Just because a marque is six feet under does not mean the models it once made are no longer usable, relevant or even desirable.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Dead marques have never been cooler, better value or more worthy of your reappraisal. So let’s dig up old favourites, some of which have been reborn, in which case we’ll consider the dead and gone models from the old company, and see how we could get along together now.
The list of dead British brands is almost endless. From ‘A’ for Allard to ‘W’ for Wolseley, you can invest in dozens of expired classics that might make it to a damp field on a summer weekend for a car club meet. But what we are after here are models you can use on a daily basis.
So let’s start with one brand that, you might think, is almost certain to leave you stranded by the roadside at some point: TVR. In fact, the TVR marque is being resurrected, with its first new model under the ownership of Brit Les Edgar due in 2017, so we’re looking forward to that. Right now, though, the old-school ones are around in fair numbers as TVRs you can actually buy, and we believe that a well-maintained one really can be a daily driver.
Avoid the needlessly complex Tuscans and target the Rover V8-engined beauties that stand a chance of surviving in the real world. That means the entry-level Chimaera is the no-brainer buy. Realistic money is £12,000-plus, rising to £15,995 from a dealer. Top money is £24,995 and starting to rise.
The thing is, you don’t come across a Chimaera every day. But you will see a Rover, or its MG cousin (before the days of Chinese ownership and the current MG Motor firm, born out of the ashes of the old one in 2006). There are dozens of them – towing caravans, parked in supermarket car parks, and sometimes with a drainpipe exhaust. I wouldn’t call it misplaced loyalty – just a realisation that 25s, 45s and 75s always were solid, reliable motors that were overpriced when new and are now great value. We’d rate the 75 as the first and possibly last hipster saloon and estate.
Rover 25s are good little commuter cars from just a few hundred quid. The 45 is harder to justify as a microsaloon, unless it has the V6, which is a laugh. It is shockingly Edwardian, but at £450 for a 2003 car with a fresh water pump and head gasket, that’s five years’ trouble-free motoring. MG ZRs are alternative warm-ish hatches for millennials, funky and cheap at £395 with an MOT. The same money buys the less cool ZS, and the £1000 Streetwise is lovable for no explicable reason.
The thinking person’s Rover is, of course, Saab. People still buy them because they fill a niche. A grown-up four-seat cabriolet is still quite rare, so a mint 2006 9-3 1.9 TiD Vector at £1000 is real value.
Buyers also understand that the last-gasp 9-5 was one hell of a car, so you still have pay a thick £8000 for a 2010 example. Alternatively, the old 2009 model for £3500 is still comfy and reliable before you dig down to the older £1500 examples.
Daimlers were, in recent memory, blingy Jags, which was a good thing. The nameplate and fluted grille didn’t survive the XJ upgrade in 2002. You’d want a Double Six precisely because it is called that, never mind the 12 cylinders, but Daimlers don’t depreciate like Jags, so outside of ratty XJ40s, they start at £2500 and the minters are £10,000. The rare Super Eight Centenary edition from 2007, meanwhile, is a cool £20,000. All bits and bobs are as Jaguar, of course.
If money is no object, a Maybach 62 from 2004 – a time when Mercedes thought its spin-off could go it alone, unlike now, when it is a mere trim level – is a snip at £60,000. It would be rather more agreeable, and comfy, than a crappy old 2005 Hummer H2 at around £16,000-£17,000.
There you have it. Dead marques come in all shapes and sizes and with all manner of powerplants, but what they have in common is value. Now, where did I park that Fisker?