It will never quite have the cachet of its predecessor, the 205 GTi, but the 306 GTi-6 was the hot hatch to beat for most of the 1990s. Combined with its near-perfect proportions, that’s going to make it a desirable car soon – and with top examples starting to crest the £5k mark, prices are creeping northwards. There are still plenty of tatty snotters around, though, so only buy clean, tidy, standard cars with a reasonable mileage.
The Impreza Turbo needs little introduction, but its status as a near-classic might do, especially if you’ve grown accustomed to seeing badly modified examples droning around. Clean, original examples of these are quite hard to find now, especially in saloon form. And, what with that rally heritage, they’ll soon be worth a bit – as evidenced by the fact that the rare and special 22B is now going for utterly bonkers prices. The cooking models will soon follow, so get in quick.
Big Citroëns always rise in value eventually, and so it will be with the XM. Late V6 Exclusives are the most desirable model right now, but early 24V V6s will soon overtake them. Both are as rare as hens’ teeth, though, so a clean, tidy 2.0 turbo or 2.1 diesel sounds like a good bet if you can’t find one. Don’t expect values to rocket, but they should creep up gently, as was the case with the XM’s predecessor, the CX.
Pre-facelift Discoverys aren’t going to be cheap for long. We’re not talking Defender levels here, but such was the early Disco’s importance to Land Rover that it’s bound for cult- classic status. Fortunately, prices suggest it isn’t quite there already, so jump in while you can – but make sure to buy the tidiest, straightest car you can, as most have had hard lives and corrosion is just a smattering of salty road grime away.
Is there a more nailed-on classic than the Audi TT? It’s hard to imagine so; prices for these are unbelievably low given their import for their manufacturer and latent desirability. The TT is a truly pretty car with an interior to match and, while not the last word in excitement, gives you plenty of shove and grip to play with. A Quattro Sport is the one to have, but these are already pricey, so a tidy 225 is the one we’d choose, in coupé form to make the most of that lovely roofline.
The Puma is currently one of the best-kept secrets of the used market. You’ll struggle to find a car that’s more entertaining for less cash, and when a tidy, usable example can be had this cheaply, it’s a shame not to. Sub-£1000 examples are now rusty or high-mileage, so spend a little more and get one that has been well-maintained. Be prepared to spend on keeping it rust-free, though, if you want to maximise its investment potential, and knocking or tapping engines are a no-no.
All the Porsche talk is of 996-era 911 Turbos at the moment, but the Boxster is more usable, more approachable and more accessible too. Early 2.5s can now be had for peanuts, and there’s a chance these will become as desirable as the ‘originals’, but we’d spend a bit more and get a slightly later 3.2 S – it’s more fun, with performance more befitting of a Porsche and a few extra toys. Reliability is an issue with these, so do your research first and make sure you buy one that has been carefully maintained.
It might have been much maligned in the pantheon of BMWs, but the E36 3 Series is starting to look like a classy classic. Any E36 is a good bet right now with prices still low and tatty examples still working their way out of the system, but the 328i Sport is the best of the non-M models. Values have been on the rise, but you can still get a bargain. Peek at the prices of its predecessor, the E30 325i Sport, to see the investment potential.
The Honda S2000 isn’t quite as cheap as it once was, but make no mistake: there’s room left for this cracking little drop-top to rise, and rise it will in the coming years, albeit gently. Buyers love the fact it delivers manic VTEC thrills together with roof-down chills but also promises Honda’s legendary reliability, making it useable and easy to look after. Pre-facelift cars can be skittish, so go for a post-facelift with revised suspension. Those examples are a lot more manageable.
Time was you could buy a clean Mk1 MX-5 for under a grand. You still can if you’re prepared for big miles or a write-off, but a rust-free, low-mileage example can cost up to £5000. There are cheaper ones around, though, so go hunting in the classifieds and don’t be afraid to put right a little surface rust – as long as that’s all it is. Roadster motoring doesn’t come much cheaper in terms of running costs and, if you keep on top of the tin worm, an MX-5 should be reliable, too, making it an ideal investible toy if cash is tight.
Buying a car purely as an investment seems like a bit of a shame, especially if you’re going to stick it in a hermetically sealed room and never touch it in the hope its price bloats while you’re not looking.
However, if you want to buy, own and enjoy something a little bit special, and justify the cost somewhat by offsetting it against a rise in value... well, that’s a completely different story. And despite the tales you’ll hear of £115,000 Sierra Cosworths and £38,000 Peugeot 205 GTIs, it’s still possible to do buy an appreciating car for a very reasonable amount of cash. A fact that’s proven by these 10 cracking used buys, all of which should be great fun to drive and have the potential to gain pounds even as you take them out for a sunny weekend drive.
Top 100 used car 2017 special features