Maserati 3200 GT
For just £10,000, Fiat's Panda represents great value for money. But what else can be had for the same amount? Here are some of our alternatives.
1 - BMW M6 (2005-2010)
The regular BMW 6 Series is a swift and luxurious grand tourer, but put it through the firm’s M division and what emerges is the extremely rapid and rather exciting M6.The headline news is the 5.0-litre V10 engine, which produces 500bhp at a screaming 7750rpm and propels the car to 62mph from rest in just 4.4sec and to 100mph in an impressive 8.7sec.
The M6 shares this engine, and much of its underpinnings, with the contemporary M5 saloon, so there are plenty of thrills to be had. With a lower centre of gravity and less weight, however, the M6 coupé is even sharper than the four-door car.
When new, it cost more than the M5 and didn’t sell as well. Shop around today and you can find one for as little as £12,000.
2 - Jaguar XKR (1998-2007)
Before the Jaguar F-Type V8 there was the XKR, a sexed-up version of the XK coupé with a 370bhp supercharged 4.0-litre V8 under its bonnet.
A mid-life tweak in 2003 upped the capacity to 4.2 litres and the power to 400bhp. Performance was suitably wild: top speed was limited to 155mph, but the Jaguar would accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.9sec.
It was great to drive, too: butch but delicate, agile and compliant. The second-generation car, launched in 2007, was even better, and with power boosted to 420bhp and the limiters off, the top speed rose to 174mph.
As little as £5k can buy you an earlier car, but expect to pay £10k-£15k for a good 4.2-litre car and upwards of £18k for a second-generation model.
3 - Maserati 3200GT (1998-2002)
You could bag yourself an Italian coupé with one of the most desirable badges in automotive history for the price of a new Panda. You’ll also get a 370bhp 3.2-litre twin-turbo V8, a 175mph top speed and a 0-62mph time of just 5.1sec.
The 3200 GT marked the return to form of Maserati, after years in the performance car wilderness. It was well received but, such are its potentially massive running costs, it’s possible to find a good one today for less than £10k.
There were a few niggles, though. Some weren’t so keen on how it drove. That complex V8 is a thoroughbred, and particular attention needs to be paid to oil changes and cambelts, otherwise it could end up costing you more than the car is worth. Running costs will be huge, and you’ll have to watch for rust.
4 - Mercedes-Benz CL600 (1999-2006)
Think of the CL as a coupé version of the S-Class with added road presence.
It’s even faster, too, being lighter and lower. Buy the CL600 and you’ll get a mighty 5.5-litre bi-turbo V12, all 493bhp and 590lb ft of it. Performance is storming, with 0-62mph in 4.8sec, and it’ll waft up to its (limited) maximum speed of 155mph in near silence. The ride is soft and pillowy and the handling surprisingly agile. Technology is top drawer and the CL is dripping with driver aids, while inside is a heavily luxurious interior stuffed with goodies.
It cost a fortune new, but you can buy a good example of this second-generation car for £10,000. Push the boat out and you could find the even more opulent 510bhp third-generation CL for not much more.
5 - Porsche 911 (1998-2005)
The 996-generation 911 was the first water-cooled model and the first with four-valve heads. Purists’ concerns about all this modernity were pushed aside in a 0-62mph 5.2sec rush and silenced by a civilised top speed of 174mph. In time, the engine was enlarged and the power upped, too.
It was great to drive and faster and more comfortable than previous 911s, and anyone with any doubts about the rear-engined handling could always opt for a Carrera 4 with four-wheel drive.
There were some issues with the seals and shafts surrounding the flat six engine, so careful inspections are advised and a full history is desirable. At around £10k, though, the 996 is superb value for money. Chosen carefully, it’s a great way to get into Porsche ownership.
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