Buying a car from a defunct manufacturer can be fraught with danger. What do you do for spare parts? Who will be able to service it? What will this do to the resale value? All of these are very valid questions, but with the help of the internet and support from online forums, you can often make it work.
Take, for example, Hummer. Most will already know of the company’s military origins in Operation Desert Storm and the civilian version that followed, so we shall skip ahead to the H3, which came out in 2006. It was brought out as a cheaper model and the H3 was the smallest vehicle in the range. This meant that it was a bit more fuel efficient, but at a claimed 19.5mpg, it was hardly an environmentally friendly option.
Still, this didn’t matter in the US and the H3 sold rather well in its first few years. Then, in 2008, there was an economic downturn, which halved sales compared with the previous year. Eventually Hummer, at this point under GM management, had to close in 2010 after a buyer for the company couldn’t be found.
So where does that leave this H3? Well, its underpinnings come from a Chevrolet Colorado pick-up truck, and the engine was shared with a number of GM and Isuzu products, so parts shouldn’t be too difficult to find, particularly if you search online. There are garages dotted around the UK that specialise in American cars which should be able to look after it.
We found an H3 on Pistonheads that has covered only 30,000 miles and is up for £17,500. That means it has retained quite a lot of its original value, which is quite impressive, considering the company has been mothballed for eight years.
The weather is improving so people are eying up convertibles, but these are usually sporty cars and our roads are in a very poor state. The answer could be this open-top DS19 made by Paris coachbuilder Chapron. You’ll have the wind in your hair while your derrière will be cushioned from those pesky potholes.
The Mercedes SEC was a popular choice among Formula 1 drivers back in the day and you can imagine them blasting across Europe, going from the race track to their tax haven. Mercedes of this era can lap up big mileages, but only if they’re looked after. This one has lots of receipts to back up its full service history.
The Audi A3 is a very fine premium family hatchback and this 1.4 TFSI Sport has a sweet little turbo engine with easily accessed power, pleasing refinement and decent fuel economy. Being a Sport model, it has plenty of equipment, too, including climate control, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
This 2009, 101,000-mile liveried motorhome could be an interesting (and expensive) way of getting behind the scenes at the upcoming Tour de France. It comes complete with ‘sky’ lights on the roof, a satellite dish and – of course – a television. Full subscription to Sky TV is not included in the purchase price.
Maserati 3200 GT: For some years, the 3200 GT has been in the used car doldrums and you can find some bargains, such as this one, which went for just £11,880 at auction. That’s the price of a high-mileage 3200 GT, so this 44,500-miler was a steal. Okay, so it is an automatic, but the 3200 GT is a long-distance cruiser built with comfort in mind.
As with any exotic car, service history is everything. The expensive cambelt change was done on this car in February and it has been serviced annually. It won’t be cheap to run, but a good Maserati specialist will help to soften the impact of any repairs.
Get it while you can:
Mini Cooper, Price new £20,325. Price now £14,487: The Mini has undergone a revamp, and facelifted models now proudly announce their heritage every time you brake thanks to a rear light signature inspired by the Union flag. There are deals to be had on the pre-facelift models and the turbocharged three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol is the one to buy for its blend of power and economy. Cooper spec has all the basics, but if you can find one with the Pepper pack, like our example, you’ll be on to a winner. The £6000 saving on this delivery-miles car makes it a bargain.
Clash of the classifieds:
Brief: Find me a classy classic car for less than £20,000 that’s over 40 years old and qualifies for free road tax.
1977 Lancia Beta Montecarlo £19,99:
Laden with years of engineering innovation and racing heritage and bubbling over with Italian brio is this lovely 1977 Beta Montecarlo. This mid-engined, eye-catching, pocket-sized Lancia wowed the motoring world with its pretty body and graceful agility. Consider the facts: twin-cam by Lampredi, styling by Pininfarina and roadholding by double wishbone. What’s not to like? Imagine the flick-wrist fun you can have in this, as you storm past Alex in his broken-down XJ6. MARK PEARSON
1978 Jaguar XJ6 £20,000
Pitching a Lancia as a ‘reliable’ alternative shows how deeply Mr P is scraping the barrel to justify his choice. Sure, the Montecarlo is cool, but classy? Hmm. This XJ6, on the other hand, oozes class from every pore, from its immaculate leather and wood interior – a veteran of just 20k miles – to its louche lines and glistening brightwork. You also get the best Series II XJ engine, a bastion of power and smoothness, not to mention taut handling and an effortless ride. A clear winner, in my book. ALEX ROBBINS
I like the Montecarlo, but that XJ6 has real road presence, a glorious six-cylinder engine and a gorgeous interior. Alex’s choice wins the battle. MAX ADAMS