How do you think Autocar writers switch off after a whirlwind week of driving around in new cars?
Not by stamp collecting or pottering around in our gardens, you might be surprised to learn, but typically by driving around in older cars – cars that had long been on our wishlists and that we predicted would become too rare or too expensive to get our hands on in the future.
These, then, are the cars we keep in our own garages, on our driveways and in our secret bunkers that one day will be remembered as among the most important models of their time.
1997 Mercedes-Benz SL 500 - Rachel Burgess
The R129-generation Mercedes-Benz SL is a hand-built, flagship sports car that at the time cost more to buy new than the average house. It manages to pull off the classic car trick of timeless design; it’s more than 30 years since we saw this shape for the first time, but it still looks great.
I’ve got the SL 500 with a big 5.0-litre V8 in unusual Aquamarine; no one wants to see another silver SL. It’s classic but modern enough to be full of clever electronics and hydraulics. Does your car central lock the centre console cubby for security when the roof is down? Thought not.
I’ve already replaced the roof and some locking cylinders, refurbished the wheels, rebuilt the gearbox, replaced the mass airflow sensor and much more. And there’s plenty still to be done. But there’s already the sure sign of a modern classic: it has appreciated in value.
2005 Land Rover Defender 90 - Matt Prior
I own a 2005 Land Rover Defender 90 Td5. What makes it a future classic? That they had been building Land Rovers that looked like this for 57 years before this one and carried on for 11 years afterwards. Some of them are already classics and all of them will be – although in an unusual way.
One-owner, low-mileage cars are fine, but so many Land Rovers have served as agricultural or work vehicles that I suspect originality won’t matter quite so much in the years to come. At least I hope not. I think I’m the ninth owner of this Cat D Td5, which has 196,000 miles on it and is still having more than 10,000 added to the total annually. Not that its value matters; at some point it will get used less and less until it adopts pet status. What could be more classic than that?