche is just a number on a screen, and the whole things seems pretty much immaculate for how old it is and for how far it's been rolling along.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1339762)
2. 1989 Maserati Biturbo Spyder - £15,000
Italian sports roadsters are generally some of the best and most popular sub-genres of car in the world. No matter what kind of car guy you are, you’ve got to love an Italian roadster. They’re fast, incredibly beautiful, stylish, and fantastic to drive. Best of all, at least for you and I here, they tend to depreciate like pianos falling off of tower blocks. And thus we have here this Maserati Biturbo Spyder.
First things first, it’s incredibly stylish - the smooth black paint alongside the elegant white interior makes the inside of the car feel a lot bigger, like the interiors on some modern Volvos. Of course, vintage Italian design language also plays its part here, and really helps the Biturbo show its 80s heritage with all its sharp lines and angles.
The Biturbo from this facelift era comes accompanied with a 2.8L twin-turbo V6, producing around 250 horsepower, which can push the Biturbo from 0-60, quite similarly to the 928, in 6.2 seconds, and on to a top speed of roughly 135mph. So it’s fast, it’s good-looking, it’s stylish, and - if you’ve seen one of the episodes of the Grand Tour Series 1 - seems to be great fun to throw around a racetrack; providing that you’ve got some good tyres and barely working steering.
Thankfully for the Italians, it’s only done around 44,000 miles, meaning it’s unlikely to blow up until it hits the big 50,000. With fingers crossed, maybe.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1320565)
3. 1986 TVR Tasmin - £12,000
I like TVRs. They’re small, light, vintage, and very good (if a little odd) looking. And they definitely rode the wave of British sports cars of post WW2, when most of the disused wartime airfields were converted into short, twisting racetracks. Of course, the other benefit of a TVR is they’re often very cheap. And this TVR Tasmin suits all of those criteria perfectly.
So it happens, I’ve selected a specific Tasmin that has been converted into a racecar - roll cage, racing seats/wheel/dials, no passenger seat or carpets, and so on - all the serious stuff. Of course this makes the originally very lightweight TVR even lighter, which I’m sure will make it a rocketship on track.
The standard TVR Tasmin has a 2.7L Cologne V6, built by Ford (most likely from the Grenada), which produces around 160 horsepower, although the description says the engine is a 3.0L, meaning there could’ve been some form of displacement upgrade. This standard power, thanks to the 1100kg weight, gives the Tasmin a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds, and a top speed of 128mph. I’d imagine this one is considerably faster, consider how much weight-saving has been done, but that’s the only stats we have.
This car has apparently raced with a special Tasman exclusive series, track-only, and so means that it won’t have covered that many miles.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1318669)
4. 1974 MG MGB GT - £8,700
When you think of the best of British cars, the MGB is usually what comes to mind. They're good-looking, slightly less than reliable, and there's a large range of models for every person's needs. You have the hardtop, the convertible, and this: the MGB GT. I cannot tell you how many requests I've had to include this or an MG Midget in an article, mostly because I can't be bothered to count, and so when I came across this one while browsing, I thought... "Eh, might as well".
This MGB is quite special, actually, because its been modified greatly, as the advertisement puts it, in the style of old Sebring racecars. Its engine has been rebored to around 2.0L, a lightened flywheel and heavy duty clutch, a new Weber DCOE carburettor, and many other upgrades besides.
The front and rear bumpers are removed, the body has been painted in Lamborghini Orange, its been fitted with new, 15-inch vintage racecar wheels, and so on. Its been fitted with new coilovers and brake disks all round, and the power is all handled by a Ford five-speed gearbox - just to name a few.
Other things? Well, its done 125,000 miles, which may be an issue depending on when all the engine rebuilding was done; the interior appears to be absolutely spotless, as does most of the engine bay, and overall if you're in the market for a classic British sports car for the summer, I'd most certainly recommend this.
As long as you won't need to get anywhere urgently, I'm sure you'll be fine.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1340675)
5. 1992 Mazda AZ1 - £14,999
I've made no secret in the past of the fact that I love the Mazda AZ1. It looks like a culmination of all the great supercars before it, all squashed into a tiny Kei car body. It's got a Ferrari F40 wing, tiny little Testarossa side blades, gullwing doors from the Mercedes 300SL, and so forth. It looks like a midget supercar, is what I'm trying to get across.
The idea of this car originally was the rival other small sports cars like the Suzuki Cappuccino, the Mazda MX-5, and the Honda Beat, which it... completely failed to do. Because of this, it's now incredibly rare and desirable - good classic car material. And yet you can still buy one, with around 45,000 miles, like this one, for under £15,000.
Despite all its sporty looks, it only comes with a 657cc turbocharged three-cylinder, mounted in the middle, which I believe was regulated in size by the Japanese Government. It produces around 63 horsepower - which with a weight of only 720kg, can get the AZ1 from 0-60 in roughly 11 seconds, and keep it going to a limited top speed of 87mph. So it's nowhere near the supercars it's inspired by in terms of performance.
However, I've come to learn recently that there is an unusual pleasure in driving a slow car fast, and so I'd imagine that what the AZ1 lacks in speed, it will most certainly make up for in fun.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1116987)
6. 1998 Alfa Romeo GTV V6 - £10,750
Alfa Romeos are a staple of Italian style - they sound great, look even better, are fitted with glorious engines, and last just long enough to get you home after a long day. This 1998 GTV is a fantastic example of just that - it looks fantastic, first things first. It's the type of car that you don't really like the first time you see it - as I did - but over time it gets prettier and prettier inside your own mind.
It sounds amazing too, equipped with a V6 so spine-tinglingly harmonious that it was nicknamed "The Violin". And this car is LOUD - I remember one time, me and my old man were driving to some car show, and we had one of these in front of us. I had the soundtrack of a Ferrari V8 right behind my head, and I could still hear the Alfa over our 360.
The glorious 3.0L V6 produces around 220 horsepower, which (despite the front-wheel drive setup) can get the GTV to 60 in 6 and a half seconds, and keep it going to a top speed of 150mph. I know a lot of sports cars today can do better than that, but not many would be able to get away from the GTV round a track.
The car has reportedly done around 48,000 miles, 47,000 of which were under the one owner. It appears to have had a long life, but also regular services and part changes to keep it as reliable as it realistically can be, being an old Alfa Romeo.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1251527)
7. 1986 Lotus Excel SE - £7,500
Lotuses have always been the pinnacle of British sports cars, simply because they are regarded as the best handling cars in the world. It's well-known in the car community that any car breathed upon by Lotus will handle like a dream. Even as far back as this 1980s Excel, and even the Eclat that preceded it, Lotus' reputation for incredible handling was known to all.
This specific car sits lower, with stiffer springs, than the Eclat, which in turn would make it handle even better, and so on and so forth. It also has new rubber bushes, suspension arms, and ball joints, all of which should keep the driving dynamics razor-sharp, and a massive smile on your face.
The 2.2L four-cylinder that was exclusive to the SE model, with the five-speed manual gearbox from the A70 Supra, produced around 180 horsepower, making it quite fast for its company during the time. That power could get the Excel from 0-60 in around 7 seconds, and carry it on to a top speed of 134mph. That wasn't exactly sluggish in the 80s, and it's not disastrous today either.
Of course, as with any good Lotus, it was light - weighing in at around 1100kg despite being rather comfy and "luxurious" (for the time) inside. The interior is nicely populated with a wooden dash and many dials, and the seats were very comfy. The Excel, if you look at it that was, was actually a very early but very effective touring car.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1344591O)
8. 1978 Lancia Beta - £14,995
Classic Sports Car racing is one of the greatest forms of motorsport I've ever come across. Not only can you recognise all the cars in the race, which is always entertaining for a good few minutes, but you really get the sense that the people racing there really do care about preserving the sport, the cars and all the memories that come with them. And that, for me, makes this otherwise repulsive Lancia Beta coupe a bargain.
This particular car has been modified to partake in the HSCC 70s Roadsports Championship, and happens to be the 2017 winner of the GTV Cup and HSCC Lancia Trophy. Naturally, it has the standard racecar setup - roll cage, stripped-out interior, bucket seats, and so on.
This Beta happens to be almost the top model, with a 2.0L twin-cam four-cylinder without the supercharger, which standardly produces around 120 horsepower. Of course, it has been modified, making the standard 0-60 time of 8.6 seconds and top speed of 115mph a bit irrelevant.
The car is also very light; even lighter than the standard 1050kg weight of the original car. It also has racing-tuned suspension, inbuilt fire extinguishers, a spare set of rims with wet tyres, a full stainless-steel exhaust system, a rebuilt full racing gearbox, and new headlamps and rain lights - amongst other things.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1316777)
9. 1982 Citroen CX - £11,000
I remember a while ago, the whole DriveTribe platform got super excited when they found out Jeremy Clarkson might be driving a... green Citroen CX, in the upcoming Grand Tour special. It was a stunning car. And now I've found one for us all to buy.
The Citroen CX was designed to be the spiritual successor of the Citroen DS from 30 years prior. It borrowed the then-futuristic hydropneumatic from it, it had a transversely mounted engine and gearbox that was also tilted forwards (unusual for the time), and - in my opinion - fixed the DS's rather awkward styling. So it was essentially the perfect successor. Now let's take a look at this car: it looks beautiful, and more importantly spotless, the interior is absolutely perfect, and so on.
It's hard to assume engine specs, as the CX came with the choice of 6 different engines in total - 4 petrol and 2 diesel engines. If we assume this has the standard 2.0L four-cylinder petrol, the car is producing around 105 horsepower, which can get it from 0-60 in slightly over 12 seconds, and keep it going on to a top speed of 109mph.
With the top petrol engine, with 168 horsepower, that 0-60 time plummets down to 8 seconds, and that top speed shoots up to 134mph. Still not fast by modern standards, but the car will be 40 years old next year, so what do you expect?
While we can't be certain on the engine itself, we do know that whichever one it is has done around 100,000 miles, which may or may not be a cause for concern - I'm not sure.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1234148)
10. 1971 Alfa Romeo Spider - £13,000
I adore the Spider. It's the perfect example of what ever Alfa Romeo can and should aspire to be - beautiful to look at, thrilling to drive, and difficult to defend... but easy to love. And this, I think, is the best Spider of the lot - the Series 2. Allow me to explain:
I simply think it looks best. The nose is slanted and sharp instead of bulky and extended out with a splitter, like on the third and fourth gen. The back also continues the side lines of the car along its length, whereas said third and fourth gen rear ends just droop down, like they've lost the will to live. On the later models it also extends out way too far, making it look like a Ford Thunderbird that shrunk in the wash.
The S2 Spider came with a range of twin-cam, four-cylinder engines; the top 2.0L model of which produced around 128 horsepower. It's not specified in the advertisement which engine the Spider has, so we'll just assume it's the biggest one. That 2.0L twin-cam could get the Spider to 60 in around 9 seconds, and keep it going on to a top speed of around 120mph.
This particular Spider has apparently been well-looked after and regularly serviced/MOT'd for the 7 or 8 years the current owner has had it, and has had special care to be kept away from water - it is an Alfa Romeo, after all.
(You can see the car in the pictures here: https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1345952)
And there we go. I've finally got back to writing DriveTribe articles, and I must admit I'm impressed at how many interesting cars there are on the market in comparison to the last time I did this. Before, I struggled to find five interesting cars, and today I had to cut out about four other cars and couldn't think of anything to write about another three. So if anyone wants to see that in the comments, I'd be glad to comply.