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Best cheap classic cars: Top 10

Best cheap classic cars: Top 10 Classic and Performance Car

Looking to buy a classic car, but don’t have a huge amount to spend? Here are ten of the most affordable options

It seems that every passing year, more people are buying classic cars, as the whole scene is thriving and it’s an appealing hobby. With a lot of talk about rising values, deciding what to buy can seem to be a daunting task for first time classic buyers though. Don’t despair however, as there are still a number of classics to suit a modest motoring budget. 
Generally speaking cars that were cheap when new will be your best bet. They were originally designed for cheap and easy maintenance, and are still likely to offer great value. Having said that, we will also cover a selection of cars at a number of different price points. 

Through many sets of eyes, the original Mini Cooper is one of the most iconic and fashionable cars ever produced. An impressive 5.3 million units ran off the production line, before it finally died in 2000, meaning that there are still a good number on the roads today. You can’t pick up nice examples for a few hundred pounds any more, but £3000-£5000 should secure you a great runner from the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s. 
Older Cooper and Cooper S models are increasingly expensive, but for the money, a 1275cc Mini of any age will be a huge amount of fun. 
The Golf has pretty much been a household name since its inception in 1976. The Mk1 was released as a replacement for the ageing Beetle. It was an instant hit, but it’s the Mk2 model that represents the great value buy. It’s roomier, faster, easier-to-maintain and built like a tank compared to the slightly less resilient Mk1. Although it's considered just as much the icon today, the Mk2 is very much the classic you can still use every day. 
While the more-favourable GTI model can be had for upwards of £2000 in good condition, thanks to the huge numbers of surviving standard models (thanks to the great build quality) for sub-£1500, again in good condition. 
Volkswagen Golf

The Morris Minor was a cornerstone of British motoring in the 1950s and '60s, and has since gone down as one of the all-time classics. Available in fine running condition for less than £5000, this car is a great bet for novice classic car owners thanks to the simple DIY-friendly running gear, and excellent parts availability, thanks to the Charles Ware Morris Minor Centre in Bristol, and a similar engine unit as used in the equally as popular original Mini.
It’s also a car that responds very well to some modern upgrades, like electronic ignition and bigger brakes. There are also many tuning options available if you want to do more than just keep up with traffic…

The best hot-hatch of the late 20th century? Despite the marque’s recent wander back into the territory it used to stampede across, the 205 GTI today is very much the most recognisable Peugeot model to date. A modern-classic without doubt, the 1.6 litre go-kart bounces around the £2000-£4000 spot on the classic market today, however it’s the more muscular 1.9 with its 15-inch alloy wheels that is the most valuable. You can still pick up a great example from around £3500, but the absolute best can now command more than £10k – signalling a general upward shift in values.

For a certain generation, any mention of the Ford Capri conjures up many memories, followed by a conversation along the lines of ‘my dad had one of those’. True that may be, the Capri is arguably the original Ford that kick-started a lot of people’s love affair with the Blue oval. 
The Mk2 and Mk3 versions are both super affordable in smaller-engined forms, however the Capri was best with a V6 under the elongated bonnet. Along with it’s slick looks, the Capri can be found for between £3000 and £5000 in good condition, with a pristine 2.8 Injection coming in at £10,000.

Ford Fiesta XR2

Sticking with the (moderately) fast Fords, we arrive at the Fiesta XR2 - the first in a long line of performance Fiestas, unveiled five years on from when the first of the range appeared. It looked menacing then, and it looks unbelievably dainty today. Reasonable examples can be found for under £3000, with those in excellent condition edging only £5000, making the increasingly rare XR2 and later more common XR2i an absolute bargain.

The 1957 Beetle 1200 featured minor, yet significant improvements over its predecessor, such as a much larger rear windscreen and a bigger engine, helping the Bug reach 72mph. It is these later models that are the most affordable and usable. Purely down to its aesthetic and iconic recognition, the Beetle is great fun to own. Available for an average of £4000 in good condition today.

This beautifully understated roadster could only come from the three-pointed star. In 1989 the Mercedes SL R129 was released. A more aggressive look, more toys and more power, the SL was instantly a hit for the brand in showroom trim, and now with its classic car status 28 years later.  If you’re feeling brave, the SL can be picked up for an astonishing sub-£2000, with the more coveted versions priced at a little over £5000. Running costs are understandably high, although the cars are extremely well engineered meaning that the mechanicals will go on for a very long time without trouble.


Dubbed as one of the easiest classics to buy, own and run, the MGB Roadster is a popular collectors item amongst classic car enthusiasts. The earlier models, complete with chrome–bumpers tend to steal the limelight nowadays, however the later rubber-bumper model offer the best of the range in terms of usability and value, with the pretty Brit maintaining a £2850 price tag for a good example.

By the time Saab collapsed in 2012, it had amassed a huge back catalogue of great cars in its 46-year automotive history. One of the standouts is the Saab 900 Turbo. Widely attributed as the car that finally made turbocharged cars viable as a way of increasing economy and performance. The 900 Turbo began pushing out 175bhp after a few years of production and development, in a car that featured the first water-cooled turbo ever put into mass production. In an obscure kind of way, it was a looker, and still is today, along with a price of around £2,700 for one in good condition, with a value that is only set to increase.

Words: Joe Diamond

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