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Practical classic?

I am toying with the idea of a practical classic or a car that has stopped depreciating. Reliability is very much high on the agenda. Driving enjoyment is also very high on the agenda. I like a car with useable rear seats (if possible, but not mandatory). I would like to use it day in day out, but will not put too many miles. Perhaps 6-7k miles a year. Each trip is likely to be 10-15 miles, fastish A/B roads. Petrol consumption is not an issue. Parking at home and work is ?safe?.

Prepared to spend as much as £10k, if depreciation plus servicing costs do not exceed £1k a year. Looks are not that important to me, but my wife is keen on good looking cars (marital harmony is important!). I am in my mid thirties and wife is in her late twenties, no kids ? yet..

Current cars in the household are an Audi TT and an E46 320D. If I do buy, it will be replacing the TT. Prior to this, we went through a number of E46s, E39, Z3 and two W203s.

Am I looking for a non existent car. Suggestions please.

Comments

Rattle    on 19 February 2007

What about a 911? Ok the rear seats may not be much use though :( £10K ought to be able to buy a good reliable one with full service history and 12 months MOT.

CJay{P}    on 20 February 2007

What about a 911? Ok the rear seats may not be
much use though :( £10K ought to be able to buy
a good reliable one with full service history and 12 months
MOT.


This option did cross my mind - anyone here who owns one? Is is practical to use this on a day to day basis? What sort of running costs would I be looking at if I do 6-7k miles a year?

davros    on 19 February 2007

Sounds as if you''re penning a business case for a W124 Coupe - that's the pre 96 E-class 2-door - (and no, I don't own one, but if I didn't have several dogs and live on farm in the middle of nowhere, I would).

Davros



Pugugly {P}    on 19 February 2007

Oh...a nice mid 80s M3 or M5....yes really.

stunorthants26    on 19 February 2007

I think id look for a well sorted Jensen Interceptor for that sort of money - ten grand can buy you alot of GT coupes which have been properly sorted, well surpassing factory standard.

How about a Merc 560 SEC? Or a Bitter if you can find one?
You could also get the very best of any classic large jap car if you fancied something a bit individual!

PhilW    on 19 February 2007

There are some nice Alfas on here.
I've always fancied an Alfa! Especially a Giulia Sprint GT!
but there are a couple of nice 2000 GTVs if you scroll down about 11 to 20 cars.
--
Phil

PhilW    on 19 February 2007

This one will do me - just a little win on the lottery needed and might need to ply the missus with a little alcoholic beverage so she sees it as a practical family runaround.
www.classiccarsforsale.co.uk/classic-car-page.php/...4
--
Phil

PhilW    on 19 February 2007

Nope, changed my mind, this is the one
www.classiccarsforsale.co.uk/classic-car-page.php/...8
--
Phil

Altea Ego    on 19 February 2007

Nah this one

www.classiccarsforsale.co.uk/classic-car-page.php/...3
------------------------------
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >

Altea Ego    on 19 February 2007

or this

cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1100...8
------------------------------
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >

PhilW    on 19 February 2007

OK TVM, and my wife would approve of the Cit 15 since her uncle had one in the late '50s, early '60s and she has many happy memories of trips to N Wales from the Wirral in it (must have sunroof though she says!)
--
Phil

CJay{P}    on 20 February 2007

There are some nice Alfas on here.
I've always fancied an Alfa! Especially a Giulia Sprint GT!
but there are a couple of nice 2000 GTVs if you
scroll down about 11 to 20 cars.


Again my prejudice ? I have never owned an Alfa, but my perception is that I need a mechanic in a car following me to ensure that I get to work. Can something like ?survive? several years and 7k miles a year without serious problems?

CJay{P}    on 20 February 2007

Oh...a nice mid 80s M3 or M5....yes really.


Now that is a really nice idea. An M3 is likely to be trashed? Is M5 an everyday car. What about running costs? Anyone here who ones one of these?

CJay{P}    on 20 February 2007

Sounds as if you''re penning a business case for a W124
Coupe - that's the pre 96 E-class 2-door - (and
no, I don't own one, but if I didn't have several
dogs and live on farm in the middle of nowhere, I
would).

I thought about this some time ago - and decided against it. My wife thought it looks as if it is not old enough, and would give the impression that I bought it because I couldn't afford it new.

Never driven one. I do like a car that is driver oriented - I somehow have an impression that this is not such a car. Didn't enjoy driving the W203s that much.

Avant    on 19 February 2007

The first Alfa has the great advantage for a 'practical' classic of being RHD.

As you've already got a BMW I think the suggestion of an old Mercedes makes most sense. Coupe, saloon, convertible or estate - there should be plenty of choice within your budget.

A Lexus would give you reliability but possibly not enough driving enjoyment.

Audi A8 or A6 4.2 litre - another possibility worth a look.

Roger Jones    on 20 February 2007

For what it's worth, both the MB Club magazine and the current Mercedes Enthusiast have recently featured the W124 Coupé as a nascent classic whose prices are beginning to bottom out. I'm on my second, couldn't be happier with it, and can't imagine selling it. There are plenty of independents around to keep the servicing costs in check.

CJay{P}    on 20 February 2007

For what it's worth, both the MB Club magazine and the
current Mercedes Enthusiast have recently featured the W124 Coupé as a
nascent classic whose prices are beginning to bottom out. I'm on
my second, couldn't be happier with it, and can't imagine selling
it. There are plenty of independents around to keep the servicing
costs in check.

Roger, yes I have ejoyed reading your contributions very a long time. How much would a CE320, that needs no work command? I am not scared of miles, but do not want a car that needs work.

CJay{P}    on 20 February 2007

The first Alfa has the great advantage for a 'practical' classic
of being RHD.
As you've already got a BMW I think the suggestion of
an old Mercedes makes most sense. Coupe, saloon, convertible or
estate - there should be plenty of choice within your budget.
A Lexus would give you reliability but possibly not enough driving
enjoyment.
Audi A8 or A6 4.2 litre - another possibility worth a
look.


Hmm... Lexus.. we are not talking classics are we? An old Merc - my perception is that they are 'comfortable' cars, as opposed to 'driver oriented'. Even the W203 no where near a E46 in terms of driver enjoyment.

Collos25    on 20 February 2007

MGB V8

stunorthants26    on 20 February 2007

If you want reliability and a bit of fun, how about something american and classic? Cant beat the V8 noise that the americans are so good at creating, plus the spares backup is excellent for most pf the cars.

No FM2R    on 20 February 2007

MGB V8


Oh and those are sooo reliable and appropriate for every day use.

Collos25    on 20 February 2007

Well you can't have everthing and they would make live interesting.

boxsterboy    on 20 February 2007

How about an SLK? Not the most sporting of drives but surely a future classic.

local yokel    on 20 February 2007

Audi Avant RS2 - best fun with your trousers on, tinyurl.com/23lmqu - 315 bhp, 4WD, what more do you need?

J Bonington Jagworth    on 20 February 2007

Porsche 928, especially the manual GT. I'm still saving...

CJay{P}    on 20 February 2007

Porsche 928, especially the manual GT. I'm still saving...


Like the idea very much... anyone out there who actually owns one?

Collos25    on 20 February 2007

Just been looking at a 94 928 at 18k thats a lot of money for a car built purely for the American market they handled like pink fluffy dice absolutely guzzle fuel but look superb.

CJay{P}    on 20 February 2007

Just been looking at a 94 928 at 18k thats a
lot of money for a car built purely for the American
market they handled like pink fluffy dice absolutely guzzle fuel but look superb.

At that kind of money, I suppose one could get hold of a 911 (964).

Roger Jones    on 21 February 2007

"Roger, yes I have ejoyed reading your contributions very a long time. How much would a CE320, that needs no work command? I am not scared of miles, but do not want a car that needs work."

You'd have to try very hard to pay more than £10 for a W124 Coupé, and that would be at one of the specialist dealers whose listed prices always seem to be out of touch with general market reality (but they seem to sell them nevertheless). The magazines reckon £5-6k to be a target price for a good 'un. Condition and maintenance history (not necessarily main dealer) is more important than mileage.

There are things that are sure to need attention; search on my name and W124 to find them detailed elsewhere. As I've said before, as long as you know what they are then you can budget for them. With luck, you can find one that's had them all fixed. There is no doubt in my mind that these cars are good for half a million miles and more if looked after properly. They are not unduly costly to maintain; spares prices are not outrageous, especially with options available from GSF and Euro Car Parts (e.g a good Nissens radiator for a third of the MB price).

One specific tip: find a late one built before August 1995, which is when MB switched to water-based paint.

Other comments: They are practical cars -- genuine four seaters (although cosy in the back) and a huge boot. My long-term mpg is just under 28, aided by a Kenlowe engine preheater. They are wonderful high-speed cruisers, and no slouch off the mark. Do get a 3.0 or 3.2 six-cylinder.

If you go down this route, I'm happy to give you plenty more.

J Bonington Jagworth    on 21 February 2007

"more than £10 for a W124 Coupé"

Bangernomics!

tr7v8    on 21 February 2007

Just been looking at a 94 928 at 18k thats a
lot of money for a car built purely for the American
market they handled like pink fluffy dice absolutely guzzle fuel
but look superb.

Where did that genius come from.

Fact. they were designed as a 911 replacement & handle very well, faster round a circuit with a journo at the wheel than a 911!
Fact. they were designed as a supercar AKA they do go & handle.
Fact. a manual will get near to mid-high 20s MPG without much difficulty

Good manual GTS are as rare as rocking horse droppings & fetch mid £20Ks with no difficulty.

J Bonington Jagworth    on 21 February 2007

"Good manual GTS are as rare as rocking horse droppings"

I found one on Auto-Trader yesterday for £10k, but hard to say how good it was! Certainly looked nice and, like all Porsches, designed to last...

Roger Jones    on 21 February 2007

Bangernomics indeed. And the number of times I re-read that post before letting it go. The number is £10k, of course.

CJay{P}    on 21 February 2007

Roger, is there a noticeable difference between the 320 and the 300?

Jono_99    on 21 February 2007

I went through this two years ago - I bought a Porsche 968 and ran it for a year. It was a fantastic car, and probably at the cheaper end of the Porsche range running cost wise, but it still had the potential to bite you (New exhaust - £1k plus from OPC - £500 for a Stainless Steel one). And they have now started depreciating hard again.

If I were to go for something similar again, I would get a 2.7 Porsche 944 - more straight forward engine, not as good looking as a 968, but pleasant enough and adequate enough performance. Also £4k gets you a decent example....

928 with bad electrics has potential to make you very unpopular domestically....

I would follow Roger's advice with an W124 Merc - looked at a few, and they are nice cars.

Other thought - get a Spyder Converted Lotus Elan +2. Runs on Mondeo / Sierra underpinnings, Fibreglass bodyshell, attractive, can be trimmed as you wish, and costs a little over £12k or so. Should be fairly depreciation proof, uber reliable and a bit different. I decided against it as I do too many miles on the motorway, and I thought it too small for regular trips on the Motorways, but it may suit you. Well worth a thought... www.spydercars.co.uk/ford_zetec.htm

Now drive an E46 330D - really impressive, but I miss the Porsche.....

Enjoy the choosing, and the driving

Jon

CJay{P}    on 21 February 2007

This is very confusing! Too many options....:))
I seem to be 'wasting' a lot of time reading about all sorts of options, but learning a lot.

Jono, did you consider a 964? If I stretch my budget to 15k or thereabout, there seems to be plenty of choice.
BTW, in using when getting rid of your 968 did you loose much in terms of depreciation?

Roger Jones    on 21 February 2007

"Roger, is there a noticeable difference between the 320 and the 300?"

As I have two of the latter (M103 engine) and one of the former (M104), I can tell you for sure that that 320 is definitely smoother and has more grunt (torque) lower down the rev range. That said, the M103 is a great engine anyway.

Both are prone to head-gasket failure at any point from 75k onwards, although most get well into six figures before owners care enough about the seepage (typically OSR of block) to fix it, and you'll see plenty with tell-tale stains underneath although no puddles on the drive. Once fixed, it should be OK for at least 100k. It's a seven-hour job; the parts are about £60 and the labour at an independent £350-ish, so the bill is £500-ish with VAT.

adverse camber    on 21 February 2007

964 is a fair compromise in 911 terms.
Air cooled, but with decent suspension. Get Adrian Streathers book so you know what is going on, I think he also has a book out now on the 911SC/3.2.
Adrian Crawford does excellent buyers guides on the porsches.

Many specialists are still silly prices for servicing, Dont trust the quoted figures. My worst was a quote for service of 480 and a bill for 900. And it is very easy to get an unexpected bill for a few hundred.

I agree with the comment above re the 944. Simpler, cheaper to run, minimal depreciation, easier to drive fast than the 911's. Easier to maintain - have you seen how little room there is in a 911 engine bay!
I found some porsche parts incredibly cheap, others laughably expensive.

Roger Jones    on 22 February 2007

My MB Club magazine has just arrived. In it there is an article by the owner of a splendid CL500 (plus an E320 Estate), splendid except that he has had horrendous corrosion problems that emerged just after the initial three-year warranty expired.

In the middle, his verdict on the Mobilolife warranty is that it should be consigned to "the chocolate teapot category", as it does not cover surface corrosion but only corrosion from the inside out. All that said, he is nevertheless satisfied with MB's resolution of his problems, after a persistent struggle.

Early in the article he says "I had owned a 1994 E320 Coupé, which still holds the title of the best car I ever sold"; at the end he says "Or, best solution of all -- if you have a good E320 Coupé, hang on to it . . .".

Brian Tryzers    on 22 February 2007

Stop it, Roger - you've got me wanting one now! How usable are the back seats? It looks more big two-door saloon than true coupé, so would two primary-school children be happy in there behind a tall driver? I've sat comfortably in the back of enough E200 taxis, for what that's worth.

Roger Jones    on 22 February 2007

I've carried two adults in the back on several occasions. I made a point of asking them if they had been comfortable and there have never been any complaints. Getting in and out is a bit awkward, as you might expect, but once in then there's no problem.

The Lawman    on 22 February 2007

Roger, If I did half the mileage that I currently do (and didn't need something to cart fishing tackle about in), I would have one of these like a shot. Stick a private plate on it and away you go!

They just give me the impression of being made from a solid block of granite, and look so beautifully screwed together and appointed.

As a matter of interest, what car do you think will assume the mantle of these mercs as the best practical classic, once they are all gone?

Roger Jones    on 22 February 2007

I'm probably trapped in time, with an unreasonable enthusiasm for pre-plastic Mercs. Perhaps I kid myself, but I do say that, even if I won the lottery, I'm not at all sure that I would buy a newer car.

I can't say that anything subsequent has really grabbed my imagination -- the styling trends and electronic/toy complications are completely at variance with my tastes and values. Last time I dreamed about lottery money, I was still determined to seek out a Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 from the early 1960s -- Pininfarina at its pinnacle. Without lottery money, the only thing that's taken my fancy recently has been the 1990s W129 SL, specifically one with the panoramic roof that is so much more successful than the ordinary stubby hardtop; but they are essentially pre-plastic Mercs again, and anyway I've never been won over by two-seaters before.

Truth is, I could trade in all the present mini-fleet (including a 1984 Capri 2.8i, which I've had from new) and buy something modern, but it has no appeal whatsoever.

Jono_99    on 23 February 2007

Apologies, away for a few days

Depreciation on the 968 - I was lucky and got out for a £1k loss in 15 months of ownership. It was cheap motoring (just a minor service, two tyres and an exhaust) in that time.

Did I think of a 964 - not really, they were a bit more than I had intended (I bought at £12.5k); they are a bit more to maintain, according to my local indie, and I really liked the 968.

I would definitely go for a 944 2.7, if I were in your shoes - as others have said below, the ones before the S2 are 'relatively' straightforward to maintain, and were great quality. If I had space on the drive.....

Check 911virgin.com for Porsche (mainly 911s, including a cheap 964 at the mo, but do have some watercooled cars)

Jono

Kevin    on 22 February 2007

I'd go with a 944. Either the S2, or for a bit more fun (and higher running costs) the Turbo S.

£10K should get you a well documented example. Like all Porsche, service history is vital if you don't want expensive surprises. Luckily, the older models with plenty of history tend to be owned by enthusiasts rather than people who just want to be able to throw a Porsche keyfob on the bar.

Service costs are reasonable with a scheduled service around the £250 mark last time I looked. Check Porsche World magazine for a better idea. Tyres are approx £120ea. and the fronts wear quite quickly. The S I had in the early 90's (with slightly modified front setup) would go through the inside edges of a front set in about 8K miles or less if driven really hard in corners. Even with a standard setup you're unlikely to see more than 12K I'd guess.

Handling is very predictable and still of an excellent standard even when compared to the best of todays cars of similar performance. Bodywork is fully galvanized and paint quality is top-notch if looked after.

Bad points are that the gearchange is a bit notchy because of the linkage to the rear transaxle but you get used to it and learn not to try snatching a gearchange. The rear seats are for kids only or a few miles with adults. The front seats are very comfortable and supportive but check for wear on the outside edges where you have to slide your bum over them to get in.

Fuel consumption is what you'd expect, I averaged low twenties on a mix of urban and suburban roads but 30mpg is possible on a long run.

I sold mine when I moved to the US and wish I still had it. Great fun and very practical as a daily driver.

Kevin...

Roger Jones    on 23 February 2007

In one of the recent magazines someone emphatically endorsed the 944 as the practical Porsche. It's the one I'd go for if I warmed to Porsche. I'll ask my Porsche-dealer neighbour what he thinks of them.

tr7v8    on 23 February 2007

Mine has been fantastic, very reliable (38K as sole car in 18 months) economical & fun to drive. Not blindingly quick but very rewarding on the twisty bits & great on fast sweeping A roads such as the A64 a few moths ago.
Buy a good one & they are cheap to run as well, mine has been 25pence per mile.
www.tipec.net & www.porsche-1.net are good sites.

CJay{P}    on 24 February 2007

Mine has been fantastic, very reliable (38K as sole car in
18 months) economical & fun to drive. Not blindingly quick but
very rewarding on the twisty bits & great on fast sweeping
A roads such as the A64 a few moths ago.
Buy a good one & they are cheap to run
as well, mine has been 25pence per mile.
www.tipec.net & www.porsche-1.net are good sites.


A turbo or an S2?

tr7v8    on 24 February 2007

>
>> www.tipec.net & www.porsche-1.net are good sites.
A turbo or an S2?

Mine is a 2.5 87 Lux with S2 front & rear PU. Aside from standard servicing it's cost me a clutch slave & a steering column extention. Slave I did myself £55 from ECP & a lot of swearing & the steering column was done by Northways. Few other bits have bee done as improvements & not to keep it on the road.

Micky    on 23 February 2007

quattro of some description, preferably in the style of Walter Rohrl. Buy carefully!

cheddar    on 23 February 2007

IMO "practical" and "classic" are mutually exclusive.

Screwloose    on 23 February 2007

IMO "practical" and "classic" are mutually exclusive.


There's probably a few die-hard "Series" Land-Rover fans that would give you an argument on that...

J Bonington Jagworth    on 23 February 2007

>IMO "practical" and "classic" are mutually exclusive.

Better not tell these guys.. :-)

www.ewa1.com/mghpc.html

Micky    on 24 February 2007

If practical means cost effective then classic can be more effective than modern, it's the breaking down bit that causes problems. But then most classics aren't used every day, and that causes more problems than it solves.

tr7v8    on 24 February 2007

Last breakdown in a classic was the TR7 after it's complete rebuild. I'd replaced a perfectly good Lucas electronic dizzy with a dual point Mallory. Unfortunately Mallory had a duff batch of condensors & mine was one! It died on the M25 ACW adjacent to the M23 junction, AA out in 20 minutes & upend van for spare condensor. Found one for something Jap in the end, fitted away I went. Muttered comment of "Can't remember the last condensor I changed"
Classics are very reliable if used, moreover they can be fixed at the side of the road if needed, without electronic widgets.

login    on 25 February 2007

Evo Magazine last month had the best drive for £10k

The winner - Clio Vr6, closely followed by Imprezza RB5 - lots of others to consider though.

My choice would be - Corrado VR6 - You could buy a mint example for £5k

Roger Jones    on 26 February 2007

Looking back to November 2000, when I acquired the newest car I own (it was then 4 years old), I see a total mileage of 67k and no breakdowns, in cars made in 1984 (15k since restoration in 9/03), 1990 (4k since 5/06), 1991 (10k since 4/05) and 1996 (38k since 11/00). Yes, one flat battery and, yes, one transmission problem (both in the newest car) caused by, and rectified by, the dealer who used to service it. Regular servicing by a competent mechanic (not me), plus frequent oil changes may have something to do with it.

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