A beginners' guide to classic motoring, with our top ten countdown of the best classic cars in the world, spanning every sector
What makes a classic car? Some people define a classic purely on age, while others look at what made the car such a success when it was new. The truth is that there are no hard and fast rules, but cars that have impacted significantly on popular culture, made groundbreaking technical innovations or are simply great fun to drive generally make the cut.
For us, picking the best classic cars is a very personal affair, so we've put together a list that should at least contain something for everyone. Each of these cars deserves a spot on this list, and while appealing to different audiences, we hope your garage too:
VW Beetle – The original
The Volkswagen Beetle provided cheap, reliable and wholesome transportation for the masses for over 60 years. The rear-engined Volkswagen Type 1 represents many different things to many different people.
Millions of people have fond memories of their parents’ Beetle, and they’re still a regular sight on the roads toady thanks to their cheap and easy repairs, rugged mechanicals and vibrant club scene. Its basic design brilliance meant that it continued to be produced around the world until 2003, with a total of 21,529,464 eventually rolling off the production lines.
Read our Volkswagen Beetle buying guide, and browse the cars for sale in our classifieds
Porsche 911 – The ultimate sports car
You know something is good when the basic formula remains unchanged for more than 50 years. While most manufacturers have moved away from the rear-engined approach, Porsche stuck with it, and while modern 911s are vastly different to their air-cooled ancestors, they are all fantastic to drive.
The earliest classic 911s have in recent years become highly valued, while special editions like the GT3 RS and Carrera 2.7 RS are already off the scale. Although there’s no such thing as a cheap 911, the more basic models from the 1980s, as well as brilliant value 996s are still highly affordable.
Read the Porsche 911 buying guide, and browse the cars for sale in our classifieds
Classic Land Rover – Go everywhere appeal
There are many great things about owning a classic Land Rover, which makes them huge fun and great to own. Although some might stick to the more traditional ‘Series’ Land Rovers, we’d also call the Defender, right up to the current-day model a classic. They not only look great, but they’re one of the most versatile vehicles ever produced. The last Defender is scheduled to roll off the production line in December 2015, but due to the low attrition rate, there will be plenty around for many years to come.
Find Classic Land Rovers for sale in our classifeds
Aston Martin DB5 – The film icon
Read the Aston Martin DB5 buying guide, and browse the cars for sale in our classifieds
Mercedes-Benz W124 – Ultimate build quality
Find Mercedes W124s for sale in our classifieds
Lamborghini Miura – The original ‘Super Car’
The first in a long line of Italian supercars, designed to look as outrageous as they were fast. The Miura is the reason that the word supercar came into existence, and thanks to its Marcello Gandini styling and magnificent V12 engine, it’s as stunning today as the day it was first shown. As it’s such a magnificent machine, the Miura is not only one of the best classic cars, but also one of the most expensive. Prices range between £850,000 for top condition early P400 models, to in excess of £1.2m for the ultimate P400 SV.
Read our Lamborghini Miura buying guide, and browse the cars for sale in our classifieds
Peugeot 205 GTI – The new kid on the block
While enthusiasts have considered the 205 GTI a classic for some time, the iconic hot hatches of the 1980s have only recently been accepted into the classic arena by many. The 205 GTI in particular was renowned for being a bit of a handful, making it a legend in many people’s eyes. In truth, the stories of dangerous oversteer have been overplayed, but its very agile nature has made it one of the most respected drivers’ cars of the last 30 years. Values of nice examples have been quickly appreciating, and they truly did define the era for many people.
Read the Peugeot 205 GTI buying guide, and browse the cars for sale in the classifieds
MGB – Great if you like to tinker
Few classics offer the parts support that you get with an MGB, making this perfect if you want to get your hands dirty in the garage. Almost every part is available brand new, even the bodyshell. Go for the early roadster for the ultimate British sports car experience, with a late rubber bumper GT offering the best value. V8-engined models are available if you want to go fast…
Find MGB Roadsters and MGB GTs in the classifieds
Jaguar E-type – The most beautiful car in the world?
When you ask anyone to name a classic car, the iconic Jaguar E-type is a very popular answer. It’s a very recognisable car in profile, and many have called it the most beautiful car ever produced, and for that very reason it makes this list. Classic Jaguars are very special cars to drive, and thanks to the advanced and powerful XK engines, they are still great fun on the road today.
Read our Jaguar E-type buying guide, and browse the cars for sale in the classifieds
Subaru Impreza Turbo – The next generation…
Ask us to choose any performance car from the last 20 years that has huge potential to become a great classic car, and we’d be hard pushed to recommend anything as highly as the Impreza Turbo. It unlocked the performance car world for many, thanks to its relative affordability and like the 1980s 205 GTI, it truly defined its era. There are still many examples around today, meaning you can buy and run one on a modest budget, but we’d advise you to buy a nice one soon as they won’t be so cheap forever…
Find Subaru Imprezas for sale in the classifieds