It’s a depressing fact that the value of your new car will start to plummet as soon as you’ve driven it from the forecourt - unless you’re lucky enough to have bought a motor that turns out to be a classic. While there’s no escaping the fact that pretty much any car will fall in value the moment you buy it - if only by the 20% you paid in VAT – some cars do have a point at which they start to actually appreciate in value. So if you have a 70s Volkswagen Beetle, a BMW E series from the 80s, or even a classic Mini from the 90s, your car could be worth more than you think. Here, we take a look at what makes a classic car, and how to spot one in the making…
What makes a car a classic?
There’s no real hard and fast rule here but, for car insurance purposes, the accepted wisdom seems to be that a classic car is one that is over 20 or maybe 15 years old. This would suggest that those last-of-the-line Ford Escorts and first-off-the-line Focus’ could be considered classics, which doesn’t really sound right at all. Similarly, while the Cortina is considered a classic, the Sierra is anything but (the RS Cosworth aside) while the Mondeo is never likely to be. So let’s say that, along with longevity, a classic must also have some sort of lasting appeal and popular acclaim. For example, it’s likely that any Ferrari is likely to become a classic, but the same can’t really be said for a Skoda.
How to spot a future classic
With all that in mind, here’s a list of five cars tipped to be future classics…
Echoing the simple pleasures of the golden age of British roadsters, the MX5 ticks all the boxes for a future classic. It looks attractive, is great to drive – if you’ve never whipped a top-down MX5 around some country lanes I recommend you put that right as soon as possible – and it’s affordable, you can pick a decent MX5 for under £2,000. This car already has the air of a classic about it, and in 20 years’ time it could well be the go-to car for the weekend mechanic and anyone who wants to remember what it was like to drive a ‘real’ car.
During the 90s, Audi was in danger of becoming much a byword for reliable, but pretty bland, motoring – then in 1998 the TT came along and changed everything. Looking like everything the recently revamped VW Beetle should have been (and more) the TT has been turning heads since its appearance as a concept car at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. A perfect mix of great engineering, build quality and looks means that the TT, particularly the Mk. I, is almost a certainty as a future classic.
Renault Clio Renaultsport 182 Trophy
The humble Clio probably isn’t the first car that would spring to mind when considering modern classics but the Renault 5’s replacement is now 23-years-old and still going strong, so it definitely has the longevity required to become a classic. If you can get your hands on a Clio RS then you’ll become the privileged owner of one of the hottest hot-hatches around – bag yourself a pre-2006 facelift model and you’ll in pole position for a future classic.
There aren’t many modern cars that can put a smile on your face the way an old classic can, but if any car can, then it’s the Fiat 500. This car has been around in one guise or another since the 1950s and this latest incarnation is probably its best - its mix of quirky, retro styling and great handling making it one of the most sought after small cars on the market. And it’s also a very affordable car, even with the infinite amount of add-ons you can accessorise it with and has great fuel economy to boot.
Ford Focus RS
Ford has always done a great hot hatch and not since the halcyon days of the Escort XR3i has it produced one quite as good as the RS. Whereas the Fords of old had a helping hand from the likes of Lotus and Cosworth, this one is the work of the in-house RS Performance team and will always be seen as the model that put Ford back on the high performance map. Swerve the ST, go for an RS and try to get your hands on a 2009 model as it’s a fair few quid cheaper than the 2010 model but just as much fun to own. Do you agree with our top five? Or is there something you’d prefer to see on the list? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter with the hashtag #motoringblog