Last year, almost eight million used cars were bought (and sold) in this country, more than three times the number of new cars. There’s more choice out there than ever in the classifieds, from Bangernomics bargains to rarefied supercar royalty.
Sitting somewhere in the middle is an increasingly popular breed of used car: the modern classic. Typically aged between about 10 and 30 years old, these are cars that were good in their day and seem to get better with age. Most are becoming rare, too, given that so many were bought by Joe Public as daily transport and not looked after as a potential future classic. Yet thankfully, they were built to modern standards, so if you can find a decent example, it should keep going for decades to come.
The appeal among enthusiasts for such cars isn’t just one of nostalgia. It’s just as much about the joy of an analogue driving experience as cars become ever more digitised. These cars also help build communities among likeminded owners and provide a great hobby. You’re not just buying a used car. You’re also buying a lifestyle.
There is a plethora of middle-aged motors that only recently were most commonly found languishing in scrapyards or being broken for parts but are now entering the limelight and starting to soar in value. If you’re quick, you could get one on your drive and enjoy it for years to come.
Our top picks, covering the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, are testament to the huge variety of classics on offer.
Ferrari 328 GTB 1985-1989
But back in 1985, the stunning 328 GTB’s modest 270bhp and 153mph top speed left it a world away from the fire-breathing 288 GTO and thumping 512 TR. That doesn’t matter today, of course, because this is a Pininfarina-penned, old-school Ferrari, and who wouldn’t want one of those?
Despite its relatively lazy state of tune, the 328 GTB’s naturally aspirated 3.2-litre V8 emits a throaty growl, and improvements over its 308 GTB forebear – including quicker steering, electronic ignition and a hydraulic clutch – make it one of the most usable classic Ferraris.
Prices are strong, but if the older 246 Dino and BB are any indicator, 328 GTB values will rocket within the next few years, so this could be your last chance to own one of Ferrari’s finest.
Porsche 944 1982-1991
It used to vie with the 924 for the ‘poor man’s Porsche’ title, but the 944 is enjoying a renaissance. The top-rung Turbo is the most coveted and still feels quick, with 217bhp from its 2.5-litre four-pot giving it a 0-62mph time of around 6.0sec.