We take a look at some of the best classic cars to buy in 2018. More modern classics feature than ever before, but there are still some older bargains to invest in – if you know where to look.
As the market for 1980s and 1990s classics continues to thrive, it has directed our search for interesting classic cars to buy in 2018 further forward than ever before. The speed at which our market is shifting is illustrated quite perfectly by a number of the choices in this year's list. All are deserving of your consideration if you're looking for a smart buy in 2018.
Although the market has settled down in recent years, the worry that your dream car could move out of reach is a still very real. For a lot of us, this happened years ago! It has lead us to even more modern waters for this year's list, however this is where the genuine bargains can still be found. Absolutely brilliant cars too: Fast and fun, but also eminently usable.
Older bargains can still be found if you’re happy to think a little bit outside the box though. We’ll admit that we’re following our hearts as much as our heads with some of these suggestions but, if you don’t do it now, don’t blame us later!
Renaultsport Megane R26
French hot hatches usually become desirable at some point. And the ultra-hardcore R26.R (the second 'R' is important: think front-wheel-drive 911 GT3
) has long been one for collectors, costing little less now than it did new in 2008. Yet £5000 will buy a fabulous R26 (or, to give it its full name, 'Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26'). If you can live with the stickers, it comes with 227bhp and a limited-slip diff. And is it just us or has Patrick Le Quément's styling finally come into its own? Glen Waddington
Take a look at Renaultsport Meganes for sale in the classifieds
Honda Integra Type R
Widely regarded as the finest handling front-wheel drive car of all time, the Honda Integra Type R still provides huge thrills today. Thanks to VTEC the 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine revs to almost 9000rpm which is highly addictive, but it’s the chassis that impresses the most. It’s tuned to absolute perfection for the road, although that hasn’t stopped many people attempting to ‘improve’ them. UK-market cars are desirable, but are rarer and usually higher-mileage than the Japanese-market counterparts. We would find the best condition car for our budget, rather than get hung-up on spec too much – there are many abused and rusty cars out there. Prices start at around £5k, but the better examples are now starting to fetch upwards of £7-10k. Matthew Hayward
Read the full Integra Type R buying guide, and browse the cars for sale
Renault 5 Alpine Turbo
The Alpine Turbo (or Gordini in the UK) has inevitably been overshadowed by a certain shouty, Group 4-derived relative, but it is not short of admirers in the Octane office. Easy to live with and offering friendly fun (110bhp from a 1397cc engine), it sold reasonably well in period, and many of the Alpines that survive have been cherished and/or restored. Practically perfect examples are still available for under £15,000 – for now. You’ll likely have to venture across the Channel to find them, but you’ll be glad you did. Chris Bietzk
Lotus Elan +2
As long as you're not planning to hit anything too hard, this is still the closest thing you will get to the brilliance of the Lotus Elan, but with a couple of little ’uns in the back. It is heavier than the baby Elan and a Stromberg-equipped car does not deliver either the thrust or guttural delights as one packing Webers or Dell’Ortos, but to the uninitiated any Elan will be a revelation in speed and agility. Many consider the sleek +2 to be a better looking car than the cutesy two-seater, too. Prices have risen, but the kit car stigma means they are still phenomenal value compared to other classics and £15-20k should secure a sorted one. James Elliott
The original. And so far Japan's most credible stab at a BMW 3-series rival, even down to the watch-like 2.0-litre straight-six. Not many nice ones left, but £3000-4000 will buy a low-mileage spanker in a great colour. Look for manual transmission; avoid anything with a tow-bar. Quirky interior features some of the coolest dash gauges yet invented. And – importantly to some – it's NOT a 3-series. GW
Land Rover Minerva
Image: Philip Bashall/The Dunsfold Collection
Prices for early Land Rovers have already gone bonkers, and with 2018 marking the 70th anniversary of the marque (and the reveal of the New Defender) they won’t be getting any cheaper. But you can buy a Belgian-built Minerva Series 1 for half the price of its Solihull relation – and they drive better, too, thanks to a steel body that helps damp the ride. With nearly 10,000 made for the Belgian Army, and lots kept in reserve as late as the 1990s, they can still be found in gorgeously patinated original condition for £5000-6000. Yes, that steel body is more vulnerable to corrosion than a ‘proper’ Series 1’s Birmabright alloy, but with ’screen folded flat, roof and door-tops off, a Minerva is the perfect summer runabout. Mark Dixon
Browse classic Land Rovers for sale in the classifieds
Surely they couldn't be £3000 forever. Well, actually, even the earliest 944s have started to move now, though they've some way to go to match the progress of the S2, or – especially – the 968 Clubsport
it ultimately morphed into. But £5000 will buy a solid, decent, pre-facelift 944, the one with a 'square' 924-sourced dash, and flared wings that don't quite meet the floorpan. Not many nice ones around so search hard for one with full service history. And if there isn't a receipt for work on the sills, ask why. GW
Take a look at Porsche 944s for sale in the classifieds
We’re talking about the original 1963-1965 model, of course, hailed by no less an authority than Sergio Pininfarina as one of the most beautiful American cars ever built. It isn’t just a pretty face: with go provided by a 401 or 425ci Nailhead V8, the Riviera can shift, too. Landmark cars are supposed to be the preserve of the rich these days, yet tidy Rivieras can still be found for Average-Joe money; as long as you’re not after a 100-pointer, you can expect change from £20,000. CB
Take a look at Buick Rivieras for sale in the classifieds
Rover 75 V8/MG ZT 260
Announced at Geneva in 2002, this version of the popular 75/ZT was completely re-engineered to accommodate a naturally aspirated 4.6-litre Ford V8 through the rear wheels and capable (at their best) of 0-60mph in a fraction over 6 seconds and a top speed of well over 150mph. Probably not quite a bona fide classic yet, but its rarity (fewer than 1000 built of all types) and performance appeal mean that enthusiasts latched on to them before they went into the doldurms. They don’t come up that often, but expect to pay from £10k and prices are only going one way. Rapidly. The Rover is the classiest q-car, but top novelty-variant is the codename X13 MG ZT-T 260 V8 estate. JE
Even though you’d now struggle to get a nice Aprilia for under £30,000, it still seems like a pittance for a groundbreaking small car that epitomises engineering excellence. In production from 1937 to 1949, it was one of the first cars to use a wind tunnel in shaping its B-pillarless outline, also being the last design by genius Vincenzo Lancia. Powered by the small capacity (1352cc or 1486cc) V4 giving up to 47bhp, fewer than 30,000 chassis were produced and it has the bonus of the default option being right-hand drive. Other pioneering elements of the recipe include all-independent suspension, unitary construction and hydraulic brakes. As a package only Citroën
comes close for technological advancement. JE
Take a look at Lancia Aprillias for sale in the classifieds
BMW 3-series E46
Ignore bottom-feeders in the £hundreds zone and seek out a low-mileage six-cylinder. You've a choice of bodywork: four-door saloon, Touring, coupé or Convertible, all eminently usable, with a great blend of analogue feedback and digital equipment, and build quality that now seems old-fashioned in its solidity. Subtle but stylish and £5000 buys a good ’un. Gradually the crap ones will disappear and the nicest will become more valuable than you'd prefer to pay. It happened to the E30
, and even the best E36s are on their way… GW