It’s hard to believe it, we know, but all three of this week’s best classic cars for sale were built 20 years ago. In 1997, the Ferrari F355, Porsche 911 Turbo and a Honda NSX were three of the most desirable performance cars on the market. All would have appealed to different buyers, but were direct rivals, and today represent three very different price points.
1997 Ferrari F355
We all know that the F355 represented a huge stepchange for Ferrari
, ushering a new era of reliability, usability as well as impressive dynamics. It’s also one of the best-looking Ferraris of its era.
The F355 also brought in some seriously sophisticated (for the time) electronic systems, which included computer-controlled electronic dampers. Underbody aerodynamics helped to improve high-speed stability, while a five-valve per cylinder screaming V8 engine produced 380bhp.
This example from DK Engineering comes with the all-important open-gated six-speed manual gearbox, and has recently had a major service and cambelt change. Being the hard-top GTB version, it’s certainly the drivers’ choice of the F355 range.
Mileage on this UK-spec right-hand drive car has just passed the 28,500 mile mark, and in that time it has received 15 services, all by main dealer or respected specialists. It’s offered on the market from DK Engineering, and is priced at £84,995.
1997 Porsche 911 Turbo X50 Pack
It’s fair to say that prices of 993 Porsches
have risen considerably in the last five years, and this the last-of-the-line Turbo model – with optional X50 factory engine upgrade – represents one of the more expensive options. At £169,950, it’s considerably more than the Ferrari, but for many the 911 is the only choice.
1997 Honda NSX
Completing our trio is Honda’s
legendary NSX, which is offered for auction in Classic Car Auctions’ September sale. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest performance cars of the 1990s, and while it might be the cheapest car here, it’s more than worthy of our consideration. Unlike the majority of NSXs on offer, this car features a manual transmission, which is considerably more desirable than the hamstrung automatic cars.
The best classic cars on sale from previous weeks
1981 Renault 5 Turbo
Renault has a fantastic history of producing some crazy cars, sometimes for racing, rallying or even just for fun. The original Renault
5 Turbo was built to give the company a viable Group 3 and Group 4 rally car.
Starting with a regular front-wheel drive 5 hatchback, the engine was moved from the front to directly behind the rear seats, driving a pair or wide rear wheels. The re-style was undertaken by Marcello Gandini, who made gave it some serious wheel arched, vents as well as a unique interior.
This 1981 car, painted in its original two-tone blue colour scheme, was delivered new to Switzerland. It resided there until 2006, when it was sold to a Spanish collector. It was bought by the current owner in Tenerife in 2014 and has recently been resprayed and fully serviced. The mileage currently sits at 65,941kms.
While the seller says the toolkit is partially complete, it retains the most important part – the item needed to unlatch the engine cover. While it’s currently wearing a set of slightly larger alloy wheels, the original Gotti alloy wheels are also included in the sale, although in need of refurbishment.
1978 Maserati Merak
Because Italian (and Portuguese) tax regulations punished cars with an engine capacity exceeding 2.0-litres, there was a specific breed of performance and sports cars created with smaller engines to sneak in under these restrictions. Notable cars to have resulted from this exercise include the E30 320is, Ferrari 208, as well as a supercharged 2.0-litre Rover V8-powered TVR S. Yes really.
Here we have one of the 200 Maserati
Meraks produced to compete against the Dino 208 GT4 and Lamborghini Urraco P200, with a smaller 1999cc V6 engine. Shortening the stroke and reducing the bore size, the Maserati engine still produced a 168bhp and 137lb ft.
1988 Porsche 944
Seeing this immaculate white 944 sitting proudly on display at a Porsche
dealer transports us right back to 1988. Okay, £26,995 is a serious amount of money to pay for one of these today – even in this condition – but with 40,000 miles and a clean bill of health from Porsche itself, classic car ownership will rarely come as usable as this.
1967 Porsche 911 R
911 R was one of the big stars of 2016. Here was a car that went against the flow, sacrificing speed in favour of pure driving pleasure. It was effectively the car that Porsche had deprived the most hardcore GT3 buyers of, when it dropped the manual gearbox. But this wasn’t the first time the R name had been used on a 911.
Forget the 2.7RS, the much earlier 1967 R is much rarer and even lighter. Based on the 911 S, which was launched a year earlier, the R was the brainchild of Ferdinand Piëch who was looking to produce the lightest and fastest 911 of all time.
The intention was to use this road car to homologate the ultimate 911 racer, and it was completely stripped to the bone. Every piece of unnecessary trim was removed, body panels were swapped for fibreglass and glass was swapped for plexi items where possible. Aluminium hinges were used, and thinner steel where they could get away with it.
Inside, there’s virtually nothing left. No rear seats, sound deadening, unnecessary trim, and throughout the car various metal components were drilled. Perhaps most noticeably, the rear light clusters were swapped for some simpler units to shave off a few more grams. It all added up, and all of this work had produced a 911 that tipped the scales at a mere 800kg. That’s more than 200kg lighter than the standard S on which it was based!
Such a special car required something exotic to drive the rear wheels. In this case a twin-plug 1991cc flat-six, which produced 225bhp at an incredible 8000rpm. In truth this was a pure racing engine, hooked up to a 901 dogleg transmission, and the same oil tank as the 906 and 910 racer.
A total of 20 production cars were eventually built, but this car is one of the four original prototypes. After being sold to a French Porsche enthusiast, this car was stolen in 1970 and didn’t re-appear until 1991. The car was imported to the USA in 2006, when it was fully restored by Canepa – the current vendor. Due to the car’s interesting history, it was found to be in amazingly original condition. It’s offered today with 9176 original kilometers on the clock.
1980 Toyota Crown 2600
How about this for a change of pace? The Toyota
Crown is one of Japan’s few luxurious cars, and in a country where space is at a premium, such large opulent machines are not all that common. It’s rare to find these classic Crowns outside of Japan, and even more unusual in such excellent condition. With an estimate of just £6000-£8000, it will go under the hammer at Brightwells’ 12 July auction, and could be a real bargain to the right buyer.
BMW E30 M3 Touring Car
We’re still waiting for the full description of this BMW
E30 to land, however the pictures do plenty of talking. The Labatt’s livery is almost as iconic as the E30 itself, proclaiming ‘Please don’t drink and drive’, while the gold wheels perfectly fill those motorsport wheelarches.
The Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer was a big deal for Ferrari
when it was launched in 1973. The original 365 GT4 BB saw the company replace the longstanding front-engined V12 layout of Daytona with a mid-mounted flat-12 – a layout that would ultimately last through to the last F512M in 1996.
Styling was done by Leonardo Fioravanti of Pininfarina, and it was an incredibly sharp and forward-thinking piece of design, making the most of the new layout. It was of course Enzo’s way of taking a swipe back at Lamborghini
and its groundbreaking Miura, and in pure subjective terms it was a far better resolved car. By 1976, the 365 became the 512BB, thanks to a bigger 4390cc engine and a number of other detail changes, such as four larger rear lights replacing the six smaller items.
Originally sold in the USA in 1980, this example on offer from Albion Motorcars was re-imported to Europe in 1992, and is fully matching numbers. Offered original condition – including paint – it is showing just 16,630 miles, which is backed up by a full Ferrari service history. It has recently undergone a full engine, gearbox and differential overhaul.
Lotus Elan Sprint
While an MX-5
might do a great job of imitating the Elan, the original is of course something considerably more special. Whether it’s £49,995 more special is debatable of course, but this Sprint is fresh from an extensive restoration.
It has a documented 33,000 miles on the clock, and during the restoration has had the Lotus
chassis shotblasted and powder coated, with the body stripped and repainted in correct Carnival red. The interior is fresh from a recent re-trim, with the original dashboard having been re-polished. Mechanically, the engine has been rebuilt, as well as recent shock absorbers.
A few subtle upgrades include solid drive shafts, an electric water pump and uprated brakes. Minilite wheels are non-standard too, although the original wheels are also included.
Porsche 997 Carrera 4S
At just nine years old, this Porsche 997
is still a fairly new car, and with just 9000 miles is barely run in. It was originally specified in special order Macadamia metallic with full sand beige leather interior, as well as a number of factory options. It’s that unusual colour that really makes this 911 stand out from the sea of silver and grey examples on the market, while the forged 19-inch Turbo wheels fit perfectly. The only drawback? It’s a tiptronic...
The Studebaker Avanti was the last hope for American manufacturer Studebaker, one of the USA’s oldest automotive companies that was formed as a carriage maker back in 1852. The company earned a reputation for reliable and generally quite affordable cars and trucks, following its transition to motorcars around the turn of the century. The unusually-styled models of the 1950s had left the independent company struggling financially against the likes of GM and Ford though, meaning that its product lines became dated and uncompetitive.
As a last ditch effort to save the faltering automobile maker, it was decided that a rival to the extremely popular Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette was needed, and the high performance Avanti was conceived to be just that. It was small for a US car of this era, but featured a particularly curvaceous body that was made from fibreglass. Producing it in steel would have added time and cost to the project, which was not an option.
Three models were offered, starting with the cheapest R1, the supercharged Rs – as seen here – and the extremely rare top of the range R3.
Seen here in fully-restored condition, this particular R2 has been owned by an Avanti enthusiast and comes with its original supercharged 289 cubic inch V8 and four-speed manual gearbox. The restoration is particularly outstanding, with an asking price from Hyman Ltd that reflects it.
If you think the white exterior looks a little subtle, the lurid orange upholstery with black and orange carpets are certainly not.